Counter Strike: Global Offensive is in some trouble after the game suddenly went free to play this month, prompting a negative response from many of the title's most invested players. The decision to make CS:GO free wasn't made with a lot of forewarning for players, creating a sense of resentment within the game's existing playerbase that has carried over onto its Steam review page.
CS:GO is one of the most popular games in the world, and is frequently among the most played concurrently on Steam according to the platform's stats tracking systems. The game previously cost money to purchase up-front and has its own marketplace on Steam that sells weapons, skins, and more, meaning that those who played CS:GO prior to the change have likely sunk in a fair bit of money if they played with any semblance of consistency. CS:GO also has one of the more passionate communities regarding its competitive play, which has existed for much longer than many other esports and is considered an innovator that paved the way for future titles within the esports scene.
To express their discontent with the change, fans of CS:GO have been reportedly bombarding the game's Steam page with negative reviews. On December 7, the game was blitzed by over 14,000 negative Steam reviews in a single day, by far the most negative reviews CS:GO had ever achieved in a single day - in fact, it was more than the game had ever managed over a span of a month prior to that. While the negative reviews have tapered off in the past few days, coming in around 5,000 per day over the next couple of days, the community is clearly displeased by the decision to make CS:GO free.
Interestingly, the introduction of a battle royale mode - a clear marketing grab at some of the Fortnite demographic - isn't the point of contention for most fans, who seem genuinely interested in the new Danger Zone mode. Rather, many of the game's more dedicated players feel cheated over having paid for the game prior, and are demanding exclusive weapons, skins or a refund for the amount they paid to purchase the game.
Games going free to play later in their life cycle is nothing new, and it's rare for fans to be given a refund for what they paid, especially given how long CS:GO has existed already. Those who feel like they've been slighted by the platform certainly have a right to feel that way, but it seems unlikely anything more than a new exclusive skin for pre-existing players will come out of this, and that's probably going to be okay for everyone involved. The peak concurrent player count for CS:GO has hit a yearly high over the past few days after the title went free to play, and that benefits both the developer and the fans, who will see renewed interest in a game that had been wavering slightly with so many new competitors emerging over the past couple of years.