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CSGO Ranked is Now Paid Feature for New Players

The free-to-play nature of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive means anyone can download the game and hop right into some CSGO Ranked matches, but effective this week, some features are no longer accessible to those who play for free.

CSGO Ranked players will now need to pay up to get drops and experience, and even play ranked and grind to Global Elite, after Valve confirmed new changes to the Prime Status system will force free-to-play players to cough up for the luxuries in a bid to stop “bad actors.”

Players will no longer be able to earn Prime Status for free by grinding to Level 21 each season. Instead, if you want to get Prime Status, you’ll have to pay up.

On top of that, a lot of content is now being locked behind the Prime Status paywall. Non-Prime players will no longer receive experience, drops, ranks, or skill groups. You also need to pay to receive the yearly Service Medal.

The biggest change of the update, though, is to CSGO ranked play.

Non-Prime players will be thrown into “unranked” every time they queue up for competitive, or any game mode that would use skill-based matchmaking and ranks. Ranked queues will be exclusively for Prime players. 

CSGO Ranked

CSGO Ranked Paid? Not a Bad Thing, But a Good Thing:

It sounds like an attempt to keep people’s eyes on the game and to put a stop to some of the hackers and cheaters that plague the game. There were already hackers in CSGO before it went free-to-play in December 2018, but they overran the game after that. People could just easily make new accounts, and get right back into the game until they were VAC banned.

This was announced in a CSGO blog back on June 3rd, 2021. They do admit that the move to free-to-play and giving everyone access to drops, Ranks, and Skill Groups led to people who “hurt the experience of both new and existing players.” These “bad actors” are all the cheaters and hackers you’ve seen in your CSGO matches. With that in mind, what they offer new players/free players has thus changed. Now, new players can still play every mode, and that’s great. 

However, those players gain nothing for it. No XP, Ranks, Drops, Skill Groups. Those only go to players who purchase Prime Status. You can get it on Steam, but you no longer have a free path to Prime Status. It must be paid for. The blog does point out that if you purchase the upgrade to Prime Status in the next two weeks, you keep the current Skill Group and XP progress you’re at. 

Players without Prime Status in CSGO will be put into “Unranked” queues when they queue up for any mode that would use SBMM or ranks. Actual ranked queues are for Prime Status only. The blog says this specifically on the topic of Unranked:

“When new players play Competitive, Wingman, and Danger Zone, their matches will still use skill-based matchmaking, but players will not earn a Skill Group. Prime players can also play Unranked matches, where their Skill Group will not be affected and where there are no lobby Skill Group restrictions.”

We’ll have to see if this is a positive change for CSGO, but it sounds like it is on the outset. Players can still get into the game for free and try it out, but you gain no benefits for it. It’s unfortunate that so many “bad actors” ruined it for everyone though. With this update, Scrimmage was replaced by Unranked, and both Prime and Free users can use it. It hopefully leads to fewer cheaters in ranked, if the players have to invest money into their cheats, and into accessing ranked at all. We’re very curious to see what changes over the next few months in Ranked as well as Unranked.

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