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Valve, Anti-cheat, And Privacy

Valve, Anti-cheat, And Privacy

One of the biggest complaints the community has about Counter-Strike 2 is the amount of cheaters present in high-ranked matches. The cheating problem in the franchise is so bad that players post videos of themselves cheating with free software they found on the internet and yet are not banned. After playing more than five matches in a row with blatant cheaters, I wanted to figure out what exactly is the cause of this issue and why Valve is seemingly not doing anything to fix it.

First off, there aren’t more cheaters than there were in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive; it’s around the same amount, it’s just that people are playing more now, so they run into them a lot more often. When compared to other FPS games, though, there is still a clear issue here. So why is it Counter-Strike specifically that gets all these cheaters? Well, there are a number of reasons. To begin with is just the game’s popularity — Counter-Strike 2 and, before it, Global Offensive, have been consistently the most played games on Steam for a long time now, having around one million concurrent players at any given moment. This popularity drives cheaters to the game — what’s the fun in cheating against no one?

Another thing that contributes to this problem is the simplicity of Counter-Strike. While a good game design decision and one of the things that make this game and franchise so popular, the low-skill floor means cheaters still understand what’s going on and aren’t just completely relying on their cheats.

cs2 screenshot 1

But the real question isn’t why cheaters flock to Counter-Strike 2; it’s why they remain, and the answer to that is very complicated. Valve is a company with very specific stances on issues in the gaming industry: it supports modding and making games using its tools, it sees piracy as an issue with the publishing and marketing of a game and not with the consumer, and it respects privacy. While these all help make cheating in Valve’s games easier — for example, its approach towards piracy means the DRM on the games is really weak, making creating cheats easier — the biggest issue is with its regard to player privacy.

It’s hard to create a good anti-cheating software that isn’t a privacy risk — in order for the anti-cheat to work well you need to run in kernel. The issue with this is that anything running in kernel mode has access to your whole computer, meaning everything you have or do is viewed by the program to make sure you don’t cheat. This is the way Valorant’s anti-cheat Vanguard works, which is why it was controversial when it came out. Using a system like that would go against Valve’s core values and it has no chance of happening, but even then, why not some kind of improvement?

cs2 church

Well, in reality, there probably will be an update to VAC eventually. The Counter-Strike 2 developers are hard at work getting updates out for the game very quickly, and they definitely know how big the cheating problem is. We almost certainly know by now that an AI-based anti-cheat is probably going to be their approach. After all of the data they collected from the Overwatch system used in Global Offensive, right now the devs are probably just making sure there are no false positives. It’s 1000% more important for people not to be wrongly banned than it is to prevent people from cheating. As Valve usually does, it did not communicate clearly, and actually barely at all, about the future of Counter-Strike and what it plans to do about the cheating issue, but we can still trust it to deliver something good. The game is in its early stages — remember how bad CS:GO was when it had just released? Compared to that, CS2’s great.

Ariel Chloe Mann

Ariel Chloe Mann

Staff Writer

Plays too much Counter-Strike 2, unless you count her alternate account then hardly any

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