A recent effort to curb cheating in CS: GO may be affecting the player base of one of Steam’s biggest games. In a June 3 patch, Valve released a complete rework of CS: GO Prime's status, a designation needed to play Competitive that players previously earned by playing enough of the game or buying it. Starting in June, Prime status will only be available for $ 15, making a smooth play wall a firm pay wall.
According to recent CS: GO simultaneous player averages recorded by SteamCharts, first seen by Dot Sports, the game has dropped 16.7% (a loss of more than 100,000 average players) since the beginning of June. Needless to say, the CS: GO player base fluctuates regularly like any other multiplayer game, and perhaps also for one of the most popular PC games. Still, this is the most intense month-to-month decline the game has seen since 2018.
Changes in Prime's status are a reasonable culprit for the anomaly. Since its inception, Prime status has aimed to promote equity, making it harder for cheaters and smurf beads to come into play. In a recent one dev block, Valve admitted that since switching to free play, CS: GO Prime's status has been abused by "bad actors" (probably referring to cheaters and smurf beads) for "hurting the experience." both new and existing players ". Accounts that had already been Prime were obtained when the new patch was released, but accounts that did not have it after a two-week period must pay $ 15 to play in the competitive canopy mode of CS: GO.
Essentially, Valve expects the new competitive pay wall to keep cheaters out of competition by adding a guaranteed price. Want to ruin other people's fun again after your last VAC account was banned? Reduced play time on a new free account will do you no good. The payroll lounge is also targeting nefarious services that sell accounts with a “fake” Prime status that were eliminated by bot-assisted playing time.
The rest of CS: GO, like casual matches and the actual battle mode of Danger Zone, remain free. And for players who want to enjoy a competitive game without paying for Prime, Valve introduced an alternate unclassified ranking. Unclassified plays are identical to those in Competitive, but players will not gain ranks, XP, or loot drops.
So if Prime’s new rules are good for the health of the game, why does the number of players decrease? There could be several things, but I suspect a considerable portion of the accounts that didn’t sign in during June could be alternate accounts or smurfs from existing players who didn’t pay to legitimize their match. The natural ebb and flow of player interest between updates is also certainly a factor, though it’s important to note that recently, CS: GO has never been more popular than last year. Nearly a decade old, it remains Steam’s most popular FPS.
I hope many of the June non-submissions are aspiring to cheating. Although Prime's status has changed over the years, this may be its most effective iteration to date. Before CS: GO was free to play, cheaters could wait for the sale of Steam and buy the game for as many alternate accounts as they wanted, with a clear path to Prime status. Now that Prime is only paid and will probably never go on sale, there is a guaranteed minimum cost to cheat.