CS:GO went free to play and added a new battle royale mode recently, which led to a record-breaking 20 million player-count in December. These numbers are the highest ever recorded and more than double when compared to November's numbers.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has recorded its best player count numbers ever in December 2018. The record comes after the popular shooter went free to play and added battle royale mode dubbed Danger Zone.
According to CS:GO observer Nors3, the game logged 20,535,709 unique players which is more than double when compared to November's numbers. SteamCharts show December's average active numbers topped 395,509 players which is pretty close to the highest average number which currently stands at 402,385, recorded in February 2017.
Peak numbers in December hit 746,548 which is more than 200,000 higher than November but way off from the highest peak players ever recorded - 850,485 in April 2016.
If all these player count terms are confusing, unique players mean that more than 20 million players launched CS:GO last month. Peak and average player numbers put Valve's shooter just behind PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds on first and Dota 2 on second place of Steam's top games. PUBG recorded 732,170 players while free to play MOBA Dota 2 currently has 492,062 players.
It looks like Valve's decision to go free to play with CS:GO has paid off massively and it will be interesting to see just how long these numbers will hold up. Battle royale mode Danger Zone also helped despite the problems with cheaters and an overall mixed reception from the fans.
Speaking about cheaters, Nors3 also shared some info about VAC bans which occurred in December 2018. According to his stats, more than 500,000 accounts got banned but some people responded to his claim saying that VAC didn't detect every single cheater and that they are still, CS:GO's biggest problem.
Cheater issues were also one of the reasons for review bombing after the Danger Zone update. More than 22,000 negative reviews showed up just days after the update with many fans asking for proper anti-cheat improvements rather than new game modes.