Counter-Strike Is Now Old Enough To Drink

Illustration for article titled Counter-Strike Is Now Old Enough To Drink

On June 19, 1999, Minh Le and Jess Cliffe released a humble little mod for the original Half-Life called “Counter-Strike”. In 2020, 21 years later, it is still one of the most popular video games on the planet.


I remember playing the mod at the time—not right at launch, but sometime early in 2000—and finding it a fun if limited little variation on Half-Life, with some interesting maps and a very cool sniper rifle.

Later that year the full, retail version of the game would be released, and to say it blew up would be to make an incredibly corny joke about Counter-Strike’s use of bombs, while also still not managing to convey just how important this game has been to Valve, esports, the PC and video gaming as a whole. Over the decades to come, through various major iterations like 1.6, Source and the recent (relatively, it’s eight years old itself!) Global Offensive, across the PC, Mac, Xbox and PlayStation, it has remained one of the most-played video games of all time, with an appeal spanning the globe, from bedrooms in Texas to gaming cafes in Thailand.

As I type this, for example, it’s the #1 game on Steam, with just under 600,000 current players (at 7pm ET) and a max peak today of 928,180. The game in second place, DOTA 2, has “just” 360,000.

So happy birthday, Counter-Strike! I honestly can’t think of another single game that’s been played for this long and in these numbers, so may your next 21 years lead you gently on the road towards video gaming’s first mid-life crisis.

For a visual representation of just how far it’s come in those 21 years, here’s a video from Group M Pro, which if nothing else has made me think about CSX for the first time in over 15 years.

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs


I was just playing Source with my wife today and for some reason remembered how in the early versions of the mod you had to buy ammo separately and know what ammo the gun took. I had no idea about guns and just randomly pick a ammo type and then and up with unusable ammo. Fortunately dropped guns also used to persist between rounds. So as the match progressed I’d just give up on buying a gun and pick up one of the dropped ones.

Such fond memories of long sessions at LAN parties where we’d play cs_mansion forever. The map was so good before guns could penetrate walls. Those were the days!

P.S.: anyone remember cs_docks? Lol

Another thing this reminded me of is that as a CS obsessed teenager my biggest dream was to build the cs_militia house in real life as a paintball venue. I think the roof situation would be uninsurable.