Counter-Strike: Global Offensive just got its biggest matchmaking update in years.
After years of player complaints regarding the game’s free-to-play status and the influx of cheaters it has brought, Valve is taking action and effectively making CSGO no longer free-to-play. A number of key features of the game are now being moved behind a paywall which should clean up the game to some degree.
“CSGO went free to play over three years ago and is still going strong…Along with all the gameplay that we made available for free, new players had access to drops, Ranks, Skill Groups, and a free path to Prime matchmaking. Unfortunately, over time, those benefits have become an incentive for bad actors to hurt the experience of both new and existing players,” Valve stated in a blog post on the official CSGO website.
In order to fix some of the issues in CSGO, Valve is making Prime Status required for item drops, XP, ranks, and ranked matchmaking. With this, Valve is introducing unranked matchmaking to the game for competitive mode, Wingman, and Danger Zone. Scrimmage is being removed from competitive matchmaking as a result.
Though Valve stopped short of admitting it, this is a big move meant for cracking down on hackers in CSGO. It’s been an open secret that hackers in CSGO had no issue playing the game, just making a new account if they were banned. Though they can still do this, getting item drops and access to matchmaking will now carry a larger price tag.
Previously, players could work their way into Prime status by simply playing the game and reaching level 21 on their account. Now Prime status cannot be obtained without making a purchase in the game.
In order to make CSGO a worthwhile experience for players that aren’t willing to commit money yet, Valve is adding unranked matchmaking. Prime status players have the option of choosing to play in ranked or unranked matchmaking, but non-Prime players will not be able to play ranked.
This will functionally segregate most newly-made accounts away from Prime players, which should reduce the number of hackers in ranked matchmaking over time. Players outside of Prime matchmaking may have a generally unpleasant experience in the game as a result of this new divide.
Following the latest update, Prime status in CSGO needs to be purchased through the Steam shop for $14.99. This can be done by visiting CSGO’s page on the Steam shop or through the Steam website.