Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s new matchmaking weeds out jerks, rummages in your bins

Valve have launched a new way to vet players in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with the goal of matchmaking noble, respectable players with their peers. The new ‘Trust Factor’ matchmaking system considers a player’s behaviour across Steam in general as well as in CS:GO, trying to judge whether they’re likely to be a cheater, a smurf, or a straight-up jerk. Valve say the goal is to match players “who are likely to have a good experience playing together.” It’s an interesting expansion of Steam’s benevolent police state.

This replaces the old the ‘Prime Matchmaking’ system, which required players to give a phone number and reach a certain level to be matchmade against other verified players.

Valve say that Trust Factor is the result of experiments with matchmaking taking into account “observed behaviors and attributes of [a player’s] Steam account, including the overall amount of time they had spent playing CS:GO, how frequently they were reported for cheating, time spent playing other games on their Steam account, etc.”

All those combined should give a fair sense of whether you’re an earnest player who will play nicely or you’re a no-goodnik who might rage, a returning cheater, or a smurf on a disposable account.

If you want good games, you likely want a good Trust Factor. You also want to not be in a squad with anyone who has a low Trust Factor – as parties are matched using the lowest score of the lot.

How can a player improve their score? Ah. Well. Linking a phone number to your account is a start, indicating it’s not a throwaway, but beyond that: be decent and trust in the system. Valve say “we want to make sure that all you have to do to improve your matchmaking experience is continue to play CS:GO and other Steam games legitimately. The more you play, the more information the system has and the easier it will be for the system to determine who you should be matched with.”

Valve say they’re still fiddling with the system.

While I broadly trust–and do want!–matchmaking filtering out bad eggs, I am slightly concerned about the fallibility of algorithms and AIs and their growing role in society. While CS matchmaking is peanuts compared to some of the damage systems can do–look at China’s plan to rate every citizen across their entire life or justice systems reproducing prejudices–it still sucks for people who fall through the cracks.

And when entire parties can be affected by one player’s low score, whether they’ve earned that score or not, it causes strange social situations. Do you shun them? Follow them into Untrustworthy hell? I know I’d sometimes ditch Dota 2 pals who had been temporarily placed into the awful low-priority matchmaking pool after they had quit games with jerks.

I do not have a good answer for any of this. The future is a weird place, maaaan.


  1. Premium User Badge

    johannsebastianbach says:

    In the same update Valve also straight up removed many maps from the game, including classics and fan favorites such as aztec, assault, dust1 and vertigo. You can’t play these any longer, not even in the shitty casual mode (except for assault).

    • PseudoKnight says:

      Play 1.6 or CS:S. They’re better anyway and don’t have loot boxes.

  2. Mrice says:

    Since the update my games have been really toxic, I don’t know why since I’m not even slightly toxic. It’s overnight made me want to stop playing the game :(

    • Tyrmot says:

      Same, I realised too late that Valve defaults you to the trust matchmaking after the update. You can actually still select to do only prime, which in my experience has been SO MUCH BETTER. It’s like a different game. I really hope they don’t get rid of the prime altogether, and keep it running alongside the trust system.

  3. Headwuend says:

    At long last, ELO hell is real.

    Maybe Valve is gonna start selling indulgences. :D

  4. robinwak says:

    Me likin’ a good benevolent dictatorship. Long live King Gabe, first of His name !

  5. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Leaning on pure statistics can lead to some uncomfortable information coming out. Whether that’s like the ‘racist’ AIs in that article, or China (also the UK I guess) being a little nuts on surveillance of their own citizenry, or just being paired with idiots in CSGO, information can be ‘true’ in a sense but also be really kinda unpleasant or untrue in other ways.

    But also it’s important to keep in mind that any stats-mining algorithm like this was written by humans, and can contain errors both in design and in code.

    So yeah, it’ll need a lot of tweaking. Any system like this would.

  6. Beanbee says:

    Let’s not forget human systems are very prone to error and prejudice. If you can get an AI to get it right 95% of the time, you beat the best of us.
    That is not to say that treating AI like it is 100% accurate can cause seriously problems.

    • mike22 says:

      And even if it did get it right that often, what’s 5% of the CSGO playerbase? We must be talking hundreds of thousands of people erroneously categorised.

  7. Bomarty says:

    Lol Alice, me and my group of good ol’ friends always refer to dota2 low prio as dota prison. Because that’s what it feels like, you’ve been sent to prison.