Counter-Strike: ESEA - The Company You Love To Hate
E-Sports Entertainment Association LLC (ESEA) is making headlines again today, and not the good kind. ESEA recently updated its client that requires your client to run all-the-damn-time. As you can imagine, people are furious and it's spreading like wildfire and to add fuel to the fire, ESEA co-founder & co-owner, Eric "Lpkane" Thunberg has given no reason as to why.
As the face of the company Eric Thunberg has become a hero and a villain around the Counter-Strike competitive scene. His personality is loved or hated and the only way I could possibly describe his opinion on the matter is by inserting this *shrug*. Today we'll be delving into the company that is ESEA.
ESEA is to competitive Counter-Strike as chips are to salsa. The service is one of the longest standing, with implementing major changes that have made competitive Counter-Strike a place to be. It's Anti-Cheat is an industry gold standard, it's well ran league, and the money that is distributed as prize pool are tremendous, so tremendous it's larger than any current competitor and is always growing.
I can speak of the anti-hero ESEA all day, but their skeletons in the closet are there for all to see. Their malicious incidents are just as bad or as much as their great deeds. Their infamous bitcoin scandal, their trollish/negative community forums, the sometimes not-so-well-ran league & the opinionated thoughts of how Eric "Lpkane" Thunberg' ran PR department works.
However much you agree or disagree with their past ethical boundaries, this current update brings all the critics together. The update rolled out late last night with a meager post on the forums stating that the update would roll out and when prompted to restart your computer, and oh.. Also that your client would be always running.
Disclaimer, I'm an ESEA user, but I'm also a journalist. As a writer, I express myself through words, especially on matters that I find important to what I love -- eSports. ESEA is cultured, diversed, magnificent in its very nature, but it's also a scary place to be. Almost more than a decade old, the service has become iconic and symbolic to the CS: GO and TF2 competitive scenes, however it shouldn't excuse it from doing what's right relating to consumer rights and privacy expectations.
Everything is still ongoing and with no official word regarding an official changelog, or what's being collected, why, and where it goes, everyone will continue to assume. R/GlobalOffensive/ on Reddit are trending topics, encouraging the boycotting of ESEA. It's not that simple, the problem won't go away just because a handful of 100 members goes over to a competitor.
Their intentions as a company are clear-cut, they want a cheat-free environment but at what costs? Again, as a user I am honestly discouraged from updating my client. I am scared knowing that I may use a trainer for Dark Souls 2 (who doesn't?) and may get banned because ESEA's AC will pick it up as a cheat since it's always running. What about my personal or financial information. How am I to be reassured that ESEA won't be compromised and the dozens upon dozens of card or online information won't be stolen?
I don't want a company to hold my hand, but as a paying customer the answer shouldn't be among the lines of "pay us if you trust us, if not don't pay us". I've been an ESEA user since roughly 2012, I understand their major mistakes with the bitcoin scandal, but I understand that they single handedly created one of the best anti-cheat and cheat detecting methods. I also understand that they put NA CS on the map for over 10 years with making other companies step their shit up.
It'll be a long road ahead of us and unsubscribing or simply ignoring it won't help. Boycotting ESEA at this point will be more detrimental than good. As much as I want to see an official post I'm not going to hold my breath or lose sleep over it. In a TL;DR summary, everyone needs to relax -- but you need to be clear and concise about what you want and express patience. ESEA has thrived immensely off the monopoly that they've rightfully earned and in due time we'll see how affective their update really is. This is something that cannot be ignored from all the parties involved.
At the time of publication, the ESEA website appeared to be suffering from distributed denial of service attacks.