Counter-Strike is today one the most famous first-person shooter (FPS) games, and indeed, one of the oldest ones around. The game as we know it today was born in the 1990s, as a mod (a gaming slang for “modification”) of the game Half-Life, for PC. The first few were posted on forums, and only fans would know about them.

Now, there are entire arenas dedicated to Counter-Strike tournaments, with teams from all over the world. How has it grown so much?

Image: Pixabay

The Early Days

The game Half-Life, from which CS derives, offered a few customizable maps. It was the starting point for Jess Cliffe and Minh Le to create the first beta maps. According to the creators, it took about 45 days to complete the first version. Cliffe and Le created four other mods before Valve started paying attention to their work.

In 2000, the company hired both creators and bought all the intellectual rights of the game. Later on, in the same year, Counter-Strike 1.6 hits the shelves, and since then, the game has only gained more fans.


The competitions are highly professionalized now. Such professionalization is unsurprising if we consider the prizes at stake. A player nicknamed “dupreeh” has already won $1,937,581.07. Competitions have grown so much that they have attracted the attention of sportsbooks and punters.

It’s easy by way of a quick search to find an online casino with the latest odds for tournaments of CS: GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), by the team and by the player. Valve organizes or co-sponsors regular CS competitions, commonly called “Majors”. Those competitions typically involve 16 teams fighting for rather enticing prize pools.

Global Trend

The most played edition of the franchise today is CS:GO, which was launched in 2012. It took two years before the game started gaining momentum, and in 2015, the game exploded. The number of players tripled from 2014 to 2015, pushed by better coverage of top competitions.

Did You Know?

FPS games were already quite popular when Le and Cliffe created the first mods. However, there was a lack of “realistic” titles, according to Le. Le wanted to create something based on a terrorist vs counter-terrorist dynamic. Such a game required realistic weapons and graphics. Quake and Unreal Tournaments could also be modified to become battle arenas but lacked the realism Le and Cliffe looked for. Half-Life was the way forward.

Le says that creating the mods involved a time investment of about 40 hours per week, which he combined with his university’s schedule. Cliffe had access to the gaming community, running a website where enthusiasts would debate about new games. This straightforward communication with the gaming community would be crucial for the game’s early success.

Image: Pixabay


The long working hours have paid off Le’s and Cliffe’s efforts. There weren’t many realistic FPS games in the market when CS came around. Yet, they've influenced a generation of realistic and historical games. Such is the case of Medal of Honour and Call of Duty, both based on WWII themes. What started as a humble mod made by fans became a true classic of the genre.