The Challenges of Playing CS:GO on the Newly Released Steam Deck

Playing CS:GO

With a player base of around 20 million, playing CS:GO is one of the most famous first-person shooters on the planet. It also happens to be a highly successful esport, offering viewers dozens of big tournaments per year and countless CS:GO betting opportunities. This game is usually played on PC. But recently, Valve released its highly anticipated handheld gaming device, called Steam Deck. And this has opened the way for CS:GO to also become a sort of mobile game. But those who want to play this way will need to overcome some serious challenges.

Old Habits Die Hard – Playing CS:GO

Almost everyone who plays CS:GO uses a PC. And the more experienced you are as a player, the deeper your “CS:GO reflexes” are imprinted into your brain. For a lot of people, aiming, moving, and a lot of other things are done subconsciously.

To play the game at a high level, you cannot stop to think about what you’re going to do next. It has to come to you naturally. In a tense situation, in which you have a few milliseconds to respond, the crosshair seems to move almost on its own, searching for the head of the opponent. And realizing that you need to consciously make it move again because you’ve changed your device is painful.

Hand Dexterity and Body Posture

Another issue here has to do with the dexterity difference between your right and your left hand. If you’ve gotten used to operating the mouse with your right-hand, all of your aiming and shooting are connected in your brain to it. And all of the movements are likely connected to your other hand. 

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Almost every right-hand gamer on this Earth instinctively places his left hand on Ctrl -ASD – Space whenever they sit at their computer. Otherwise, something simply doesn’t feel right. And this default position is often associated with other physical processes that are involved in playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Your entire posture while sitting at your computer influences your aim accuracy, your level of focus during the game, and so on. 

gaming keyboard

Just try for instance the experiment of changing your position and playing from a standing position. During key moments of the game, your movement will be awkward and below your current skill level. And all that is caused by a simple change in your posture. Imagine then what happens when you change everything about the way you play: posture, keys, what operations you perform with each hand, and so on.

Shooters have been designed to be played with a mouse. Your ability to aim accurately is heavily connected to your mouse sensitivity, its weight, how well it fits in your palm etc. Going from having this good old pointing device to using the Steam Deck doesn’t feel very good. 

This has nothing to do with Steam Deck’s design, which is very nice and does its job properly. But you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you try to play FPS games on it at a high level. If your CS:GO rank is anywhere above Legendary Eagle, other players will simply eat you alive. And that’s where another challenge presents itself.

Unfair Competition

When you play a game like PUBG Mobile or Call of Duty Mobile, you know that all of your opponents are using a similar device. So you’re not the only one trying to see things clearly on a tiny screen or make the right-hand gestures. Everyone’s at the same disadvantage. The playing field is leveled and therefore, you never think about it. But when you play CS:GO on the Steam Deck, thoughts start creeping in.

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For example, it’s hard to argue against the idea that a keyboard and a mouse is the optimal combination for any FPS game. On top of that, the skill difference between players of similar rank is often quite small. This makes a lot of people ask the question: why would I put myself at a severe disadvantage by playing the game on my Steam Deck instead of my PC?

Just as nobody would like to ruin their rank by playing with a few broken fingers, it’s likely to nobody will willingly use the Steam Deck to play ranked CS:GO matches at a high level if a PC is available. The device is great, but it’s not exactly optimized for FPS games and cannot be compared with the traditional input devices used for these types of games.


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