Half-Life was the first game that Valve debuted in 1998 and sort of became the staple title for this company. However, it was not a title that could have been focused on completely and given dozens of sequels as we’ve seen for many other games developed in the early 90s.
Valve had to move on and somehow change the gaming community with the titles they were churning out.
Most of Valve’s titles disregarded the story completely and focused on the action, the fun, and the competitiveness as well.
Thanks to this approach to developing video games, we can pretty much say that Valve had a major impact on the development of the eSports industry we have today. The influence that Counter-Strike brought into the gaming scene when it first came out cannot be denied.
But where did Valve get the idea for Counter-Strike? Half-Life of course!
Anybody who has ever played Counter-Strike 1.6 will immediately notice that sound effects, the UI, and gameplay mechanics are very similar to Half-Life, sometimes identical. This has mostly to do with the engine that Valve was using, GoldSrc.
This engine allowed for a bit more physics to be implemented in the game, thus making tactical shooting a lot more realistic for its time. Soon enough, Valve realized that they needed to push on the “tactical” aspect of their game, so the engine needed a quick update. Soon enough, we saw Source come out with upgraded features, much more refined graphics, and in some cases a better playing experience.
Any Counter-Strike fan will notice the connection between this game engine and the title of a Counter-Strike game. That’s right, Source was first tested with Counter-Strike: Source. However, many players were expecting that a story mode would be introduced to the game after the engine update, but the last time that Counter-Strike had any scripted events was with the GoldSrc engine in Condition Zero. In a technical aspect, Valve pretty much abandoned any requirements for scripted events with the Source engine and completely dedicated resources to player action and fluidity.
But later brought it back in a sense with Half-Life Alyx through Source 2 engine.
eSports is born
Finally, once Valve had found its most optimal game engine, it started to work on its biggest game. Soon enough, Counter Strike: Global Offensive was launched. It completely redefined the eSports scene in the world, taking first place in the first-person-shooter genre. It is so successful that it’s unlikely for a new title to overtake it anytime soon.
Valve’s approach to this game was very simple. No, unfair advantages, no additional features that are not purely skill-based, and absolutely no pay to win. But they needed to somehow make money, right? Well, that’s a story for a completely different article.
But one thing we can most definitely say about CS:GO’s influence on eSports, is its introduction of eSports bets through a purely skill-based environment.
Popularity in the North
CS:GO was one of the few games where European players were the absolute best. These teams have comfortably retained their ratings in this genre for more than a few years. Whilst other genres like MOBA are slowly being dominated by Asian teams, Europeans are still the crowned kings of tactical shooters.
But there were 2 very obvious countries that absolutely dominated this scene. This was Norway and Russia. Players from these locations are still, to this day, considered some of the best of the best. Players like “rain” and “flamie” are household names in the CS:GO industry pretty much.
With this constant flow of amazingly skilled players, the internet quickly discovered that people were starting to look at this game as a sport. And where does sport generate most of its money from? Sponsors and bets of course!
Within months, betting on sports on trusted Norwegian online casinos quickly received a complete revamp, despite the fact that the government had banned any privatized betting parlors in the country. However, due to the fact that CS:GO wasn’t necessarily recognized as a sport, it managed to avoid the legal backlash for quite some time. That was enough time for this practice to spread from the Nordics, all the way to Malta, the gambling hub of the European Continent.
Within just a few months of releasing the game, Valve had completely changed the eSports scene, introducing hundreds of thousands of new players to the genre, and inadvertently pumping the supply of customers to the betting industry.
How is the scene looking now?
It’s safe to say that CS:GO matches were getting millions of unique views between 2015 and 2019. However, in 2020 we can see those numbers diminishing significantly. However, the number of dedicated viewers is increasing as we saw the peak concurrent viewership numbers reach new records in April 2020.
All in all, it’s safe to say that Half Life started an amazing trend with its gameplay mechanics, with which it introduced millions of players to what would essentially become the football of eSports.