A tweet from the official CSGO Twitter account and an accompanying blog post announced that Valve will now restrict third-party software from interacting with the game in an effort to better combat cheating.
The short blog post announced that Valve will now block many third-party applications from running alongside CSGO, but it declined to mention the exact types of software that will be blocked. The update is currently live in CSGO’s beta. Developers say that while users can disable the option, players who choose not to block the unnamed programs will have their trust factor lowered.
CSGO’s “trust factor” is an indicator that Valve uses to root out suspected cheaters. No one knows exactly how Valve calculates a player's trust factor, but the developer has revealed that it is based on a combination of account age, reports against users, and playtime. An experienced player who creates a new Steam account to play with their lower-ranked friends, for example, will likely have a low trust factor. Low trust scores act like what some call a “shadow ban,” meaning that accounts with low trust will only be matched with other low-trust accounts.
It is believed that trust factor is also affected by CSGO's “Overwatch” program, where players ranked Gold Nova I and above can review game demos of matches where players have reported other users for cheating. They can then render a verdict as to whether they believe the player in question was using cheats to gain an advantage. Counter-Strike's trust factor is also affected by griefing, meaning that users who intentionally interrupt another’s match by blocking teammates on purpose or doing intentional team damage will likely have lower trust scores.
CSGO’s new cheating update comes less than a month after the release of Valorant, Riot Games’ first-person shooter that boasts a robust and sometimes controversial anti-cheat system called Vanguard. Vanguard has root system access, meaning that it watches and analyzes players' systems for anything that interacts with Valorant even when the game isn't running. Vanguard has seemed effective thus far, banning thousands of cheaters during the game's beta stage.
Although 2020 has been a record year for Counter-Strike, the game's player count dipped slightly with the release of Valorant. To make matters worse, many professional Counter-Strike players have jumped ship to compete in the new title.
Want to know more about the cheating problem in Valorant? Check out the video below.
Players have complained about cheating in CSGO since its release in 2012, but there have been few public updates to Valve's anti-cheat system known as VAC in the eight years since. Users can test out CSGO's new update by opting into CSGO's beta branch by following the instructions below.
Once selected, Steam will download CSGO's new beta branch and users can see for themselves how well Valve's new restrictions work when they play their matches.
It's surprising that Valve hadn't already blocked programs from interacting with the files that run CSGO until now, but the release of Valorant must have the CSGO devs feeling the heat.