Caught In The: CrossFire Makes A Lot Of Money

Counter-Fire. No wait, I mean, Cross-Strike.

Do you remember CrossFire? John wrote about it back in 2008, when shortly before its western release some players noticed that the Counter-Strikey free-to-play shooter seemed to drop all pretense and include de_dust2 outright. John investigated, and its western publisher confirmed the map was included in the original release, but also that it would be removed before reaching our shores.

Anyway, that was back in 2008. Now CrossFire is the highest grossing free-to-play game in the world, according to a report by SuperData.

First off, I’m always a little skeptical of these kinds of reports. Where are they getting their figures from? Valve are apparently at #9 with Team Fortress 2 for example, but they’re traditionally silent on the issue of earnings and profits. The small print underneath the list says that it’s based on “estimated” earnings, so you should take the specific numbers with a pinch of salt.

Still, the gist of it is accurate: CrossFire is very successful. Here’s a video of a recent Christmas update, including a microtransaction crate full of custom skins:

Which suggests it’s also taking a few other games as its inspiration now. I’ve done my own research into why the game is so popular and put together a list of the top 4 reasons, with estimated percentages of how important each element is:

1. It’s free – 50%
2. It runs on rubbish computers because it looks rubbish – 34%
3. You can “pay-to-win” with more powerful weapons – 28%
4. People like shooting things – 112%

I put the highest number at the end as a kind of surprise twist.

Check out the SuperData report for more “information”, or visit the CrossFire website to just sort of stare sadly at it for a while.


  1. Smurf says:

    Is this a time warp kind of thing?

  2. Ergates_Antius says:

    Remember kids: Moral and creative bankrupcy and outright theft are highly profitable.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Even better, after the theft, you can launder the money back through your own “online transactions” to also become “the highest grossing” F2P game. Who would know if the CEO was the only one to buy anything?

  3. rapchee says:

    at least the girl is not super skinny

    • The Random One says:

      I’m sure you can buy a skinnier girl body (with a 30% smaller hitbox) for only R$ 2,80/day.

  4. Wurstwaffel says:

    china is a weird place

  5. Pinlive says:

    I’m too lazy to check, but ten cent/腾讯 is a public company and unlike valve wil be required to list it’s earnings so the billion dollars might well be accurate. Has anyone actually played this though, I’d be curious to see a westerners “let’s play”.

    • Aedrill says:

      I’ve been playing CrossFire for quite a long time some 5-6 years ago. It was fine until I got tired of all those hackers. It’s simple but it’s fun. It’s free, so it’s easy to convince friends to play with you.

      I don’t know, I liked it. I know it’s a rip off, but I liked the pace and it was quite fun.

    • The Random One says:

      I played it some years ago. It’s pay-to-win badly designed Counter-Strike. Nothing to let’s play about, because it’s not only bad but also boring.

  6. raggnarok says:

    Looks like CS 1.6, except it looks worse, and well, it is worse. P2W games are just wrong.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Chinese people seem to like them. I don’t get it either, but hey – if that’s what they like who are we to argue.

      • raggnarok says:

        I don’t think they “like like” it. Last I heard, they have these cookie cutter copy paste games that resemble Counter Strike, TF2 and CoD because of the video game ban they had in place. They just resorted to copying everything with very slight differences. Who’s gonna sue ’em anyway? They’re in China, and they have some messed up lawyers there who can probably pin you with murdering an empress from the 1800’s or get you out of jail after being caught red handed in a triple cop murder.

        • Caenorhabditis says:

          Guess their legal system is pay-to-win as well…

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          According to this GDC talk by a guy who makes MMORPGs in China, pay to win is seen as quite acceptable over there.

        • kalirion says:

          Those aren’t “messed up lawyers.” Those lawyers, if they can achieve these results through plain old courtroom shenanigans, would be incredible successful in the Western world.

          However I’m guessing the credit in these cases goes to the corrupt judges / politicians.

      • StormTec says:

        Because “pay to win” is a Chinese philosophy for life ;)


    • El_MUERkO says:

      hey, don’t tarnish CS with this shite

  7. Felixader says:

    Classy undergarment shots when showing the new charakter.

  8. int says:

    I’m just happy people still make Half-Life mods.

  9. cpugeek13 says:

    Crossfire is incredibly popular here in China, mainly for the reasons stated in the article. Reasons #1 and #2 are especially important, because most young Chinese (students anyway) don’t have very good computers, and they don’t have money to buy games. It is a bit hard to believe that the game has earned that much money, though. Then again, there are a lot of stupid rich people here too.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I gather that play-to-win is a popular model in China, and that people don’t mind so much effectively playing a bidding war against other people on the server? I get that free to play is a viable option when piracy is so high, but there’s a difference between War Thunder’s very liberal approach to free upgrades and necessitating payments to get anywhere in a game.

      • cpugeek13 says:

        The people I’ve met in China who are into games don’t demand as much from them as people in the West. Probably because usually don’t pay money for them. Some people do, apparently, and the rest of the people just deal with it. I’m still shocked at how much money the game makes though.

        I’m also curious how many people posting here about the game being unfair have actually tried to play it. My guess would be that its not as unbalanced as you might think.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Yeah, this is just what I’ve heard about Chinese MMORPGs, say. Haven’t tried them.

  10. Freud says:

    I see no reason to moralize about doing what most other free 2 play games are doing, just without any subtlety. I don’t find spending money on Candy Crush or hats in TF2 less strange.

    • Gap Gen says:

      There’s a difference between allowing users to buy stuff in-game and effectively making people pay to stand a chance of winning, which like you say is what a lot of games do, although TF2 hats probably don’t contribute to your winning. I’ve never spent money in War Thunder, but I’m still getting a decent number of upgrades (which is an interesting business model, but perhaps the idea is just not to put people off to get the numbers in, and then see who pays once they’re in).

      • frightlever says:

        Play for fun and don’t worry about winning – makes any microtransaction game more palatable I find. It’s a lot easier to have this mindset when you’re old and slow.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Yeah, it’s not so much winning as continuously losing unless you pay up, or hitting a wall in a campaign.

  11. frightlever says:

    Wait a minute – so WoW had 2013 revenue of 213 million dollars? That’s like $25 per subscriber per year, surely. I thought it cost around that per month.

    And TOR took in $139 million? Seems respectable.

    • darkChozo says:

      WoW took 213 million in microtransactions only. The report’s on F2P revenue, it doesn’t count subscriptions.

  12. Deman says:

    Of all the bad f2p shooters. I prefer special force 2 the most.
    Just take a look at this fragmovie link to
    You can get the european version here: link to

    • raggnarok says:

      Holy crap, are those laser guns? They have no recoil and no spread whatsoever.

      • Deman says:

        It’s the japanese version. They got some overpowered gun. In the european version you got guns which have spread/recoil. Some guns have recoil and others have spread. Most of the times those 2 are combined which makes it kinda cs/cod hybrid like.

      • kalirion says:

        Looked like autoaim to me :/

  13. lautalocos says:

    i played this game years ago. the only good thing about it, and the on that probably made it famous is the fact that it has a mode called ghost mode.
    one team is full of almost invisible only melee fighters, which became completely invisible when not moving. those must plant a bomb. the other team are normal, boring dudes.

    it was hilarious, and sometimes scary.

  14. huldu says:

    The numbers are complete bogus and mostly made up.

  15. Shodex says:

    You know I actually quite like CrossFire, it has (or at least had) a really unique set of game modes.

    There was one I specifically remember where one team was trying to get to a portal , and the other team was guarding it. So it was a mad dash for one team to break through defenses and jump into this portal.

    Haven’t played it in years though.

  16. big boy barry says:

    Crossfire the ballbearing shooty board game thing is far superior

  17. kyrieee says:

    Looks like a UT99 mod, in more ways than one.

  18. Sacarathe says:

    I cant really understand why pay to win would work in a market where it is popular. Examples:

    Buy game for £30, play game, balanced game.

    Free game. Play game, Each player on each team buys £50 of goodies. Balanced game. :S

    Free game. Play game, some players buy stuff – unbalanced game.

    If it is such a popular game why does it not destroy itself with option 2? Because they always release a’la wow better stuff?

  19. PoulWrist says:

    I had never even heard of this game before now. But I guess maybe it’s one of those behind the “You cannot resisther!” “Illegal murder sim” “Play now before it’s banned” ads?