CS:GO surges as DOTA 2 flounders.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player record

This past weekend was a real banner couple of days for Counter-Strike players and fans. Not only did Counter-Strike: Global Offensive surpass its all-time concurrent player count, but it did so twice!

On Saturday, CS:GO had surpassed 888,000 people playing the game at once. This all-time high bested a near 7-year long record. The old all-time high came on August 21, 2012 when CS:GO had topped out at over 854,000 players.

That's pretty good, right? Yes, it is, but it wasn't enough.

Just a day later on Sunday, February 9, CS:GO managed to top out at 901, 305 players. If anything, this won't be the last time we see Counter-Strike breaking concurrent player records. According to Steamcharts, CS:GO has been gaining back players at a fairly steady rate since November 2019. In January 2020 alone, the game pulled in almost 44,500 new and returning players.

This steady growth seems to go hand-in-hand with another monumental couple of months for Steam in general. We already saw Steam see a new concurrent user count of 18.8 million. This stunning figure was hit on February 2 and was included merely as a small side note in a series of other impressive records Steam broke over the past 13 or so months.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive went the free-to-play route in December 2018. Though it saw a nice influx of new players at the time, it failed to really gain much additional traction. In fact, in the months following the F2P release, Counter-Strike actually saw declining numbers on more than a few occasions. So, why are we seeing such an increase in player counts now?

As with all things, there are a number of factors here that could contribute to the rise in CS:GO's popularity. First is the obvious pull of the game being F2P. There is almost zero risk for new players wanting to check out the game for themselves. That much is obvious. More recent is the fact that an all-new Operation went live in November. Operation Shattered Web was launched and it brought with it new missions, new skins, new stickers, new maps, new player models, and even the introduction of the first female character.

Though updates are not all that unusual for Counter-Strike, a recent update on January 29, 2020 could also be responsible for this resurge in popularity for the game. In this update, Valve made some adjustments and changes to a few classic maps. Namely, they changed up maps like Cache, Train, Dust2, Studio, and Mirage. Players who haven't touched the game in a while probably wanted to check out this update to see just how some of their old haunting grounds have changed.

Steam stats February 10, 2020

Another reason there might be more players migrating to CS:GO as of late could be attributed to overall declining interest in games like DOTA 2 or even Fortnite. Just in the past several months, DOTA 2 has seen more players stop playing than it has seen new players joining. Of course, there isn't exactly a 1:1 translation there between DOTA 2 fans and CS:GO fans, but there is undoubtedly some cross-over between the two. It's also somewhat amazing to see that Global Offensive has now repeatedly topped DOTA 2 with both peak and concurrent players for the past several days now.

It will be very interesting to see where CS:GO goes from here. If Valve makes a bigger push for CS:GO in 2020 as they have with DOTA 2 in years past, it could stand to reason that it will continue to see these player count records broken on a fairly regular basis in 2020. This would entail a larger esports presence akin to what Valve does with The International, and more regular content drops and Operations to keep the fans happy and coming back for more.