The Call of Duty® franchise is one of the best in esports history, and with each passing year, it becomes more and more popular. And if you’re a fan of the game, then you know that each new release has a major impact on the meta—the strategies, items, and abilities that gamers use to play the game. While there have been some major shifts over the years, the fundamental gameplay, the roster of available weapons, and the general pacing of the game have remained relatively constant. This is not the case with Counter-Strike® Global Offensive (CSGO). Each new release of the game has had a significant impact on how players think about and approach the game, leading to dramatic fluctuations in its popularity and the appearance of many casual players.
The Meta Shifts Rapidly
When a game’s meta (the rules and strategies that govern gameplay) shifts rapidly, it can be difficult to keep up. As an example, the popularity of certain weapons in Counter-Strike increased dramatically when firing shots while aiming down the sights felt like an effective strategy. The same applied to the dual wielder: the two-handed M4A4 and the SG556 become instant classics among skilled players, while the most popular rifle in the game was the lowly AK-47 until a few patches earlier this year.
The problem is that while some of these weapons are undoubtedly effective in certain situations, they are not built for close quarter combat or hunting large numbers of enemies. In the same way that the Call of Duty® franchise has grown in popularity over the years, so has CSGO meta:
More Players Means More Opportunities To Play
One key difference between a game like Call of Duty® and CSGO is the sheer volume of players that can get involved in the games. Thanks to the growing popularity of esports and competitive gaming, there are already hundreds of players competing in major League of Legends® events every month.
A popular game like Call of Duty® will always have a significant player base, with or without the support of a major publisher. But for a game like CSGO, the opportunity to play is only increased by the depth of the community.
Casual Players Aren’t Afraid Of Risk
Another important factor that determines the popularity of a game is the ability to appeal to new audiences. For example, CSGO is incredibly popular in Japan, with tens of thousands of players regularly competing in matches and attending live events. But while the game has been around for a long time, many western casual players are still unfamiliar with its nuances. When it comes to CSGO, familiarity breeds contempt—if you’re not careful, you’ll quickly learn that many casual players aren’t afraid to sacrifice gameplay in order to be the first to kill an enemy.
Because of this, they’re often the first to experiment with new strategies and techniques, which in turn leads to continuous gameplay fluctuations and a highly competitive community. This was made evident by the large amount of new players that turned up after the new map cycle started earlier this year. It’s also why many esports enthusiasts are so closely tied to the development cycle of the game: when new patches are released, both players and viewers are often eager to try out the new additions, leading to increased activity in tournaments and highlights reels.
The Growth Of Esports And Competitive Gaming
If you’re a professional gamer, then you know how difficult it can be to make a living solely from playing video games. While it is possible to make a decent living from streaming games and entering them into tournaments, it’s far from easy. This is why many gamers turn to the esports scene, where they can engage in professional gaming while also earning a living. And if you’re really good, you can even make a career out of it.
Hundreds of thousands of gamers flock to competitive gaming events each year, many hoping to make it big and earn the significant prize pools that can be won. But beyond the financial rewards, competing brings with it a host of other benefits, not least of which is the opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals and develop personal connections that last a lifetime. This is one of the major draws of the esports scene, and it’s helped establish competitive gaming as a truly mainstream activity—something that has always been considered a fringe interest at best.
The Effect Of Newer Is Not Always Better
The growing popularity of the esports scene has meant that experienced players have a wealth of knowledge to share with newer, less-knowledgeable teammates. While this can be a valuable service to offer, it also means that the more familiar you become with the meta of a particular game, the more effective your strategies will be when compared to newer players. And because newer players often don’t have the advantage of prior experience, the effect of new patches can be highly unpredictable. In addition to this, many newer players have trouble adapting to changing platforms and hardware, leading to significant performance drops and frequent technical glitches—all of which can cause major headaches for players and casters alike.
Watching The Numbers Can Be Very Confusing
If you’re a gamer, then you’ll know how hard it can be to keep track of everything that’s happening in a single game. Whether it’s the amount of money that’s been bet on the game, the number of kills that have been made, or the amount of damage that’s been dealt, keeping track of this information for a single game is extremely difficult. And while this is usually presented to the viewer as a series of numbers and an increase in performance over time, it can often be hard to determine exactly what’s causing this increase in activity.
One metric that’s widely used in order to track the popularity of a game or event is ‘watch time’. This is the amount of time that users are spending watching content related to a game or event, whether this is live action or recorded content. If you compare this to the amount of time that users were spending on the game before the event or period in question, you can get a good idea of what’s caused the increase in interest. For example, let’s say that you’re a League of Legends® fan and you tune into a teamfights demonstration on YouTube. While watching the videos, you spend ten minutes making a sandwich because the person recording the event happens to be very hungry and takes a lot of breaks to throw down a quick bite. This type of thing happens all the time and for the most part, is entirely unnoticeable. But when watching numbers, sometimes you can bet that there’s a reason why certain periods or events had a higher popularity than others, even if you don’t know what it is.