CS:GO has a reputation for having more cosmetic-focused updates than technical ones. To investigate how big of an issue this really is, let’s take a look at the 2019 and 2020 patches collected in this list and compare the number of technical updates to the number of cosmetic ones.
Note: I don’t consider minor bug fixes, map pool changes or Danger Zone updates to be technical updates.
Feb. 6: Cosmetic. Katowice 2019 tournament updates were added. Since this involved the displayable coin and access to souvenir packages, we’ll count this as a cosmetic update.
Feb. 25: Technical. Fairly extensive bug fixes for Abbey, Biome, and Zoo were released. Even though these were not exactly common competitive maps, the fixes are still plentiful enough to count as technical.
March 6: Technical. Wide-reaching communication changes were added, including the ability to mute the enemy team, block communication from everyone except players you are friends with or players in your matchmaking party, hide avatar images, and change the names of players not on your friends list to something neutral.
March 7: Technical. More extensive map changes to Biome and Abbey.
March 13: Both. This patch included the loss bonus system and updates to most shotguns, the AUG, and the M4A1-S. It also made changes to Canals and Vertigo. On the same day, the developers added the Prisma Case, so this update included both technical and cosmetic changes.
March 21: Technical. More changes to Vertigo and Abbey.
March 28: Both. The Feral Predators Sticker Capsule was added on this day. Vertigo also received some map changes.
April 2: Technical. More extensive map changes to Vertigo, Abbey, and Nuke.
April 25: Technical. Numerous map changes to Overpass, Train and Vertigo were made, as well as some minor adjustments to Inferno and Cobblestone.
May 14: Technical. The “Looking to Play” and “CS:GO Events” features were added. Ruby and Workout received changes as well.
May 21: Technical. More Vertigo changes came out on this day.
May 22: Technical. This update made sure that grenade effects are displayed the same for all players, which was a very nice quality of life update.
June 18: Cosmetic. The Chicken Capsule was added on this day, as was a retro version of Dust II. The latter is not really cosmetic nor is it technical, so it falls somewhere in the middle.
July 31: Technical. Moooooore Vertigo changes!
August 14: Cosmetic. This patch brought the Berlin 2019 tournament update. Much like the Katowice one, it included the displayable coin and access to souvenir packages.
September 20: Both. On this day, the X-Ray Scanner, which could reveal the item inside any container, was added for users in France. The update also added the P250 | X-Ray, so it was both technical and cosmetic.
October 7: Technical. This gameplay update allowed players to get a Healthshot for every 3-kill streak in Deathmatch if they didn’t have one already.
October 9: Technical. More Vertigo changes. What’s up with this map, anyway?
October 18th: Both. This was a pretty big day: the CS20 case and Sticker Capsules were added on the cosmetic side, and the remodeled Cache was added into the main game.
October 28: Technical. The big update restricting the trade and selling of purchased case keys arrived on this day and made all of the traders cry.
November 4: Technical. This patch included some lengthy updates to both Breach and the new version of Cache.
November 18th: Both. Operation Shattered Web, along with its agents and skins, were added to the game in this update. In addition, they increased the price of the SG553 to $3000, reduced the price of the FAMAS and Galil by $200 (to $2050 and $1800, respectively), and improved the full-auto spraying accuracy of FAMAS and Galil. Even more changes were made to Vertigo.
November 26: Both. To celebrate The Master Chief Collection on Steam, CS:GO received the Halo Sticker Capsule today, along with some changes to Studio.
January 13: Technical. Some more changes to Studio arrived in this patch.
January 29: Technical. In this update, big gameplay changes were made to major maps Cache, Dust 2, Mirage, and Train.
February 11th: Technical. This patch made reporting players for abusive communication relevant and brought about consequences for those receiving too many reports.
February 24th: Both. While this patch did change some things in Breach and Studio, it introduced more cosmetics in the terms of uniform patches (because that’s exactly what we needed).
February 25: Technical. Starting today, players could now report players from their recently played matches. The weight of Trust Factor was also increased in matchmaking.
The final tally is 10 cosmetic changes to 25 technical changes. I would guess that the reason some people think Valve releases more cosmetic updates is because the cosmetic updates are often more publicized than the technical updates. The technical changes are also frequently made to maps that aren’t commonly included in the competitive map pool and often go unnoticed. If Valve aligned their technical changes to the things players are asking for, like anti-cheat and matchmaking, they would likely be noticed more. As it stands now, there are technically more technical (heh) updates, so we can’t complain too much. (Even though I still do.)