Valve Steps Up Counter-Strike’s Anti-Cheat Measures

Valve Steps Up Counter-Strike’s Anti-Cheat Measures

Counter-Strike is one of the biggest competitive shooters on Earth, so of course, would-be cheaters flock to it like thieves to an Uncharted 4 delivery truck.

Counter-Strike has recently begun dabbling in phone-based account authentication. First and foremost, there’s been word of a beta for “Prime”, a feature that matches players who’ve linked their accounts to their phones exclusively with each other. Get banned for cheating in there, and your number is banned. The hope is that smurfs and cheaters, who frequently switch accounts, will have a harder time scaling that walled murder garden.

Today, Valve added another prong to their offensive. As part of a new Counter-Strike update, players who get VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) or game bans now have them applied to all accounts associated with their phone number. Here’s how it works:

If an account that has a phone number registered to it receives a VAC or Game ban, all other accounts that used the same phone number at the time of the infraction will also receive a ban. If the other accounts do not own the game they will still receive the ban and be unable to purchase the title on that account. The phone number on an account that receives a ban will be suspended for three months and cannot be applied to another account during that time. The cooldown duration for applying a phone number after a ban will increase each time a cooldown is applied.

It’s worth noting that Prime — at least, as it is now — is already restricted to one phone number per player. However, you can still have multiple Steam accounts attached to the same phone number, and Valve’s been beating the drum hard on phone authentication lately. This change, then, seems aimed more at weeding out cheaters outside Prime.

There are some potential downsides. Sceptical players have pointed out that carriers tend to reuse phone numbers, though the odds of stars aligning such that you get a new phone number that happens to correspond with a banned CSGO account are astronomically low. Someone in the sky (God or a really mean bird who controls which phone numbers people get) would have to seriously dislike you for that kind of thing to happen.

People have also expressed concern about loopholes by way of VOIP numbers and things of that nature, but CSGO’s account matchmaking system expressly forbids those types of phone numbers.

Lastly, I have to wonder how many cheaters tie throwaway Steam accounts to their phone numbers. Valve claims 95 per cent of Steam users take advantage of mobile Steam Guard functionality, but what’s to stop cheaters from only doing it with their main account, keeping that one squeaky clean, and using others for dirty deeds?

All of this is still early, but what do you think of Valve’s approach so far? Do you think this will actually cut down on the number of cheaters in games like Counter-Strike?


  • yet another reson not to use your phone number, plus the extraly common, lose your phone and your fucked thing.

    • mmm loosing an actual phone number is pretty damn hard to do. It doesn’t actually take much to get a new sim assigned with the number you had (like 10mins at a dealer) even if you lost your phone.

    • plus the extraly common, lose your phone and your fucked thing.

      Not to mention, phone breaking. But that’s why they give you a code to copy/print off so if you do lose your phone, you’re fine. I’ve emailed the code to myself on 3 different email accounts. I’m going to be fine.

    • Losing your phone only means you lost your device. Pop into a shop and 5min later you got your number again on a new SIM

  • It’s pretty easy to get a pre paid phone sim for bugger all (literally $2 from telstra, not 100% sure it can receive messages just for that tho). So if you really wanted to cheat you could just get a few sims with different numbers. It might have a large affect on casual cheaters. If there are to many hoops to jump through they won’t do it.

    • They exclude certain types of phone numbers/services from being usable. Wouldn’t be surprised if super cheap pre-paid sims are included.

      • You’re thinking of VOIP?… I don’t think you can distinguish a pre paid mobile number to a plan one. I actually ported my number to a plan from pre paid many many years ago. So unless it’s a database that is consistently monitored/updated by the telco then given to valve i doubt they could monitor it..

  • Its easy to get another phone number, but its another step that people need to jump thru to do it. Pretty well much its like abortion in the USA, its not illegal, but if we force you to jump thru enough hoops, you might not do it.

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