16 May 2016 - 00:17

Prime Matchmaking Lacks Promise

Valve recently made an update to their matchmaking system for CS:GO. My first impressions were optimistic. Now...
Dot Esports

Valve recently made an update to their matchmaking system for CS:GO. Players now have the option to enlist in a “Prime Account beta”. My first impressions were optimistic - Valve finally took a new approach to cleaning their PUG system. Now that its emblem has been stuck on my home screen for half a month I have harsher opinions to relate.

It is difficult to imagine how this type of anti-cheat approach could be effective. In a way, linking accounts to phone numbers only affects the consequences of cheating. As it seems, the update does not provide any changes to VAC. So, cheaters should be able to use the same tools that worked before. Granted, graver consequences support the assumption that fewer people will take the risk. If that really is the goal, why doesn't Valve change something more pragmatic? For example, one could ban people across all games, even if the user only cheated in one of Valve’s programs. So, the update seems ineffective as a solution.

Usually, anti-cheating updates lead to a week or two of matchmaking serenity and cheaters have to wait for the necessary updates to avoid VAC risks. Unfortunately, the introduction of Prime matchmaking will not provide a safe period. Moreover, there will be more cheaters at the start of Prime. Who wouldn't love to reap the sadistic pleasures of decimating unsuspecting matchmakers?

The timing of Prime's announcement was terrible. We see pro PUG queues form games out of 10-20 player queues. Most of the people I play CS with signed up on the first day so I think we can assume that at least a few thousand players enlisted after 2 weeks. Why are we still waiting? All we need to start testing are 10 people! There are no positive aspects to waiting. Rather, the delays suggest that Valve opened the registration before preparing required infrastructure. Cheaters can use the time to organize numbers from friends or family and thus throw-away accounts will still be abundant, nullifying any progress.

Some people might say these suggestions are too demanding. After all, Valve never said that Prime would prevent cheating. However, cheating is CS:GO’s most pressing issue. It attacks the mechanism by which Valve attracts most new players. One can minimize the issue by avoiding the subject as a community. If nobody knows, nobody cares. I dislike this option because it promotes self-destruction. So, the cheating problem's urgency demands priority and this update falls short under that measurement.

Recent updates do not promise to solve cheating issues. Prime matchmaking beta suggests to be yet another illusion of progress.

If you have anything to add to the subject contact me on Twitter @MartinStuessy.

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