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Friendly fire: Valve launch Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s third community map initiative - Operation Phoenix

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive starts on its third Operation to date today.

The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community have spent the past few weeks – well, they’ve spent it shooting, haven’t they. But in between trigger squeezes, they’ve voted on the best maps from the last two Operations – limited-period initiatives in which players have been able to pay a small fee to play community-made maps on low-ping Valve servers.

They’ve pieced together eight favourites – now playable on official servers for the next few months of Operation Phoenix.

Buying a $2.99 Operation Phoenix pass means temporary-but-unlimited access to those eight maps in official competitive, casual and deathmatch modes. Operation Bravo was extended to run from September to January, and three months looks like the new standard – Phoenix will hold out from now till June 4.

The eight chosen maps are Cache, Motel, Seaside, Downtown, Thunder, Ali, Favela and Agency.

All of the maps’ authors get a slice of the pass proceeds – and it’s having a real impact on their lives.

A Phoenix pass will also grant you a Challenge Coin, if you’re interested in such things. They’re upgradable through playtime and wins, viewable wherever your avatar is, and double as scorecards for the duration of the operation. And then there’s the Operation Phoenix case: an event drop containing 13 community-created weapon finishes, available only to pass holders.

In previous Operations, non-pass owning friends could be invited into Operation matches at any time – but would come across event case drops at a slower rate. It’s not yet clear if the same applies here.

Phoenix is a greatest hits pack rather than a platform for new discoveries – but there’s nothing wrong with continuing to reward the map-makers whose work players like best. Are these maps the ones you wanted?