One of the most iconic games in all of esports, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, looks to be getting a facelift soon. Will that be enough to reinvigorate current players while bringing in a new batch? — Kevin Hitt

The esports scene has been waiting for years for an update to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and that time may be now. Such an update to the game, which has a massive esports scene behind it, has the potential to reinvigorate existing players and possibly bring in a slew of new gamers.

CS:GO has been left in the graphical dust since its launch, and it hasn’t gotten the year-over-year updates that a game like Madden has received. There have some aesthetic adjustments, but players have been calling upon the game’s developer, Valve, to provide upgrades for years.

“I’m expecting huge improvements in terms of visuals and graphics,” said Team Liquid player Keith “NAFFLY” Markovic.  

It also appears that Valve is preparing to update CS:GO to a more powerful graphics engine called Source 2, a move that may signal Valve is ready to take a more hands-on approach with the title and do more in the casual and competitive esports scene. “An in-game tournament system like Premier mode from (Riot Games-produced) Valorant would be so incredible in CS:GO,” said Sean Gares, a former top CS:GO player for Cloud9.

CS:GO currently ranks No. 3 on the all-time esports money list, having paid out over $147 million since its release in 2012. The first-person shooter, which features a 5-v-5 game, averages over 800,000 daily players. — Kevin Hitt

While an upgrade to Counter-Strike might be popular among players, there would still need to be substantive changes to the game itself to make it more appealing for sponsors of esports. Most brands aren’t going to attach themselves to a competitive gaming scene built around a game centered on violence and a terrorist plotline. 

By contrast, CS:GO’s biggest first-person shooter competition, Valorant, created gameplay that is intentionally brand-safe. There is no blood, and competing teams are simply attackers and defenders (no terrorist moniker attached, like in CS:GO). This has attracted sponsors like Prime Gaming and Mastercard to come into the Valorant ecosystem as the game grows.

If Valve decides to do away with the terrorist scenario and take away elements like the blood, Counter-Strike could perhaps attract those types of lucrative sponsorship deals. It has a committed, global fanbase and relatively steady viewership. Its Majors attract millions of eyeballs, and thousands in foot traffic (the recent ESL Faceit Group-run Major in Rio, which had Intel as a title sponsor, set attendance records for its Brazilian debut).

Valve will have to weigh such changes for sponsors with a player base that would likely be enraged by such a shift in gameplay, which has drawn them in for over two decades. — Hunter Cooke

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