The Story of Two Brothers: M4A1 and M4A1-S
When CS:GO first came out, the Special Forces had only one 30-round M4, but a year later an alternative appeared – the M4A1-S with a silencer. That’s when the long confrontation between the two rifles started,
M4A1-S was a 20-round magazine, 40-round stash, but the community still loved it for its high rate of fire and accuracy. Only 10 months after its introduction, it was equal in popularity to the old M4 in matchmaking, and in the pro scene it was two times as popular.
The developers were afraid that soon the players would completely forget about the M4A4, so they gradually nerfed stats of the rifle with a silencer: in 2015 the price was raised twice, as a result it was worth not $3000, but $3200.
All top CS:GO players played with the M4A1-S, because it was noticeably superior in shooting speed to both the M4A4 and the AK-47, and in CS:GO esports this is a very important parameter, because at the level of top CS:GO teams, if two players shoot very accurately on rifles with the same damage, the one who shoots more times wins.
In September of that year Valve killed the M4A1-S with a single update: the rifle became less accurate and faster, equal in parameters to the M4A4. And even the price drop to $3100 did not fix the situation. The M4A1-S was not needed for players, because its older brother for the same price and with the same features had twice as much ammo.
Valve tried several times to bring the M4A1-S back to life: in 2018 and 2019, they increased its ammo. First to 20/60, then to 25/75, but only a few people picked up the M4A1-S.
In 2020, the rifle was even made cheaper by $200, and on September 21, it became an imba again. Now it killed a player with body armor with only four bullets, and without it with three. The M4A4 required one more bullet to kill. The rifle got its former glory back.
Now almost every player in CS:GO esports teams plays with it, while the M4A4 is out of the top ten most popular rifles. Now just look at the history of rifles: when the M4A1-S first appeared it was already pretty much balanced, especially in matchmaking. Players were choosing between the two weapons themselves, depending on their playing style.
But after a series of completely unnecessary experiments Valve first made one of the rifles completely useless, and then the other way around: buffed it as much as possible.
But the M4A4 for all the years since the game’s release has never been touched. Such an attitude of the developers to two rifles reminds something of the attitude of parents to two children in an unhealthy family: the older one is completely forgotten and the younger gets all the attention.
Most likely, in the next update we should expect another nerf of M4A1-S, because the developers never put up with such an obvious superiority of one of the two rifles. We have to wait for the upcoming CS:GO matches to find out if this is true.