Valve’s Negligence Is Coming Down Hard on Counter Strike : Global Offensive

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Counter Strike : Global Offensive was perhaps one of the most influential video games released by Valve (except DOTA 2, which isn’t even fundamentally theirs). Counter Strike was already a popular thing in the 1.6 era, now, with revamped graphics and improved mechanics, Global Offensive was sure to get an edge in the market over any existing shooters. Over the years, the game remained one of the most played games of the world on Steam. However, Valve’s negligence after the initial success of Global Offensive led the game downhill, or so many people believe. The game, in its present state, is anything but “good”.

There are several problems plaguing the game in its present state, ranging from bad updates to weapons to an extremely poor VAC implementation to an unregulated economy in skins (cosmetics) and accounts. All issues are of equal importance while discussing the waning popularity of Global Offensive.

Counter Strike : Global Offensive itself was in a very good shape, till the inherent problems started kicking in. And then the endless patches to address them, which emerged in other problems. There have been hit registration issues in the game, where you would not damage or kill an enemy whom you are spraying down, or simply damage or kill an enemy where you clearly knew (or could see) that you aimed quite far from his body. This arose from the fact that the client side and server side hitboxes were different, which made quite an impact on the game. This means that players with a low ping, or a small time gap taken to update the server side hitbox with the client side hitbox, will have an advantage over people who have a considerably higher ping. While this should prevent players from playing in servers beside the ones closest to them, most regions do not have a server for their own, and have to share with the nearest region, causing bandwidth issues for the server. The problem intensifies when you land up on a server which is quite far from your region, and that happens automatically, without any intervention from your side (which clearly shows how bad the server searching algorithm is). This caused disasters in most games, till Valve tried to merge the client side and server side hitboxes, and allow some compensation for players with a “lagging” ping.

The difference in client side and server side hit registry

Unnecessary meddling in the player’s choice of guns also means that Valve earns a bad reputation, just like that. The community’s incessant request to nerf certain guns, including the PP Bizon and the P90 as well as the MAG 7 and the SCAR-20 and G3GS1 have fallen on deaf ears. Valve does not consider them as a problem, as they are “not spammed in high rank matches”, and each weapon has a counter to them. However, there is little doubt that countering a rushing P90, who continuously keeps moving sideways is quite difficult. While it is true that the P90 is not spammed like that at higher ranks of the game, the low recoil as well as the low weight and high clip size of the gun compensates for its low damage, which allows any player high mobility while using it. While this is a problem of the “lower ranks”, more skilled competitive veterans fear the MAG-7, which is a shotgun with a reputation of its own. Despite having low clip size, it is very light and allows high mobility, which means any Counter Terrorist can easily counter a Terrorist rush if his aim is decent enough, while dodging bullets (and veterans means “higher rank” competitive matches here). However, a greater problem was Valve’s incessant meddling in guns, which includes a nerf to the popular eco-gun called the UMP-45. The UMP-45 is surprisingly accurate at mid and close range counters, but thanks to a recent update, it has lost its damage at mid range. It is suitable only for close range encounters now. The Tec 9 has a scheduled update in the future, where it is scheduled to be nerfed to bring it on par with the Five Seven, in order to make eco rounds easier for the Counter Terrorists. Taking away gun choices is an awful thing, as it limits the creativity of players in tough situations (where admittedly many shine, as they perform better under stress). Meanwhile, Valve, like the giant troll they already are, decided to reduce the price for the Negev, which is a machine gun rarely used except for trolling in matches.

Another unpopular decision was the randomization of spray patterns. While the patterns mostly remain same, a slight variation is always introduced while firing, which was introduced by Valve to encourage people to tap or burst fire, rather than spraying. Earlier, you could just get away by spraying down even at long ranges, now it is just not possible. While these sort of changes mean more tactical decisions to be taken in the heat of a game, it also means tilting the scales in favor of people who burst fired or focused on one or two taps, rather than memorizing the spray patterns.

The spray patterns for a variety of weapons in CS:GO.

Another bad decision, which is not really heralded or looked into is the introduction of skins, which has brought an economy into the game. People used to receive drops after periods of gameplay, or from opening crates (which also came as in-game drops). A small portion of the game,  which is under the Steam Community market, was regulated, with Valve cutting a small percentage off each sale. As usual, people are unsatisfied with Valve cutting a profit off everything, so they went off to make an economy of their own using the cosmetics. Reddit, Facebook, some even decided to make dedicated sites for trading. High value, low value, there is a skin for everyone’s budget. They selected keys (the ones introduced by Valve for opening cases, priced at 2.5$ each) This led to the rise of an unregulated betting empire in Valve’s sight. People bet a thousand dollars worth of items on professional matches, hoping to get returns if their favorite team won, if their favorite player got X number of kills, if the losing team will get X number of rounds before losing, etc. Fanobet, VPGame, CSGOlounge and lots of other sites allowed betting on professional games. If that wasn’t enough, a gambling empire arose, meaning people can play popular games like blackjack, roulette, and other games online by betting cosmetic items.

CSGOLounge, a skin marketplace and forum for trading. It also allows betting on professional games. CSGL operates with impunity even after Valve’s blanket ban, using coins as betting currency, and requiring users to submit ID proof (of age) online before depositing and withdrawing items.

Valve refused to lift a finger on these betting and gambling sites, till a lawsuit against them forced them to send a cease-and-desist order to these sites. Most sites have stopped operating, or simply taking proof of age before betting, considering that minors were the majority crowd betting and gambling on these sites. A lack of experience in their youth also means that people who have realized the potential value of the skins, try to trick these minors in several ways, and find ways of making them part with their skins. These scam attempts include phishing links, betting on a website, forcing an unauthorized download, trading with another guy, promising to pay in Steam gift cards, and whatnot.

One of the nightmarish additions to the game are hackers and smurfs. Hackers are players utilizing various forms of software that allow them to change the rules of the game for their own benefit. Smurfs are high ranked players who are playing with low ranked players on a purchased account. There is a huge lobby on account transactions online, which operates in violation of Valve’s Terms And Conditions (which specifically state that the sale of accounts is strictly prohibited). These people make the accounts with Global Offensive, often to a tailored rank as desired by a customer, or a variable rank and try to sell it to the sites selling accounts.

Mysmurf, a site selling CSGO accounts in violation of Valve’s Terms and Service.

Life was going fair for everyone, till the “boosters” (the people who produce the accounts sold on the “smurf” websites) came up with the idea of using the non-played maps of Global Offensive, especially Vertigo. They ran multiple instances of Counter Strike : Global Offensive on the same PC using a virtualization software called Sandboxie, which resulted in the production of thousands of accounts in a couple of hours of work. The market was flooded with accounts which became cheaper than before, because the accounts are mass-produced this time. What does Valve do? Implement a system so that because of the frequent logins to the same IP, the accounts get restricted access. But then again, the people behind the support desks of the smurf websites broadly operating in the daylight under Valve’s watchful eye aren’t the sort that would give up without duping Steam support in the worst way possible. A patch was sent to get rid of Sandboxie, but it isn’t the only Virtualization software, naturally there was little damage to the scene because of it.

Running multiple copies of Counter Strike : Global Offensive using Sandboxie requires little effort.

What’s the worst menace of the game now? Hackers. And possibly smurfs too. People who play on lower ranks “just for fun” can’t really be trusted, right? There is another economy of hackers, each finding different ways to exploit the game and ruin the game for ordinary players. Anyone who pays for hack gets a no-VAC guarantee as well, or a refund-on-VAC guarantee, meaning that these guys can have the perfect aim, perfect knowledge of enemy locations, and whatnot simply by pressing a button. The VAC system is extremely bad, it triggers in a few months time, and bans a few thousand hackers, and then goes back to sleep again. Abundance of cheap accounts on the Internet means people don’t need to give second thoughts about hacking. The people developing hacks work day and night to get players the edge they need in game, ranging from basic $5 to the most expensive $1000 hacks. Even professional players are occasionally blamed to be using hacks, after KQLY and Emilio were openly VACed while playing tournament matches, leading to the belief that the economy stretches beyond the arms of the common players upto the professional ones as well.

A cheater in action, using an external software for hacking.

The problems in the game persist till day, and Valve has not shown the slightest interest in making things right. Things are already looking grim – PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS has surpassed Counter Strike : Global Offensive in the number of concurrent players playing it. The game had the problem of a toxic community beforehand (let’s face it, only the players could have solved that, not Valve), but the problems aggravated over the years, and Valve is as close to fixing them now as they were then. The game’s dirge is near, all one needs to do is embrace it, and switch to a better hobby before a new Counter Strike game is announced and the same stuff happens all over again.

 

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