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Valve has removed ranked competitive matchmaking from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for free players, but is giving them “Unranked” matchmaking instead.
The change affecting non-Prime members was revealed in a blog post, which announced that after going free-to-play a few years ago, it was time for some change to prevent “bad actors” from hurting the experience of players.
In the revision to CS:GO’s free-to-play side, non-Prime players will thankfully still be able to play every game mode, play on community servers and also play workshop maps. “However,” the blog post explains “they will no longer receive XP, Ranks, drops, or Skill Groups; those features are now exclusively available to Prime Status players.”
All that’s really changing is how much free players can gloat about what rank they reach, as in the place of skill groups, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is introducing “Unranked”. This new system “will still use skill-based matchmaking, but players will not earn a Skill Group,” so there should be little change gameplay-wise.
Those with Prime will also be able to play in these new unranked matches, which allows them to play with no skill group lobby restrictions, in matches that won’t affect their skill group.
While Valve will obviously claim that this is to prevent these free-to-play “bad actors,” they probably won’t complain about all the people now purchasing Prime after this change.