VALORANT IS BIGGER THAN EVER AND CS:GO IS DYING?
VALORANT launched as a direct competitor to CSGO in 2020, and by 2022, it had made terrific leaps forward in its mission to be the next best thing. From the creative and capable minds of Riot came a tactical shooter that fused classic Counter-Strike-like combat with the multi-character madness of a hero shooter, like Overwatch. Following a banner season that ended with a record-breaking Valorant Champions Tour, many esports fans are wondering if VALORANT will ever be bigger than CSGO.
It’s a huge ask, as CSGO, which first emerged in 2012, boasts an undeniably gargantuan legacy, sitting pretty as one of the biggest esports titles in the business. It’s an overwhelmingly valuable platform that boasts a multi-billion-dollar skins market, massive sponsorship deals, and some of the highest player salaries in esports. It’s also a seriously popular title on social media and gaming platforms, even a decade after it was first released.
So, following a remarkable year for VALORANT, we’re here to look at the numbers and gauge whether it’ll ever be more popular than CSGO.
HOW DOES VALORANT DIFFER FROM CSGO?
Since 2020, when VALORANT was released in full, it has been regarded as a true and tangible competitor to CSGO. On the surface, it’s remarkably similar to CSGO, boasting a familiar UI, a near-identical economy mechanic, in-game sprays, skins, and even most movement and combat mechanics. It differs by being more attractive than CSGO – there are brighter colours, more fantastical maps, a deeper backstory, and, most importantly, a diverse and exciting array of ‘hero’ characters.
This is the beating heart of VALORANT – the agents that hail from all corners of the globe, each of them boasting unique abilities and an individual aesthetic. From the technology-focused robot, KAY/O to the inter-dimensional samurai, Yoru, there’s something for every type of player in VALORANT. Each character has abilities that can alter the face of the battlefield, but in some cases, even these abilities are similar to CSGO’s mechanics.
For instance, there are characters that can ‘smoke’ – even if that smoke is extremely far removed from the typical grenades found in CSGO. There are also characters that can flash opponents, but the important thing to remember is that not every character can do this. That’s a stark difference from CSGO, wherein any player can simply purchase smoke, flash, or frag grenades.
In VALORANT, the chief game mode also rings true to CSGO’s default mode, with teams of five working to either plant or defuse a device, or to be the first to wipe the opposing team. There’s a reason many competitors abandoned (even temporarily) CSGO and moved over to the VALORANT platform. It’s extremely familiar, but at the same time, it offers a bright, exciting, and much more diverse playing field.
IS VALORANT MORE POPULAR THAN CSGO?
It might be ten years old, but CSGO still brings the pain where it counts. As an esports title, CSGO is immensely popular, giving rise to some of the most storied and prolific esports players the world has ever seen. It’s an absolute beast of a game, consistently topping viewership and player count charts across the board, even a decade after launch. For some, the question of whether CSGO is dying isn’t even on the table, and it likely won’t be for a long time to come.
But VALORANT is becoming bigger than ever, and in October, it celebrated its most successful month ever. Reportedly, VALORANT has recorded a peak daily player count that has reached as high as 2.25 million unique players. By contrast, CSGO’s daily peak tends to hover at around 950,000 players. Furthermore, information released by Riot suggests that the game is bringing in more than 14 million new players every single month.
While CSGO remains popular, it is being defeated by VALORANT in terms of overall growth at present, and that’s worrying for the Valve-backed title.
On social platforms, such as Twitch, VALORANT also has a slight edge overall. At the time of writing this analysis, VALORANT sat in fourth place in the Twitch charts, while CSGO lagged slightly behind, in sixth place. However, these figures are traditionally driven by whatever tournament is being played whenever you check the statistics, and as such, the information can easily be skewed. Regardless, the all-time peak viewership figures on Twitch place VALORANT just 200k behind CSGO.
Typically, VALORANT is the more popular title on streaming platforms, with more channels overall broadcasting gameplay, and more hours overall being watched. However, it is also worth mentioning that CSGO is consistently the most popular game on Steam by far.