What is Counter Strike?
Counter Strike is a five vs five team based first person shooter. Teams work together to kill the members of the enemy team, and either plant or defuse a bomb depending on which team you’re on. It was first created in 1999 as a free modification for the game Half-Life. In 2003, patch version 1.6 was released and would be the most popular version of the game until Global Offensive. In 2004 Valve released an official sequel to Counter Strike 1.6, called Counter Strike Source. It enjoyed mild popularity, but was always overshadowed by the 1.6 version. In August of 2012, Counter Strike Global Offensive was released by Valve.
Today, CS:GO is the second most played game on Valve’s game distribution platform, Steam. It trails behind Defense of the Ancients 2, a free to play game. For a game with a $14.99 price tag, CS:GO has an extremely impressive and consistently increasing player base. From 2014 to 2016, the average number of concurrent players over a day more than tripled, from 106,000 to 380,000 according to steamcharts.
Counter Strike has become a pillar of the eSport community, which is projected to generate $463 million in revenue in 2016 according to NewZoo, a market research firm. Major CS:GO tournaments draw viewership of over 1 million viewers, all online. Major streaming website Twitch hosts the majority of these viewers, with the rest watching via the CS:GO game client. CS:GO viewership is increasing at a dramatic rate. In 2014, the ESL One Katowice CS:GO tournament was watched by 250,000 viewers. That number quadrupled in just a year.
— Michal Blicharz (@mbCARMAC) March 15, 2015
The most recent major tournament which took place from March 29 to April 3 in Columbus Ohio was viewed by 1.6 million people Yahoo eSports reported.
An Online Community
This viewership exposes a lot of different people to the game, and also the players. Just like traditional sports, CS:GO has outspoken or cocky star players who create a large fan base. In addition to professional players, popular live streamers on Twitch have developed large followings. Many of these streamers can afford to make a living on twitch. Popular streamer Summit1g averages around 16,000 unique viewers at any time per day according to statistics website Twinge. Many of these popular streamers gamble with CS:GO skins live on stream. University of Connecticut Sophomore ACES student Son Nguyen has seen lots of streamers who gamble.
The influence of popular streamers, in combination with the rise in popularity of CS:GO recently has led to a massive influx of gambling websites.
In addition to betting on professional matches, there are websites that let users simply wager items against each other. The first of these websites to gain major popularity was Csgojackpot. On Csgojackpot, users enter into a raffle against each other to win a pot of items. According to their website, the procedure is as follows:
- Deposit a skin (Min 10 Steam Value — Max 10 skins)
- The steam value of the skins you deposit are exchanged into tickets
- Tickets are assigned on 0.01 = 1 ticket basis
- Winner is picked randomly when 50 skins are deposited
- Winner receives all skins in the prize pool, except a 5% CS:GO Jackpot software service fee
- Trade offer is sent with your winnings!
These websites gained popularity thanks to broadcasters on twitch.tv who streamed themselves gambling on jackpot style websites. The most popular Counter-Strike broadcaster, Summit1g often gambles live.
The video below contains explicit language.
24 percent of Twitch viewers are under 18 according to marketing research firm Quantcast, and young people emulate people they admire. This leads to stories like Reddit user /u/IT2346’s. He went from having $8,500 in skins, to betting it all away in two months. Even buying new skins on OPSkins to immediately bet with on jackpot websites.
UConn Freshman Computer Science major Christian Lucas has a similar story, although with less money involved. Lucas went from an inventory of skins worth $2 to an inventory of over $150, winning bets on csgolounge. Lucas had the fortune to stop betting while he was still ahead.
“My largest loss was an $80 knife, but I had gotten that knife from betting, so I still considered myself fairly in the green and quit there.” said Lucas.