Counter-Strike: Global Offensive continues its rise to dominance as, last night, it broke through 100,000 concurrent players. It’s by far the most played Counter-Strike on Steam but it’s difficult to gauge it’s popularity in relation to the other versions of the franchise as records simply don’t exist.
Looking at this Steam Graph Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the most popular Counter-Strike on the market and the number of people playing it is only increasing. Conversely, the number of players playing Counter-Strike: Source and Counter-Strike 1.6 is only diminishing. It also suggests that, except for an inordinate spike for Counter-Strike 1.6, Global Offensive is the most popular version of the franchise that’s ever been released.
However, the data only dates back to 2009. Counter-Strike: Source had already been on Steam for five years at that point and, looking at the data on that graph, had peaked before Steam Graph started monitoring concurrent players. Similarly, Counter-Strike 1.6 had been out for nine years and was also in decline having peaked years before 2009.
Another factor is that Counter-Strike 1.6 doesn’t require players run Steam. So, frustratingly, we can’t say whether Global Offensive’s record is one for the series or for just the game. Either way it’s an achievement that suggests Counter-Strike is far from dead.
It’s a loss to gaming history if there is no way to track data like concurrent users prior to 2009. The 90s and 00s were major decades in the development of modern day gaming. It’s when eSports found its footing and the PC became a major gaming platform.
One problem I came across when looking for numbers to back up this story was the closure of Gamespy. Established in 1999, Gamespy was a third party server library for a ton of games. Last year, following a resale and decline in use, it was switched off. With it the archives of data and announcement posts became inaccessible. A major player in PC gaming’s history simply disappeared.
If anyone knows of good archival sources then please let me know.