counter strike go

Hacks! An investigation into aimbot dealers, wallhack users, and the million-dollar business of video game cheating

Emanuel Maiberg at

Zero is a customer service representative for one of the biggest video game cheat providers in the world. To him, at first, I was just another customer. He told me that the site earns approximately $1.25 million a year, which is how it can afford customer service representatives like him to answer questions over TeamSpeak. His estimate is based on the number of paying users online at any given time, the majority of whom, like me, paid for cheats for one game at $10.95 a month. Some pay more for a premium package with cheats for multiple games.

As long as there have been video games, there have been cheaters. For competitive games like Counter-Strike, battling cheaters is an eternal, Sisyphean task. In February, Reddit raised concerns about lines of code in Valve-Anti Cheat (VAC), used for Counter-Strike and dozens of other games on Steam, that looked into users’ DNS cache. In a statement, Gabe Newell admitted that Valve doesn't like talking about VAC because “it creates more opportunities for cheaters to attack the system." But since online surveillance has been a damning issue lately, he made an exception.

Newell explained that there are paid cheat providers that confirm players paid for their product by requiring them to check in with a digital rights management (DRM) server, similar to the way Steam itself has to check in with a server at least once every two weeks. For a limited time, VAC was looking for a partial match to those (non-web) cheat DRM servers in users’ DNS cache.

I knew that cheats existed, but I was shocked that enough people paid for them to warrant DRM. I wanted to find out how the cheating business worked, so I became a cheater myself.


How Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's Overpass map evolved

Emanuel Maiberg at

The average player might not even notice the changes, but if you’ve put a couple hundred hours into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive the evolution of the Overpass map makes a world of difference. As Valve explains, it is the first completely new defuse map designed with competitive play in mind, and since its release in December 2013, it has been updated seven times based on feedback and data.


Building Crown, part three: collaborating with the Counter-Strike community

PC Gamer at

Building Crown is a three part series from mapmaker Shawn "FMPONE” Snelling and pro Counter-Strike player/mapmaker Sal "VOLCANO" Garozzo, revealing the inspiration and building process for their map Crown. Their goal with Crown is simple: build the best competitive Counter-Strike map ever. In part three, Snelling talks about iteration in map design and listening to community feedback to improve Crown.

Releasing de_crown has been a fascinating experience for Volcano and I. When we decided Crown was ready for broader community testing, we released the first public build with the same mixture of anxiety and excitement that always accompanies a new map release. Thankfully, the launch went smoothly! Crown received over 1000 favorites in its first week on the map workshop (the highest rated map on the workshop is over a year old, and has about 1500). Crown ranked within the top five maps of all time virtually overnight. Crown was also the most played map on AltPug’s community Matchmaking service during that time period, and the feedback we received there was generally positive.

The community was engaged, but Counter-Strike fans are used to playing high quality, nuanced maps with years of competitive polish. This is a high standard for any brand new map to compete with. Not all the news was positive. In public beta testing, several issues were identified which needed fixing, some of which—such as the addition of a new path—would require major surgery.

Building Crown, part two: layout design, textures, and the Hammer editor

PC Gamer at

Building Crown is a three part series from mapmaker Shawn "FMPONE” Snelling and pro Counter-Strike player/mapmaker Sal "VOLCANO" Garozzo, revealing the inspiration and building process for their upcoming map Crown. Their goal with Crown is simple: build the best competitive Counter-Strike map ever. In part two, Snelling breaks down Crown’s level design and the tools used to build map geometry and textures.

The first step in making a multiplayer map is creating a layout. But what is a layout? For level designers, a layout is the floor-plan of a level lurking in their brain, which they often draw out as a blueprint and then sculpt into a 3D “grey box” representation in-game. For everyday players, a layout is how they visualize a level’s available paths and make strategic decisions.

We spent nine months refining Crown’s layout into the final map it is today. And now Crown is ready for the public. It’s available today. You can download the map right now  on the Steam Workshop and play it in Counter-Strike: GO. Read on to learn how we built it.

Building Crown, part one: the first look at the next big Counter-Strike: GO competitive map

PC Gamer at

Building Crown is a three part series from mapmaker Shawn "FMPONE” Snelling and pro Counter-Strike player/mapmaker Sal "VOLCANO" Garozzo, revealing the inspiration and building process for their upcoming map Crown. Their goal with Crown is simple: build the best competitive Counter-Strike map ever. In part one, Snelling dives into the inspiration for Crown's design and the essence of a great competitive map.

This is Crown: a new map for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive nine months in the making. After over 100 substantial revisions across those nine months, Crown is nearly finished. It was designed with two goals: to make CS:GO’s hardcore fans happy while disrupting GO’s stagnant competitive map pool. It’s inspired by classic maps like Dust2 and Inferno. But it’s built to be even better. Just as CS:GO is a new evolution for the Counter-Strike franchise, Crown is a map which seeks to learn from the best and build upon the principles that have kept Dust2 and Inferno in competitive play for more than a decade.

Gabe Newell's AMA: Steam to become a "self-publishing system," CS:GO coming to Linux

Emanuel Maiberg at

Valve’s Gabe Newell did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit today, answering scores of community questions and no, not revealing that he has a build of Half-Life 3 hidden in a volcano lair. If you're hearing otherwise, one user edited his (now deleted) question to include Half-Life 3 and create the appearance that Newell confirmed it. Nope. He did, however, talk about Source 2, Steam, CS: GO, and Dota 2, as well as answer a question vaguely related to HL3 in the form of a question about Ricochet 2.