Valve issued a record high of over 600,000 bans through their Valve Anti-Cheat system a month after CounterStrrike: Global Offensive went fully free to play.
The free to play model gave CS:GO dramatic changes within less than a month. First, the influx of players led to a record-breaking 20 million unique player count in December – doubling the shooter’s total in November. Unique players are defined as individual accounts logged in a specific period.
Steam stats site SteamCharts also shows the holiday season’s staggering numbers for the game with an average active players of 395K which is close to the highest average recorded in February 2017 at 402K. December’s peak count also sky rocketed at 746K which is also at decent pace to the record 850K in April 2016.
The pros and cons of Free-to-Play
Obviously, Valve’s decision to go free-to-play paid off as far as cranking up their diminishing player base is concerned. CS:GO suffered from a bad run the past months with average player counts dipping at the 200K mark in majority of 2018. Arguably, this is due to the increase of competition brought by the sudden popularity of the Battle Royale genre led by PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS and Fortnite Battle Royale.
However, this also meant that the influx of cheating would become much more rampant than what players have encountered even before the update.
Within December alone, the VAC system fielded a huge volume of bans that went up to 609K leading to 2019. The numbers dramatically eclipsed the previous record set in June 2017 at 60K.
The CS:GO community have already seen this outcome as soon as Valve converted CS:GO to into a free game. Cheaters who get VAC banned would just end up making another account without the need to shell out a single dollar for the game.
There was even a thread on Reddit that encourages players to make the most out of CS:GO’s Overwatch system (not related to Blizzard’s shooter of the same name). The Overwatch lets the CS:GO community regulate itself by allowing qualified and experienced members of the community (‘investigators‘) to review reports of disruptive behavior, determine whether those reports are valid, and apply temporary bans if appropriate.
With all the happenings around CS:GO, it would not be surprising to see another wave of VAC bans. But for long time fans, there must be a long term solution to address the prevention of VAC’s loophole being abused by cheaters.