Unfortunately for the vast majority of honest and clean players of multiplayer games nowadays, there are always some people who want to ruin the fun for everyone. Anti-cheat software developers are participating in an eternal race with cheat developers in all games, and there is always that period of time where a freshly made cheat is still undetected by the anti-cheat (until anti-cheat developers figure out how to detect it) and you will often hear complaints regarding cheaters in modern games, mostly in the FPS genre. But, where does Counter-Strike: Global Offensive stand in the war against cheaters and how does Valve’s Anti-Cheat (VAC) fare against cheaters who try to ruin the Competitive CS:GO matchmaking experience?
How Many Cheaters Are There in CS:GO?
The exact number of cheaters will never be known – we can only take wild guesses based on the information Valve shares, like when a VAC ban wave happens. It does not help at all that CS:GO has gone Free-to-Play since anyone can just make a new Steam account seconds after getting a VAC ban since the VAC ban is account-bound and does not transfer to hardware MAC addresses, IP addresses, or any other potential identifier. Truth be told, after every VAC ban wave (that bans approximately half a million accounts), people have widely testified that they have had a better matchmaking experience for a while.
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Hackers have been successfully bypassing VAC measures for years upon years and it seems that the community’s trust in Valve Anti-Cheat is not that great. We are not here to bash Valve’s VAC here. This is an epidemic issue with most online games nowadays. You even have smaller FPS games that have completely perished due to a lack of solutions against cheaters, which has ultimately led to matches in those games being just showdowns between hackers where they are trying to prove that their hack is better than the others.
As for CS:GO, it has even had numerous “professional” players bring their cheats to LAN events successfully without anyone noticing for a long time. Sometimes they have been brought in by being installed into the actual mouse. That is the level of advancement of today’s programming. And a lot of times, if configured conservatively, you cannot see that the person is cheating, even if you’re looking at their screen directly.
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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has the Overwatch system, which helps VAC find hackers that are eluding the usual, program-level detection of the cheat software. There are many so-called “legit hackers” that are undetected by VAC, but they try and play as normal as possible, perhaps with just wallhacks on which sometimes makes it very hard to determine whether they are extremely skilled or if there’s some foul play going on.
When talking about the cheater epidemic in CS:GO, a lot of people say that it’s mostly just sore losers complaining, bad tickrate, or luck, but that might also be a big issue. If there’s a lot of distrust and frustration, even if the person you’re accusing of cheating is not actually cheating, and this scenario happens in most of your competitive matches (where you angrily report top fraggers from the enemy team), you will probably consider not playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at all at some point. There’s a feeling that if VAC would show more results in its work, and if people then took it more seriously, players would tend to assume foul play less in their competitive matches, instead of outright assuming that someone is cheating just because of one or two suspicious kills.
Valve has also implemented the Trust Factor which should serve as an additional layer of protection against cheaters, but its functionality is hidden under a veil of mystery, so we can’t really tell much about whether it’s successful or not.
In conclusion: Yes, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has a cheater problem. Most popular online games do. However, we believe that the cheater problem in CS:GO has been exaggerated to a certain extent.