Wot I Think: CS GO – Operation Vanguard

A recent study by the PEW Internet Project exposed the blindingly obvious hypocrisy of most people’s attitudes towards online services. We don’t want our privacy compromised, we don’t think big companies can be trusted with our data, and the power of corporations like Google makes us uncomfortable. But despite all these deeply-held and very serious fears, billions of people still use the products involved. So too with DLC in all forms. We bitch and moan, mock the price on twitter, talk about how far games have fallen – and then pony up the dough when nobody’s looking. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s new Operation Vanguard is what we’ve let ourselves in for.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the current iteration of Valve’s top-in-class competitive shooter, and the first to be maintained in the very modern way it has been. Learning from its experience with Team Fortress 2, Valve has a miniature economy in CS: GO that revolves entirely around gun decals. Players get a few ‘drops’ a week after matches, which can be a gun decal or a weapon crate – the latter of which cost £1.49 to unlock with a one-use key from the store. Obviously this economy is tailor-made, and so there are extraordinarily rare and mysteriously fantastic-looking gun and knife skins (with prices in the hundreds of pounds), then a large range of other skins tapering down to the common-as-muck variety that trades for pennies.

I don’t pay much attention to the CS: GO economy as a whole, though it’s interesting enough, but it’s important for a non-player to understand that a big chunk of the game’s audience takes it very seriously indeed. In the days after a new Operation launches countless forum threads are launched about the value of the new goods, whether someone should sell this new rare drop they got or hold it for a while, Twitch streams with giveaways and 50 crates being unlocked and so on. You get the picture.

I give such context on CS: GO’s economy because – even though it is a subsidiary part of the game to many including myself – it is the molten core of Operation Vanguard. CS: GO is a regularly-patched game but the major updates come in the form of Operations that introduce new maps and new skins, at the price of around £3 for an access pass – with the nice touch that maps are available to all players regardless, or made so shortly afterwards.

To give an exhaustive history of Operations would be no more useful than a general overview. If you play Counter-Strike then the chances are you play a lot of Counter-Strike. What the Operations do is freshen things up a bit – naturally they don’t disrupt the regular Dust-Mirage-Inferno cycle of competitive play, but you get some unfamiliar environments to tool about in, the chance to score some fancy new weapons, and in the context of a game you play almost daily, £3 a few times a year is chicken feed.

Operation Vanguard is different, and the changes are not for the better. The first problem I have with it is major: the way it’s sold seems to skirt the borderline of deception. To participate in Operation Breakout you bought an ‘All-Access Pass’ for £2.39. To participate in Operation Vanguard I bought an ‘Access Pass’ for £2.39. The difference is obvious side-by-side, but of course when OV popped up in Counter-Strike’s home menu I bought it more or less instantly, thinking this was the same thing.

OV’s selling point is two ‘campaigns,’ a series of missions with three branching paths. The missions are things like ‘Win 16 rounds on map X’ and ‘Kill 20 chickens in Deathmatch mode,’ and completing one bags a pre-determined award – either a weapon crate or a random weapon from a specified collection. So far, so OK. But in fact OV has two more campaigns, both of which cost £1.79 to access – which follow more or less the same pattern.

To be crystal-clear about this, the money is not the problem. I’m happy to pay for Operations, and OV’s combined total of around £6 in the context of the time I put into Counter-Strike is really not an issue. But that switch from ‘All-Access Pass’ to ‘Access Pass (with the right to buy more access)’, just pissed me right off.

First of all I felt conned. I bought the OV pass in the same way I’d bought all the previous Operation passes, expected it to be the same deal, and realised I’d been fooled by the removal of ‘All.’ Secondly, what the two ‘extra’ purchases offer is basically a re-skinned version of OV’s mission book. But thirdly, and this is the real killer, you’re encouraged to buy them to self-medicate the most egregious, enormous, climactically wrong and frankly offensive design decision in Vanguard.

There are multi-day cooldowns on missions. That’s right Rambo, you may have thought you were buying another set of missions and drops to liven up day-to-day business in CS: GO, but in fact Vanguard is a campaign designed to play out over a set period of time, with the only limiting factor a bald external one: cooldown timers.

Let me set the scene for you. I love Counter-Strike. I saw Vanguard was out on a Thursday, and cleared Friday night. Got in a few beers. Booted it up and bought the pass. I played the first mission, cleared it in about 15 minutes. Chose a second, the killing chickens one, and that was another 15 mins. So around half an hour into my evening of joy I was given a four-day cooldown for the next mission.

You can slice this any way you want, but it’s bullshit. The sad thing is I get the thought process behind it. Consider: you’re Valve, in charge of a game where players (a) want new content but (b) put in so many hours that they’ll rush through anything almost instantly. For example, mission chains. Operation Breakout introduced missions in the form of random drops, which parcelled them out over time but had no larger arc. It was fine but the missions never felt… important. So Operation Vanguard’s missions are in structured patterns, with defined rewards, and are given the desired longevity through simple brute force of timing. You will not complete this content before we say so, because you can’t.

Oh, except that if you buy the extra mission packs, your cooldowns decrease across the board, because now you’re allowed to do more missions in a set period. That’s right. You’re basically paying to reduce cooldowns. In a Valve game.

The thing is that Operation Vanguard is only a ‘campaign’ in the same way that a pile of biscuits is ‘lunch.’ The missions are basic objectives like ‘Win 16 competitive rounds on Season’ or ‘Get 100 FAMAS kills in Deathmatch mode.’ And what do you get for completing them? Either a drop from an existing collection of guns, with a minor chance of a rare gun, or a weapon crate. The first is fair enough, but the second… I mean, at this point I already felt pretty rinsed by Operation Vanguard, and now it’s ‘rewarding’ me with crates that I need to pay more money to open.

There is a school of thought that says Valve has done this in order that a flood of new crates and mission rewards doesn’t flood the in-game economy, instead trickling them in over the coming months. To that argument the only appropriate response is – who cares? I play Counter-Strike: GO because it’s a great game, I don’t play it because of the economy, and while I accept the latter is how Valve makes money, the moment it starts intruding into the game – if indeed this explanation holds water – then the economy is not acting in the way that it should. That is, it should be improving the experience rather than throttling it.

The sad thing is that Operation Vanguard comes with my favourite selection of community maps yet, including two in Season and Back Alley that feel like potential classics. Yeah they’re all over the place in terms of favouring one side or the other, but this is par for the course with CS: GO and will be tweaked over the coming months. Every CS: GO operation freshens the game up with some new environments if nothing else, and the point of Operation Vanguard’s structure is to elongate this beyond a few days – to really showcase these excellent maps by forcing people to play on them semi-regularly for missions. It at least manages this.

I want to emphasise that I’m an enormous fan and committed player of CS: GO, with over 500 hours logged in the past year. I watch the big pro games, I play with friends, I buy crate keys regularly, and I even dabble in a few illicit activities on the side. Point is that I’m used to spending money and time on this game in possibly-unwise quantities. CS: GO is fabulous and the Operations do a great job of pulling you back in after little lulls. I think Valve is one of the best developers and stewards of games on the planet.

But Operation Vanguard is sold in a manner I can’t quite forgive – there’s nothing quite like feeling a trusted game has betrayed you. I don’t resent the money. I don’t mind the missions, they’re nice enough, though the attempt to dress them up as a ‘campaign’ is overly optimistic. I don’t even care that the best part of Operation Vanguard is free for players who didn’t pay.

What I hate is that Operation Vanguard shows a clear path for the future of CS: GO and that is, along with the recently-introduced ‘music packs,’ a mercenary attitude towards its growing and dedicated playerbase. Like everyone else I’m a hypocrite, of course, so I’ll keep on playing and I’ll probably spend more money in the future. But who knows how long that will continue? Because Operation Vanguard has taken one of my favourite games and, for the sake of a few pennies, made me love it just that little bit less.

45 Comments

  1. Hex says:

    Thank you for writing this.

    I’m a huge CSGO player, and I’ve opted out on the previous operations, because I simply didn’t feel the need to pay extra for a game I own so I could get a pretty badge. Still, in the last operation, I saw all of my buddies getting missions and such, and it seemed like something that could be fun to check out, so I purchased Vanguard (and all of its accouterments) to at least be able to make an educated decision about whether to investigate these things in the future.

    It is utter, utter rubbish. I haven’t regretted a game purchase to this degree for a long, long time. (Pre-ordering the Start Trek MMO, to be exact.)

    They charge you $12 (or I guess 6#s) to play something like 4-6 missions per week — many of which only take a few minutes of your time to accomplish.

    In return, you earn extra cases — which you can then spend another $3 per to open. You can also get the occasional skin drop, none of which are worth more than a few cents, as far as I can tell.

    It’s gross. It makes me feel dirty.

    And it’s the last operation I’ll be paying for, that’s certain. I’m not too upset — I went into it figuring I was going to be disappointed, and my curiosity has been more than satisfied for the $12 I spent. But I’m certainly not happy.

    • GH Moose says:

      I’m pretty much on the same page as you, I think, I just got there a little earlier. I quite liked CS:GO, to me it felt more like CS1.5/1.6 than CS:S and I found myself enjoying it a lot. Bought it earlier than I normally buy games…and then I found out I’d paid a (admittedly reasonable) price for a game just to have it turn into a marketing platform afterwards.

      The second I saw weapon crates I was gone – weapon crates and things like it remind me uncomfortably of the classic “You’ve won a prize! Now pay us $500 and you can have it!” cons. It’s psychologically manipulative garbage, IMO. I didn’t mind the skins at all, but that “pay to win a prize” crap turned me off instantly.

      I’m glad to see a major site saying things like this, thanks for writing it – this is why I come here. I’m also saddened that I’ve personally come to a point where I won’t be buying a Valve game again until I figure out how they’re going to monetize it first, in spite of the fact that I mostly like their products. I’ll be holding out until several months after the product first hits 75% off or so, so I know exactly how they’re planning to squeeze me for more money once that ‘new game income’ shine wears off.

      • Phendron says:

        I with you there, CS: GO is plenty entertaining and the game cases are a sick joke, however unlike TF2 the items have no impact whatsoever on game mechanics so I find them easy enough to ignore and enjoy the game.

      • pmh says:

        For a completely different perspective, I bought the game on launch assuming the incredibly terrible beta couldn’t be what they were launching with (mostly because I knew friends were quite intent on playing the game on release). I was wrong, but having bought the game kept checking in every few months.

        It’s gotten significantly better than on release, and even since they introduced skins, but it’s not in the same sphere as the original CS. It’s a good deal better than CS:S, but that isn’t much of a feat.

        If you actually enjoyed the gameplay, I would recommend giving it a second shot. To date, I’ve bought no skins, mission packs, etc, and don’t feel like I’m missing out in any way. I still feel the game has glaring flaws, but I play it because friends do.

        Finally, I’m glad that people are calling out Valve on various cash-grab attempts.

      • Continuity says:

        You know you can just ignore the economy and the operations, they’re not in anyway necessary to play or enjoy the game to the full. Why you would leave CSGO just because of skin drops is beyond me.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      Yep, I felt ripped off as soon as soon as I loaded up the game. This kind of monetization of everything is what you’d expect in a free-to-play game. I make it a habit to not pay for free-to-play games, and had I known, CS:GO would be no exception.

  2. Hex says:

    Also — this stuff really wouldn’t bother me as much as it does if there were some indication that Valve was pouring any amount of the proceeds into improving the game.

    The competitive servers are garbage, and I have been experiencing loads of performance issues with the game for about 3-4 months now, (and on my previous PC, a sudden volcano of performance issues resulted in crashes after every map change), all crippling my ability to enjoy the game.

    Asking around, I am far from the only person experiencing these problems.

    It would be nice to see some evidence that these widespread problems were being addressed, and to see at least competitive matches shifting to decent servers.

    • Continuity says:

      I’m sure you’ve looked into it already but when I had performance issues with CSGO it was down to multiple CPU cores, try running it on just one core.

  3. Melody says:

    There’s something very interesting to be done with real time cooldowns in games (I loved how that mechanic was implemented in Christine Love’s Hate Plus, but that’s just scratching the surface). Obviously this wasn’t it.

    • grom.5 says:

      Little Inferno comes to mind for cooldowns in a game. Not really frustrating, but with the message behind (You are literally wasting your time for many things) I found it interesting.

      I guess some people would say it’s “too deep/shallow”, but it made me think twice about how I spend my time and which king of games/book/movies I want to spend my time.

      • KevinLew says:

        I should point out that Little Inferno’s cooldowns were under two minutes, and they were intentionally designed to be somewhat irritating and annoying. It was supposed to parody casual games at the time, where you basically did a boring activity combined with an arbitrary cooldown.

  4. Sensation says:

    Nothing surprising here, this is valve experimenting with new ways to make money. Remember when hats were a new thing in TF2? It seemed outrageous at the time that they could charge the price of a meal for a collection of pixels that resembled an American football helmet on the Heavy, but here we are today spending hundreds on knife skins in CS:GO. We’re all just along for the wild ride in Valve’s farmville economy.

    Just a guess on the cooldown timer, its likely a measure to prevent ‘farming’ where people buy access and blaze through the content with the intention of reselling the rewards. In Dota 2 land they recently changed ‘crates’ (chests) so that the reward for opening them couldn’t be traded for 3 months, meant as a measure to mitigate the massive influx of cheap items that hit the market after a new chest releases. Valve obviously makes more money if a player chooses to open 1-5 crates for the item they want, rather than the 15% market tax they get from that same player paying half a dollar for the one item in the crate they actually want via the market.

  5. SlimShanks says:

    This is only sort of on topic, but even though I only played around 20 hours of CS:GO (due to me being terrible at twitch shooting), I absolutely adored the weapon skins. Obviously being able to personalize your pixeltruppen is part of the appeal, but it’s mostly just really nice to have something to earn that will never run out. Also it provides a bit of a meta game that ties together your shooty bang.
    That said, it is kind of hilarious that with all those absurd weapon finishes, it’s nigh impossible to get some damn woodland camo on my guns.
    I would also like to point out that this is the fault of everyone but me (I am amazing). I have been boycotting dlc since the day they were invented… with the exception of the Dark Souls 2 dlc when it comes on sale…

    • Wolfoz says:

      Just letting you know, there are woodland camo based ones.

      Edit: For some reason the link hasn’t come through. Probably a fail on my part. If you go onto the steam marketplace and select CS, and then search forest. Add in a weapon name for specific weapons. Most are covered I think.

      • SlimShanks says:

        Strangely, they range from very cheap for some weapons to around $5 for more popular weapons… In any case CS isn’t really for me so I hope some other game takes inspiration from valve, but hopefully with less money scrimping bullshit.

  6. Text_Fish says:

    The main reason I’ve purchased all of the CS:GO operations so far and intend to continue doing so is to reward the community members who make the maps. They receive a lot of the proceeds of these operations (which is the one pertinent fact I think your article is sadly missing?), as do the creators of stickers and weapon skins, although I’m not so fussed about them. If you ask me the best thing Valve could do in future ops would be to give me a choice of who the money goes to (mappers, skinners, Valve, etc.) as with some bundle websites.

  7. J-Force says:

    I’ve never been a great fan of CS:GO, I play it if I need 15 minutes to kill and Skyrim won’t load properly. Anymore time spent in CS:GO and I get pissed at the crap (for good design reasons, but nevertheless crap) ballistics. Operation Vanguard intrigued me because I saw the word ‘campaign’ and thought ‘Great, I get to go through things at my own pace without having someone who knows the bullet spray angle of each weapon and can twitch shoot from behind my spawn kill me every seven seconds’ however now I quickly decided otherwise the second I started to read the full description of the pack.

    Valve is not usually given to this kind of underhand exploitation due its business practices however someone in charge of CS:GO clearly did not get the memo. A shame that Vanguard is like this, cooldown timers are a rational design decision to make and I’m cool with them doing that, but subtle word changes to get impulse buys is beyond the line.

  8. Wolfoz says:

    I read through the blurb about campaigns. I assumed they had finally added a single player training style thing to CS:GO (I made the mistake of assuming that campaign was single player). I’m rubbish at CS:GO but I still try to play it frequently, and the idea of a campaign just to help teach you various mechanics of the game without getting grief for trying to learn them appealed. Teaches me for making up my own blurb in my head.

  9. wormroom says:

    I’d really like to see a bigger push toward casual 15-minute game modes. Demolition (or whatever the no-respawn gun game variant is) is really fun. It’d be neat if they opened that up to more community-created maps and built some arbitrary progression around it.

    I like competitive play, but it’s frustrating to feel off my game and not have any versatile official server fun-time playlists that have been updated in a year or so.

    Free to play time-locked features are dumb and the CS community is built almost entirely of big-time internet dudes who despise all of those features. Valve multiplayer games are good because you play them for the achievement that comes with improvement.

    The silly item drop moneygrab features are bad. Please Valve I will keep buying all of your games just don’t do that.

  10. rocketman71 says:

    Thanks, I was going to buy this, didn’t know it was like that.

    What I can’t understand is that if those community maps are good enough to be in the operations (and they are), why the hell do they delete them when the operations end?. Make them official and leave them in our computers, for fuck’s sake!!!

    Valve is looking more lost every year, and I don’t like it one fucking bit.

    • Hex says:

      +1

      However, some of the maps that make it in are shite.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Friendly advice: don’t buy it. The new maps are free. The worst part is that by completing the challenges you’ve basically bought well-disguised keys+crates, except you paid for a “challenge coin” instead and play rather than buy a key to open a crate. Which, if you’re going to do it, should come with the huge disclaimer that it’s essentially gambling on very slim chances of getting rare skins (that it’s entirely one-way into Steam Market doesn’t really change the psychology).

      I hope this is not indicative of Valve’s future. Experimentation is fine but it starting to feel like one big joke at player’s expense (literally).

  11. BooleanBob says:

    Ugh. I’m increasingly worried the ‘developer goodwil dollar’ is falling a long way behind the ‘psychological scammery dollar’ in terms of appeal.

  12. ResonanceCascade says:

    If my future self had known this is what Valve was going to turn into, I’d have rage quit computer gaming the minute the credits rolled on Portal 2 (granted, the writing was on the wall by then, but there was still room for denial).

    • Hex says:

      Why have you not played Portal 2, yet?! Get on the ball and make your future self your present self!*

      Or vice versa. I think it works both ways.

      *NB — being intentionally obtuse, here.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        Gah! I really messed that up. Wait, what year is it?

  13. Distec says:

    This is one of the few occasions where I’m somewhat disappointed and mystified by Valve here. I don’t really mind the monetization scheme behind TF2, because I feel like it’s very painless and doesn’t really affect the balance of any given match I’m playing. I get the concern over “Crate Gambling”, but since I’ve never bought an item from the Mannco store, it’s never bothered me.

    This just seems set up in a kinda shitty way. I would expect Valve to do better than basically making players buy crap to reduce timers, as if this is some mobile F2P title. I couldn’t care if this is to prevent flooding the market; fuck the market, let me play the damn game.

    Of course, I’ve probably logged a total of one hour in this game since purchasing it, so I’m jess’ bitchin’.

  14. int says:

    When the terrorists seek to blow up our truck, it behooves us to vanguard.

  15. mpk says:

    So they’ve basically introduced Zynga-style impediments and pay-to-play mechanics into mainstream gaming? Wow. Thanks Valve! Now that you’ve done this, you’ve essentially validated it for every other fucker.

    Lets just wait until EA realise what you’ve done – they’ll take it to the utter extremes. Just imagine how happy all the FIFA-drones are going to be when they realise they have to pay to play two games of football in succession, or wait four hours instead. Add fifty new friends for high score!

  16. Stevostin says:

    People, just go and play Survarium. It’s not a CS clone, but it’s the same kind of fun, weapons feel great, itemisation doesn’t despise non payer (well not too much if you start to complain about vanity stuff but if you’re there, you deserve it somehow IMHO :P) and you don’t care about getting insulted because you can’t read Russian anyway. (just kidding, a good half of the community is probably not Russian).

    Also it’s super beautiful and it scratches that post apocalyptic itch very well.

  17. brotherthree says:

    Congrats Adam, you have affirmed the first part of your article:

    Bitch, whine and moan about the change you don’t like …. then proceed to buy it anyway.

    Valve isn’t a shining beacon of light or some kind of visionaries from the future, they are just an astute business, and like many others they are taking advantage of consumers in dispicable ways.

    They see sales figures.
    Dollars.
    They don’t give a shit that you as an individual don’t like it, as long as it doesn’t negatively affect profits.

    But like you said Adam, people complain, bitch, and moan… then pony up the money anyway, reinforcing the cycle. This will continue, and It will only get worse.

  18. Monggerel says:

    You run and hop and scramble on towards victory but once and ever finality is moved onward and eventually what was the walls of comforting mundanity break away to reveal the CRT nightmares of thunderbolt oblivion and 7am in the morn you realize there’s only the mercy of the grave
    To live young and die hard

    Never go back to Source and the climb maps you never quite reached the end of

  19. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    Thanks for this, was going to buy it, too. I’m happy to support the makers of the maps, but won’t be supporting this nonsense.

  20. bill says:

    I remember reading an intersting account of players addicted to a CHinese MMO with (at the time) deeply unsavory tactics like charging players to unlock crates with random contents. At that time I thought it was shocking, but I never imagined it would make its way into mainstream western games.
    That it was VALVE who did it is more shocking.

    But, frankly, players probably only have themselves to blame. If they accepted the ridiculous idea of paying to open crates then they effectively gave Valve the green light to do whatever the hell they please in terms of generating money.

    Like you said with the Internet Privacy link, if players accept this and pay to remove the cooldowns, then that’s basically saying the same thing to Valve (and other developers) – “We are fine with this, go ahead and implement it on all your games in the future”.

  21. untoreh says:

    How can you even consider back alley? That map is worse than office! As of the money grab I don’t know, let’s remember that it is little stuff about earning something cosmetic by playing a few different modes. It is still Miles away from any common trash business model out there, I think valve spoiled some players. I have always thought of operations as a way to support csgo that is not buying crates because I am no gambler. I remember the missions on insertion, those were the shit that map was a beautiful nightmare of masochism. In this operation the only awful map is back alley. Top being ocf season followed by bazaar facade and Marquis. Keep telling urselves this “every time I buy something for csgo, 128ticks server are a little bit closer ” :)

  22. Kollega says:

    Well, I’m only half-hypocrite, it seems. I still use Steam, because for many AAA releases, there’s simply no alternative, but as soon as cash shop and gamble-crates were put into TF2, I quickly grew to despise the game and quit it shortly afterwards. I never went back. Even though TF2 on release had the single best art direction of all the world’s shooters, and I loved the 1960s industrial-slash-spy-movie setting to bits.

  23. OctoStepdad says:

    well it sounds like I will be waiting on this one when it becomes a $1. That is what I did for the last operation and still got the gold coin.

  24. Phaeton says:

    I must admit I feel the same. I love CS:GO, definite improvement over the older versions (I’ve played off and on since 1.5) and have 97 hours logged.

    I personally don’t have a problem with charging for vanity items, if you want to spend the money on them, feel free. I also don’t mind a small charge to get access to Vanguard.

    What I don’t like is that you have to wait (for what feels like random amounts) to actually enjoy the content you’ve just paid for. Very frustrating!!

    I’ll still play but it does annoy me when microtransactions get in the way.

  25. Ringwraith says:

    It’s probably worth noting, and this was unclear enough that they only updated their FAQ a few days after release, that if you don’t complete missions as they check in, you get a backlog of ones you can complete.
    So basically you don’t miss out on anything mission-wise by jumping in late.
    Plus the “extra mission per week” of each campaign feels a lot scummier, until you factor in each campaign is adding another mission tree of the same size, so you’d need the extra one to even complete it anyway.
    If the pool of “completable missions” wasn’t shared amongst campaigns, it’d probably feel a lot less worse. Though that has its own set of inconveniences (like missions wanting you to play maps you’d rather not).

    It’s a nice idea they’ve done it to try and stop it flooding the market, but it’s already been done, as Vanguard cases are already so common because they’re now a mission reward that their value that just plummeted. (Which sucks for anyone who liked to just sell cases and use only those funds to buy things in-game).
    So if that’s what they were thinking they’ve already failed on that front. So I honestly have no idea what they’ve done.

  26. 3del says:

    I have to say that I’m totally happy with the way operations in cs:go are handled now.
    In order to play the maps of former operations, you had to either buy the dlc, or have a friend who did.
    This led me and a lot of friends to buy these operations. Since the last operation, there’s no need to buy the operation in order to play, but only to get the “missions”.
    I’m not at all interested in letting the rng decide which map, weapon, or gamemode I have to play.
    Apparently my friends are, most of them bought the operations. One of them got lucky in the past operation and sold one of his drops for 40 €.
    In the end it’s Valve trying to get players hooked to this skin gambling stuff, and if it pays for mapmakers, competitive scene and Valve development, while I enjoy playing the new content for free (and picking up the nice skins to shoot their owner with) I’m totally fine with it.

  27. CountVertigo says:

    GO’s Operations usually pay for themselves, because you can make back the money you paid (and then some – potentially by a LOT) by selling the cases you receive.

    Valve have been gradually muddying this dynamic, by making the cases drop for everyone after Operations Phoenix and Breakout finished (thereby dropping case value to £0.05, whereas Operation Bravo cases are now worth £2.40). It’s also hard to see the point in buying Breakout and Vanguard, because now any GO player can play their maps for the duration of the op.

    But Vanguard is different. By making the cases so easily attainable, values dropped to virtually nothing overnight, making it the first op that won’t pay for itself.
    I can’t really think what the point is. You don’t need the pass to play the maps, you can’t make any money with the pass (or even make your money back), and as you point out in the article, it’s not even fun because you’re only allowed a couple of missions a week.
    The next Operation might be the first one I don’t buy.

  28. Siimon says:

    I don’t mind skins and crates, mainly because I mostly ignore them. If I find a skin worth two cents, I’ll put it on just for fun. If I find a skin worth 10c or more, or a crate, I sell it on the marketplace. I’ve made back the purchase price of CSGO and then some by selling stuff I got from just playing the game as I would have otherwise.

    I didn’t buy Vanguard, because the missions are not missions. They’re more akin to achievements. Boring!

  29. xextremex says:

    Very interesting review. Well written because I haven’t played Counter Strike in a long time but was able to follow the details in your review. Those cooldowns sound awful! As painful as waiting for energy to refill is on many online and mobile games, this sounds even worse. I hope this is eliminated in the future…. If not I don’t think I’ll buy any CS content, cooldowns just frustrate me too much.

  30. sulman says:

    I’m a strictly casual CS:GO player that came to it because of Linux support, but I do find it fun. I don’t care one iota for the economy stuff, and it doesn’t get in the way for me.

    If you want a similar shooter that is well thought-out and easy to pick up, try Insurgency. It plays like two different games, dependent on the maps. Tight urban locations feel very, very similar to CS (it’s 90% positioning and map knowledge), whereas the more open maps are a really dynamic experience.

  31. vahnn says:

    I HATED when cs:go introduced weapon skins and stickers. Everyone was spending money left and right to get nicer looking guns with cooler stickers while I didn’t give a crap and just kept the default skins. It’s just silly.

    On the other hand, stockpiling all those skins and upgrade contracts and eventually selling higher tier skins, I made a few bucks.

    But this Vanguard thing sounds like rubbish. I’m glad I stopped playing this game a few months ago.