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Valve doled out nearly six months' worth of bans after CS:GO went free to play

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive had one of its best ever (opens in new tab) months after going free to play, and a record number of VAC bans were doled out on Steam as a consequence. Over 600,000 accounts received VAC bans in December, with the first wave of bans happening days after CS:GO shed its price. 

Spotted by Nors3 (opens in new tab) on Twitter, five waves crushed naughty players throughout the month. Hundreds of games use Valve’s anti-cheat system, which ostensibly (if not always in reality) detects cheats and automatically bans the account in question from playing on VAC protected servers, but after CS:GO went free to play, the number of bans sky-rocketed. 

In November, only 103,743 accounts were banned, according to SteamDB (opens in new tab). That’s around six times fewer than December, and it was a pretty standard month. The number of bans in a month has never broken 200,000 in 15 years, so it’s a significant leap to get past 600,000.

The move to free to play and the addition of a battle royale mode drew the ire of some existing players, who then review-bombed (opens in new tab) the game. Things have settled down since the initial reaction, however, with recent positive reviews outweighing the negative ones. 

Cheers, PCGamesN (opens in new tab).

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.