As we consider what will be included in the next big Operation, we wanted to talk a bit about community made maps and how they are selected.
The CS:GO workshop community has generated a ton of custom made maps of increasingly high quality. We're currently in our fourth Operation, and so far Operations have featured a total of 21 unique community made maps. On average, each community map has earned over $23,000, per Operation it was featured in.
Deciding which maps are included in an Operation involves much consideration of several distinct criteria. Every map is considered and evaluated on its own individual merits. The final decision is made by carefully weighing each of the following contributing factors:
Theme / Aesthetic Quality
Maps should succeed at bringing players into the game by presenting an attractive and visually appealing space. Strong aesthetic quality should make players happy to spend time in the map, independent of gameplay considerations. This criteria may include a cohesive theme for the map, or a consistent style that helps players fulfill a fantasy. A good-looking map with a high level of polish that matches the quality of the official maps is a requirement, but a map with an interesting or unique core theme with spaces that feel like a real place, is of significant value. Our goal is not to dismiss any map out of hand, but rather to ensure that Operations include great-looking maps with consistent aesthetic quality.
Gameplay / Fun / Retention
If great visuals bring players in, great gameplay gets them to stay. When players are challenged or are having fun on a map, they will choose to play on the map over and over again. This is called Player Retention and is achieved by creating a map that is balanced, has lots of opportunities for a player/team to learn new strategies, develop new skills or have fun, new experiences. Ideally we want CS:GO’s maps to enjoy extended popularity due to strong gameplay even after the initial fantasy has waned. This will ensure that a map will stick around and keep players happy for a long time. Maps that don’t objectively meet these criteria will score poorly in this area.
Playtime / Interest
Community play time for workshop maps is a primary driving factor for determining map popularity, but community interest also plays a factor. Interest is a combination of a bunch of components including workshop ratings and community discussion, but (if applicable) we value how many people are currently playing a map and how much they play it as the most important factor in this category. The Playtime / Interest category is considered a wildcard category for us and will multiply the value of the first two categories, but can't make up for a map that scores very low in them.
Maps that excel in all three categories have a higher likelihood of being included in an Operation.
My map wasn’t selected for this Operation, is it possible it’ll make it into a future operation?
Yes. If a map meets the bar on the criteria above, but did not get selected, it is still eligible to be included in future operations.
Will my map be considered for an Operation if it is not uploaded to the workshop?
No. Maps need to be on the CS:GO workshop to be considered in an Operation. Additionally, they need to be in a “shippable” state before Valve make the map picks for the upcoming Operation. Ideally, the map has also been played a bunch by the community and has gone through a lot of rounds of feedback and iteration.
But if it meets the bar and was submitted to the workshop on time, why wasn't it selected?
When the group of maps are selected for an Operation, the maps are selected so that they work as a collection. Our goal is to provide a collection of strong maps that have good gameplay variety and unique visuals that appeal to different groups of people. If your map meets the bar, but wasn't selected, it may have not fit well with the group selected and will be considered next time.
How important is “theme” in a map?
We consider theme to be very important. We tend to see a lot of maps that all have similar themes (warehouses, generic industrial, generic factories, etc) or maps that tend to heavily share themes with maps we’ve already shipped. Creating a map with a unique theme will help your map stand out to the community and will increase your chances of getting noticed/selected.
Will non-Classic (arms race, demolition etc.) maps ever be included in an Operation?
There are a lot of great non-Classic maps on the Workshop and we’re working on ways to include them in future Operations while still generating enough revenue for the map authors, but for now, we’re only including maps that support Classic modes.
What’s more important: New and novel features or tried and true familiar gameplay?
The short answer is that they are both equally important and different types players will value them differently. Players who have been playing for a long time have built up a lot of skills and expectations and playing a map that feels “familiar” to them is very important. But on the other hand, there are a lot of players who value new experiences which they can share with their friends and have fun. Producing a map that is both new and incorporates familiar things from classic maps is a good goal when producing a map.