Valve set off a dramabomb last night with its announcement that CounterStrike: Global Offensive would be dramatically changing its business model. The company essentially walked back the free-to-play model it’s run in CSGO for the last three years, saying that “bad actors” have abused the free-play content to “hurt the experience of both new and existing players.” Going forward, players will need to pay to access drops, expies, skill groups, annual medals, and ranked play, and there’s no more free-player track to Prime status. You’re gonna need to pay your $15 or you’ll stay an unranked scrub forever.
“New players can still play every game mode, play on community servers, and play workshop maps. However, they will no longer receive XP, Ranks, drops, or Skill Groups; those features are now exclusively available to Prime Status players. New players can still upgrade to Prime by purchasing the Prime Status Upgrade from the Steam store, however there is no longer a free path to Prime. And if you purchase the upgrade in the next two weeks, your current Skill Group and XP progress will carry over.”
Response to the changes has been all over the map, with some gamers praising Valve’s move to thwart cheaters and saying their match quality has already improved. Others are pointing out that making free-to-play accounts suck just makes it harder to attract new players or players who don’t have the cash to pay and will just wander away to play something like Valorant.