Counter-Strike, or how to go from 'cyber' to the stadium
Counter-Strike , one of the historic video games on the esports scene , turns 20 and Valve has announced the news on the occasion of this celebration. Two decades of the franchise that reigned in Internet cafes in the early 2000s and changed the lives of millions of players. The truth is that these announcements have not caught players by surprise and even part of the community has complained about the shyness with which Valve is celebrating such an anniversary. And even more after the media show put on by Riot Games to mark the 10th anniversary of League of Legends .
The celebrations began on June 18, the date that coincides with the start of the beta of the mod, published on June 19, 1999. Valve then announced a retro version of Dust II and a new capsule of stickers with the chickens as protagonists. . A movement that many fans found insufficient, and this was stated in various forums; even requesting Valve to incorporate other mythical maps of CS 1.6. Although at the moment this consideration seems that it has not been taken into account by the company.
A few days ago, other innovations were announced, such as the arrival of the new Cache in the game , an updated version by its creators FMPONE and Volcano. Also the inclusion of a box with new weapon appearances and a new capsule of stickers with designs created by the community through the Workshop. An event that had been launched days ago as a kind of contest that has allowed the best designs to reach the game. Not to forget the inclusion of the classic knife as a rare item honoring the traditional knife.
But all these announcements still seem insufficient for the great part of the fans who consider these additions more typical of an ordinary update. On Reddit there are many critical voices asking for some kind of reward for older players or other bonuses or gifts for playing, without having to pay for them. As an example, anniversaries such as the aforementioned League of Legends have been put up , which has made a series of daily in-game gifts for recurring players. The truth is that for this date so marked in a game as important as Counter-Strike, it seems strange that Valve has not prepared anything else.
It all started with a mod
Like other great titles on the competitive scene, Counter-Strike was a game created by and for the community. In 1999 it was released as a Half-Life mod and directly inspired by Quake and the idSoftware philosophy , thanks to its two creators Mihn 'Gooseman' Le and Jess Cliffe. The following year, Valve decided to take over the rights to a game that has become the most successful and longest-running FPS of all time.
In addition to the popular Counter-Strike 1.6, which was also reflected on Xbox, the franchise was renewed with Condition Zero, Source and Global Offensive , without forgetting its versions for the Asian market such as Neo or Counter-Strike Online . Two decades later, the game is still in top form . And it is that the free-to-play turn seems to have seated more than well this veteran franchise that in 2019 has broken records .
Will there be no more celebrations?
It is one of the most repeated questions in various forums. And the community now hopes that the celebrations for this 20th anniversary have not ended here. Valve has not spoken about it and there are many rumors that speak of new announcements to come. There are those who expect the arrival of a new operation in the game in the coming weeks, and even some supposedly leaked files speak of new features on the maps. But the company has limited itself to taking stock of the StarLadder Berlin Major tournament and clarifying some of the open discussions about leagues, audiovisual rights and the competitive future of the game. Nothing else about the anniversary.
Other users point to Valve's silence as the best guarantee that the most important thing is yet to come. There are also those who speculate about the possibility of great news next year. And it is that November 9, 2000 was the date of departure of the first installment already edited by Valve that started the franchise. There is talk of a new installment in the series -CS: GO has already turned 7 years old- and even the arrival of Half Life 3. At the moment, the company is still silent, so we will have to be vigilant to know more about the future. of one of the most important franchises in the history of video games.
Just a few days ago that Riders formally crowned as the best team in the Superliga Orange of 'Counter-Strike: Global Offensive'.
His infallible season where only Giants has been able to make an impression on the Mixwell dream team , has highlighted two evidences: that in Spain we have very good shooters - we just have to remember some Team Heretics performances at the CWL in London - and that the Valve shooter live in good health.
With the Blast Pro Series still ringing in Madrid, there's no better time to take a look at the Counter-Strike timeline, know where it's coming from, and understand how far it's come.
The Beginnings: From Half-Life to the Terrorist War
We could say that it all started on June 19, 1999 . That day the first closed beta was published that would shape one of the most popular shooters in history. Four maps, all hostage. There would still be a handful of betas left to have a bomb to deactivate - it would arrive in version 1.5-.
The beta was nothing more than a 'Quake II' mod with some improvements inherited from 'Half-Life', released a year earlier. And what did we have in 1999 regarding FPS? It was a remarkable vintage: 'Quake III Arena', 'Unreal Tournament', 'Medal of Honor', 'System Shock 2', or the first 'Team Fortress'.
It was the key moment. The Canadian Minh 'Gooseman' Le and the American Jess Cliffe, both good friends and active players, quickly managed to build a community of fans which, in turn, carried the maps that created 'Team Fortress Classic'. The official version that was published a year later, on November 8, 2000, would end up being called 'Half-Life: Counter-Strike', a free game for PC.
At that time, the games were played on the WON server, a server that was closed in 2004, when the one that is canonically considered the definitive version, 1.6, arrived with a Steam menu and the incorporation of masters such as Galil and Famas.
Those who played at home had it easy, the technical requirements were minimal. You didn't need a NASA PC to run it , and as of 2001 more than 9,000 servers were supporting the 50,000 players who piled up fearlessly. Those who played outside, idem: the strategy of fast games led to immediate success in arcades and cyber cafes, the groups of players were rotating frequently and the appetite for revenge was only growing.
With these wickerwork on the table, it seemed like a good time to savor the lides of success. The version marketed on Xbox is practically the same as we can find in the 1.60 edition packed inside a box, 60 eurazos. Studios like Gearbox Software or Turtle Rock Studios, parents of 'Left 4 Dead' were involved in its development. The press criticized the null advance in technological terms , since Xbox was promoted as a very powerful console for the time.
But, in the meantime, Valve honed its next step, 'Condition Zero,' a more campaign-focused edition ("Deleted Scenes") with 4-player squads. Nor did it achieve great repercussion and the factory of Gabe Newell focused on a version that offered what the respectable demanded: better graphics.
Source, named after being developed with the 'Half-Life 2' engine, was an iteration that was sold together with it and presented a series of demands that were not happy for everyone. It was released directly on Steam and the requirements were not for everyone. What's more, a mod (CS Promod) was created that would take advantage of the latest 1.6 updates without the graphic section of Source.
If we travel to the future, as of August 21, 2012 , we will find the official release of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive , the latest official version, the one that everyone plays, available on almost all platforms. The names of the weapons become invented to be real -which implies paying for use rights, a murky matter because it involves the financing of the arms market-, the skin system built a dangerous market, taking advantage of the fact that these transactions in external markets until Steam, until recently, were not monitored. And Valve ... well, Valve kept working on its anti-cheat system ( VAC ).
But it would not be fair to jump from 2004 to here without first qualifying some points. Think of the Counter's most iconic items, the grenades that wipe out a couple of terrorists. The game gradually acquired iconic status within the industry , growing horizontally with versions like 'Counter Strike Neo', the same game with a 'LoL' progress system.
Your first steps as eSport
Two events were decisive in the future of the game as a sports discipline: the Cyberathlete Pro League (CPL) and Championship Gaming Series (CGS). Do not look for them, the two gave up in their attempt to regulate eSports. It was too early, but they put the game on their sports grill and thousands of users struggled to be a little better.
Also some other stumbles as an update: every time Valve released a patch, nobody could enter to play online with the old version, so the game stayed a couple of days frozen until everyone managed to update their copy. But others came to those first events: Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC), World e-Sports Games (WEG) and World Cyber Games (WCG).
During these years, in addition, other heavyweights such as 'Call of Duty', 'Halo' and 'Battlefield' turned the genre into more than just a fairground hut, elevated it to the category of mass blockbuster that it is today. And we still have to talk about a third factor: Youtube.
The youtuber phenomenon erupted with the force of a cyclone and the rest is history. A story that we can encompass in a simple syllogism: if people want to see play, we can create platforms for them to see play. And pay the best players and charge the most devoted spectators, of course. Meanwhile, Party LANs grew to mass events that filled more than just school pavilions. Now they were taking over every last row of the stadiums.
Twenty years have passed since that first beta. Meanwhile, more than forty updates in the version timeline and, along the way, from controversies that have involved waves of extraordinary banning to prizes of $ 1,500,000 and players with astronomical salaries, such as the Danish triplet -Xyp9x, dupreeh and dev1ce- from Astralis.
ESL One or DreamHack are not conceived without the acronym CS: GO. Neither the Orange Super League , which already included the game in the 2014 season and, its absence in 2016 to readjust calendars, has been growing at a cruising pace since 2017, with 8 official clubs and 4 guests. Big teams like Fnatic, Cloud9, Astralis, Team Liquid and Na'Vi pay bills thanks to the competitions with this game and at any moment we can find an average of 300,000 players a day, with peaks of almost a million a month.
Maybe we are talking about one of the longest-running shooters in the genre, but with its multiplayer at the top of modalities and that continuous review of statistics still remind us that Valve's is the most healthy shooter in the eSport ecosystem.