Having significantly altered the outlook of the global gaming industry with their 2009 release, League of Legends, Riot Games has since sought to tackle the first-person shooter genre.
However, in doing so, especially from a competitive standpoint, the Los Angeles-based developer is faced with the predicament of having to end the existing dominance of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. So, let’s consider whether Valorant can actually surpass CS:GO’s popularity.
What Do the Numbers Say?
There can be no doubts that, at the time of writing, Valorant has already attracted a sizable audience base despite the full version of the title only being released on June 2, 2020. According to an article at pcgamer.com, during the title’s beta period, nearly three million players were immersing themselves in the FPS each day. In contrast, however, CS:GO’s all-time peak was recorded at around 1.3 million players in April of this year, as stated at https://steamcharts.com/app/730.
Moreover, Valorant has also managed to establish itself as a popular game on streaming platforms such as Twitch. In May 2020, and as per a report at https://newzoo.com/insights/rankings/top-games-twitch, the first-person multiplayer tactical shooter was the most-watched game on Twitch, having amassed a total of 144.7 million hours. Interestingly, this is almost double that amount recorded by CS:GO, which achieved 76.6 million hours.
However, although this would suggest a changing of the guard, Valorant has yet to reach the levels of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive within the esports sector. In fact, the hours clocked at Twitched could very well be due to how Valorant is a new title that prospective new players would want to watch before they commit to.
Generally, CS:GO is considered to be one of the competitive gaming industry’s biggest success stories, and, since the rise of esports, has become the second most lucrative title regarding prize money. Furthermore, it’s a testament to the Valve IP's popularity that it is central to the esports betting sector. At platforms like https://vulkanbet.com/en/counter-strike, bettors can support their favorite teams by placing standard or accumulator bets across a whole host of different markets, including match-winner and tournament winner, for example. Across the various such operators, some of which only offer markets on a handful of games, CS:GO is a constant offering.
A Potential Esports Challenger
Although CS:GO has had more time to establish itself following its release back in August of 2012, the title’s inferior streaming numbers don’t indicate an imminent decline in the game’s audience. That said, however, although Valorant probably won’t be able to surpass the competitive nature of CS:GO in the near future, there’s undoubtedly a possibility that it could prove to be Counter-Strike's biggest competitor. Fundamentally, this is down to Riot Games’ prior successes within esports. While there are numerous ways to quantify the sector’s most successful games, few can argue that CS:GO and League of Legends lead the way for their respective genres, both in terms of prize money and of viewership.
As a result of this, Valve must take the Riot Games development seriously, especially given its popularity upon release. Moreover, well-known streamers such as Michael Grzesiek believe that Valorant has the potential to overtake CS:GO’s following for numerous reasons, including the game’s casual nature and in-game visuals. At the same time, this could potentially prove detrimental to the Riot Games creation’s esports future, with competitive gamers often favoring titles with more depth regarding gun skill and positioning, for example.
Counter-Strike's Longevity Mustn’t Be Ignored
Ultimately, although Valorant is the latest in a long line of ambitious titles, only time will tell if it can sustain the levels of popularity amassed by CS:GO. While the Riot Games creation is undoubtedly establishing itself as a contender to the Counter-Strike throne, it has a long way to go before it can surpass The Game Awards’ 2019 winner of the Best esports Game.