Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (video game)

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive text
Type Video Game
Launch Date August 21. 2012 [1]
Status Active
Product Line Counter-Strike
Platform Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Linux

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is an online multiplayer first-person shooter (FPS) that was developed by Valve and released on August 21, 2012. It is one of their best-selling video games, with approximately 25 million copies sold by the end of 2016.[2] The game is the fourth instalment in Valve's Counter-Strike series and is the direct sequel of Counter-Strike: Source. However, the game's popularity has raised a variety of potential ethical issues such as gambling, match-fixing, cheating, and even terrorism.


In CS:GO, two teams (Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists) face each other and fight to complete certain objectives and win. Each team needs to win a certain number of rounds to win the entire match, with the number of rounds needed varying across game modes. The game itself is played on different maps that feature a unique and distinct layout.


The competitive game mode features two teams of five that compete in a best-of-30 match (first team to win 16 rounds).[3] In the defuse variation, the objective of the Terrorists is to plant and detonate a bomb on either the A-Bomb site or the B-Bomb site. As for the Counter-Terrorists, their task is to defuse or deny the planting of the bomb by eliminating the Terrorists/waiting out the round. Four scenarios lead to a round end: Counter-Terrorists defuse a planted bomb, Terrorists detonate a planted bomb, either team has all five players eliminated, or the round timer runs out. Each round lasts for 1 minute and 55 seconds if the bomb has not planted and the bomb itself has a 40-second timer. In the hostage variation, the objective of the Terrorists is to instead run down the timer and prevent hostages from being rescue, while the Counter-Terrorists must try to rescue the hostages.

Each player can purchase a variety of different guns, armor, and grenades to accomplish their objective. All players are pitted against other players of a similar skill group or rank to ensure fair matchmaking. Ranks range from the lowest being 'Silver I' and the highest being 'Global Elite'. At the end of each match, players' skill rating will be adjusted based on their performance and whether they won or lost.[4]


Similar to the competitive game mode, the casual game mode involves the main objective of bomb defusal, bomb detonation, or hostage rescue. The main differences are that armor and defusal kits are provided for free to all players upon the start of each round, and the overall economy for purchasing utility slightly different than Competitive. Also, the casual game mode is limited to 15 rounds, and at any point, players can switch between the Terrorist side and the Counter-Terrorist side. Other notable differences include 2 minute and 15-second rounds, a maximum of 10 players on each team, and the disabling of friendly-fire. [5]


Unlike the competitive and casual game modes, the deathmatch game mode has unlimited respawning as opposed to one life per round. Furthermore, there is no economical restriction in terms of purchasing weapons. A single round lasts 10 minutes and each player receives points dependent on eliminations. All CS:GO maps are playable on the deathmatch game mode.

Arms Race

The Arms Race game mode has players cycle through a list of weapons in progression. This game mode features unlimited respawns, and players must get two eliminations with each weapon to move on to the next one in the list, or 'promote'. The final weapon promotion is a gold knife and the winner is the first player to obtain an elimination with it. However, weapon demotion is also possible if the player is either eliminated by a knife or if the player commits suicide. Additionally, the mechanic of "Team Leader" allows for players to immediately promote to the next gun without having to get the required two eliminations. Both the Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists teams have their corresponding team leader, who is determined by the player with the furthest weapon progression. If a player eliminates the opposing team leader, they will be promoted instantly unless they are also a team leader. [6]

Danger Zone

With the rise of battle royale games, CS:GO released a similar game mode in December of 2018, called Danger Zone.[7] The number of players in each match is 16, and players will need to either find cash or weapons throughout the map to eliminate the other players. With cash, a player can purchase weapons or gear that will be supplied via a drone. Similar to other battle royale games, as the match progresses the safe area will become increasingly smaller, forcing players to engage in combat. Rockets will rain down and damage the player if they are not inside the safe zone. The last player that survives wins the match.

Ethical Issues


One of the ethical concerns that CS:GO faces is the gambling of in-game cosmetic items. In particular, as part of an update in 2013, Valve introduced random skin reward drops when players finished a match. [8] It is important to note that these skins are purely for cosmetic purposes and do not alter the overall gameplay in any way.

These skins can be traded with other players through the Steam platform and could also be sold through the Steam Marketplace. Furthermore, rarer skins hold higher market values, with some of the rarest knife skins listed for over $1,000. [9] Another way to obtain skins outside of playing the game is by opening loot crates. A player may purchase a key that allows them to open the crate and obtain a random weapon skin.

As the game grew in popularity, websites started offering services that would allow players to bet on professional Counter-Strike matches through the use of skins as virtual currency.[10]This promoted gambling as players could buy skins off the Steam Marketplace with real currency and then place bets on these websites using their skins. However, with no way to verify the age of its users, this raises the concern of possible underage gambling.

Match Fixing

CS:GO's gambling problem got so big that the effect of these betting websites could be felt even in the professional e-sports scene. One infamous case was the iBUYPOWER match-fixing scandal where iBUYPOWER was largely favored to win their league match against NetcodeGuides. However, the match ended with a win of 16-4 for NetcodeGuides, with the players rumored to have earned over $10,000 in weapon skins by betting against themselves through the popular betting website CS:GO Lounge. [11].

To prevent future match-fixing and to set a firm precedent, Valve permanently banned all the players who were involved in the scandal from future Valve-sponsored events, effectively ending the professional CS:GO careers of all the players. [12] However, that would not be the first nor the last case of match-fixing in CS:GO. In March of 2021, the commissioner of the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), Ian Smith, said in an interview that the ESIC was working together with the FBI to investigate systemic and “organized match-fixing” in the professional CS:GO scene. [13]


An example of what a cheater would see in game

Due to the competitive nature of CS:GO, there are players who will seek out unethical ways to win their matches. Common cheats involve so-called ‘aimbots’, ‘wallhacks’, and ‘triggerbots’. ‘Aimbots’ are a form of aim assistance that helps the cheater instantly lock on to the heads of their targets once they appear on the screen. ‘Wallhacks’ are a form of visual assistance that enables the cheater to see through walls, highlights the enemy targets on the screen, and even shows enemy locations on the minimap. ‘Triggerbots’ are a form of aim assistance where the program will automatically shoot for the player if their crosshair passes over a target.

Cheating brings up ethical concerns, as this is not only a problem that affects the general CS:GO community, but it is a problem that affects even the professional level of CS:GO. When thousands or even millions of dollars worth of prize money is on the line, some players may be tempted to use illegal means to gain an advantage. In 2018, Optic India was disqualified from eXTREMESLAND ZOWIE Asia CS:GO 2018, a tournament with a prize pool of $100,000 USD, [14] when one of their players, Nikhil “forsaken” Kumawat, was found to be using a version of an ‘aimbot’ program. The team would eventually dissolve, and when further investigations revealed that Kumawat had in fact used the same cheat at a prior tournament, the ESIC had no choice but to ban him for five years from “all esports related activity for or with any ESIC member organization.” [15]


Outside of gameplay ethical concerns, the idea of making a game around terrorism in itself is an ethical issue. Although the teams are called Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists, this naming scheme doesn't seem to affect the gameplay of the game. Companies have raised concerns about sponsoring professional players for a game that involves terrorism. [16] Additionally, new audiences could avoid playing or watching the game due to the game's connection with terrorism.


  12. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. (2021). Retrieved 17 April 2021, from
  13. FBI probes match-fixing in Counter-Strike eSports. BBC News. (2021). Retrieved 17 April 2021, from
  14. eXTREMESLAND ZOWIE Asia CS:GO 2018. Liquipedia Counter-Strike Wiki. (2021). Retrieved 17 April 2021, from
  15. forsaken issued five-year ban by ESIC. (2021). Retrieved 17 April 2021, from