After 11 years of CS:GO, Counter-Strike 2 has officially replaced the biggest game on Steam

Counter-Strike 2
(Image credit: Valve)

After a week of speculation, months of testing, and years of CS:GO being the biggest game on Steam, Counter-Strike 2 is officially here.

Counter-Strike 2 arrives as a free update for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which was already free-to-play, so if you want to jump in you can do so over on Steam. Just, uh... be prepared for a whole lot of FPS veterans to be treating you as fresh meat.

Today's launch didn't get any formal announcement ahead of time, but Valve started teasing it last week with a tweet simply asking "What are you doing next Wednesday?" Counter-Strike players took the hint instantaneously, and have spent the intermediate days saying their goodbyes to CS:GO.

CS:GO began life as an effort to port Counter-Strike to home consoles, but it eventually morphed into a proper sequel that launched for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 back in 2012. While console support eventually dropped off, the game continued to grow on Steam, reaching new heights in the years that followed its free-to-play relaunch in 2018.

When you check the Steam charts most days, you'll find this game at the top of the list, typically by a pretty wide margin. Even massive launches like Cyberpunk 2077, Elden Ring, and Baldur's Gate 3 are utterly dwarfed by CS:GO, which reached a peak concurrent player count of 1,818,773 earlier this year. The only time any game has reached a higher peak was at the height of popularity for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds back in 2018.

Now, all those CS:GO players are CS2 players, as the new game has completely replaced the old. It remains to be seen if Valve's changes can satisfy one of the most hardcore communities in all of gaming, but it's a historic moment in any case.

No list of the best FPS games is complete without some Counter-Strike.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.