In the world of online competition through video gaming, also known as eSports, one of the most popular titles on the market is Valve and Hidden Path’s massively successful first person shooter, “Counter Strike: Global Offensive”. It earned marks among video game enthusiasts worldwide, and in 2019 alone the total amount of cash offered by tournaments totalled up to $21 million. The game has had over 1 million people playing at the same time within the last month, generating $414 million in just the year 2018.
CS:GO has asserted itself as a titan in the industry, and continues to bring in increasing amounts of players year by year. Until recently, it was the go-to game for most people when describing eSports. So what changed? In October of 2019, “Project A” was teased by Riot Games in an announcement regarding a slew of future projects coming from the company. It was set to release in 2020 during the Summer. Because of the reputation Riot Games has acquired over the years due to past releases, this update took the world by storm. Trailers had people coming back for more.
It was on April 7th of this year that “Project A” opened up a ‘closed beta’, under a new name this time, “Valorant”. This pre-release test allowed certain players to log on and check for bugs, ensure fairness, etc. In order to gain access to the beta, players had to tune into live streams of the game through various streaming sites like Twitch. During these streams, keys that allowed players to log on were given randomly to those viewing if certain accounts were linked together.
Why is the entire world so excited about a video game release, when hundreds of new big names are released every year? What makes Valorant so different? One reason is eSports. Similar to CS:GO, there is a lot of potential for professional play. Some of the basic, overall game mechanics are extremely similar. Both games have two teams of 5 pitted against each other in a small arena, allowing both teams to use points to acquire certain weapons, and then attempting to either plant a bomb or prevent it from going off. Critics have noted these similarities, some calling it a copy of the game. What sets it apart is that each player chooses an ‘agent’, each with their own ability to potentially turn the tides of battle. Whether that’s bringing a teammate back from the dead or scanning enemies through walls.
Another thing that sets this game aside from others are the promises made by the game developers. Among other things, they promised a good anti-cheat system from day one. This means the game requires the player install software that scans the game files to ensure nothing has been tampered with, that way players can’t cheat to give themselves an unfair advantage. They also promised servers with a high tick-rate. “High tick-rate” simply means player input is received more often per second, allowing for smoother gameplay overall.
The uproar of excitement caused by trailers and teasers combined with the overwhelming promise of developer support, with the addition of the potential for a competitive scene, meant fans worldwide were more than ready for a full release. Whether or not Valorant lives up to the hype that it’s generated will become apparent, but that doesn’t mean news outlets for gaming won’t stop talking about it non-stop in the coming months.