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CS:GO’s numbers are growing since going free-to-play, but so are VAC bans

The divisive, yet perhaps long-awaited move in making Counter-Strike: Global Offensive free-to-play has done wonders for the game, with reports stating that its unique player count has double since November. CS:GO’s concurrent player base has also seen a boost, almost reaching 1.3 times the amount prior to the update.

Early in December, Valve made CS:GO free-to-play, with many speculating that the removal of the pay barrier would see an influx of cheaters plaguing the game. The update was made to enable the developer’s entry into the battle royale genre, ushering in CS:GO’s 16-player Danger Zone mode.

Renowned CS:GO enthusiast Nors3 observed that the unique player count of December jumped to 20,535,709, double that of the month prior and the “biggest number ever recorded for Counter-Strike.” SteamCharts notes that the average concurrent player base jumped up a sizeable 27.55% and hit 746,548 concurrent players at its peak. Of course, this is lower than the heights previously achieved, with the record set at 850,485, back in April 2016, however it is a much-needed resurgence for the 6-year-old game.

Valve Anti-Cheat bans did see an increase throughout December, hitting 530,579 in total for the month, primarily attributed to CS:GO turning free-to-play. It’s worth noting that this increase is marginal when compared with the “Game Bans” seen early in 2018, undoubtedly coming from PUBG's effort with BattlEye. December is a time in which people get new devices to play on and extra money gifted that could be used to purchase cheats. Still, the timing of the incline is difficult to ignore.

KitGuru Says: Many of these accounts are “alts” for those wishing to smurf – which is to play the game at a level notably below their skill, but this is still an impressive jump for the aging game. Are you happy with the bolstered numbers or do you think going free-to-play was a bad idea?  

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