Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was released on August 21, 2012, and made available for Microsoft Windows and OS X on Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, and a US-only version on PlayStation Network. The Linux version was released in September 2014. It features classic content, such as revamped versions of classic maps; as well as brand new maps, characters and game modes. Cross-platform multiplayer was planned between Windows, OS X, Linux, and PSN players, but was ultimately limited to Windows, OS X, and Linux because of the differences in update-frequency between systems. The PSN version offers three input control methods, which include using either the DualShock 3 controller, PlayStation Move or USB keyboard/mouse.

Like the previous games in the series, Global Offensive is an objective-based multiplayer first-person shooter. Each player joins either the Terrorist or Counter-Terrorist team and attempts to complete objectives or eliminate the enemy team. The game operates in short rounds that end when all players on one side are dead or a team's objective is completed. For most game modes, once a player dies, they must wait until the round ends to respawn.

Players purchase weapons and equipment at the beginning of every round with money awarded based on their performance. Completing objectives or killing enemies earns the player money while negative actions, like killing a teammate or hostage, takes money away from the player. In addition, when a round ends all players receive some amount of money, with players on the winning team receiving substantially more. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive adds new weapons and equipment not seen in previous installments, most notably the firebomb for each side. These temporarily cover a small area in fire, dealing damage to anyone passing through.

Cosmetic items, such as weapon finishes, were added post-release.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been met with generally positive reviews from professional critics. Aggregate review website Metacritic assigned the PC version an overall score of 83 out of 100 based on 38 reviews from professional critics. Evan Lahti from PC Gamer noted that the majority of new official maps in Global Offensive were only for Arms Race or Demolition game modes; while Classic maps were only given "smart adjustments" to minor details. GameSpy's Mike Sharkey pointed out that the game provides very little in the way of new content; and that the Elo rating system seems ineffective, what "with so many new players of various skill levels logging on for the first time this week". Destructoid gave the game a very positive review, awarding it 9.5/10, saying that it "delivers on the promise of a faithful, polished, and better looking Counter-Strike for anyone who wants it." GameSpot said in their positive review that this game "is a solid update to a classic shooter".

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