For a long time, CS:GO has been a target for
cheaters. If you die in this game, you remain DEAD until the next round, making a kill in
this game more meaningful than in games where you immediately respawn. Plus, in CS:GO, bullets
don’t always go where you’re aiming. You have to learn a different recoil pattern and
bullet spread for each and every weapon, making the game incredibly difficult to master.
Both of these things make it an excellent target for cheaters. Even an unskilled player
will gain a huge advantage by using them, and will quickly frustrate and upset the enemy
team, especially when trapped in a match with them for an hour of their lives.
This all makes CS:GO very appealing to cheaters. Even before it was made free-to-play. And yet still, for a long time, the game’s
price has been seen as a deterrent to potential cheaters. CS:GO has always been cheap- at
$15, it’s a lot less than most games are. But having to spend at a bit of money on a
new account every time you’re banned, it puts up at least some kind of barrier against
cheaters. But now the game’s free to play, a lot of
people have seen this as Valve opening the floodgates, drowning the game in cheaters.
If it’s free, then what penalty is there for using hacks? What’s stopping everybody
from spinbotting and ruining the game for others?
I do not work for Valve and don’t have access behind the scenes to the stats and figures,
but I’m going to talk about the anti-cheat measures still in place, and why making the
game free to play won’t necessarily make your experience any worse. For a start, how effective was the price as
an anti-cheat measure? Some gamers may not have a lot of money, and to those, the concept
of splashing out money on a new copy of the game every week, month, or whenever you get
caught, must sound like an effective deterrent. But is it?
Price may deter a certain type of person from cheating, but it discriminates. There will
be many poor gamers who won’t cheat, and many rich gamers who will. Making the game
cost money isn’t a magical solution to the cheating problem.
I have spoken with cheaters who have revealed an extensive black market of hacked and discount
accounts. To them, buying new accounts may not exactly be fun, but it’s NOT costly
for the amount of enjoyment they get from the game, and is far from being a penalty
big enough to stop them from cheating. In fact, rather than being about cost, it’s
something else. I believe there are 2 kinds of cheaters: those who don’t mind being
caught, and those that do. Take me, for example. I don’t want to be
banned. The cost of buying a new copy of CS:GO wouldn’t be an issue. For me, my reputation
is more important. As a CS:GO Youtuber, with a 14 year-old account and hundreds of friends,
games and achievements unlocked, being banned for cheating would be CATASTROPHIC! It wouldn’t
matter if a new CS:GO account cost me 10, 100 or 1000 dollars. The impact on my reputation
would be more painful than having to buy a new copy of the game.
I don’t cheat. You’ll have to take my word for that. That and my consistently mediocre
K/D ratio. But there is a kind of cheater who is similar to me, in that they don’t
want to be banned either. They’re the cautious type. You won’t see them spinbotting any
time soon! I’m talking about the sort who use subtle cheats to gain a slight advantage.
They want to pass as a good player! And to them, their reputation is worth something.
Probably enough for them to spend money on a good, undetected cheat of some kind. Making
the game free to play won’t matter to them. They don’t intend to use a new account any
time soon. Making the game free does encourage a certain
type of cheater, though- the sort who doesn’t care if they’re caught. The kind who uses
publicly available, free-to-use, blatantly obvious cheats! They cheat with the sole intention
of DESTROYING the other team and making them rage. To them, the cheats are the reason to
play. And they have nothing to lose by being banned. There will be skint players like this,
and there will be rich ones. Making the game free will increase the number of players like
this… but… so what. You’d only care if you’re being put in a match with them.
As long as they’re kept separate from you, it doesn’t matter if there are a million
of these players in the game! And that’s what Valve has done. They realised
that cheating isn’t about cost, it’s about intention. And making a system that separates
these players based on how much they care about their account is more effective than
any financial barrier would be. Years ago, they implemented The Trust Factor.
How it works has been kept as a bit of a mystery. It looks at your account and tries to work
out how much you care about it. It might be the number of games you’ve got on it. It
might be the playtime. It might be how old the account is! It might be your friends and
what kind of players they are. It’s likely a combination of all of these things. But
I believe its use is to silently split the community in 2. The obvious cheaters are put
in one category, and the innocent players and subtle cheaters in the other. I’m not going to cover the subtle cheaters
much in this video. The best hope we have against spotting these is VAC. This is Valve’s
traditional anti-cheat method. It gets a lot of criticism for not being that good, but
it’s as good as the people who update and maintain it. If they go wild one month and
add lots of new, active cheats to it then it’s going to be good for that particular
month. It’s an ongoing project and will always lag behind the latest cheats being
used to some extent. But it will at least quickly and accurately ban older cheats. Free
and publicly available cheats will quickly be added to its database, so the people using
these on their new, free accounts will be detected by VAC within a matter of hours,
if not minutes. Any ban delay will only be to lure them into a false sense of security
in the hope of attracting more potential cheaters into using them before the jig is up and they’re
all VAC-banned in the next wave. I have a lot of respect for this kind of cheat-detection
system. Some other games use invasive anti-cheat measures, or ban people because something
on their PC looks a lot like a cheat. But there will be false-positives with these-
and I think that’s a bigger problem for a cheat detection system than one that lets
some slip through! An automatic cheat detection system should never ban innocent players.
At least with a VAC-ban, there’s a near-perfect 100% chance that you were cheating.
And then of course there’s the overwatch system, letting you report players you suspect
of cheating to go through a community-driven judging process. I don’t know what ties
this has to VAC and trust factor, I suspect at least some but I don’t blame Valve for
remaining quiet about it, since the more they reveal the easier it will be for cheaters
to exploit the system. So, we’ve established that the game separates
obvious cheaters from the rest of us. And that there’s VAC to hopefully spot the subtle
cheaters. But what is there to deal with obvious cheaters who want to try and slip in to games
with the rest of us? The answer to that is effort. Valve deems
your time as being a more efficient deterrent against cheating than having to spend money
is. The Trust Factor takes time because you’ve
got to show that your account means something to you. But in addition to that is Prime.
In order to get into matches with other prime players, you must either spend money on your
account, OR you can now grind your free account to level 21, which will take hours of gameplay
to reach. I should probably calculate how long at some point. Even if you ultimately
intend to cheat once you reach prime, you must first grind through hours of games without
obviously cheating- which will already result in better matches for the people you play
against on your way to Prime! For those keeping track, having Prime and
the Trust factor effectively splits CS:GO’s player base into 4 categories. All of these
are protected by VAC and overwatch, but Prime and Trust Factor offer EXTRA protection against
cheaters. The best is obviously to have both Prime AND a high trust factor.
But how to get there?… …With the new free-to-play system, you can
reach it completely for free, IF you’re willing to grind. This is going to be most
difficult if you’re on a new Steam account, since you’ll have to prove to the game that
you’re trust-worthy, all the while grinding up the levels in CS:GO in order to reach Prime.
Although I don’t know the inner workings of the Trust Factor, I think it’s safe to
say that by investing enough time into an account, you’ll eventually obtain both Prime
and a High Trust-Factor, all without spending a single penny! It may not be enjoyable, but
I like that this is possible- it will make CS:GO’s most cheat-proof matches accessible
to the players who deserve it, even if they haven’t spent any money.
But of course, you can speed this process up by buying prime. That doesn’t give you
immediate access to the most secure servers! You still have to prove to the system that
your account is worthy of a high trust factor. But money does serve as a way of bypassing
some of the most cheat-ridden parts of CS:GO, for those who deem the skip worth-while.
And then of course there’s the overwatch system as well, which is a whole extra layer
on top of everything else, but I don’t see the need to cover that in depth in this video.
In conclusion: I think CS:GO becoming free-to-play reflects Valve’s idea that there are better
ways of separating cheaters from the non cheaters than a simple financial barrier of entry.
They must believe the benefits of making the game free out-weigh the problems that free-to-play
cheaters might cause. And they must have enough trust in the game’s other systems so as
to believe that honest players won’t have their games ruined by free-to-players.
I felt this video was necessary because so many have argued the opposite, and I don’t
know what these claims are based around, other than the idea that cheaper games result in
more cheaters. I feel it is important to understand the anti-cheat measures the game has in place
before making such claims. It still has the trust factor, prime, VAC and overwatch. I
believe that all these combined lead to CS:GO being more cheat-resistant than almost any
other multiplayer game out there, to the extent that making it free to play won’t make much
of a difference. And may actually help the game in many other ways.