How Counter Strike Was Made

How Counter Strike Was Made

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch


25th Jan 2021 17:30

For many of us, Counter-Strike has been around for at least the majority of our gaming lives as an example of a genius evergreen formula that refuses to die, even inspiring major AAA titles like VALORANT to this day. The latest version, Global Offensive, is still going strong and only recently set it's all-time record for most concurrent players. The esport is still one of the most-watched in the world, entertaining millions, and its skin market, albeit controversial, has become its own virtual economy. In 2021, Counter-Strike is alive and well. Given its success, it’s hard to believe that it all started in a college dorm with two students struggling to get people to playtest their idea. How was Counter-Strike made?

How Counter-Strike Was Made

In autumn of 1998, Valve released its first blockbuster title Half-Life, which would change the history of gaming, both through its impact of its gameplay experience and its engine forever allowing community members to take its toolkit and tinker on their own, creating modifications (in short: mods) with fresh and exciting ideas.

Just so, the college students Minh "Gooseman" Le and Jess "Cliffe" Cliffe would try their hand on such a mod with Gooseman showing an interest in international Counter-Terrorist units, their strategies, and weaponry, creating the beta versions of Counter-Strike, incorporating knowledge that he had picked up on.

Through the early stages, the duo had to almost beg players to try out their mod in order to get feedback on it, only slowly starting their history as a gaming phenomenon. Eventually, the mod reached critical mass with Half-Life developer Valve picking up on the player and download numbers the game was generating. As metrics rose, so did the developer’s interest in acquiring the IP rights to the mod in 1999. Working to get the game out of beta stages, the title officially released on November 9, 2000, and became an international success, finding fans around the globe. 

Four years later in 2004, Valve would release both Counter-Strike: Condition Zero developed by Turtle Rock Studios, and Counter-Strike: Source, running on its new in-house Source engine. Continuing development on both titles with both Counter-Strike 1.6 and Counter-Strike: Source maintaining healthy player-base numbers, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive launched in 2012, eventually uniting the communities under the banner of the new game.

Not only did Counter-Strike create a seemingly ever-green formula for PC-FPS gaming, it also inspired the mod community to create industry-leading genres from the comfort of your own bedrooms, inspiring the creators of genres like multiplayer online battle arena, battle royale, auto battlers, and more to create novel game concepts that have been dominating gaming over the last two decades.

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Image via Valve

Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch is a Senior Esports Journalist at GGRecon. He's been creating content in esports for over 10 years, starting with Warcraft 3.

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