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

Behave, citizen

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.

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About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.

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