Can you still play CS:GO after Counter Strike 2's launch?

Can you still play CS:GO after Counter Strike 2's launch?
Images via Valve

Written by 

Harry Boulton

Last updated 

2nd Jan 2024 13:38

It's been over two decades since the first proper Counter-Strike game, and CS2 is only the fourth mainline game in the series since that point. While that's not unusual for single-player games, it's largely unheard of for multiplayer titles, so players build quite meaningful connections to each game over the course of its cycle.

That's precisely why so many are wondering if you can still play CS:GO after the launch of CS2, as this is the first time that a Counter-Strike game has been directly replaced by its sequel. 

Can you still play CS:GO?

The answer to the question of whether you can still play CS:GO is complicated, as while you can still technically play the game in what Valve refers to on their FAQ as a 'legacy version', many of its features have been stripped away.

If you're just wanting to jump in and experience a bit of nostalgia, then there is still a way to do that with CS:GO. However, if you actually want to play the game in any meaningful capacity outside of bot lobbies, then you will be out of luck as all online capabilities have been disabled.

Image of the matchmaking failed message in CS:GO
Click to enlarge

If you attempt to search for an online game, you will be met with the following message:

"Matchmaking Failed: Cannot begin matchmaking because your client needs to update, please restart."

There's no way to get around or fix this error, as the latest client for the game is exclusive to CS2. You can still enjoy offline modes with bots and any Workshop maps you have downloaded too, so all is not lost. You can even play Train - one of the maps not included in CS2 and a personal favourite of mine.

This is quite upsetting for me personally, as I have a lot of memories tied to CS:GO and to not be able to play the game in its final state is disappointing. While CS2 can be construed as the same game with a graphical overhaul, it does have many differences and is likely to morph into something completely different over time.

It's surprising that Valve has gone down this route too, as you can still play every other Counter-Strike game in their final states.

How to play CS:GO after Counter-Strike 2's launch

Image showing you how to play CS:GO after CS2's launch
Click to enlarge

  • Open Steam and ensure that Counter-Strike 2 is in your Library
  • Right-click on Counter-Strike 2 and select 'Properties'
  • Head to the 'Betas' tab and open the 'Beta Participation' drop-down menu
  • Select 'csgo_legacy'

Once you've completed these steps, you should then be prompted to update Counter-Strike 2 and have to download a 12.55GB beta version of the game that essentially brings it back to CS:GO.

From that point onwards, with the beta enabled, all you need to do to play CS:GO (albeit in a limited capacity) is to choose 'Play' on Counter-Strike 2.

After you've got your CS:GO fill, all you need to do to return to CS2 again is to select 'Play Counter-Strike 2' in the pop-up that appears after pressing play.

Now that you know at least some of CS:GO's legacy version has been preserved to play, check out our Counter-Strike homepage for more guides, including an easy way to try out any knife in the game for free with our complete CS2 knife commands list.

Harry is a Guides Writer at GGRecon, having completed a Masters of Research degree in Film Studies. Previously a freelance writer for PCGamesN, The Loadout, and Red Bull Gaming, he loves playing a wide variety of games from the Souls series to JRPGs, Counter-Strike, and EA FC. When not playing or writing about games and hardware, you're likely to find him watching football or listening to Madonna and Kate Bush.

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