New players need to pay to play ranked in CS:GO

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Elia Tabuenca GarcĂ­a
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Source: Valve

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive introduced a paywall for its Prime upgrade, in an attempt to reduce the number of cheaters players encounter, especially in ranked mode. 

CS: GO has been free for over three years and while it has helped maintain a healthy player base, it has also allowed cheaters and hackers to freely access all parts of the game.

However, Valve reversed that decision and removed a clear path to Prime status from the game. The developer explains his decision in a blog post , citing that “[Prime] benefits have become an incentive for bad actors to harm the experience for new and existing players.”

That means players from Counter-Strike free-to-play can no longer receive XP, ranks, drops or Skill Groups. However, all game modes are still available, as are the community servers and workshop maps. 

Source: Valve

A Valve simply put ranked mode behind paid access to discourage cheaters. As it was, players who were banned for cheating could simply make a new account and progress enough to reach the status Premium, before cheating in high-level lobbies CS: GO and ruin everyone's experience all over again.

Just look at the “most useful reviews” of CS: GO in your Steam page , which nearly everyone cites as a great game, but “ruined by cheaters”. However, now that Prime ranked lobbies have paid access, the player experience should improve.

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New players and anyone without Prime status will still have access to Competitive, Wingman, and Danger Zone modes, but all of their matches will be unranked. Unranked matches use skill-based combo, but do not gain a Skill Group. 

Major players can also jump into unranked matches if they want to play a few rounds without the pressure of having their rank affected.

If you've already upgraded to Prime, you won't have to spend a dime as long as your account doesn't get banned.

Of course, that doesn't rule out the fact that some cheaters might have enough disposable income to pay the $14,99 (ÂŁ10,89) Prime status upgrade on every new account, but it's certainly a deterrent.

Other developers are also taking note of the decision. The communications director of Respawn, Ryan Rigney, suggested introducing a similar paid access for players looking to move up the rankings of Apex Legends on twitter.

Alternatively: What if buying one Battle Pass got you access to ranked forever?

— Ryan K. Rigney (@RKRigney) June 4, 2021

It's clearly not a statement of intent, but Apex is another game rife with cheaters and hackers, so it's positive to see developers trying to think outside the box to combat the issues prevalent in both competitive FPS games.

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