It's official: Valve is developing a new Counter-Strike game in conjunction with Hidden Path Entertainment, and you'll be able to play it next Friday at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle. That's no surprise given that both developers are based in Washington, but what should surprise you is that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO for short) is going to be available for download early next year on Steam, Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network.
That's right, the classic PC first-person shooter which defined a generation of PC gamers and remains one of the most popular multiplayer games on the planet is coming to home consoles with new gameplay modes and weapons, as well as remastered versions of classic Counter-Strike maps like de_nuke and de_dust. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is designed to look and play differently than it's predecessors and thus is being developed from the ground up rather than iterating on Counter-Strike: Source code, though CS:GO does employ Valve's Source engine.
No screenshots or trailers have been released so it's difficult to guess how the game will look, but we do have a first-hand account of what it feels like to play the game from Craig "Torbull" Levine, one of many professional Counter-Strike players invited up to Valve headquarters last week to play the latest build of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and give the developers some expert criticism. Craig wrote up the details of his playtest over on the eSports Entertainment Association website, and it's clear from his conversation with the developers that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is targeted squarely at professional gamers and the eSports scene.
"It would be great if CS GO can be a rallying point to usher the Counter-Strike franchise back to the global e-sports stage that has recently seen games like StarCraft 2 and League of Legends take all the limelight," wrote Levine. "I have my fair share of concerns about how what apparently seems to be a console game built on the Source engine will port over to the PC."
With a clear focus on competitive play it looks like Valve is trying to make Counter-Strike a household name among hardcore FPS fans, many of whom abandoned Counter-Strike for console shooters like Call of Duty. Considering that the amazing success of the original Counter-Strike mod made realistic shooters popular for competitive play (and thus contributed in part to the astounding success of competitive console shooters like Modern Warfare) it seems almost natural for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to be available on your home console. Competitive shooters have come full circle, but a handful of questions remain: what does Global Offensive look like, and how much will it cost? Will it support cross-platform play between console and PC players? Stay tuned for more news about Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and a slew of other games when PAX kicks off next week.