Counter-Strike 2 Patch Intros A Key Matchmaking Change To Combat Cheaters
That's right: the game came out yesterday, and it's already getting major patches. Of course, while Counter-Strike 2 officially launched yesterday, replacing CS:GO on Steam, it has been in active development and semi-open beta for some months. The big patch yesterday for the release made an incredible number of changes to the game, but buried in the long list of patch notes is a very interesting change.
Under the [Matchmaking] heading was this change: "When one or more party members get convicted of cheating and permanently banned, all their associates will be penalized with loss of Profile Rank and CS Rating." In other words, if you play with cheaters and they get caught, you will lose ranking, or "elo."
This is a fascinating change. One of the biggest problems in competitive online games is "boosting", where players will artificially inflate their rank through various means. One of the most common means is by playing with cheaters, and this frequently is done as a paid service. Someone makes a burner account, loads it up with paid hacks, and then charges others to play with them and increase their rank due to winning matches with the cheats.
Unsurprisingly, most of the Counter-Strike fanbase seems to feel that this is a good change. It encourages players to call out and identify cheaters, and also to avoid playing with them. Furthermore, it should help to ensure that players' CS Ratings are legitimate. Anyone who's ever played ranked matches in a game knows how awful it feels to get matched with a bunch of supposedly high-ranked players who then act like complete novices.
Valve also made it so that, in Premier matchmaking, the "serious" ranked mode of CS2, players without an already-established CS Rating won't be able to party up with players that have a "very high" CS Rating. This is another measure against the same idea, and while it could be inconvenient for people getting their friends into the game, it's fairly unlikely that anyone with a "very high" CS Rating actually wants to play with rank novices anyway.
Cheating isn't rampant in Counter-Strike the way it is in some online games—Grand Theft Auto Online comes to mind—but the very sweaty competitive scene for the game means that it's critical to keep the playerbase as cheat-free as possible. Good luck to Valve in that mission.