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Valve still top on Steam as CS:GO player count breaks own record

The CS:GO player count sets a new peak for the free-to-play FPS game, meaning Valve holds onto the top spot for the most-played Steam game on the PC platform.

CS:GO player count - a soldier wearing glasses and a scarf wrapped over their head and face

The CS:GO player count has broken its peak record, proving that there’s still plenty of life in the decade-old FPS game. Released in August 2012, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has continued to maintain its position among the most popular games on Steam ever since, but has recently surged again to reaffirm Valve’s position as the top dog on its PC gaming platform despite competition from big releases.

There are few names so closely tied to PC gaming as Counter-Strike. The series has been a mainstay for the platform for over 20 years now, with Counter-Strike 1.0 releasing in November 2000. This would evolve to become CS 1.6 by September 2003, which was then followed up a year later by the release of Counter-Strike: Source, a remake on Valve’s Source engine.

CS:GO marks the latest iteration of the tense, bomb-defusing team shooter, which is fundamentally still largely the same game it was at its core all those years ago, albeit with a number of tweaks and improvements over the years. It looks like those years of refinement have paid off, as the game is more popular now than it’s ever been, with only PUBG: Battlegrounds and Lost Ark having ever hit higher numbers.

The CS:GO player count reached 1,320,219 concurrent players on February 11, 2023 – breaking its previous all-time high, set in April 2020. This sets it comfortably at the top of the current Steam charts, and sits over 50 percent higher than the Hogwarts Legacy player count in second place, though it’s worth noting that the newly released Harry Potter game is priced at $59.99 USD / £49.99 GBP, while Counter-Strike is free to play.

CS:GO player count - comparison between ten of the most-played games on Steam over the past 12 months, with Counter-Strike and Dota 2 in the top two spots, only topped by brief peaks from Lost Ark.

Above chart provided by SteamDB.

Prior to becoming free in August 2018, however, CS:GO’s highest record was just over 850,000 users – showing it’s not just the lack of a price tag that matters. Along with its simple, refined gameplay that has remained popular in light of direct contenders such as Valorant along with more distinct shooters such as Call of Duty and Halo, Valve’s game has also seen plenty of benefit from the market around CS:GO skins, the most expensive of which currently for sale on the Steam community market are listed for over $1,900 USD.

If you fancy a spot of CS:GO yourself, we’ve got some top CS:GO tips to help you improve, along with a guide to how to best use CS:GO smokes. We’ve also got all the CS:GO console commands to tweak your setup to your liking. Check out more of the best free games on PC if you’re looking for something new to play.