Counter-Strike Wants Your Phone Number To Make Matchmaking Better

The matchmaking experience for Counter-Strike has always been, let's say, hit or miss. The quality of the servers and matches themselves are one thing. But often the most contentious part of the experience has nothing to do with the game or infrastructure itself. It's the people — they're awful.

So Valve wants to change that. And in their latest update, they want you to help — by letting them use your phone number.

The whole thing is an experiment being run by Valve to improve the quality of matchmaking. You're more likely to run into an arsehole abusing everyone over the microphone than you are a decent, well-mannered team — so the developer wants to fix that.

Question is, how? The idea revolves around getting players to link their CS:GO account to their mobile phones. Here's the message that you're greeted with:

What's interesting is that you don't need the Steam Mobile Authenticator to register your phone number. That's odd given that, as Valve themselves argue, most people should have Steam Guard on their phones already — especially if you play CS:GO regularly, a community often targeted by nefarious types looking to part gamers from their inventories.

Not enough accounts have been upgraded to Prime status yet, but once that happens a new matchmaking queue will open for everyone who joined the beta. If all goes according to plan, people will somehow be more affable to play with knowing that their phone number has been linked to their CS:GO account.

Mind you, I can't help but wonder about the worst case scenario: when you rip someone with a shot so ridiculous that they start to hunt you down your Steam account and phone number because they're sure you're cheating.

Either way, it'll be fascinating to see how the experiment goes. If Valve pulls it off, it could be ported across to Dota 2.


    Why not just tie it in with Steam Guard/Mobile Authentication as suggested?

    I believe the idea here is to stop people using multiple accounts to avoid cheating bans. If the only way to verify your account is through email, getting your account banned means very little. Just get a new email address, and get a new steam account (and link up a new instance of the authenticator). But most people only have access to 1 mobile phone number, and would be very hesitant to have to change numbers.

    This is match making with people who you know only have one account, and are less likely to do anything to get their account banned. No one playing with the CS:GO equivalent of a sock puppet account.

      There's also a massive problem, at least in the mid-ranks, with smurf accounts. Not players who are actually cheating per se but people who should be in a much higher skill rank using an alternate account which they intentionally lose on. This allows them to keep a low MM rank so that they can stomp players much worse than them because they find this fun for some reason, while keeping the cred of having a high rank on their main account.

      Or slightly less nefarious players who have an account they use with their main team and an account they use with randoms. But this still messes with the rating system and creates unfair match ups.

      Smurfs have been a much, much greater source of bad games for my team than actual cheaters and we're pretty excited about Prime Accounts because it will make it much harder for people to do this.

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