So after 11 years since its launch and operation, the first-person shooter game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO, has finally been discontinued, concluding its glorious era.
CS:GO Officially Bids Farewell to Gamers After 11 Years of Operation
On August 21, 2012, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) officially launched after a year of testing. Over a decade since then, this online shooting game has become an integral part of many people’s lives, including mine. Recently, on social media, I’ve seen many people, from Generation Y to Generation Z, simultaneously sharing their nostalgic images, recalling a long period they dedicated to this game, often referred to as “Valve’s stepchild.”
Although just a game, for some, it became a significant part of their lives. Yet, of course, some think that such sentiment isn’t worth feeling sad about a game. This is also true. However, for those who spent thousands of hours playing, mastering each map and weapon, with gameplay that didn’t change much, that period left precious memories.
Those memories might include intense matches, outstanding plays that happened once or twice in a lifetime, joy and laughter in matches, or the passionate emotions watching esports matches where the world’s best players achieved feats that could make ordinary people doubt.
In fact, there are two games closely tied to the explosion of esports: Counter-Strike and Dota. The transition from Counter-Strike 1.6 to Global Offensive and from Defense of the Ancient (DOTA) – a mod on Warcraft 3 – to Dota 2 happened around the same time, just a year apart.
The day CS:GO officially replaced the legendary CS 1.6
In March 2012, the last major tournament based on the CS 1.6 game was held, the IEM Season VI World Championship in Hannover, Germany, with a total prize pool surpassing $100,000. Surprisingly, two players participated in that tournament, and they are still playing professionally. One of them is karrigan.
Then, in August 2012, the first CS:GO tournament was organized, the Copenhagen Games 2012, with a prize for the champion worth up to 1000 EUR. I still remember vividly at that time; players like Neo, Get_Right, and some famous 1.6 players were interviewed about whether they wanted to switch to CS:GO or not, and all seemed to object because they were familiar with the gameplay and visually appealing graphics of CS 1.6. However, change was inevitable. Professional organizations and players gradually had to adapt to CS:GO and relearn many aspects of the game.
Compared to CS 1.6, none of us can throw a smoke grenade from a distance to obscure the opponent’s view or use a Molotov cocktail to prevent rushes or counter camping. Combining the familiar gameplay of CS 1.6 and the physics of CS:Source required players to learn many aspects of the game again.
For those who started playing CS:GO later, they might not know that, in its early days, the game was a mess. To make the game less challenging for new players, all maps were obscured by a foggy screen to reduce visibility and prevent experienced players from taking long-range shots. In the first beta build developed by Turtle Rock Studios, gun spray patterns wouldn’t be fixed, as they are today.
During the initial release, all complaints from the CS:GO community could be summed up in one common point: “It’s nothing like 1.6.” Some players felt that CS:GO was more similar to Source than 1.6, a less-played and less popular version in the Counter-Strike series. Although they still enjoyed playing CS:GO, some thought that Valve had “misadvertised” CS:GO as a complete replacement for 1.6, a version that had existed for nearly 10 years.
It can be affirmed that CS:GO has driven gaming equipment and PC accessory manufacturers to compete to create better products to serve the gaming community. In the 1 to 2 years after CS:GO’s launch, the market continuously saw the emergence of 144Hz monitors like BenQ XL 2420TE and AOC G3460PQU. Although the prices of these products, due to the limitations of technology 10 years ago, were higher than a 27-inch 4K 144Hz IPS monitor in 2023, it significantly improved accessibility to these products.
However, for many people, participating in CS:GO for over a decade was not just about thrilling matches round by round. It was also about the experience of watching their favorite players compete on stage, with thousands of emotionally charged spectators, equally enticing as indoor sports, and sometimes even more so.
Having existed for 11 years, especially in the rapidly evolving world of esports, where turnover is dizzying, CS:GO is not an exception. Vietnam also had a strong CS:GO lineup, defeating opponents from South Korea to China and even Singapore and Indonesia. However, difficulties in various aspects made us lag behind. Everyone has responsibility, but one noticeable point is the “police catching thieves” style of CS:GO, its realism, and violence have always made sponsors hesitant to support CS:GO teams.
This issue not only affected Vietnam but also the world. A conspiracy theory – everyone perceives it as truth but has not been verified due to the lack of confirmation from any sponsor. In the United States, due to too many shooting incidents, esports focused on fantasy games like League of Legends (LoL) and Dota 2. In the shooting world, there are lighter names with brighter colors, such as Valorant, a game released in 2020.
An important point to emphasize is that CS:GO has maintained its nature and not changed because the game seems to have found favor with the target audience and community it aims for. Weapon design, level of violence, and realistic settings are still determining factors that attract male gamers. Meanwhile, other works pursue a lighter and simpler direction to appeal to a diverse player base, with characters designed in their own style, stimulating cosplay fan communities. Looking at the female gamer community worldwide passionate about Valorant is also understandable.
From 2012 to now, many games have been launched with ambitions to become the “Counter-Strike killer” and overthrow CS:GO’s throne in the world of online shooting games. However, it seems that no game has succeeded in this endeavor.
What helps CS:GO specifically and Counter-Strike in general always have a place in the hearts of gamers.
What CS:GO, in particular, and Counter-Strike, in general, doesn’t need to do but still helps the game succeed is the existence of a long-standing and extremely loyal player community, especially in Europe and Asia. This is easily seen, even with professional gamers who are 18 or 20 years old, when asked why they choose Counter-Strike, the answer is often “because my older brother played” or “when I was young, I often saw older guys in the neighborhood playing at the internet cafe.”
There is no shortage of players who started from version 1.1 with the map Italy “fighting 46 vault gates,” then switched to 1.6 and only played Dust 2, and continued to CS:GO, maintaining that connection to this day. Also, thanks to the attractiveness of the game, many new players who have never experienced any version of Counter-Strike before became curious and started playing CS:GO. They are attracted by the optimal feeling of controlling weapons, although difficult but extremely accurate, requiring skill training and patience. Movement, tactics, and weapon usage in the game are worth spending time on.
CS:GO is not a perfect game either
There was a period when the game became terrible, even causing professional gamers to be permanently banned or exploited for using cheat software. Looking back, this may not seem too terrible, but at that time, the strong development of esports tournaments in CS:GO, both in scale and prizes, the discovery of many professional players using cheats was a significant stain, which could sink the entire game due to the community’s lack of trust. Fortunately, Valve provided strong solutions to address this issue.
However, even now, in CS2, there are still issues with cheat hacks, and it’s unclear how Valve will implement anti-cheat solutions to create a fair gaming environment for everyone. Perhaps we will need support from Faceit and ESEA.
Another somewhat negative thing is how some users exploit the expensive virtual economy and items of CS:GO. Currently, real gambling websites, allowing users to deposit money to spin rewards and receive CS:GO gun skins, have become popular. These websites are even willing to take advantage of the lack of knowledge about the value of money of children, only knowing that it is a number drawn from their parents’ credit cards, to stimulate them to spend money on “reward-spinning” websites in the hope of getting rich. This not only requires Valve’s intervention but also requires management from the legislatures of countries. Banning bot trade also does not solve many problems.
Setting aside the existing issues, we also have to admit that although CS:GO has existed for 11 years and served hundreds of millions of players worldwide, sometimes we may experience frustration, anger, and even declare quitting the game. However, no other shooting game can provide the same satisfying feeling as CS:GO.
The one ending CS:GO that is truly sad is Counter-Strike 2
In the end, only Counter-Strike 2 can “defeat” CS:GO, as the servers of the game have existed for 11 years nearing the time of discontinuation.
With that period, it may not be enough no matter how much is written. However, whether we want it or not, the moment we have to say goodbye to CS:GO has come.