Counter-Strike. A series that has been revolutionized and immortalised as one of the greatest multiplayer series of all time. Spanning for over a decade, each re-iteration brings more players to the frantic first-person shooter, expanding the playerbase. It's not simply about shooting enemy opponents over the internet however - there are many popular modifications that allow different gamemodes to be played.
The newest addition to the series, Global Offensive, has reached over one hundred thousand active users each month, and over three million unique users. Contributing to this rise of players never seen before includes the cheap price the game is set at ($15 USD, well below the full cost of other premium games, such as market competitors like Battlefield and Call of Duty), the cosmetic upgrades, the Operation packs (which support mapmakers creating more maps to play on in competitive mode), as well as frequent gameplay changes to ensure all guns are balanced and able to be used at a competitive standard.
And that's the reason why it's been so successful. All guns are available to be used, even if you just started the game. At the core, there's nothing that prevents you from using anything, unlike games like Battlefield and Call of Duty, which restricts you to either purchasing extra-DLC's to unlock the guns, as well as achieving enough in-game "experience" to unlocks new forms of weaponry.
The way that Valve is financially supported is by the forms of purchasing "keys" which are used to unlock crates or cases that are dropped during gameplay. Once opened, these crates will give a randomised skin of a weapon or a knife, which only affects the graphical look of the game. Additionally, Valve allows support of map-makers, with Operation passes that are purchased by the players, that fund both Valve's tournaments as well as map-makers that have made it into the Operation.
In a market where games seem constantly more "pay to win", where you can boost your progression in exchange for money, Global Offensive is a stalwart defender. In an era where "freemium" and "pay to win" games are predominant, Global Offensive is a lone game that's standing against everything.
But it needs to be careful. Valve, even though are seen publicly as a company we all love and support, need to understand that currently the game has a lot of support due to its balanced gameplay as well as support for tournaments (recent tournaments have a prizepool of almost 250,000 USD!). If Valve ever decide to proceed in a way that hinders the ability for people to fully access the game, the support of the game will, in my opinion, decline.
If Valve decide to release any "weapon packs" where you need to pay or any minimum hours played on any mode, even if to combat the amount of cheaters in competitive matchmaking, it would lead towards the recent trend of gaming - where we purchase our way into better items and objects. Thus, we should applaud Valve for their current direction with the game - and let our money speak to them. That we're perfectly happy with this model, where we can support both tournaments as well as map-makers and the company. What we're not happy with is if the company decides to tend towards the way of other "pay to win" games, and thus not purchase their product/s if they choose to go this way (see Counter-Strike: Nexon Zombies).