Counter-Strike: Global Offensive learning to take on bots

Gounter-Strike: Global Offensive

It looks like Valve are experimenting with machine learning to deal with cheating in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive [official site]. The snippet of insight comes from a Reddit thread about spinbots in Valve’s first-person shooter.

The gist is that Valve are investigating using an artificial intelligence system capable of constantly retraining itself to spot cheaters and try to stay ahead in the cheat creation/cheat detection arms race.

The chat focused on spinbot detection which… I’ll level with you, I’m not fully au fait with CS:GO bots and hacks because I don’t play enough CS:GO BUT I believe spinbots are used to facilitate other cheats or avoid being hit. The player model is spinning round fast and so has a 360 field of view which can be combined with an aimbot for kills, or you can try to use it to avoid being hit yourself. The player’s own screen looks normal so it’s not a case of getting motion sick as you play but other people and spectators can generally see it. Especially if hackers don’t even try to hide it, like this:

As per the thread:

“So some bad news: any hard-coded detection of spin-botting leads to an arms race with cheat developers – if they can find the edges of the heuristic you’re using to detect the cheat, the problem comes back. Instead, you’d want to take a machine-learning approach, training (and continuously retraining) a classifier that can detect the differences between cheaters and normal/highly-skilled players.”

The response comes courtesy of the Valve Anti-Cheat account which has previously commented on a thread and been marked as verified by a moderator for the subreddit. Obviously without knowing the verification process I can’t state without a shadow of a doubt that it’s legit, but it seems to fit with things Valve have said in the past in various capacities. For example, a recent Q&A with Gabe Newell noted that “some of us are thinking about some of the AI work that is being hyped right now. Simplistically we have lots of data and compute capability that looks like the kinds of areas where machine learning should work well.”

The Valve Anti-Cheat comment goes on to explain why this isn’t just an easy fix, partly due to the resources detection of spinbots actually requires:

“The process of parsing, training, and classifying player data places serious demands on hardware, which means you want a machine other than the server doing the work. And because you don’t know ahead of time who might be using this kind of cheat, you’d have to monitor matches as they take place, from all ten players’ perspectives.

“There are over a million CS:GO matches played every day, so to avoid falling behind you’d need a system capable of parsing and processing every demo of every match from every player’s perspective, which currently means you’d need a datacenter capable of powering thousands of cpu cores.

“The good news is that we’ve started this work. An early version of the system has already been deployed and is submitting cases to Overwatch. Since the results have been promising, we’re going to continue this work and expand the system over time.”

Overwatch in this scenario is the system by which trusted members of the CS:GO community review reports of problem behaviour in the game and apply bans. It’s the human arm of cheat/toxic behaviour detection. Since Blizzard launched a game of the same name I tend to forget the other flavour of Overwatch and have a moment of wondering why Valve is funnelling cheaty players into a rival’s game. I mean, that would be one approach I suppose. Probably best that they try the machine learning idea first.


  1. finly says:

    I’m genuinely surprised at the level of money and effort Valve seem to be putting in to fighting cheaters in CS:GO.

    On one hand it’s an obvious thing to do, the amount of revenue CS:GO brings in is immense.

    However, if you play on an official DM or ‘Casual’ server and check back in a few days to see how many of those players were VAC banned it is staggering the number of cheater the game currently has. It seems to me nearly impossible to stop at this stage.

    We can only hope this work will be implemented in to the next iteration of CS and it never gets anywhere near as bad as CS:GO has.

    • gunny1993 says:

      I could see it from another angle: cheating is a big issue in all these games, develop a good quality machine learning algorithm that actually works, even slightly, and you’ve got yourself a nice little bit of code to sell, or with valves mo, licence out or another incentive to use steam rather than another client.

  2. Fleko81 says:

    At the risk of being massively naive and out of touch with modern multiplayers (the latter I confess to, command and conquer with my 28k modem being my last reference point for such things) why do people cheat en masse at CS:GO? Is there real financial gain (officially or unofficially?) To be made? I understand there is money in esports in a way there wasn’t ‘back in my day’ and I have a vague understanding from scanned RPS articles of the trade in skins etc. But does cheating in the way described help either of these? Genienuly interested to know, though if the answer is ‘internet people just like shooting each other’ then fine, i’ll shrug, briefly despair for the human condition and move on…

    • drinniol says:

      I guess wins = more prizes, but I’m not hip with CS:GO these days.

      Oh and I remember playing direct dial-up modem to modem C&C. Respect.

    • dkfgo says:

      Outside of cheating in real professional leagues, no, theres no real benefit, besides winning random online matches. I guess the lesson to be learned here is one that the internet has repeatedly told us about for the past 20 years: if humans can be dicks without consequences, they will.

  3. bampot17 says:

    There’s no real incentive to cheat other than the ego boost gained. Some people still gain more enjoyment ruining the fun of others than anything else. You can gain no extra skins and you can’t get to any high competitive level without being caught.

    The only potential use is to use the account and offer a booster service whereby people pay to play competitively with you knowing that they’ll win all games and get boosted to a higher competitive level, this is countered to some extent by groups being punished if anyone in their group is caught cheating they lose all wins.

  4. Snapt says:

    After 4 years playig this game the only thing bother me is cheaters in this game .I can’t belive that Valve is unfit to deal with it 4 years …After all of this time number of cheaters is
    increasing.Get them Ban by MAC adress and everyone is happy don’t go for the money all the time we need qualty not quantity…Just like in Dota same manifacture same engine but CS:GO isnt free …it coast 13$ so lets make profit ….I was subscribe to some profile on steam some russian who is hacking with the aim 350 Hours still not banned what is the point of the private rank 3 and prime account ???When you can buy account with 1500 h for few $ and show must go on.This is the great news but just like all god news before this will have no efect untill Valve make this game like DOTA …………..O yeah shame on you Gaben after 4 years official MM sever is still 64 tick ….no qualty again …

    • mollemannen says:

      After 14 years of playing Counter-strike i’m not really bothered by cheaters anymore. i’ve met them all from the super obvious trolls to playing with people blaming their cold and sneeze for sudden inhuman reactions and flicks. just like anything really, if there is a flaw in a system people will abuse it.

  5. OliviaWilde says:

    Who uses spinbots in CS:GO except ragers and new sKiddies (script kiddies) that just bought their cheat sub? That is blatant obvious.

    Every cheater plays stealth. They don’t want to be caught, and many get good at hiding it. They use the cheats to compete with other cheaters. Like I said, the only time you ever see someone go blatant with something stupid like a spinbot (which doesn’t even work) is when they keep getting beat by another cheater or get caught cheating in the match, and they toggle everything on to try and ruin the game for everyone else.

    This game is filled with cheaters. So much so that I stopped playing it. There’s no point. There’s probably one or two per team each ranked match. It’s the same for other Battlefield games (which have more per match). If you ever identify a cheater on your team, ask them… They’ll tell you whose cheating on the other team because they can see one another reacting to each other through walls.

    Eventually they get banned and their team that refuses to kick them gets demoted and maybe you get promoted. Or just play ESL/ESEA with active admins and spectators.

  6. AdaLovelace says:

    Since it’s quite clear that the price of the game correlates to the amount of cheaters active you will have to make it expensive to cheat. When an account is banned it’s a quick parade to set up a new account and buy a new fresh copy of the game. However if you apply the ban to the hardware, for example the graphicscard then it will be far more expensive to cheat. It will require some collaboration between HW makers and game developers but in the end I think all parties will benefit.