Is CSGO dying in 2021?

The game has seen its steepest decline in player count since 2018.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is no longer the only king of the jungle. With Valorant entering the picture as a handsome rival, the game’s player count has finally started to dwindle. Is CSGO dying in 2021?

The online era of esports has impeded the progress of many titles. With LAN podiums shutting down to contain the deadly disease, the player count was expected to decline. However, the global virus outbreak was particularly more harsh on CSGO. While the game initially managed to take the hits with minimum damage, it seems that negative repercussions are finally showing. 

Looking at the dwindling player count, the infamous “CSGO is dying” conversation has resumed in 2021. According to steamcharts‘ stats for June, CSGO has lost a massive chunk of its player base in the past five months. The drop was triggered in February 2021, and since then, the game has lost around 16% of its players consistently in the first quarter. 

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The average player count for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive dropped almost 17% in June, the highest drop-off in players since April 2018 and the third-highest fall in a single month since the official release in 2012. June hit CSGO like a wrecking ball, shedding 110K of its players in just one month. While it’s standard for any game’s player base to fluctuate due to various reasons, the numbers displayed on steam charts are too massive to be considered normal. 

It’s also worth noting that this is the first time CSGO has consistently lost players for five months. The drop began at 2K players but continued to get worst with each month. Currently, CSGO has only 527K average players, the lowest since February 2020. 

CSGO at the lowest in 2021 despite hitting 1 million mark last year 

On paper, online format was generally expected to boost the player base of video games since more people reactivate their accounts, looking for entertainment indoors. LANs and professional scenes contribute tons to the overall spirit of the game. Therefore, a decline in CSGO’s player count was expected due to the cancellation of large-scale esports events on an incredible scale. One of the biggest events of 2020 ESL One Rio 2020 CS:GO Major was also shelved, and it really dampened the spirits of esports enthusiasts. 

However, CSGO always pulls through the mess, and this is precisely what happened in 2020. The wave of self-isolation worldwide sparked by COVID-19 didn’t harm CSGO as much. The game managed to boast more numbers in 2020 than ever before, hitting the 1 million mark. With its loyal followers, counter-strike became the most popular game on Steam by some distance. Dota 2 took second place with a peak of 685,879 players. Battle royale PUBG came in third with 525,462 players.

This was a massive milestone as most esports titles were suffering amid the Global Pandemic, and CSGO created a new record. Most importantly, it wasn’t a mere boost of home-stuck new players, the game managed to retain the expanding player base for an entire year, which warranted a successful year ahead. But, recent stats bear bad news. 

Is Valorant to blame for CSGO’s decline in 2021?

While the release of CSGO’s modern competitor Valorant failed to have much impact initially, it’s starting to break down a chunk of its player count in 2021. The vivid and futuristic Valorant universe had trouble written all over it. Coupled with the online format of esports, Valorant has certainly become a massive threat to CSGO’s player base. 

Global Pandemic didn’t falter what Valve had created. Valorant’s thriving 2021 made even glamorous with a top-notch LAN event hasn’t only roped in professional players like Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt, but it’s also eyeing CSGO’s player base. While Valorant undoubtedly contributed significantly to CSGO decline, it isn’t entirely responsible for the slow slump. 

Also Read l CSGO star NBK to pursue Valorant

As mentioned earlier, people were still actively playing CSGO when Valorant was at its peak. Thus, it’s unfair to dump all blame on Riot’s shooter. A number as massive as 110K is likely generated due to Valve’s recent competitive paywall update.

The hacker wipe-out is part of the reason why CSGO lost such a massive chunk within 30 days. 

The competitive paywall came as a blessing for loyal CSGO players who are sick of getting no-scoped mid-air. The matchmaking was senselessly infected with cheaters who employed third-party software to exploit VAC. By reverting CSGO’s free-to-play status to some extent, Valve created a glass wall that had a massive no-entry sign plastered all over it. A large chunk of hackers chose to quit the game instead of paying to cheat. 

The June 3 dev blog clarified that “bad actors” have no place in ranked, and they may want to take their lucrative endeavors to a new unranked mode. 

“Along with all the gameplay that we made available for free, new players had access to drops, Ranks, Skill Groups, and a free path to Prime matchmaking. Unfortunately, over time, those benefits have become an incentive for bad actors to hurt the experience of both new and existing players,” The blog read. 

Soon after this update, the player count started dropping drastically, proving that COVID-19 and Valorant may not have a lot to do with the CSGO decline. However, it’s not all dark, no stars. LAN events have returned with a bang in IEM Cologne 2021, helping CSGO’s viewership boast high numbers. 

For now, the players should keep their fingers crossed and hope that CSGO makes it out unscathed out of this challenging phase as it has done many times in the past. 

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