How Valorant became the most popular FPS in the world

September 17 2021

How Valorant became the most popular FPS in the world
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Valorant was released on June 2, 2020, for PC—though the game had a closed and open beta before this. Since then, it has grown not only as one of the most popular FPS games in the world but one of the biggest multiplayer games in the industry. Even months before its release, many industry figures saw Valorant as the successor or rival to the biggest FPS of that time—and one of biggest in the history of first-person shooters—Valve’s CS:GO. Others compared it more with Overwatch.

The two main competitors Valorant faced

csgo landing hero

Through different versions over the years, Counter-Strike was considered the best FPS game in the world for more than two decades. And it wasn’t even close. And since the release of CS:GO back in 2012—excluding a brief low in the history of the franchise with CS:Source not being well received by the fans—the new iteration of the game became a global success. It not only lured back the old players that had stopped playing the game when CS:Source was released but also gained a massive amount of new fans. Despite grumblings from some fans that the creators, Valve, weren’t doing it justice, it quickly became the best FPS in the industry, with no other FPS game in the world being able to hold a candle to it.

Overwatch character banner

Overwatch was the second biggest FPS in the world. The game experienced huge success at its release date and over the next two years. After only one year, it already had plans for its professional league and big plans at that, with Blizzard aiming to redefine the esports scene. The league was set to be something massive, a franchise-based league just like the NBA with a spot on the league going for between 30-60 million dollars in the second season of the competition. However, even that was able to prevent the decline the game eventually went through. Indeed, the league was actually one of the major factors in the downfall of the title. The game’s community constantly called for things to be buffed, nerfed, or just fixed, but the developers never found a way to balance the game to make both the casual fans and the pro players happy. A stagnant meta made players feel out of love with the game as well as making it boring to watch, and the Overwatch League saw declining viewership. The year 2019 officially marked the downfall of Overwatch; the game was in the worst condition it had ever being in. These issues, along with so many others, ensured Overwatch was never truly a threat to CS:GO.

Overwatch viewership

This graph shows how much the number of viewers for the Overwatch League declined over the years. Source: Statsita

Valorant release and the impact it had in the FPS/Shooters landscape

Valorant was released with perfect timing: Overwatch was at an all-time low, while CS:GO fans were begging for changes and felt like Valve didn’t care about the game and its player base. With the release of Valorant, the FPS landscape changed. Fans of both games saw a chance to experience something new: a brand new FPS from one of the biggest video games companies in the world. While Riot had mainly produced games in other genres, they had proven that they cared about their players: constantly changing and updating previous games they made. What’s more, here was a game that, on first impressions, looked not only different from its competitors but fun, exciting, and delivered to the players an experience completely different from anything they had played before.

Valorant represented a fresh face, combining abilities with raw aiming. All maps offered a completely different design, with every map having unique features. Haven has three sides, Split and others have ropes, and Bind has portals. This variety made it so that every map has a different taste to it and also forced the players to adapt their game and Agent selection depending on which map they are playing.

The Agents and how they impact the game

Valorant character silhouettes

The different Agents in the game also allow the players to play different roles. They can play a more supportive role on Agents like Sage and then switch it up for the next game and play as a duelist with a more aggressive and flashy style ( flashy style because most of them do indeed have flashes in their kits) like Reyna or Pheonix. Every Agent has a unique kit, making it so that the game is never dull, and that you have plenty of alternatives that suit different players and play styles. Every kit allows you different plays options in different stages and situations of the game, making it so that one ability can have a massive impact on the outcome of around.

The Valorant competitive scene and its quick rise

The factors already discussed made a huge number of players from different games like CS:GO, Overwatch, Fortnite, Apex Legends, and other shooters decide to come to Valoran.t Not only casual players but also pro players from different games— but mainly CS:GO and Overwatch—made the switch to Valorant, with some of the most notable names being: Nicholas “nitr0” Canelas, Spencer “Hiko” Martin, Ethan “Ethan” Arnold, Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan, and Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas and many others.

The game currently has a player base of 15 million people, and it’s growing every month, with more players switching from different games to Valorant as their default FPS. North America is one of the regions that saw most of their CS:GO player base, both professional and casual players, switch to Valorant. Most players felt CS:GO was stagnating and a little boring, while Valorant, for many of them, ignited their passion for FPS again and allowed players to make a name for themselves, both through content creation and through professional play.

The professional scene saw swift growth with record-breaking numbers for an esport with a little more than a year to build. The major tournaments have drawn great viewership numbers, even surpassing their main opponents’ numbers. Valorant’s most popular event this year saw a peak of 740,000 viewers against 596,000 from CS:GO.

Despite what the fans are saying, Valorant is not going to kill CS:GO. Just as DOTA 2 and League of Legends coexist—with League being arguably more popular—these two games can also do the same. However, Valorant’s quick ascension makes it so they can already be considered the most popular FPS in the world, but only time will tell who will manage to get the upper hand on this “war” between games.

francisco carriço

Francisco Carriço
Francisco Carriço

Lover of both Esports and Sports, Lebron James and s1mple fan, best TFT player in my house ( maybe in my neighborhood), always striving to improve both as a person and as a writer.