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While new FPS games struggle, Riot says Valorant is okay

In the past year, we've seen new FPS games like The Finals come and go, so I ask Riot whether or not Valorant's player count has struggled.

While new FPS games struggle, Riot says Valorant is okay: A white woman wearing a futuristic gas mask with green eyes and her hair in a bob frowns into the camera as blue neon lights shine on either side of her

Almost four years ago, I picked up my Phantom and plunged head-first into the vibrant world of Valorant. While I had played a lot of Overwatch, Riot’s FPS was my first experience of a more tactical-based shooter, where abilities are oftentimes secondary to having a razor-sharp aim. Three years later, and I’ve watch new competitors like The Finals come and go, and in turn seen the decline of longtime hits like Apex Legends, Warzone, and even Overwatch. In an exclusive interview with PCGamesN, I ask production director Arnar Gylfason (and his menagerie of cute animals) whether or not Riot has seen a decline in Valorant’s numbers over time as newcomers try to muscle in.

After all, we all thought that The Finals was going to be the next big thing. With an innovative, destructive twist that let you destroy surrounding environments in order to maximise your head-popping potential, Embark’s FPS game swelled in popularity overnight – something that must have had Valorant and other competitors quaking in their respective boots. And yet, just a few months later, its player count has crashed – a fate I’ve seen befall new shooters time and time again.

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Even the big guns haven’t been immune from declining player rates, with Counter-Strike 2 feeling like the ghost of CS:GO, and Apex Legends’ seemingly never-ending cheater issues tanking the stats. As the focus switches to roguelike games like Hades 2 and survival games a la Palworld and Manor Lords, I ask Gylfason if Valorant has felt the tremors.

“One of the things we’ve seen in the gaming space in general is that games – both genres and specific games – have this ebb and flow. I think it’s healthy. Like any other game, we see players take a break from [Valorant], then come back, and so you have these natural ‘seasonalities’ in how many players are playing and engaging. Overall, where Valorant is today, I think we’re very happy with the player numbers.”

“In terms of the broader market, I think it’s healthy for players to have lots of choices and options,” he continues. “Valorant right now is doing well, but I don’t think that has to – or necessarily has – come at the cost of other games. We’ve seen a kind of rising tides lift all boats situation; when Valorant shipped, Counter-Strike numbers went up. I think players are just excited to have variety.”

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When I ask what the future looks like for Valorant, Gylfason smiles. “We’re pretty happy with where Valorant is,” he says, noting that VCT Masters 2 and Champions are the big things on the calendar. “[We] might have some things that are going to be fun for players as well, outside of just watching amazing gameplay.”

But, as you well know, Valorant is also turning four years old in just a few months, so we’re expecting some content around that milestone, too. “There were so many things that we would have wanted to be able to do by launch had we known it was going to be a success. But I guess now we just have to do them after launch. We have all these big ideas,” he says.

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“I don’t really see an end to [the Valorant] journey for us” Gylfason concludes, and as someone who’s watched Valorant grow over the last four years, that’s genuinely exciting. We’ve finally got a Scottish agent in Clove (if you need a Glaswegian rival Riot, let me know), a slew of cool maps, and a blossoming esports circuit that consistently delivers absolute bangers.

So, as we approach that four-year milestone and the next leg of VCT, make sure you’ve got the best Valorant crosshair codes locked in so that you’re the one top fragging next round – after all, you can’t rise through the Valorant ranks without decent aim.

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