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How much money does CS:GO cost?

The short answer is that CS:GO is completely free to play! Valve made CS:GO free in late 2018 and you can download and play the full experience without paying anything.

The History of CS:GO‘s Pricing

Let‘s take a quick look back at the pricing history of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive:

  • Original release in August 2012 priced at $14.99
  • console versions on Xbox 360 and PS3 also $14.99
  • Price reduced to $7.49 in early 2017
  • Went fully free-to-play on all platforms in December 2018

So after 6 years as a paid title, CS:GO transitioned to a 100% free model on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. This ushered in a new era for the game.

What‘s Included with Free CS:GO

As a free player, you get full access to:

  • All main game modes (defuse, deathmatch, etc)
  • Matchmaking system and official servers
  • Ranked competitive play
  • Profile progression to Private Rank 21
  • Regular item drops just by playing
  • Hundreds of achievements to unlock
  • Workshops maps and custom modes
  • The powerful Hammer editor to build and play maps
  • Ability to earn Prime Status through leveling up
  • Over 35 million players worldwide to compete against
  • Full spectating system to watch matches live

Valve made sure the free edition gives you the complete CS:GO experience without paying a dime!

Content and Features

Let‘s do a deeper dive into what exactly you can access free in CS:GO:

  • Game Modes – All the classic modes are available, including competitive defuse, team deathmatch, arms race, demolition, and the massive battle royale mode Danger Zone.
  • Weapons – Every weapon and piece of equipment can be obtained for free just by playing matches and earning XP.
  • Maps – All the official matchmaking maps, community workshop maps, and game modes can be played at no cost.
  • Ranking System – Free users have full access to the ranking system up to Private Rank 21, skill groups, and seasonal rank resets.
  • Matchmaking – Finding competitive matches on dedicated servers across over 35 regions is free and limitless.
  • Spectating – Watch any live match or tournament in client for free with GOTV or Twitch.
  • Progression – The entire progression system of levels, drops, unlocks, and achievements is available without paying.
  • Prime Status – Prime can be earned simply by linking a phone number or reaching Private Rank 21.
  • Hammer Editor – Build or play custom maps and game modes via the Hammer editor.
  • Skins – Free players receive regular weapon case drops to unlock gun skins just by playing.
  • Player Count and Popularity

    Here are some key stats on how many people actively play CS:GO as of February 2023:

    • Daily peak concurrent players: 1.2+ million
    • Monthly active users: 25+ million
    • Copies sold: 75+ million
    • 5th most played game on Steam
    • 800,000+ playing official competitive modes daily
    • Over 500,000 in matchmaking queues at peak times
    • 1 million+ watching major tournaments in-game

    Despite releasing over 10 years ago, CS:GO remains one of the world‘s most popular multiplayer shooters in 2023. The switch to free helped CS:GO hit new records for active players.

    Revenue and Business Model

    Although the game is free, Valve generates revenue from CS:GO in a few key ways:

    • In-game transactions for skins, gloves, agents, graffiti, stickers, and music kits
    • Fees from the Steam Community Marketplace
    • Operation Shattered Web battle pass
    • Tournament passes for esports events
    • Licenses for organizations to run tournaments

    According to reports, CS:GO brought in an estimated $400 million in 2020 alone. So even as a free download, it continues to be highly profitable for Valve due to cosmetics.

    What Requires Payment in CS:GO?

    While you get full access to gameplay content for free, here are the optional paid components:

  • Weapon Skins – these cosmetics can provide small bonuses and prestige.
  • Music Kits – unique MVP anthems and bomb plant/defuse music.
  • Agents – play as special forces from around the world.
  • Stickers – huge variety of stickers to place on weapons.
  • Sprays – customizable graffiti tags to spray on walls.
  • Operation Shattered Web – premium battle pass for bonuses/XP.
  • Tournament Viewer Passes – usually around $1 to watch tournaments in-game.
  • Case Keys – $2.50 to unlock weapon cases.
  • All of these are optional cosmetics and convenience items. You can be fully competitive without them. But they offer awesome visual customization for invested players!

    Is CS:GO Pay-to-Win?

    This is a big concern for any free-to-play game – whether spending money gives gameplay advantages. Thankfully, CS:GO is not pay-to-win in any way.

    No weapons, attachments, or equipment are locked behind real money payments. The only purchasable items are cosmetic in nature.

    You can be just as competitive as someone who spends lots of money. Skill, reaction time, game sense, and teamwork are the true keys to victory in CS:GO.

    Valve has maintained a fair playing field where your own ability determines how you perform. You truly never have to spend anything, unless you want to look stylish while dominating matches!

    What About CS:GO Mobile?

    There have been rumors of a mobile port over the years, but currently CS:GO is not available on mobile platforms.

    However, Valve is working on a new Counter-Strike mobile title slated for release in late 2023. It will be a free-to-play game with cross-platform play between PC and mobile.

    While not a direct port of CS:GO, the upcoming mobile game should provide the core gameplay on phones and tablets for the first time.

    But for now, CS:GO itself remains exclusive to PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 platforms. No mobile version exists yet.

    What About Consoles?

    Unfortunately, only the PC version of CS:GO went fully free-to-play in 2018. The PS3 and Xbox 360 editions are still paid titles priced at $14.99 digitally.

    And CS:GO was never released on modern consoles like PS4, PS5, Xbox One or Series X|S. You cannot download or play CS:GO on those platforms.

    PC is your only option for the free experience. Console players can hope for a wider free release down the road, but currently must pay $14.99.

    Can You Play CS:GO Offline?

    The free CS:GO does allow playing offline against bots without an internet connection. You can access:

    • All game modes with bot opponents
    • The entire active map pool against bots
    • Progression, ranks, and unlocks work offline
    • Skill groups and ranks function offline
    • You can earn item case drops offline

    The only real limitation is prime status progression halts offline. But you can play hundreds of hours against bots even without internet!

    How Beginner Friendly is CS:GO?

    CS:GO offers a high skill ceiling that can intimidate new players at first. But Valve has added many beginner friendly features:

    • Offline bot matches help practice before going online
    • Deathmatch respawn modes reduce frustration
    • Casual game modes use looser rules and respawning
    • Ranked matchmaking keeps you against similar skilled players
    • Prime matchmaking queues veterans together
    • Hundreds of community servers available for newbies
    • Coaching system lets experienced players mentor you
    • Third party matchmaking like FaceIT lets you avoid pros

    The learning curve is steep, but new players have more options than ever before to get started!

    Will There Be a CS:GO 2?

    Rumors of a CS:GO 2 release have circulated for years now within the community. However, Valve themselves have not officially announced any sequel plans.

    The original CS:GO continues to receive major updates, new maps, reworks, engine improvements, and new modes. It seems Valve plans to build upon the existing game for the foreseeable future.

    That said, a hypothetical CS:GO 2 would almost certainly be free-to-play whenever it may get released. Paid sequels are rare these days, and Valve would likely continue the free model.

    But for now, CS:GO remains the definitive Counter-Strike experience and shows no signs of letting up. The future looks bright even without a successor on the horizon!

    The Verdict?

    CS:GO going free-to-play has been a huge overall positive for the game and community. Removing the mandatory purchase price knocked down a major barrier for new players and helped CS:GO reach unprecedented popularity.

    The core gameplay remains top-notch and highly competitive. While cosmetic items offer nice visual flair, they never feel "pay-to-win" mandatory.

    For both new and returning players, now is an excellent time to try CS:GO. The free price, massive player base, esports scene, and regular updates provide endless entertainment and competitive challenges!