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 cs.nl 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.
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.
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.'
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]