Since 2018, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players could enjoy the entire game, more or less, without paying a cent. That’s now come to an end as Valve just announced the end of many CS:GO free-to-play (F2P) features in a blog post on the official CS:GO website.
Since its original release in 2012 CS:GO has gone through many significant changes, the most drastic coming when the game went fully free in 2018. Players who chose to pay for “Prime” status enjoyed Prime-only matchmaking, item drops, and XP bonuses. Yet F2P accounts were still able to gain XP, acquire other loot drops, play in the ranked ladder, and eventually work their way into the special Prime matchmaking. But no longer.
“Along with all the gameplay that we made available for free, new players had access to drops, Ranks, Skill Groups, and a free path to Prime matchmaking,” the post read. “Unfortunately, over time, those benefits have become an incentive for bad actors to hurt the experience of both new and existing players. So today we’re revising the offering for new players.” It continues:
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.
Many CS:GO players welcomed this news with a sigh of relief. The ranked ladder is plagued with cheaters, high-ranked players making new accounts to stomp noobs, griefers intentionally throwing games, and screeching trolls. Ending the free path to Prime is a step toward a more rigorous vetting process that weeds out bad actors in higher-level play.
To offset these changes Valve has introduced a new “Unranked” ladder, so F2P players will still have access to a form of skill-based matchmaking. This new mode allows players to play ladder games with no rank restrictions or changes. If you’re a Legendary Eagle Master who always wanted to group up with friends down in Silver, this mode is for you.
The hope of 128-tick servers, however, still remains a dream.