Valve has stated that new Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players will henceforth be required to pay for ranked play.
Drops, ranks, skill groups, and a free path to Prime (paid) matchmaking were once available to new players of the free-to-play competitive first-person shooter.
These perks, Valve claimed, have become “an incentive for bad actors to harm the experience of both new and existing users” over time.
New players now have a unique proposition. They can still play all game modes, community servers, and workshop maps, but no XP, rankings, drops, or skill groups will be awarded to them.
According to Valve, those functions are now only available to Prime Status players. The upgrading to Prime Status is £10.89.
New players can still buy the Prime Status upgrade from the Steam shop to become Prime, but there is no longer a free path to Prime. (Your current skill group and XP progress will be carried over if you purchase the upgrade during the next two weeks.)
It’s a clear attempt to combat cheating in ranked CS:GO. Prior to this upgrade, players who had been banned by Valve for cheating could simply establish a new account, progress to Prime status, and then cheat in ranked CS:GO lobbies. Theoretically, this improvement should result in fewer cheating in Prime rated lobbies – providing the £10.89 paywall is enough of a deterrent, of course.
Unranked was also revealed by Valve. When new players sign up for Competitive, Wingman, or Danger Zone, their matches will still be skill-based, but they will not be assigned to a skill group.
Prime users can also participate in unranked matches where their skill group is unaffected and there are no lobby limits on skill groups.