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Counter-Strike 2 loses 20% of its players, a month since CS2’s launch

The Counter-Strike 2 player count on Steam has fallen rather dramatically, losing nearly 20% of its players since the CS2 launch date.

Coiunter-Strike 2 - A muscular man with a goatee wearing a red headband stands in a town square.

Counter-Strike 2 has been with us in full for a month now, but the latest and most substantial upgrade to Valve’s Steam-topping shooter, the sequel to CSGO, has been struggling to hold onto its audience. Despite regular CS2 updates from the team at Valve, the FPS game’s player count has fallen rather dramatically, and is down almost 20% on the numbers it reached at the CS2 launch, while Steam reviews since launch reflect ‘mixed’ feelings from players.

After a long period of waiting and limited beta test access, the full Counter-Strike 2 release date arrived on Wednesday, September 27, 2023. Its launch marked a bold new future for CSGO, not only one of the best FPS games ever but also the long-standing top dog on Steam, where it has long topped the most played charts. Unfortunately, the arrival of Counter-Strike 2 has been met with a somewhat lukewarm reception, and despite consistent Valve updates that trend appears to be continuing.

The day after its launch, on Thursday, September 28, the CS2 player count reached an impressive peak of 1,471,730 concurrent players. That’s a far cry from CSGO’s peak of 1,818,773 concurrents, reached back on Thursday April 27, 2023, but given that CS2 is a more demanding game that players on older PCs might struggle to run, it’s somewhat understandable that it wouldn’t reach quite those highs.

One month on, however, the highest peak in the last week has been 1,185,158, which was reached last Saturday, October 28, exactly a month after CS2 was released in full. That’s down 286,572 from launch, a pretty significant drop of 19.47%. Compared to the all-time high of April the number is down a whopping 34.84% from that peak.

Counter-Strike 2 Steam players fall 20% after one month - Chart provided by tracking site SteamDB.

While this latter comparison is, as noted, a little unfair, the drop of 20% from launch is very much a like-for-like, and certainly not what Valve would have hoped to see, especially as regular updates have worked to smooth out the hit detection and performance complaints from players. The release of CS2 workshop maps should also go some way to satisfying those Steam reviewers sad about the lack of CSGO’s ‘casual modes’ in the sequel.

Unfortunately for now the user reviews continue to reflect that downward trend. Compared to the all-time reviews average of 87% positive, which includes all those given to the original CSGO, the 101,000 reviews for CS2 over the last 30 days are ‘mixed,’ sitting at just 64% positive since the sequel’s release. “Disappointing is an understatement,” reads the most upvoted Steam review in the last month, expressing frustration with anti-cheat that “doesn’t work,” a lack of custom game modes, and “awful hit registration and interpolation.”

The good news is that if you’re eager to go back to the original for now, CSGO is back on Steam, allowing you to switch to the ‘CSGO Legacy Version’ via the betas menu in the CS2 Steam properties. The bad news is that Valve is offering no official matchmaking and will be ending CSGO support after Monday, January 1, 2024, so you’re reliant on community servers if you want to play that instead.

Counter-Strike 2 - The player aims down a concrete hallway at an opponent, using a stack of barrels for cover.

As the highly successful makers of Steam, it’s unlikely Valve will rest on its laurels as Counter-Strike 2 languishes. Regular updates continue to roll out, often multiple times per week, and missing modes can always be added back in over time. If this trajectory continues, however, we might soon see the unthinkable – peak Counter-Strike concurrents falling below 1 million consistently for the first time since July 2022.

If you’re ready to give Counter-Strike 2 another chance, we’ve got the lowdown on the best CS2 binds to use, a breakdown of all CS2 maps you’ll see in competitive and casual play, and even the best CS2 crosshair codes to help you play like the pros.