Counter-Strike "Inspired" Mobile Title Farms 50 Million+ Downloads

A Lawsuit in the making?

Aditya Singh Rawat
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Critical Strike CS: Online FPS is a fast-paced modern multiplayer FPS game for mobile devices inspired by Counter-Strike.
The game was released in April 2017 and has registered more than 50 Million downloads to date.
It has has seemingly been using elements found in CS:GO in multiple maps, weapon skins, and more.

Counter-Strike (CS) is one of the best games ever created that redefined the first-person shooter (FPS) genre. Multiple iterations of the title have been released over the years, CS 1.6 being the most iconic, followed by Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) which gave the series its biggest commercial success, and now decades later an upgraded version of the game has been released in the form of CS2.

While the game has improved and changed a lot over the course of 23 years, for better or worse, one thing that has remained unchanged is its exclusivity to being a PC-only title.

In defiance of the persistent refusal to adapt Counter-Strike for console or mobile platforms, mobile gamers have found a workaround. They are gravitating towards applications such as Critical Strike CS: Online FPS, accessible on both Android and iOS. This alternative bears a striking resemblance to the original game, with numerous elements appearing to be directly inspired, if not replicated, from Counter-Strike.

Critical Strike CS: Online FPS - The Mobile Lookalike of Counter-Strike

What is Critical Strike CS: Online FPS?

Critical Strike CS: Online FPS, as the title suggests, is a fast-paced modern multiplayer FPS game for mobile devices, as per its description on Google Play. It claims to be the best ‘3D First Person Shooter in real-time’ offering graphics equal to AAA quality games.

The base game works exactly like CS with players engaging in fast-paced, team-based combat, where one team takes on the role of attackers, while the other plays as defenders. After certain rounds are played the game reaches half-time and the two teams swap sides.

A few features that the game offers are as follows,

  • 5 Game Modes

  • 8 Maps

  • 40 Weapons

  • 250 Weapon Skins

  • Optimization for lower-end mobile devices

  • Option to create clans

  • Rank system to reward the grind

  • Themed events throughout the year

It is developed and published by Vertigo Games, which is a studio that deals with mid-core, real-time social multiplayer games.

The studio headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey has also created other games apart from Critical Strike CS: Online FPS. A game called Polygon Arena is already live and another that is currently being worked on is titled ‘Project X’ with an expected release date of 2024.

Why is Critical Strike CS: Online FPS a clone of Counter-Strike?

In the game’s description available on both Google Play and App Store, the developers have made sure to avoid the word Counter-Strike. However, the same cannot be said about the maps used in this mobile FPS which is the first thing one will notice on the store pages.

Critical Strike CS: Online FPS seems to have copied multiple elements from iconic maps like Dust 2, Train, Italy, Pool Day, and more, from the PC title. This can even be directly observed from the images that the developer has uploaded to the online stores.

Critical Strike CS: Online FPS: Counter-Strike Dust 2 Map

Not just the maps, most weapon skins used in the mobile game seem to be “inspired” from original cosmetics in Counter-Strike. 

Even gameplay-related things like specific places on the map where the attacking side needs to execute, the way weapons are held by models, organizations used to represent both sides, and other similar aspects also seem to be strongly influenced by Counter-Strike.

Critical Strike CS: Online FPS - Asiimov Inspired Skin From Counter-Strike

In the context of FPS games, we can expect certain elements to be similar across different titles, irrespective of the platforms they are available on. This commonality, however, does not inherently justify the replication of specific components such as maps, cosmetics, agents, and similar items. These elements can be independently developed given sufficient time and resources.

While Critical Strike CS: Online FPS may not be a blatant copy of Counter-Strike, the sheer number of features and elements that seem to have been borrowed from the Valve shooter makes it seem like a copycat; at least in the eyes of CS fans.

Success of Critical Strike CS: Online FPS - No Action From Valve!

Despite its shortcomings, Critical Strike CS: Online FPS has achieved a significant amount of success with over 50 Million downloads on Google Play and a 4.4 rating based on 836,000 reviews. The game has a strong social media presence with substantial followings on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Discord, and TikTok.

The developers regularly update the game with new features, themed cosmetics, and events, catering to a large and active player base. The game's latest update in December 2023 introduced a Winter Warfare Season and a new character reminiscent of Tom Cruise's role in Top Gun.

Critical Strike CS: Online FPS - Tom Cruise Inspired Character

A part of the game’s success should be attributed to its marketing campaigns. It actively runs advertisements on Instagram and Facebook to expand its player base. This marketing strategy is seen as both ingenious and senseless, as it risks attracting negative reactions from those who view the game as a Counter-Strike clone, while also appealing to those desiring a mobile version of the popular shooter. 

Despite its apparent similarities to Valve Corporation's Counter-Strike franchise, there has been no legal action from Valve. Throughout its six-year run, both Critical Strike CS and Counter-Strike have continued to grow independently without any legal confrontations which indicates that the former is in the green, at least legally.

This is not the first that a mobile game has been accused of copying elements from a PC title.

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB), the most popular battle arena mobile game especially in Southeast Asia, developed by Moonton has faced multiple lawsuits from Riot Games and Tencent in the last six years (2017-2022). They have been sued over multiple counts including copyright infringement, stealing character designs, and even using assets related to League of Legends: Wild Rift. Despite these setbacks, MLBB managed to avoid significant repercussions with many lawsuits being dismissed by the respective courts.

At the time of writing this article, Valorant Mobile is also under development with speculations pointing towards a mid to late 2024 release. However, Counter-Strike seems to be committed to being available only on a single platform (PC) with no plans for expansion right now.

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Aditya is the in-house CS:GO writer at AFK Gaming. While his understanding of the esports space is not restricted by geographical borders, his current focus lies in the Asian region. Understands and follows almost all major esport titles.

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