How Counter-Strike 2 Became Valve’s Lowest-Rated Steam Game

Counter-Strike 2 fans are responding to the game's numerous issues and controversies with historically negative reviews.

Counter Strike 2
Photo: Valve

Valve doesn’t release new games very often. The company is busy serving as one of the largest digital PC gaming distribution platforms on the planet, but it still supports a decent library of fantastic titles. One of Valve’s most popular games was the competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. While the game is no stranger to controversy, its latest developments have turned the general gaming populace against the once-proud title. In fact, Counter-Strike 2 recently set a “record” for the most negative user reviews for a Valve game in Steam history, though it reached that milestone in a rather unusual way.

Recently, Counter-Strike 2 almost completely supplanted CS:GO. If you search for Counter-Strike on Steam, you get Counter-Strike 2, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Source, and Counter-Strike Nexon: Studio. The free-to-play CS:GO is gone, CS and CS: Source cost $10, and, to add insult to injury, Valve didn’t even bother giving CS2 its own store page. The current CS 2 store page is seemingly just a repurposed version of the CS:GO page. Among other things, that means that it maintains the overall review history of CS:GO, which helps explain why the game’s overall rating remains “mixed” despite a wave of negative recent reviews that are targeted at CS2.

It’s a bizarre decision that leads to a number of inconsistencies. For instance, if you scroll through CS2 on Steam, you will see a curator review from TotalBiscuit seemingly recommending CS2. However, that’s not actually the case. If you click the link, you will instead be taken to TotalBiscuit’s review of CSGO. For those who don’t know, TotalBiscuit, real name John Bain, passed away in 2018, and many recent comments on his CS:GO review video are from viewers incensed by Valve linking it to CS2. Honestly, I can’t help but agree with their sentiment.

While the loss of CS:GO in the wake of CS2 isn’t the only point of criticism, many of the current complaints about the game circle back to that choice. Notably, many gamers have noted that CS2 lacks many features that were present in CS:GO. Reddit user cosmictrigger01 made an extensive list of those missing features, and the omissions apparently include multiple competitive maps, the fan-favorite Arms Race game mode, and Steam Clan tags.

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CS2’s issues also persist just below the surface. Many players claim the game’s new “sub tick” servers are inferior to CS:GO’s “128 tick” servers and are potentially causing issues with hit detection. Controversially, Valve also decided to cut Mac support for CS2. The company cited low player numbers, but that is still a point against the game. Anyone who wants a free-to-play game with superior servers or Mac support can’t anymore since that version of Counter-Strike no longer exists.

While many questionable design choices are behind player criticisms of CS2, the game has its fair share of unintentional issues contributing to gamers’ bad moods, too. Despite supposed improvements, many players claim that CS2 is a paradise for hackers and cheaters. Moreover, the game is allegedly beset by matchmaking issues and prone to crashing. Players have reported multiple crashes during matches. Some gamers have even recorded footage of glitches that defy explanation, such as assets from different maps spawning into one another. But don’t just take the word of random users. PCGamer recently reached out to several CS:GO esports pros, including Rasmus “HooXi” Nielsen and Dan “apEX” Madesclaire. The people who responded agreed that CS2 needs a lot more work.

Ultimately, all of Counter-Strike 2’s issues stem from one problem: It’s not as good as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. At the very least it’s not nearly as stable or complete as it probably needs to be given the nature of the CS:GO situation. However, Valve decided to make it the only option. If you don’t like CS2’s hit detection, you can’t play CS:GO while waiting for Valve to fix the servers. If you think CS2 has too many hackers, you can’t check to see if CS:GO has any cheater-free matches. Well, you technically can, as IGN learned that “csgo_demo-viewer” from CS2’s “Properties” Beta page downloads a legacy CS:GO client. However, it’s hardly worth the effort since this version of CS:GO lacks matchmaking.

Valve clearly didn’t learn from Activision Blizzard’s mistakes when the company launched Overwatch 2 and deleted the original Overwatch from the internet, and now it seems history is repeating itself. When, how, and if they fix these issues remains to be seen.