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Counter-Strike (video game)

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Platform(s)Windows, Xbox, OS X, Linux
November 9, 2000
  • Microsoft Windows
  • November 9, 2000[1][2][3]
  • Xbox
    • NA: November 18, 2003
    • EU: December 5, 2003
  • OS X, Linux
    • WW: January 24, 2013
Genre(s)Tactical first-person shooter

Counter-Strike (also known as Half-Life: Counter-Strike or Counter-Strike 1.6)[5] is a tactical first-person shooter game developed by Valve. It was initially developed and released as a Half-Life modification by Minh "Gooseman" Le and Jess Cliffe in 1999, before Le and Cliffe were hired and the game's intellectual property acquired. Counter-Strike was released by Valve for Microsoft Windows in November 2000, and is the first installment in the Counter-Strike series. Several remakes and ports were released on Xbox, as well as OS X and Linux.

Set in various locations around the globe, players assume the roles of counter-terrorist forces and terrorist militants opposing them. During each round of gameplay, the two teams are tasked with defeating the other by the means of either achieving the map's objectives or eliminating all of the enemy combatants. Each player may customize their arsenal of weapons and accessories at the beginning of every match, with currency being earned after the end of each round.


The player standing in the terrorist starting zone (spawn point) of de_dust using a CV-47 (AK-47)

Counter-Strike is a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter video game in which players can join either the terrorists (T) or the counter-terrorists (CT).[5][6][7][8] If one team has more players than the other, the server settings may automatically balance. Each game begins with both teams spawning simultaneously as one of eight possible default character models (four each for counter-terrorist and terrorist). Each player begins with $800, two magazines of ammo, a knife, and a handgun, often a Heckler & Koch USP for the counter-terrorists or a Glock 18c for the terrorists. Players are usually allowed a few seconds before the round starts, known as freeze time to purchase equipment but not move. Players may purchase equipment whenever they are in a buy zone for their team, some of which can be shared by both sides and the round has not been in session for more than a certain duration, which is 90 seconds by default. Surviving players keep their equipment for the following game, while those who die start again with a handgun and knife.[9]

The scoreboard displays team results as well as information about each player, including their name, score, deaths, and ping/latency (ms) on the map, it also displays if each player is dead, carrying a bomb (in bomb defusal maps), or a VIP (in assassination maps), albeit the player must be killed during the round to gain this information about opposing team members. Players that are killed become "ghosts" for the rest of the round; they are unable to alter their names or receive chat/voice messages from live players, unless the console command sv_alltalk is set to 1. They may typically watch the rest of the round from a variety of chosen observer modes (free-look mode, locked chasecam and free chase chasecam),[10] but some servers limit some of these views to prevent dead players from conveying information about surviving players to their teammates via alternate media (most notably voice in Internet cafés). Many players believe the practice known as "ghosting" to be cheating.[11][12] Players receive standard bonuses, such as $3500 for winning a round, $1500 for losing one, and $300 for killing an enemy.[9] They can have up to $16000 via earning and can be fined (e.g. killing a teammate fines the perpetrator $3300).[13]

Currently, there are three objectives depending on the map:[14][15][16]

  • Bomb defusal: One terrorist has a bomb when they start the round. The goal of the terrorists is to plant the bomb at a bomb site—usually Bombsite A or Bombsite B on a map—and make sure it explodes. The team that survives wins if the bomb hasn't been set and every member of one team has been eliminated. The Terrorists win if the bomb is planted and detonates; however, the counter-terrorists win if the bomb is defused, however they can buy an optional kit to expedite the defusal process). The counter-terrorists lose when the round timer goes off. The player's death count is not increased by bomb explosion deaths. Maps start with the prefix "de_" (e.g de_dust2).[12][17]
  • Hostage rescue: Four hostages are often located close to the terrorist base on the map. The goal of the Counter-Terrorists is to lead the captives to a location on the map where they are rescued.[15] A team wins if every member of that team has been eliminated. The Counter-Terrorists win and get $2400 for each captive that survives, provided that the number of rescued hostages is at least half of the original hostage count. The terrorists win when the round ends. Maps with this objective start with the prefix "cs_" (e.g cs_office).[18][17]
  • Assassination: In this objective, one Counter-Terrorist member becomes into a VIP, armed with 200 units of Kevlar vest and nothing more than the counter-terrorist standard-issue USP handgun and one additional magazine. Except for their own handgun, the VIP is not permitted to retrieve dropped firearms. The VIP's goal is to get at an extraction zone (1, typically), when the counter-terrorists triumph. The terrorists win if the VIP dies. The counter-terrorists win if every terrorist dies. The terrorists win when time runs out. A VIP shouldn't expect to escape without the team's help due to the gun's shortage of ammo, but the unique armour and the pistol together offer sufficient protection.[19][17]

Formerly, there was a fourth objective called Escape. The scenario is that the terrorist team must "escape" to one of the designated escape points after beginning their mission in a protected area. Before they can flee, the counter-terrorist team needs to kill them. Once half of the team has managed to escape, the terrorists win the round. Following each of the eight rounds of play, the two sides will trade roles. If one team eliminates the other, both teams can also win the scenario.[20]

Three categories exist for weapons: Melee (knife), Secondary (handguns), and Primary (rifles, shotguns, machine and submachine guns). There is a separate category for equipment like defusing kits and hand grenades. With the exception of equipment, which may hold many items at once, players are only allowed to carry one item in each of these categories at a time.[21]


Counter-Strike began as a mod of Half-Life's engine GoldSrc. Minh Le, the mod's co-creator, had started his last semester at university, and wanted to do something in game development to help give him better job prospects. Throughout university, Le had worked on mods with the Quake engine, and on looking for this latest project, wanted to try something new and opted for GoldSrc. At the onset, Valve had not yet released the software development kit (SDK) for GoldSrc but affirmed it would be available in a few months, allowing Le to work on the character models in the interim. Once the GoldSrc SDK was available, Le estimated it took him about a month and a half to complete the programming and integrate his models for "Beta One" of Counter-Strike. To assist, Le had help from Jess Cliffe who managed the game's website and community, and had contacts within level map making community to help build some of the levels for the game.[22] The theme of countering terrorists was inspired by Le's own interest in guns and the military, and from games like Rainbow Six and Spec Ops.[22]

Le and Cliffe continued to release Betas on a frequent basis for feedback. The initial few Betas, released starting in June 1999, had limited audiences but by the fifth one, interest in the project dramatically grew.[22] The interest in the game drew numerous players to the website, which helped Le and Cliffe to make revenue from ads hosted on the site.[23] Around 2000 at the time of Beta 5's release, the two were approached by Valve, offering to buy the Counter-Strike intellectual property and offering both jobs to continue its development.[23] Both accepted the offer, and by September 2000, Valve released the first non-beta version of the game. While Cliffe stayed with Valve, Le did some additional work towards a Counter-Strike 2.0 based on Valve's upcoming Source engine, but left to start his own studio after Valve opted to shelve the sequel.[23]

Counter-Strike itself is a mod, and it has developed its own community of script writers and mod creators. Some mods add bots, while others remove features of the game, and others create different modes of play. Some mods, often called "admin plugins", give server administrators more flexible and efficient control over their servers. There are some mods which affect gameplay heavily, such as Gun Game, where players start with a basic pistol and must score kills to receive better weapons, and Zombie Mod, where one team consists of zombies and must "spread the infection" by killing the other team (using only the knife). There are also Superhero mods which mix the first-person gameplay of Counter-Strike with an experience system, allowing a player to become more powerful as they continue to play. The game is highly customizable on the player's end, allowing the user to install or even create their own custom skins, HUDs, spray graphics, sprites, and sound effects, given the proper tools.[citation needed]

Valve Anti-Cheat[edit]

Counter-Strike has been a target for cheating in online games since its release. In-game, cheating is often referred to as "hacking" in reference to programs or "hacks" executed by the client. Valve has implemented an anti-cheat system called Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC). Players cheating on a VAC-enabled server risk having their account permanently banned from all VAC-secured servers.

With the first version of VAC, a ban took hold almost instantly after being detected and the cheater had to wait two years to have the account unbanned. Since VAC's second version, cheaters are not banned automatically. With the second version, Valve instituted a policy of 'delayed bans,' the theory being that if a new hack is developed which circumvents the VAC system, it will spread amongst the 'cheating' community. By delaying the initial ban, Valve hopes to identify and ban as many cheaters as possible. Like any software detection system, some cheats are not detected by VAC. To remedy this, some servers implement a voting system, in which case players can call for a vote to kick or ban the accused cheater. VAC's success at identifying cheats and banning those who use them has also provided a boost in the purchasing of private cheats.[24] These cheats are updated frequently to minimize the risk of detection, and are generally only available to a trusted list of recipients who collectively promise not to reveal the underlying design. Even with private cheats however, some servers have alternative anticheats to coincide with VAC itself. This can help with detecting some cheaters, but most paid for cheats are designed to bypass these alternative server-based anticheats.[citation needed]


When Counter-Strike was published by Sierra Studios, it was bundled with Team Fortress Classic, Opposing Force multiplayer, and the Wanted, Half-Life: Absolute Redemption and Firearms mods.[25]

On March 24, 1999, Planet Half-Life opened its Counter-Strike section. Within two weeks, the site had received 10,000 hits. On June 19, 1999, the first public beta of Counter-Strike was released, followed by numerous further "beta" releases. On April 12, 2000, Valve announced that the Counter-Strike developers and Valve had teamed up. In January 2013, Valve began testing a version of Counter-Strike for OS X and Linux, eventually releasing the update to all users in April 2013.[26][27]

An unofficial browser version was released in 2023 on a Russian website.[28]


Upon its retail release, Counter-Strike received highly favorable reviews.[25][29][31][33][34] In 2003, Counter-Strike was inducted into GameSpot's list of the greatest games of all time.[14] The New York Times reported that E-Sports Entertainment ESEA League started the first professional fantasy e-sports league in 2004 with the game Counter-Strike.[39][40] Some credit the move into professional competitive team play with prizes as a major factor in Counter-Strike's longevity and success.[41]

Global retail sales of Counter-Strike surpassed 250,000 units by July 2001.[42] The game sold 1.5 million by February 2003 and generated $40 million in revenue.[43] In the United States, its retail version sold 550,000 copies and earned $15.7 million by August 2006, after its release in November 2000. It was the country's 22nd best-selling PC game between January 2000 and August 2006.[44]

The Xbox version sold 1.5 million copies in total.[45]

Brazilian sale ban[edit]

On January 17, 2008, a Brazilian federal court order prohibiting all sales of Counter-Strike and EverQuest began to be enforced. The federal Brazilian judge Carlos Alberto Simões de Tomaz ordered the ban in October 2007 because, as argued by the judge, the games "bring imminent stimulus to the subversion of the social order, attempting against the democratic state and the law and against public security."[46][47][48] As of June 18, 2009, a regional federal court order lifting the prohibition on the sale of Counter-Strike was published. The game is now being sold again in Brazil.[49]

Competitive play[edit]

The original Counter-Strike has been played in tournaments since 2000 with the first major being hosted in 2001 at the Cyberathlete Professional League Winter Championship.[50][51] The first official sequel was Counter-Strike: Source, released on November 1, 2004. The game was criticized by the competitive community, who believed the game's skill ceiling was significantly lower than that of CS 1.6. This caused a divide in the competitive community as to which game to play competitively.[52]


Following the success of the first Counter-Strike, Valve went on to make multiple sequels to the game. Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, a game using Counter-Strike's GoldSrc engine, was released in 2004. Counter-Strike: Source, a remake of the original Counter-Strike, was the first in the series to use Valve's Source engine and was also released in 2004, eight months after the release of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. The next game in the Counter-Strike series to be developed primarily by Valve was Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, released for Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in 2012.

The game spawned multiple spin-offs for the Asian gaming market. The first, Counter-Strike Neo, was an arcade game developed by Namco and released in Japan in 2003.[53] In 2008, Nexon Corporation released Counter-Strike Online, a free-to-play instalment in the series monetized via microtransactions. Counter-Strike Online was followed by Counter-Strike Online 2 in 2013. In 2014, Nexon released Counter-Strike Nexon: Zombies worldwide via Steam.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Additional development by Barking Dog Studios.[4] The Xbox version of the game was developed by Ritual Entertainment and Turtle Rock Studios.
  2. ^ The Xbox version of the game was published by Microsoft Game Studios. The OS X and Linux versions were self-published by Valve.


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  2. ^ Walker, Trey (November 9, 2000). "Counter-Strike 1.0 Released". GameSpot. Archived from the original on May 15, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  3. ^ Gibson, Steve (November 9, 2000). "Counter-Strike v1.0". Shacknews.
  4. ^ Gestalt (March 10, 2000). "Minh Le of Counter Strike team". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on April 14, 2022. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Henningson, Joakim (August 6, 2020). "The history of Counter-Strike". Red Bull. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
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  8. ^ Pargman, Daniel; Rambusch, Jana; Jakobsson, Peter. "Exploring e-sports: A case study of gameplay in counter-strike". Exploring E-sports.
  9. ^ a b Sfetcu 2021, p. 331
  10. ^ Valve Corporation & Sierra Studios 2000, p. 11
  11. ^ "How do you solve a problem like ghosting?". MCV. February 13, 2020. ISSN 1469-4832. Retrieved April 1, 2024.
  12. ^ a b Sfetcu 2021, p. 332
  13. ^ Valve Corporation & Sierra Studios 2000, p. 10
  14. ^ a b "The Greatest Games of All Time: Counter-Strike". GameSpot. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007.
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  17. ^ a b c Computec Media France (2000). Génération 4 magazine (in French). p. 47.
  18. ^ Sfetcu 2021, pp. 332–333
  19. ^ Sfetcu 2021, p. 333
  20. ^ Valve Corporation & Sierra Studios 2000, p. 9
  21. ^ Valve Corporation & Sierra Studios 2000, p. 15
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  37. ^ Thomas (September 17, 2002). "Golden Joystick Awards Is Announced". Worthplaying. Retrieved September 17, 2002.
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  53. ^ "プログラマー急募" [Urgent recruitment of programmers]. LEDZONE (in Japanese). June 10, 2003. Archived from the original on June 11, 2003.