Valve, Counter-Strike, macOS, and How Not to Relaunch Software · Jens Oliver Meiert

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Valve, Counter-Strike, macOS, and How Not to Relaunch Software

Counter-Strike is—at the moment, was—a multi-platform game (

Windows
PRODUCT

,

macOS
ORG

,

Linux
PRODUCT

, SteamOS) and

one
CARDINAL

of the most popular online games.


Earlier this year
DATE

,

Valve
ORG

, maker of the Counter-Strike game series, announced Counter-Strike 2 (CS2).

A

months-long
DATE

testing period followed, during which

Valve
PERSON

presented a fantastic overhaul of the game (my take from following the development, particularly thanks to coverage by

3kliksphilip
CARDINAL

and TheWarOwl).


Yesterday
DATE

, on

September 27
DATE

, rumored but still somewhat suddenly,

Valve
PERSON

released Counter-Strike 2, replacing the game’s predecessor, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) on

Valve
ORG

’s Steam platform.

But

Valve shipped only a

Windows
PRODUCT

version.

And put something unplayable on all other systems *:

Without notice, without a way to go back to CS:GO, without a way to decently emulate the new version—and also without a clear path forward.

Right now, all that “works” is a hacky and sketchy way to even get to and sell one’s paid game inventories (which can be worth a fortune)—a way that’s furthermore limited because the funds are by default tied to players’ Steam Wallets (i.e., can only be used on Steam).

(Counter-Strike means

millions of dollars
MONEY

of revenue—actual money—, Valve controls the economy, and a part of the player base just lost access to the game and a way to use and meaningfully manage their inventories. Like that

🫰
ORG

)


Jekyll
PERSON

and

Hyde
PERSON

What was likely a suspenseful happy end to a long wait of the

Windows
ORG

player base, has turned into one of the worst relaunches ever for every other player, creating and fueling anger and mistrust.

That is, on the

Windows
ORG

side,

Valve
ORG

’s release of Counter-Strike 2 must have been one of the most exciting ones to follow in a long time.

But on the macOS side, it’s one of the worst software relaunches I’ve ever seen. It’s easily the most drastic and disrespectful one. And it’s one that raises many serious questions.

What I find most annoying, however, is that even without knowing the actual product, engineering, and legal decisions, it’s clear that much here could have been mitigated through—communication.

Ultimately, how you relaunch your software is not the point—it’s if and how you respect your users.

I’ve been a regular Counter-Strike player on

macOS
ORG

since the beginning of the pandemic, and I’m curious how

Valve
PERSON

is going to manage this brewing storm. Like other players, I’ve reached out to them on their channels, but—have not received a response now received a non-answer, in that Counter-Strike 2 would not be available on macOS “at this time.”

There is a mailing list on

Google Groups
ORG

,

cs2macos
ORG

, to discuss. (Email the group at [email protected], or log into your

Google
ORG

account to join the group.)

There’s still no communication from

Valve
ORG

. The document What you can do details some steps macOS players can take. (It does not provide legal advice.) Feedback and contributions are welcome, preferably via the list as previously mentioned.

It seems useful to reiterate the main problem, lack of communication: If macOS players had known that Counter-Strike on macOS was not to be supported anymore, or would not be supported long-term, they would have stopped or not even started playing the game. It’s also unlikely they would have spent any money on purchasing anything in or for the game. Valve making the game unavailable/unplayable without notice made this impossible, advantaging

Valve
PERSON

, and disadvantaging macOS players.

Valve officially pulled the plug on Counter-Strike on macOS. […]

* There’s also a

Linux
PRODUCT

version of Counter-Strike 2, but that one doesn’t seem to be working reliably. There are numerous reports on sound issues, with audio being crucial in Counter-Strike. Focus of this post is on Counter-Strike for macOS, but I might edit and update the post as I learn more.

About Me

I’m

Jens
PERSON

, and I’m an engineering lead and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like

Google
ORG

, I’m close to W3C and

WHATWG
PERSON

, and I write and review books for

O’Reilly
ORG

and

Frontend Dogma
ORG

. I love trying things, not only in web development, but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.

If you have a question or suggestion about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message. Thank you!