June 19, 2009

Ten Years of Counter Strike: Part One

So it’s Counter Strike’s 10th anniversary. Thinking back to when I picked the game up in Beta 6, things have come a long long way. The game itself became more Rainbow Six and less Action Quake while still holding true to its fast paced origins. The scene has matured from local scenes mingling in isolation to global sites and international leagues. Also, we dare call this game a sport with large corporate sponsors.

Counter-Strike offers a mixed legacy, however. We were often subject to unscrupulous business men and having our game hijacked by those who thought they knew better than the fans. These men were all hailed as visionaries and later all turned out to be visionless hacks who tried to make money by chasing others dreams … and not their own.

So without further bullshitting on my part, I'll run down the top five triumphs and the top five failures in ten years of CS.

Triumph #5:
The max round game type and format standardization

We all yearn for the days of charges only when Vesselan was a colt wielding badass with Nordic Division and not just another fruity Swede.

Personally, I look back to when the game was new and we were exploring how everything worked with a yearning that the game I love was as fresh and addicting as it was then.

I have to admit though by sheer luck (or some Darwinian bullshit out of the primordial cluster fuck that was early Counter Strike) we came up with an incredible way to play this game. Gone was the camp the militia attic to run down the clock, and running away in chargers only to screw over the T’s. We had defined goals, and a set metric to judge teams by. We also cut down the number of players to a reasonable size and other competitive games still copy these rules.

Not only did we come up with this great rules format …. but it was adopted by virtually everyone. Counter Strike can be played in any tournament anywhere in the world and, besides minor rules about exploits and such, is the exact same game. I think this is a phenomenal achievement for a grass roots “sport” with no organizing body.

For this we have to thank the CPL. Without CPL and their early CPL Europe events international CS would not have grown as quickly as it did if at all. By being the premier international CS event their rules and standards became what the players viewed as the acceptable format for CS. I’ll hit on the CPL more later on.

Failure #5
Counter Strike Source

This isn’t a slam on CSS but more a slam on what Valve was thinking.

Let’s be totally honest. Releasing a game that played nothing like the original and was virtually unplayable out the gate was idiotic at best. Taking a game that grew up with the people playing it and then dropping this bastard child in their laps (ok I lied it is a Source slam) was essentially giving their fans the finger.

Sure it has pretty graphics but the reason Counter Strike is so popular is that it has AMAZING game play. I think Valve forgot this. I’d hate to have been the guy that did the projections at the Valve HQ. I bet they thought this game would grab CS’ player base and then some. It must annoy them to no end that this 10 year old game is still their most popular title.

Beyond the fact that the game was half baked and I personally hate the way the it plays, the game split the Counter Strike community in two. The CPL tried to run just a Source event in 2005; they were forced by the complete lack of sign ups to bring back the original and run two tournaments. Then the CGS cleaved the community in two with their league. They lead on CGS hopefuls by promises of farm squads and expansion teams that turned out to be a whole lot of bullshit. Hey, I guess you’re willing to say anything to convince people you’re the second coming of Christ.

Do I blame Valve for trying to cash in on the Counter Strike franchise? Hell no. Do I blame them for not keeping with the spirit of the first game? God damn right I do. Do I blame the bandwagoners and "marketers" who have no clue about our community foisting something on us to make a buck? I hope they realized what could have been and how much damage they did with their blind greed.

Check back soon for more of Triumphs and Failures!


  1. "I hope they realized what could have been and how much damage they did with their blind greed."

    The only problem with that statement is that if the greed is blind, then nothing is learned. People who don't understand the dynamic and the intangibles of the global competitive gaming and E-Sports community won't understand the damage they do because they're not a part of it. They will just accept it as a "failed venture," or whatever they'd like to call it, and move on to the next Get-Rich-Quick idea. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if CPL becomes top dog again simply because all the other international competitions just ran out of money.

  2. I'm not sure I see your point, rebound. Are you saying that all the guys who failed doing stuff like CXG and WSVG learned something from them? Personally I haven't seen any evidence of that, except maybe how to fail even worse the next time.

  3. I am pretty sure that no one ever learns from the mistakes of others in eSports. Primarily because people think that they are smarter, have a better idea, are more in touch with the community, have more money, or are better business men than the other guys so what happened to the other guy could never happen to them.

    I mean look at what happened to the CPL. They used spread themselves thin in 2005. The CPL World Tour and the 1 million dollars they gave away was "earth shattering" at the time. In the end though they abandoned the game that brought them to the dance ... and WSVG picked up to make the same mistakes over again ... and then the CGS.

    Five dollars if you can name the idiot responsible for all this carnage.