Freedom Is Free: CSGO Goes F2P For The Weekend

Evidently, this counter-terrorist is battling against a squad of Storm Troopers.

Given that you’ve paddled your browser over to this isle of the vast Internet ocean, I feel fairly safe in assuming that you’re a PC gamer. Therefore, you have – presumably, in some form or another – played Counter-Strike at some point in your life. But maybe that was back in ye olde futureyear of 2000, or perhaps you gave Source a go around the time Half-Life 2 came out. So along comes this newfangled “Global Offensive” thingamawhatsit, and naturally, you’re suspicious. I mean, what if they replaced all the guns with bottles of Mountain Dew? Or maybe Valve turned the series into a piece of postmodernist art, with us taking the role of a deeply contemplative bomb forced to witness the futile conflicts of man. These are very legitimate concerns, but this weekend, you can find out whether or not they hold any water. For free!

Valve’s holding the promotion in celebration of the ESWC Finals in Paris, and it’s already kicked off. From now until 1PM PST (9 PM GMT) on Sunday, CSGO will be free of charge to everyone. Just download it from Steam, and you’re set.

If you’re a fan of pro Counter-Strike, you can also watch the finals inside CSGO. And if not, well, there’s still kind of an entire free videogame for you to play. Granted, CS isn’t known for being the most newbie-friendly series, but Valve assures that matchmaking won’t throw you in with the sharks unless you make some serious progress in your skill group. There’s also Casual mode for those who want to avoid the deeper waters altogether.

Oh, and there’s Arms Race mode too. Valve recommends that pretty highly for newcomers as well – so much so, in fact, that it’s congealed all of its excitement energies into a bouncing baby visual form. And that, boys and girls, is how videos are born.


  1. MuscleHorse says:

    Please can we have the post-modern version of CS.

    Also, speaking as someone who was thoroughly bored of CS, this is rather good. Give it a go.

  2. Donncha O Caoimh says:

    Worth a go methinks but I’m sure I’ll have my ass handed to me like every other noob to the game.

    Of course because I disabled steam:// links in my browser the “Click here to download” link didn’t work. One more click, must do it….

    • rusty5pork says:

      The thing about CS:GO is that if you play in matchmaking queue, you won’t get stomped nearly as often as you normally do. And when you do get stomped, 9 times out of 10 you learn something about it; whether that thing be a hiding place you got ambushed from, when to be careful, where the enemy will come from, or the limitations of your current gun.

    • Godwhacker says:

      I’m having the same problem, even within the Steam browser. It says ‘click here’, and it just takes me to the Game Hub. Any ideas, anyone?

      Edit: restart Steam, look in games list.

  3. MrNash says:

    I may hop on with the free version for a bit and do my part to contribute to experienced players improving their K/D ratios as I run around with no idea what I’m doing.

  4. ch4os1337 says:

    I’ve logged 368 hours in CS:GO so far and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Great game that’s only going to get better/more popular.

    Also to new players: you gotta go in expecting to do bad, it’s normal. Dying isn’t fun though so keep trying to get better and you will play better and start to really love the game.

    • Gnoupi says:

      With such initial price tag, which will most likely get slashed at the diverse steam deals, it is likely, indeed.

    • Petethegoat says:

      I’ve got 201 hours logged, and I uninstalled it yesterday because I can no longer play hostage maps in competitive mode (or at least not without a predicted, i.e. longer than, 60 minute wait time).
      Community servers are either 32 player atrocities, passworded and empty, or empty.

      I suppose 200 hours for £12 or so is a fair deal, but it so easily could have gone up to 300 or 400 hours.
      I’m not really interested in any future valve games if they’ll have the same level of post-release ‘support’.

      • kalirion says:

        What does Valve’s “post-release support” have to do with which servers players choose to join?

  5. SpaceAkers says:

    I’m not a fan of the existence of Casual mode. It’s not really much more casual, besides turning of friendly fire by default which you can also turn off in “competitive” mode.

    All it really does is make it so you don’t have to buy armor and you get more money in-between rounds. It doesn’t make the game any more casual and you are going to get destroyed by better players at exactly the same rate while not really learning the “economic” side of the game. It’s an unnecessary confusion that adds nothing and helps no1 imo.

    Nevertheless, CS remains the best game of pure modern weapon shootery ever.

    • SpaceAkers says:

      If you want a “Casual” experience, then yeh just play Arms Race which is fun and no stress and should be rage free.

      • Derppy says:

        I rarely rage at games, but gun game variants always do it for me.

        It’s a FFA, there’s only one winner, yet you are still forced into teams. Nothing is more infuriating, than doing well, and then getting stuck because your kills get stolen, or enemies just happen to be on the other side of the map, getting slaughtered by someone else who gets ahead of you.

        It’s still fun, but I’d rather have it fully FFA with a low number of players or team-based, so that a team wins and team advances in weapons together, when they get enough kills.

        • rusty5pork says:

          I’d say try Demolition, then. It’s team-based, but with quick rounds and lots of carnage, and still gungame based.

    • aurens says:

      casual has shorter games, does not affect your elo ranking, and does not punish for disconnecting. maybe ‘casual’ and ‘competitive’ aren’t the best signifiers, but it is certainly the more laid-back mode.

      • SpaceAkers says:

        Ah, I was thinking of just the community server side of things and not the matchmaking. Perhaps it makes sense there, but in the land of dedicated servers which are all gonna be config’d / modded anyway, it just ends up confusing matters imo.

    • ShineDog says:

      Casual modes economy really gets thrown out of whack, without the money sink of armour you get entire teams of AwPs on both sides, and 6v6 AWP isn’t really fun.

      • Outright Villainy says:

        It’s worse since in default matchmaking casual mode goes up to 10 v 10, which is way too high. Awps and campers everywhere.

  6. battles_atlas says:

    I preface this by saying I never played the original, but given what valve can do with narrative I can’t help but feel a characterless FPS is a waste of their talents. I dont get what this has that BF3 with its more graphics and vehicles and destructable scenery doesnt.

    Maybe if I ever play it I will, but that seems unlike given the riches available right now.

    • SpaceAkers says:

      What CS has over BF3 and other such games is laser focus. It’s fast, brutal and rewards fast, brutal and organized team play better than nearly every FPS.

      I love what valve did with the characters and art design of TF2, which is a brilliant game and one of my favorites ever, but that sort of stuff doesn’t really have a place in CS. CS is a no gimmicks game of extreme precision.

      Games like Battlefield and Tribes are exciting playgrounds of jetpacks and tanks and helicopters across huge maps where you can attack or defend against enemy forces in a myriad of ways. CS gives you a rifle and a flashbang and says, “Make it work, Soldier.” Sometimes less is more and the purity of CS is its staying power.

    • zeroskill says:

      You are not seriously comparing Counter Strike to Battlefield, are you?

    • ch4os1337 says:

      > I dont get what this has that BF3 with its more graphics and vehicles and destructable scenery doesnt.

      I guess it’s kind of expected that every PC gamer has played CS at some point (it’s sold 25 million copys so far after all) but it’s hard for me to explain what CS has because it’s the feel.

      It’s the feel of the guns and the tight controls and the maps. Once you understand the game you notice that there is no bullshit, if you shot the guy 9 times in the head it’s *your* damn fault you missed not the games. Better players will win almost always, it also has the highest skill ceiling for a team game next to Tribes meaning you can have proper competition unlike in other modern FPSs.

      CS:GO has changed the game in some key ways but the main thing I like is the matchmaking, you’re put with 4 teammates against another team of 5 where you use the money you earned from winning rounds/kills to pay for your firearms and equipment (armour, grenades, defuse kits, etc). If you’ve played CoD’s Search and Destroy mode that is a simplified version of CSs main game mode Defuse (de_).

      People say in BF you have to work together but you can go around solo capping points all day, in CS you *have* to work together. You have to call out their locations, how many there, what weapons they have. You have to time flashbangs and use smokes to conceal movements/block pushes and HE’s to damage the enemy from safety. Using different routes on each round, camping as a CT (defender). Not to mention having better positioning, being stealthy, properly aiming and learning how to shoot.

      Everything matters and the fun that modern games don’t really give comes from the learning of all the things you need to do to be even competent at CS.

      Edit: Also there’s the super annoying fact that BF3s guns are not as responsive and bugs the shit out of me. Here’s a video I made. link to

    • Magnusm1 says:

      More focus. Less bullshit.
      I think that sums it up pretty well.

    • Carbonated Dan says:

      BF3 has the worst netcode and gunfeel of any shooter since goldeneye, which didn’t have any kind of networked mp at all

      CSGO has occasional kinky reg issues to work out, the classic matchmaker needs a competetive rules mode that’s neither stuck behind a five minute wait nor ends the match when a nub rage quits in round three, and the scout really does not need the same half-second of post-movement nerf as the AWP and Autosnipe

      otherwise, CSGO is everything chaosleek said it is, with only ARMA and MWO outstripping it for tactical team play

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Say what you will about Valve’s netcode, at least the shooting is accurate.

        I’m not too fond of the CS community but I may load up GO this weekend just to see what all the fuss is about.

    • ShineDog says:

      They really aren’t comparible.

      Where BF3 is sprawling, Counterstrike is focused.
      Where BF3 is messy, Counterstrike is tight.

      The focus is entirely different. Battlefield does battlefields, funnily enough. and the small scale deathmatch maps never work quite so well because every aspect of the games design is informed by this. It can be a game of attrition, teams of players huddled behind a rock chipping away at each other, no real moves made by either side. It can be complete chaos, with so many open routes that all cohesion goes out the window. It can be hugely random, and the huge teams mean no one player will be the key player in most games. This chaos is awesome and its exciting, but its not what CS does.

      CS is far more like a sport. teams are vastly smaller. The maps are smaller. Weapons are far harder to use but also more predictable. Because of the smaller scale every individual thing matters. Individual player skill matters more, because it’s entirely feasible that one man can deal with 6 opponents. At the same time teamplay matters more, because its actually viable to coordinate 6 people and see tangible results.

      The different routes that players can travel down are more limited in number but this emphasises their importance, and you’ll see teams come up with little pseudo playbooks. Yeah, it’s entirely true that CS has less stuff, but the fact that the stuff is limited is precisely why CS works. Because players can have a reasonable expectation of what will be featured in a match they can plan and let their skills shine in a way that just isn’t possible amid the randomness of BF.

      (This isn’t to suggest that skills aren’t important in BF3, but BF3 is much more about improvisation and reaction. It’s an entirely different focus)

      BF3 is broad, CS is narrow but deep. Both are awesome for their own reasons, but its definately not fair to say CS BAD BECAUSE BF3 DOES MORE STUFF.

      • Squishpoke says:

        I like your analysis/comparisons. Likening Counterstrike as a “sport” is an apt metaphor.

    • Jambe says:

      Perhaps a pedantic note, but CS:GO was developed by Hidden Path Entertainment and Valve kinda jumped in midway through-ish.

      • zeroskill says:

        More accurately, it has been outsourced to Hidden Path with the support of Valve. We don’t really know what Valve is working on right now, Dota 2 is basically finished and has a pretty small team working on it, comparable to the Team Fortress 2 team I take it, so the majority of Valve is working on something we have no clue about, whatever that might be, i’m confident their talent isn’t wasted on it.

  7. airtekh says:

    Just what I was looking for regarding CS:GO, I’m downloading right now.

    I tired of CS well before CS:S was released so I’d like to see just what Valve have changed before I fork over any money.

  8. Squishpoke says:

    As good as this game is, I am sadly just not a big fan of any version of Counterstrike. It’s a tad boring to me. I prefer more chaotic warfare like the type you’d find in TF2 or Natural Selection.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      I’m in a similar boat. But replace chaotic with atmospheric (though Natural Selection is still high on the list of games that seem more interesting than CS right at this moment).

      As much as I’ve been wanting to give CS:GO a try, I’m struggling to convince myself the time wouldn’t be better spent in DayZ, ARMA, Red Orchestra 2, Natural Selection, or even the Halloween map for Killing Floor…

      In short, guess CS:GO just isn’t my sort of game. But I’m damned happy it’s around and doing well, because I have immense respect for its design purity.

  9. strangeloup says:

    I played CS a bit back in… whenever it first came out, 1999 or 2000 or whenever it was. I was fairly rubbish at it but I could at least complete a game.

    Fast forward a number of years, and I figured I’d try out CS:S. My entire experience with that was walk five feet, die from headshot, wait for next round, repeat.

    Then I got in on the CS:GO beta and enjoyed it a lot, eventually picking up the full version (though missing out on the AWP for TF2; it wouldn’t let me preorder, as having the beta installed somehow made Steam think I owned the game).

    Honestly, I’d recommend it to anyone who likes the idea of Counter-Strike — and it’s certainly a commendable design for a multiplayer shooter — but is put off by the high bar to entry of 1.6 and Source. There’s certainly high-level play in there, but it’s also accessible to people who haven’t been playing it constantly for the last dozen years.

  10. PendragonUK says:

    OK I’m confused if this a F2P or a free play weekend? of is it now free????

    F2P like TF2
    Free Weekend, download and play for free but for a limited time
    Or for a limited time you can get the full game for Free.
    Or they are just giving it away for nothing now…

    A link to the press release/News page might be nice.

  11. Miltrivd says:

    After playing the beta I just can’t get past the feeling of disconnection between the camera shake and recoil which was the main feedback you had when your gun started to go crazy in CS 1.6. I think this is quite intentional due the game being released on consoles and such shake would be weird on a TV, sitting far from the image, so I don’t see them changing it at all. I still had fun, just the unshakable feeling of discomfort while playing. I prolly won’t be buying until it goes to US$5.

    • zeroskill says:

      I don’t see how the the console release of the title affects the PC version in any way, if they believed that a certain feature would add to the game on the PC it would take them little effort to patch it in.

    • oWn4g3 says:

      Camera shaking has been added though. Not as much as before, but still they reacted to the community feedback.

  12. Donjo says:

    nnnnoooooooo….. two essays to write… something’s gotta give.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      I know right? And Valve, in their infinite wisdom, decide to give CS:GO a free weekend in the damn middle of their TF2 and DOTA2 Halloween events.

      Seriously, Valve, how am I going to fill up my Greevil egg if I’m shooting mens in CS:GO? HOW?

  13. drastic00 says:

    Thank you, Nathan, for not referring to Valve as a plural noun, i.e. ‘Valve make games.’

  14. benkc says:

    6 minute queue to get into a game, with a tiny (<10 seconds?) window to click the mythical accept button. (Mythical because, even after sitting through the queue twice, I still haven't actually seen the dialog because I alt-tabbed for a few seconds.) Is this normal, or is this just because of the free weekend? It's certainly enough to make me quit before even managing to play a round.

    • benkc says:

      I mean, seriously, not even a sound to indicate that it’s ready?

    • benkc says:

      OK, after having watched it like a hawk, and clicking accept at approximately 6:15, 6:30, and 6:45, at about 8:00, 8:30 the text changed from “Searching for players and servers” to “Confirming match…” but no accept dialog popped up and after a few moments it popped up the “You didn’t click accept, yadda yadda” dialog. So yes, sometimes it just boots you from the queue for no reason.