Blog: Should CS:GO go f2p or not?

April 28th, 2013 15:28
Hello all,


Since this is my first blog here, let me start with a small introduction as to who I am.
My name is Niels, 28 years old and born in The Netherlands.
I've been playing CS since (I think) beta 5.2 and I have seen the game evolve to what it has become nowadays.
In the period in which I played CS (up till the release of css) I have always been very active in the (mainly Dutch) community. (Some Dutch people might know me from back in the day)
I left the CS days behind around the time when CSS got released and never really went back to it.

About a year ago I got invited into the beta of this game called Counter-Strike: Global-Offensive, since I hadn't played any CS for years, this felt like a warm welcome back to the game I had loved so much.
For me CS:GO came pretty much out of nowhere, since I wasn't following anything about the scene anymore, and eventhough I could see some flaws in the beta, I did see what Valve was aiming for with this game.
No more spamming irc mix channels, no more searching for servers, just get in a lobby with your team and the game would take care of the rest for you.
This was the biggest selling point for the game in my eyes, this could get the casual players get into the actual game as well, instead of having these players just play publics all the time and thinking that that was the entire game.

The current game-state

But now we are a year further and even though the player (and viewer) numbers are growing, it is not growing nearly as much as Valve (and I) had hoped. And now the game is in a pretty critical state in my opinion.
Just look at all the threads on sites like this one, filled with people that really hate Valve for not doing what needs to be done in their opinion.
I can understand these threads all to well, people love the Counter-Strike name and they want it to get back to its glory days.
But the thing that I have noticed alot is that people are complaining alot about the competitive issues, they want the _se maps, they want 128 tick servers, the movement needs to change etc.
And even though these are things that really do need to be looked into, I honestly don't think that this should be Valves priority right now.
Cause what would this actually achieve? Sure, it would make the current competitive playerbase more happy (and don't get me wrong, you deserve it for supporting Cs this long), but what the game really needs right now is a huge increase of this playerbase.

Casual players

Currently the game is pretty much at a stalemate, we have a pretty active pro-scene, we have alot of people that play this game on the competitive side, but the thing that we don't have is new players.
Meaning that sooner or later CS:GO will just die by the lack of players.
So in my opinion Valve should focus heavely on the casual side of the game right now. They should try to get as many new players in as possible, get the game known to the masses.
Now Valve has actually been working on this part, they added DM as an actual gamemode, they are adding more maps for casuals and even altering the gamemodes for these maps.
Even though the die-hard CS lovers as we all are, hate Valve for giving these updates priority, these updates are really needed to keep the game alive.
Which gets us to the next point, what could Valve do to get even more casual players into the game?
I think the obvious answer here is one that sounds even scarier to most people: 'Make CS:GO Free 2 Play.'

Free 2 play?

Making the game f2p would increase the playerbase without any doubts, just look at TF2; a game that the masses never heard about, and now it's in the top3 most played steam games all the time.
The first argument people have against CS:GO taking this (pretty big) step is ofcourse the cheaters.
Giving CS to people for free is basicly asking people to just get some hacks with it and create a new account whenever they get banned.
This could, instead of reviving the game, let it die right on the spot.

But this doesn't mean that there is nothing that can be done against this, the first part has to be that Valve has to work on VAC way and way more. Maybe even spent some money and get the Wire team (for example) to help Valve out here.
Anti-cheats will never stop all the cheats, but it can be a huge help in the fight against them.
But even if Valve does not work on this, the cheating part doesn't have to become a huge problem.
When going f2p, Valve should keep the f2p users and premium (you and I, people who bought the game) seperate in the matchmaking process.
Meaning that the people who are a bit more serious about the game would not run into f2p cheaters while playing competitive.
Maybe even restrict matchmaking completely to premium members, leaving the f2p players on the public servers, which have admins and the vote-kick system.

This way people can experience the essence of the game and even play wars on private servers and if they like it, they can go ahead and spend $10 on the game and get really into it. (Look at SC2's starter edition, make it a really advanced demo)
If Valve handles this the right way, then I really believe that this setup could work, giving the game the boost it needs so desperately.

But ofcoure there are other issues when going f2p with a game like CS.
Free 2 play means that Valve will have to get their money from different means then from gamesales, likely meaning micro-transactions as (again) in TF2.
Now nobody wants CS to turn into TF2, fragmovies won't be as epic anymore when you get a 5k on people wearing christmas hats.
But it doesn't have to go this far, Valve could just create custom weapon skins that would be seeable by everybody on the server, give the casuals their golden AK's and pink Glocks on the official servers. I honestly would not care about that, as long as Valve gives server owners a cvar to turn these off on their server and, again, keep it away from the premium MM.
When Valve would do this, for most of us nothing would change in the game, but we would have a way bigger playerbase, which brings in more viewers, more/bigger sponsors, more/bigger tournaments.

But wouldn't Valve stab the people that already paid for the game in the back this way?
I can understand this feeling, I had this when TF2 went f2p as well, but maybe, just maybe Valve could then finally give the premium players the 128tick servers and _se maps as a bonus for paying, luring in the f2p players to go for premium as well once they get to know the game.


As I see it now, going f2p with the limits that I stated here could really get CS:GO up to the top3 of most played steam games. Let the casual playerbase explode with growth so that the competitive side will automatically get the boost it deserves and needs as well.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this big wall of text, and I would really like to hear some of your opinions on this matter. :)

[INDENT](This was my first blog that I have ever written, so it might not be the best written blog out there, but I got tired of typing this essence out in every forum thread about the direction CS:GO needs to go, so I decided to give my stand on it this way.
I hope people can see the importance of focus on the casual side of the game, we just need to have a bit more patience and we CAN get the CS scene back to the status it deserves!)[/INDENT]
That was a really good read if you ask me :) IMHO going f2p is a necessary step for CS:GO.Probably Valve is already working on it.
2013-04-28 15:51
Netherlands Nieroth 
Thanks. :) And lets hope so.
2013-04-28 16:14
while one embodiment of this
2013-04-28 22:06
Hi, whats the point of f2p? get more people? for what? if they didn't pay the game (thinking Valve side)
2013-04-28 22:27
+ people + tournaments + sponsors + competitive
2013-08-17 17:56
Ah ok , guessing that Valve has to reclaim his rights for the use of his game in tournaments ... right? xD then valve gets some money again and everyone is happy <3
2013-08-18 05:05
yup, that would be perfect for the fps scene and for csgo :)
2013-08-18 13:40
people wont read that wall of text :/ you got to have probably a maximum of 3 sentences in which you state if you think the game sucks or not. otherwise people here won't read it here on :/
2013-04-28 15:56
Netherlands Nieroth 
The people that will read more then 3 sentences probably have more constructive to add to this discussion anyways, its a good filter. ;)
2013-04-28 16:06
i'm sure the text has a good portion of quality, but its just that i cant read that long texts :( i lack in both swedish and english writing and reading skills so its kind of a plague to me :p
2013-04-28 16:12
Netherlands Nieroth 
Hehe, yeah it became a bit longer than what I intended, I'll try to keep it in mind if I'll write any more blogs. :p
2013-04-28 16:14
Speak for yourself.
2013-04-28 22:07
nice read. i think valve shouldnt prioritize f2p first. they should make the game as the community(well the ones that have a brain ofc) wants and the needed changes etc and after we have a COUNTER-STRIKE game then it should go f2p. as for the cheating aspect i have a good analysis at my blog here --->
2013-04-28 15:56
Netherlands Nieroth 
I'll read that later when I have some more time, seems interesting. :)
2013-04-28 16:18
yeah its cool. im a cs oldschool player myself and i gave my perspective and analysis of things as i think it should be
2013-04-28 20:38
Brazil dkf 
2013-04-28 15:59
Slovakia xarc 
well done :) I like your opinion
2013-04-28 16:06
I lost all my hope in csgo
2013-04-28 16:19
Yes, make GO f2p asap. Even then i don't think GO will get somewhere near 100k players, what would be really wishful. If going f2p will raise the amount of concurrent players from 20-30k to 50-60k .... that would honestly be sad. TF2 is a better casual game and even TF2 doesn't get 100k players (concurrent). So i HIGHLY doubt CSGO will get somewhere near the needed amount in order to be able to compete with other big competitive games. CS's time is over. I don't think ANY version will bring back those masses of 200k we were used to.
2013-04-28 17:13
I hate reading your negative comments everywhere. It makes me sad but after that i always notice <3 CSP and i laugh so hard:D
2013-04-28 18:10
2013-04-28 18:13
Serbia sALE 
Going f2p depends solely on how will valve do it,if they halfass it like they are doing with the updates now it will be a success only temporary,but if they focus on balancing the gameplay that make it more fun for casual gamers aswell for competitive people.Cs has loads of possibilities for monetizing,ofcourse that should only affect casual servers(custom gun models,skins etc.)so valve dont have to worry about making money but balancing the game should be a priority.
2013-04-28 18:04
was a good read, same feelings here. Someone knows how many people used to play tf2 before it went f2p?
2013-04-28 18:11 Here you go. Now think a bit. TF2 is a much more casual friendly game. If going f2p "only" doubled/nearly trippled the amount of players, what do you think will happen with CSGO? Me saying it won't reach 100k for sure is just being realistic. Being realistic ..u know that shit?
2013-04-28 18:24
ty for the link. I think cs:go is a better game with a heavy background so i think it would be 100k+.
2013-04-28 20:18
You honestly think CS:GO is a better casual game? That's fine. IMO CS:GO is boring as hell if you just wanna quickly jump into the game after work or something. Only aspect where CS:GO is fun: playing with mates ..competitively.
2013-04-28 20:28
What I'm saying is The Counter-Strike name is still pretty famous and could attract more players.
2013-04-28 21:56
I think CS:GO has pretty much proven that only the name won't attract the masses. I think there were like 250k beta keys given out and yet not even 2k people played the beta. Also after the free weekend the amount of concurrent players barely rised .... dunno...saying GO will get over 100k concurrent players is HIGHLY optimistic ....
2013-04-28 22:33
okay let's Stay with that, maybe I'm optimistic and you aren't. Peace.
2013-04-28 23:45
Taking seriously a guy with the "<3 CSP" extensions is funny as hell, it's like taking seriously a guy who writes "i'm a retard" after every sentence.
2013-04-28 18:12
Romania xPAz 
I even don't think you read the post. Judge a book by it's cover and you can easily make yourself "a guy who writes i'm a retard after every sentence".
2013-04-28 18:29
No No and No
2013-04-28 18:16
Finland teco 
No before it's good.
2013-04-28 18:18
2013-04-28 18:25
"fragmovies won't be as epic anymore when you get a 5k on people wearing christmas hats." I don't know about that... I really want hats in CSGO! :3
2013-04-28 18:32
Nice read, I liked the part about the casuals having their fun with hats and weapon skins. (People can't cheat their way into getting their own custom stuff because of sv_pure 0 anyway cause of the source engine). While keeping the competitive side alone, as well as having the ability to turn it off using server commands for competitive play. Though I honestly have no idea how they will help in any way in MM nor in cheating as Valve was never good at that. Unless they hire Punkbuster (I think it's called?) to cover their game even though it's not the best anti-cheat at least they make more of an effort than Valve does on VAC.
2013-04-28 18:46
Bad Step :'( !! , FFA ?!? we will see all cinds of cheating !
2013-04-28 19:24
Tunisia edgg 
2013-04-28 21:34
Agree with the majority of what you've written down :)
2013-04-28 20:27
Nice read, everything is true, but i think that most ppl can't enjoy this game because they have low-end pc's especially 1.6 players from eastern..South-Eastern Europe and South America (at least that's the main problem here in my country). Making it f2p would bring 20~30k players max but that's questionable as well. FPS commands and constant updates (like in dota2) could do the trick to attract more and more players. Also Valve did very bad job promoting csgo as next competitive cs version
2013-04-28 20:52
Also Valve did very bad job promoting csgo as next competitive cs version Cuz it was never meant to be THE next competitive cs version. The community and organizers made it the one and only competitive CS version. Why should they promote the game as something they nearly don't give a fuck about?
2013-04-28 22:36
Sad but true...
2013-04-28 23:35
i read it and i agree with u .
2013-04-28 21:00
Nice blog Nieroth. First of all I'll introduce myself. I am Arthur 25 years old from Amsterdam. I have played CS since 1999 (1.0) and have been following competitive CS since 2000 when I first saw Frag or Die. I have several ideas about how to get more people playing this game. Obviously F2P is a much discussed subject at the moment, but how do you make a business model for that? - How can Valve get more casuals to play their game and make money by making CS:GO F2P? Well I started looking some of the basic details what have gone missing from this game. How do we get more people into CS? The answer is fun. Everyone started out on a public and it should be fun! At the same time you need to be able to recognise skilled other players, more about this later. Keep in mind I have MANY more things I'd like to add but I'll keep it short for now. #1 Movement Now you might think this doesn't really matter much for the casual. But this is where people are wrong. I think movement is one if not the most critical update required. There are few fundemental reasons. 1. You will VISUALLY be able to tell that someone is better then you. 2. It provides an extra dimension to CS and with that the challenge to get better in the game in an completely different aspect of the game. - I remember back when I started playing I didn't care and notice much about the movement until one day I saw this guy on public bunnyhopping his way around dust1 (CS 1.0). In 1.0 you could bunnyhop so friggin fast I was absolutely amazed and was like HOW does he do that? It made me want to learn something, practice my bunnyhop to become better and do something most players could not. This made me play the game more because it became a lot more interesting. It is an aspect completely missing right now from the game. I can almost move exactly the same as get_right since there is barely any skill involved right now. If you are playing in a public as a casual player and you see someone doing some movement you can't do yourself it's inspiring and gives most people a reason to practice to get better. #2 Spraypaint: This has been part of CS for many years, I can remember playing in public servers and all these people had their own costum spraypaints. Like how the 'pro' players always used the "B" etc. These should be reintroduced with special sprays constantly being created costing a small fraction like $0,05. There is nothing more fun (figuratively speaking) spraypainting on someone's corpse in a public after you just owned them to add insult to injury. It is an element completely missing right now. Now on top of that you can add special sprays if you want to support a team (fnatic, NiP, Quantic). Imagine f0rest spraying "f0restality!" or Neo spraying "Neo > all Poland strong" on the ground after picking up a 4K or something ridiculous. People actually enjoy that or would laugh about that. Like you said they would need to seperate casual and competitive (obviously). This could be done by a simple server command f.e. sv_allowspecialitems 1/0. Then again at the same time it would be lame to ask money now for a feature which always been free.
2013-04-28 21:10
Well said definitely about the spray, I didn't really use it in 1.6 but they could sell it for sure. First time I was with the guys who said special items would destroy cs:go, but I read a few nice blogs with many ideas and I have to support these kind of great ideas, valve could make profit basically from everything. Personally I can't wait this to happen.
2013-04-28 23:57
Just Very Nice <3
2013-04-28 23:06
The game is alive and kicking, why try and push it, let it do it's own thing!
2013-04-29 00:05
Portugal picc 
Every time I hear about all those ideas, I just think why don't put make it happen in 1.6 and have the triple of the success? LoL. Anyway, good read, interesting ideas, make more blogs :D note: fight agianst them , *fight against them
2013-04-29 13:56
Netherlands Nieroth 
Thanks, fixed. ^^
2013-04-29 14:36
United Kingdom wap 
Good read. Anyway I think going f2p would be a mistake unless they create a proper anticheat. F2p is for sure gonna increase the amount of hackers, and let us be honest, it does not matter if you get banned because people will just create a new account. There has been quite a few cool f2p fps around before and they had the same issue.
2013-04-29 15:54
Azerbaijan Talley 
Simply not, not and not again!
2013-04-29 17:28
This is the best blog i have read so far!!!!
2013-04-30 02:04
matchmaking is dead don't know why you even consider it, playing under valve "protection" is a bad joke as they probably think matchmaking is just for people to see how it is. Can't remember where i read it (some comment here)..but valve stated it's not their job to make sure people are clean, it's the tournament managers to keep it. That being said it's clear they won't do shit about cheaters.
2013-05-01 10:45
they have to implement ranked for teams only with some elo system.
2013-05-02 11:45
1st they should make the game better and then decide whether to go f2p or not
2013-05-02 16:37
All they need to do is go f2p know
2013-08-17 15:17
Croatia VuKA 
It will be awesome if csgo go free to play but we need new anticheat like esea
2013-08-17 15:39
it wouldnt be cool for guys who actually buyed the game...
2013-08-17 15:42
10 euro so big deal?? tf was 20 euro and ppl was buying it so np...
2013-08-17 16:45
yes, for me is big deal its not ok at all , and if you want the game buy it dont ask for charity ...
2013-08-17 17:22
For me they shouldn't make CSGO f2p. Yes it would bring some players, but not really that much because if someone doesn't have or won't pay 5-10$ for a game they probably don't have good PC and won't pay 1000$ which is needed for a new PC.
2013-08-17 15:48
Dude, there are probably a looot of people who are not willing to pay 5$ for a game they don't really know, but if it would be f2p, they would try and, and even if only a small percentage actually enjoys it and plays it on a regular base, csgo numbers would grow way bigger fosho
2013-08-17 16:49
CS GO can only go f2p if Valve intends to ban hardware id's, otherwise game would be flooded with cheaters. END OF STORY!
2013-08-18 06:58
I agree.
2013-08-18 08:54
Totally agree. Good blog.
2013-09-06 14:41
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