Guest column: How Valve can fix Counter Strike

Counter Strike: Source - still popular but can it ever return to past glories?
Counter Strike: Source - still popular but can it ever return to past glories?

In the first of a series of guest columns on gaming, Cadred

columnist and popular gaming commentator Richard 'Dr Gonzo' Lewis explains how Valve could once more make


the foremost online game.

There is little more frustrating to the public than seeing a good idea badly executed. There will be people coming out of the cinema having watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine that will be able to tell you all about that. But it is something that competitive players of Counter-Strike: Source will already be able to tell you about at length should you wish to sit down and endure it.

The Counter-Strike format is the gaming equivalent of all the "high concept" movies that flourished in the Eighties. Two teams, both with their own set of goals, pitted against each other to complete them with a variety of weapons and tactics at their disposal, all set to a time limit.

It has absolutely no right to be as engaging and as fundamentally addictive – even to the casual gamer – as it is, but somehow time evaporates into nothingness when you play it. The basic principles take seconds to learn, but the game itself can take the best part of a lifetime to master.

The best competitive 1.6 matches have attracted live audiences of tens of thousands, being spectated by hundreds of thousands worldwide and it didn't take long for CS:S to become the free gaming mod with the most number of players.

The Source of all the trouble

Yet it is no secret that the port of Counter-Strike on to the Source engine brought about numerous problems, not the least of which was the huge divide in the competitive community.

COUNTER-STRIKE: a mod for Half Life that became a phenomenon

There were numerous reasons for this and even though those that took the time to perfect Counter-Strike 1.6 would tell you it is simply that the newer version is a worse game that requires less skill – an argument that contains more than a grain of truth – the fact is that they are so very different it meant that in a lot of cases the only thing players would be bringing across with them would be their reputations.

As such there is no correlation between being hugely successful at 1.6 and Source. Some can either master it, many can't. But the key point is that there are not many willing to try.