It’s really not all that surprising to believe that Riot Games’ VALORANT has had one of the most successful closed beta launches for an FPS game in a very long time.
The game got a full release a few days ago, and it seems like VALORANT’s popularity has hardly wavered. Even when the VALORANT servers went under maintenance a few hours after the release, and gave players multiple error codes, the servers soon got packed as soon as they went back live.
The game’s resemblance to both CS: GO and Overwatch has driven players from both the games to try their hand out at this new IP. However, even with all the similarities, there is room for enough differences to make VALORANT not a ‘lame rip-off’, but rather a ‘competitor’ to both these shooters.
So, when the mass exodus to VALORANT of CS: GO and Overwatch professionals began, during the closed beta, it didn’t really come as a shock to many.
CS: GO records player dropsCS: GO has seen a fall in player count
VALORANT’s popularity spiked the highest when Riot Games announced in the final week of May that they won’t be taking months to release the game. They revealed that they'd rather launch it ‘a couple of weeks later’ on the 2nd of June.
Right after the announcement, CS: GO recorded its first drop in players since the October of 2019, according to SteamCharts, which is a Steam tracking website. And many of the CS: GO pros jumping ship to VALORANT was indeed one of the biggest reasons why the player base was so bent on taking up the new shooter.
So, why are the pros leaving for VALORANT?
Casual players riding the hype train, and dipping in and out of the next big shooter is quite a common trend. But, retiring from the game in which you have built your entire career on, for VALORANT, an IP which is still in its beta stage, is another ball game altogether.
There have been several instances of CS: GO pros, like TenZ, Freakazoid, and Brax, who have left their established career to create a completely new one.
So, what’s making all the CS: GO pros, even the retired ones like Skadoodle, come to VALORANT, a game whose eSports plans are still under wraps?
In a tweet on the 11th of May, Jaccob ‘Yay’ Whiteaker wrote about the current CS: GO eco-system, and how it's pushing pros to seek out other games like VALORANT to base a career on.
Yay is yet to decide on the future of his eSports career (whether he too will move to VALORANT). He says that so many CS: GO pros are looking to move to VALORANT because most organizations are not willing to give upcoming players a chance unless they’re part of a well-established team that can contend for a top 20 spot.
Yay also believes that the restructured leagues like Flashpoint and the ESL Pro League have ‘damaged’ the CS: GO eSports scene considerably.
“From what I’ve heard, there are organizations looking for a CS team. However, almost none are looking for anything less than a top 10-20 team. Unfortunately, it becomes quite a challenge to establish yourself against competition when other players have analysts, sports psychologists, facilities, frequent boot camps, and [are] being paid.
“I don’t think there’s a good reason to invest in the lower divisions of CS when you have a game like Valorant. It makes sense for organizations to pour money into that and since the scene is so unestablished, it’s a gold rush essentially right now.”
In his criticism of the ‘pro league division’ system, Yay said:
“In the past, if you made it to the pro league division it was rare to not have an organization. Now it’s becoming more common, and the road to these divisions are significantly harder now that all the regions are kinda combined into one.
“All in all, it’s a tough situation. That’s why a lot of people are making the switch over to Valorant. I don’t blame them. Some people need to pay bills or want a fresh start after playing a game for years and years. A large majority aren’t looking to cash out on this opportunity – it’s just the hand they were dealt.”
The hacking problem in CS: GO
CS: GO pros leaving the game is not the only reason behind the dropping player base.
CS: GO has had a hacking problem, for a very long time- making and using hacks feels like a pandemic that the community can never truly rid itself of. The problem has gotten so out of hand that for those who play by the rules, it often feels like Valve is never really doing anything about it.
So in contrast, when VALORANT’s Vanguard doesn’t just ban accounts but the hardware ID of the hack-user itself, this comes as a positive sign according to many players.
Despite the evident success of VALORANT, CS: GO still has an incredibly large player base.
Though the total number of players may be on the decline, there still isn’t much reason for CS: GO fans to panic about, as the game still draws in over a million active players per day, even nine years after its release. And we don’t feel that it will be dying out anytime soon.
However, VALORANT seems to be here to stay.