The Chinese Counter-Strike scene is undergoing a change, that too in a good way.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive just got updated last night and Valve made CS:GO free-to-play for anyone in China that wants to try out the 2nd most played game on steam (After DOTA 2). Although it wasn’t explicitly stated in the release notes, a code string in the game files shows how it can be accomplished through Perfect World, a game publisher in China much like Steam.
To play CS:GO for free in China, players need to verify their national identity on their account through Perfect World. Once its verified, the game will be downloaded on thier account also giving them “Prime” status in the game. With “Prime” status on thier account, the players can fint eh games in Prime-only matchmaking. It’s basically the same as Prime matchmaking in the Steam version of CS:GO, except Steam’s verification requires a mobile phone. If players are unable to verify their identity, Perfect World will make them pay for a game license like any other consumer.
With this major change in the chinese scene, CS:GO must see an overall spike in coming weeks with more active users as a result of this change to Perfect World access. Its immediate esports competitors on Steam, such as Dota 2 and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, have been climbing up the player count ladder lately. They’ve even surpassed CS:GO on SteamCharts database. The only problem with the game in China is that the influx of users won’t show in the ladder count, because they’re on the Perfect World client and not the Steam client.
Now, lets hope Valve make CS:GO free to play on their Steam Client too 😀