Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has now reliably pushed past Dota 2’s peak and average player counts, making the shooter the more popular of Valve’s big online games and the top game on Steam. For December 2019, CS:GO posted peak users of 767,000 while Dota 2 reached nearly 628,000. Though CS:GO started to pull ahead of Dota 2 last year, CS:GO has now claimed the top spot for four months in a row—it’s not a fluke, but a trend, and we can officially pass the symbolic crown. Dota 2’s all-time player peak was 1.2 million in January 2015, with a return to that number in January and February 2016. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s all-time peak player count was 850,000 in March 2016. Both have been enduringly popular games with multiple famous eSports moments. CS:GO in particular has produced many amazing plays over the past decade.
Dota 2’s player counts for 2019 peaked at over one million in February, but have experienced general decline, with a drop in December after the huge Outlanders update. That’s not too surprising, as Outlanders thoroughly reworked many of Dota 2’s game systems. That drop is comparable to the drop in overall users social media platforms suffer every time they rework the user interface. Dot Esports reports that Dota 2’s average player counts are the lowest they’ve been since 2014, when it was still a relatively new and growing game. Many in the Dota 2 community attribute the slow drop in players to the game’s infamously bad new-player experience.
None of this analysis would be possible without the magic of Steam Charts. All of these numbers, of course, are small in comparison to the world’s most popular PC game: League of Legends’ peak player counts are well into the millions.