Since Steam began, Counter-Strike has been the most-played game on it. Both of its current versions, 1.6 and Source, have only ever been momentarily usurped from the top spot, the format has remained a constant in PC gaming for over twelve years.
But with both of the versions each attracting an equal share of around 60,000 players every day, the community is effectively split into two sides.
Despite the division, the two versions are essentially the same game. The only differences are the graphics and the nuances of their respective engines, so there is scope for a new product to unify fans.
In an interview with Develop, Chet Faliszek, prominent writer and designer at Valve Software, explained how his team is planning to achieve this while simultaneously attracting new blood across the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 platforms.
He said: “We know the 1.6 players and the Source players are looking for something new. I think they’d like something from us that can incorporate them into being one. They’d happily move to something else if it could bring in new players.
“One of the ways to do that is with better graphics. 1.6 looks like shit, right? I don’t think there’s anyone who things it looks good anymore. It’s a sign of the times – if you want to see the community grow we’re going to have to up the graphics.
“We’re making it to be the best version of Counter-Strike, and the one that people should be playing – but we can’t force that.”
Key to the development process is constant testing, feedback and player metrics – tools that have become indispensable at Valve.
Faliszek explains: “You’ll have the best ideas, and then realise: you can’t make people play the game the way that you want them to. You have to lead them to play it that way, and then you’ll find out the adjustments you have to make for that to happen.
“With CS: GO we want to make sure that we’re doing what they want. Or that we at least understand the implications of what they’re asking for.