Counter-Strike 2 dwarfs Starfield, Cyberpunk and everything else

  • Counter-Strike 2 has launched on Steam today, and is now the most played game on the platform.
  • It’s huge playerbase is dwarfing the activity of recent mega-AAA titles like Starfield and the revamped Cyberpunk 2077.
  • There is a chance that Valve’s multiplayer shooter could become the most-played game the platform has ever seen.

In a year full of so many high-profile big game launches, from a new Armored Core to a new Zelda, it seems the year’s actual biggest game has quietly flown under the radar. Counter-Strike 2 is now available, and its launch on Steam has eclipsed every other major launch this year already, growing to half a million concurrent players a few hours after launching and now seeing 1.2 million concurrent players at the time of writing.

It is currently the most-played game on Steam by a large margin, according to SteamDB. It is also important to remember concurrent player stats are as of midday South African time. This means that it is still early morning in North America. There is a chance that the game will hit or even beat its all-time peak of 1.8 million when the US and Canada wake up.

A screenshot of Steam DB showing the top 10 most played games right now.

Counter-Strike 2, which builds on Counter-Strike GO, is now the second most popular game Steam has ever had in terms of concurrent players. The all-time peak still goes to PUBG, which saw 3 million players in 2017 the year it was released.

The first four games with the most players on Steam are all free-to-play which is important as pricing is obviously a point of friction, however, the enormous leap in players that Counter-Strike 2 is seeing now goes beyond that.

Building on the massive popularity of CS:GO, Counter-Strike 2 is a graphical and gameplay revamp that takes advantage of Valve’s latest game engine Source 2. Players are set to keep their items and equipment from CS:GO when they move to its sequel which also removes friction. Valve is calling the game its biggest technical leap ever.

The top-played game that you need to buy is Cyberpunk 2077 which just received a massive update and a new piece of DLC. Players are returning in droves to experience what developer CD Projekt and the players themselves are calling the best way to play the game three years after its controversial launch.

This is followed by newcomer Baldur’s Gate 3 which is still seeing solid player numbers now two months after launching. Conspicuous by its absence is Starfield – considered by Microsoft the biggest Xbox release of the year. Starfield is Bethesda’s latest and greatest open-world RPG, and it isn’t even in the top 10 most played games on Steam after only launching a few weeks into September. Its all-time peak on Steam is only 330 000.

It is being handily beaten by the 10-year-old Grand Theft Auto V which is the 9th most played game on Steam. Bethesda announced earlier this month that Starfield had reached 10 million players across all of its platforms. This metric seems to be in purchases of the game and not just concurrent players. Perhaps the game is seeing more activity on Xbox Game Pass which would mean mission accomplished from Microsoft’s side.

However, a lack of activity for Starfield could be because of a lack of updates from its developer. Starfield is still waiting for its “big patch” after receiving sporadic little performance updates every here and yonder. In contrast, Baldur’s Gate 3 has been seeing frequent large patches. A particular patch on 22nd September contained a huge amount of fixes (just an insane amount, worth several pages of patch notes) and new features requested by the community, like the Magic Mirror where you can change your appearance whenever you want.

Either way, Valve’s multiplayer shooter seems like a hit for the developer, who will be raking in money through the game’s item shop, and in a year full of big games, provides yet another time sink for happy gamers enjoying what is turning out to be a historic year for our favourite pastime.

[Image – Steam]


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