This is due to the fact that a number of free players have allegedly been ruining the ranked experience for others, so Valve thought that the best approach was a blanket one."Along with all the gameplay that we made available for free, new players had access to drops, Ranks, Skill Groups, and a free path to Prime matchmaking," said the developer in a post to the official Counter-Strike: Global Offensive blog. "Unfortunately, over time, those benefits have become an incentive for bad actors to hurt the experience of both new and existing players. So today we're revising the offering for new players." Although free players retain access to all game modes, community server, and workshop maps, they will not be awarded experience points, ranks, drops or Competitive Skill Groups as these only belong to Prime Status players - people who bought the game before it became free-to-play, bought Prime Status for $15, or reached level 21 in casual matches.
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The response from the community to this change is interesting, and there are a lot of positive comments. "Maybe the end of cheaters?" asked Dame__Za on Reddit. "I know this has been an extremely popular request and hope it turns out well for the community overall, but I hope it doesn't end up splitting the player base too much," added Scarabesque. It's worth bearing in mind that those who were closing in on level 21 for a free way to gain Prime Status now won't be able to progress.
Their choice is to remain a free player or to fork out $15 for the Prime Status. This must sting for that group, and it's not known whether they'll be able to apply for Prime Status given that they were almost there already. However, Valve did introduce a new Unranked mode which allows free and Prime Status players to play together and see no impact on their Skill Group.
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