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The value that the CS:GO Operations have on the game

The CS:GO operations have always been important for the main audience. They attract new players and increase the average amount of players in the game. The release days, for each one out of the eight past operations, were really important for the CS:GO community. Valve used to calm down the fans, using a simple trick such as adding a new case with good-looking and expensive skins, and make them forget about the in-game problems for a while. However, the idyll between the developers and the players didn’t last long.

Operation Hydra CS:GO

The last operation in CS:GO ended seven months ago — November 13, 2017

In the past, Valve could launch a CS:GO operation once in the distance of three to six months. For instance, Phoenix, Breakout, and Vanguard operations were released in 2014. Players could buy a pass for a temporary event which allowed them to test the new maps, get the access to exclusive items and innovative game modes. Starting with Vanguard, Valve began to extend the set of things that they were giving away for buying it. Over time, CS:GO would offer the special operation journal, which was tracking down players’ statistics, individual missions, the accomplishment of which was giving you rewards, and campaigns with game sessions that were specially created for a co-op mode. People were happy to see such a management of things from Valve, but, as it was mentioned earlier, the happiness was short-term. 

CS:GO highly evolved on the background of its success in the esports direction, so a lot of new demands from the community appeared alongside with it. And when it came down to the most critical moment, the productivity of the CS:GO-department of Valve hit an all-time low. After Operation Wildfire, players had to wait almost a year before its "sequel", Operation Hydra, got released. Valve didn’t learn from their mistakes, and now we don’t have an active CS:GO operation going on for seven months. Moreover, we haven’t even seen or heard any implications which would say that they are working on it.  

The history of the CS:GO operations
Operation Payback April 25, 2013 - August 31, 2013
Operation Bravo September 19, 2013 - February 5, 2014
Operation Phoenix February 20, 2014 - June 11, 2014
Operation Breakout July 1, 2014 - October 2, 2014
Operation Vanguard November 11, 2014 - March 31, 2015
Operation Bloodhound May 26, 2015 - September 30, 2015
Operation Wildfire February 17, 2016 - July 16, 2016
Operation Hydra May 23, 2017 - November 13, 2017

Valve made a lot of questionable decisions in relation to CS:GO, but this one deserves special attention. The thing is that, due to this reason, the game started losing its casual audience which usually brings huge earnings and high numbers to the player-base. And casuals aren’t really interested in aim-practice, which takes from 2 to 4 hours a day, and going to the professional level. Generally, this kind of players launch CS:GO because of cases, skins, and a few funny games in the matchmaking, ending their "career" with the rank that is not higher than Distinguished Master Guardian. The operations were keeping casual players in CS:GO and making them return to it. And now, when in the best of cases the in-game events happen only once in a year, these people don’t have many reasons to come back, as the market offers them interesting alternatives.

The casual audience is the thing that almost every publisher tries to please in the modern world of gaming. The operations were the link between the developers of CS:GO and the casual players who just want to get some fun from gaming process. Most of the people don’t actually care about the competitive aspect of the game. And when Valve stopped pushing new operations, they began losing the positions that belonged to them. This is why the war against PUBG and Fortnite was eventually lost, even though it wasn’t even properly started. 

We can take Fortnite, that we mentioned before, as an example. The game became insanely popular due to its availability (free-to-play model of distribution and ports to all actual gaming platforms), regular updates with a bunch of interesting innovations in terms of the gameplay, and close contact with their community. Due to these reasons, Fortnite is the most popular game in the world, and it has great potential for the future. On the other hand, CS:GO can only boast of its highly developed esport scene that keeps it going on.

There is great potential that is hidden in the operations, and Valve just don’t use it. Firstly, the developers can test a lot of new maps in this way. That happened during Operation Bravo in 2013 when we saw Cobblestone and Overpass for the first time being available for the matchmaking. A few months later after the end of the operation, these maps were added to the competitive map-pool and were played on the third CS:GO Major — ESL One Cologne 2014. The same thing comes to mind when we think about Cache which found its place in the Active Duty Map Pool after Operation Phoenix.

Cache CS:GO

In a flash, Cache conquered the love of CS:GO players after it became available for the matchmaking

Secondly, Valve can easily launch a crowdfunding system for the Majors through the sale of passes to the operations. By doing so, Dota 2 successfully gathers money for The International from year to year, while its players continue depositing their savings for small in-game awards. What prevents Valve from doing the same for CS:GO? It’s unknown because we have never heard the answer to this question. CS:GO Majors would attract much more attention from the gaming community if their prize-pool was higher than $1,000,000, that we are having for the last two years and a half. 

Thirdly, the developing team can experiment with different game modes by the operations and, consequently, engage more people in CS:GO so that would maintain a high amount of users in the player-base. It’s the main opportunity that Valve do really miss. For example, a lot of players like co-op missions. Why wouldn’t Valve organize a special event around this, making it even more massive than everything that was before?

Valve have great experience in terms of creating co-op missions for CS:GO

While Valve are doing nothing, the community creates interesting missions for co-op walkthrough by its own efforts. Not to mention that you can actually play the Battle Royale in CS:GO, and the developers have nothing to do about it.

You may find a lot of opportunities on how to use the CS:GO operations, but right now Valve aren’t going towards this direction. Besides that, our beloved online shooter has a lot of problems which require urgent fixing: anticheat, the Overwatch system that has its own flaws, rifles and pistols which either bring imbalance to the game or have no value, critically low performance of the game, and so on. CS:GO lives on mainly because of the esports and a huge fanbase. Any other game wouldn’t survive on the market with such an approach to the development process. And, guessing on the concern that professional tournaments in CS:GO get from the viewers, this game will be staying alive for a long time ahead of it.

Nobody says that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is going to die. This game survived too many serious things to quit that early. The point is that CS:GO could be a lot more successful than it is as of now. Valve had a lot of chances to make their title the most popular one in the world, but they threw it away. However, it’s still not too late to start supporting Counter-Strike in the way that it deserves to be treated. Probably, it will never be late. The start may be built around those operations which, in case of using the right kind of implementation, would give the game its second wind. For the game that is one of the most legendary competitive FPS titles in the history of the gaming industry.

The article was written by StarLadder's @EllanarkJesus