Although Counter-Strike has been around since 2012, the most recent holiday season was one of the best months for the game since 2017.
In December CS:GO’s player count grew exponentially over the course of the month, culminating with a peak of 767,060 players, which is the highest amount of concurrent players since January 2017, which hit a peak of 814,616 players.
The reason for this slight peak isn’t entirely clear, since there wasn’t a major CS:GO event taking place nor was there an operation, both of which have increased the player count in the past—the most recent was Shattered Web, which was released in early November.
In 2017, one reason for this spike in players was due to the coveted ELEAGUE Major in Atlanta from Jan. 22 to Jan. 29 2017. This event featured some of the biggest teams in CS:GO such as eventual-winners Astralis, the Polish powerhouse Virtus.Pro, and former Major-winners SK Gaming. The significance was unprecedented because this was the first time a Danish team had won a Major. And it would later become the start of Astralis’ dominance of the scene.
This time last year, Valve drastically changed CS:GO to compensate for the lack of players. At the time, CS:GO saw a steep decline in its playerbase, resulting in an all-time low of 420,261 players toward July. The developers made CS:GO free-to-play, which shot-up the player count but resulted in unfavorable reviews since there was an influx of cheaters, an already-widespread problem in CS:GO.
With this change, Valve also introduced a battle-royale mode, which has been updated consistently since its implementation.
But, CS:GO, like only a few other games, has proven once more that it can stand the test of time.