History of Counter Strike

Counter-Strike originally began as a mod for the popular Half-Life title, going on to become one of the most played games in history with an insanely loyal fan base. Minh Le and Jess Cliffe created CS in 1999, and the pair later sold the intellectual property to Valve, the developers of Half-Life. There have been three official sequels of Counter-Strike and many mods and variations, cementing it as one of the most influential titles of all time.

Counter-Strike (Half-Life: Counter-Strike)

The first release of Counter-Strike by Valve came in 2000 when the game was made available for Microsoft Windows. Throughout its very long history, the first Counter-Strike went through several major revisions and transitions, with version 1.6 being the final major software update the game was given before all development focus was placed on other CS titles.

It also has the distinction of being one of the first Esports games, and as such as targeted by hackers and cheaters early on who attempted to exploit in-game mechanics to create unfair situations where players benefited illegal mods such as auto-aim. This lead to Valve implementing the famous “Valve Anti-Cheat” (VAC) system, which later became an industry standard for how cheaters were caught and expelled from the game. Initially, the VAC bans would remove game access to the user's account for two years, but that was eventually deemed too severe. Since not all hacks were trackable, Valve put a voting system in place that allowed users as a whole to remove cheaters.

Counter-Strike was ported to the original Xbox system in 2003, and while popular, it began the long debate of the argument of using a controller versus mouse/keyboard for first-person shooter games. CS also received extremely favorable reviews, earning mostly A and B+ ratings from the top review sites and aggregators at the time including Metacritic, GameSpot and IGN.

Counter-Strike: Condition Zero

Development of the first true sequel to Counter-Strike began in 2000 and was announced to the gaming world at E3 in 2001. The original developer of Condition Zero was Rogue Entertainment, but when their lead producer left to work for Sony, the project was given to Gearbox instead, who had developed the expansion packs for Valve's Half-Life game. Gearbox is credited with creating a better looking, more visual edition of Counter-Strike that still kept the primary game mechanics intact. High-quality character models were one of the standout achievements of Condition Zero along with realistic foliage and weather effects.

After missing their developmental time frame, Valve pulled Gearbox from the process and gave it to Ritual Entertainment, who opted to start from scratch and create an all new version of CS with a single player-focused construct. However, when Valve game out test copies of the game to review sites, the feedback was underwhelming, which lead to Turtle Rock being brought in to create an edition that more closely mirrored what Gearbox had developed.

Not all of Ritual's additions were removed completely from development. Instead, a separate game feature called “Deleted Scenes” was incorporated into the final version of Condition Zero, which includes 18 single-player missions that were created during the Ritual-lead portion of the game’s development.

Anti-cheating was considerably easier to enforce with Condition Zero, as Steam had been released by then, allowing developers to provide constant code updates and patches to combat illegal cheats used by the community.

The game was finally released for Windows in 2004 and overall was considered an unworthy successor to the original Counter-Strike, with most scores in the mid-6's range.It also has the distinction of being one of the first Esports games, and as such as targeted by hackers and cheaters early on who attempted to exploit in-game mechanics to create unfair situations where players benefited illegal mods such as auto-aim. This lead to Valve implementing the famous “Valve Anti-Cheat” (VAC) system, which later became an industry standard for how cheaters were caught and expelled from the game. Initially, the VAC bans would remove game access to the user's account for two years, but that was eventually deemed too severe. Since not all hacks were trackable, Valve put a voting system in place that allowed users as a whole to remove cheaters.

Counter-Strike was ported to the original Xbox system in 2003, and while popular, it began the long debate of the argument of using a controller versus mouse/keyboard for first-person shooter games. CS also received extremely favorable reviews, earning mostly A and B+ ratings from the top review sites and aggregators at the time including Metacritic, GameSpot and IGN.

Counter-Strike: Source

After the disappointment of CS: Condition Zero, Valve setup to remake the original Counter-Strike using the Source game engine. It was initially released as a beta to various gaming communities including members of the Valve Cyber Cafe Program, owners of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, and as a bundle with Half-Life 2.
CS: Source also gave Valve the opportunity to try out some new ideas not included in previous versions. For example, in 2006 the company experimented with Dynamic Weapons Pricing, where the price of weapons in-game fluctuated from week to week based on the demand of the specific weapon the previous week. So if the MP5 rose in popular in week 1, in week 2 it would be more expensive to purchase, and vice versa. While interesting, this concept was later abandoned.

After the disappointment of CS: Condition Zero, Valve setup to remake the original Counter-Strike using the Source game engine. It was initially released as a beta to various gaming communities including members of the Valve Cyber Cafe Program, owners of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, and as a bundle with Half-Life 2.

CS: Source also gave Valve the opportunity to try out some new ideas not included in previous versions. For example, in 2006 the company experimented with Dynamic Weapons Pricing, where the price of weapons in-game fluctuated from week to week based on the demand of the specific weapon the previous week. So if the MP5 rose in popular in week 1, in week 2 it would be more expensive to purchase, and vice versa. While interesting, this concept was later abandoned.

Considered a vast improvement over Condition Zero, Source received far better ratings and reviews from both the professional game's media and community alike, average scores in the high 8s and low 9s. It was not released for any consoles, having fallen between the development cycle of the Xbox/Xbox 360 and PS2/PS3.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO)

Created and developed by Hidden Path Entertainment and Valve, CS:GO is the fourth official game in the CS franchise and is the most current edition. It was released for Windows, OS X, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4 in 2012.

Considered a faithful sequel to CS: Source and the original CS, Global Offensive improves upon the classic format of the series while adding new features and modes including Demolition and Weapons Cache. Development on CS:GO began in 2010 with a public reveal in 2011. By now, professional Counter-Strike players were extremely popular and widely known, with Valve choosing to bring in a number of them to serve as beta testers.

One of the biggest achievements for CS:GO, which came after the original release, was the addition of the Arms Deal update, which allowed for different cosmetic finishes (“skins”) to be applied to weapons; this has grown into a massive part of the community for the game, with many streamers broadcasting their skin selecting sessions on services like Twitch and YouTube.

CS:GO has gone on to become one of the leading titles in the Esports gaming community, with multiple professional leagues and teams in operation all around the world. Currently CS:GO ranks as the most popular and most played Esports FPS game in history.