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Bots: a Million-Dollar Problem

11 Mar. 2021

Valve has made a very controversial decision. Namely, the company removed bots from the competitive mode and replaced them with a thousand-dollar bonus every round. CS.MONEY here to figure out how (and if) this works.

What are bots for?

Bots used to be the solution to the obvious problem of online matches, the scenario where someone isn’t able to finish the game. The disconnected player would be replaced by an electronic dummy, who, rather than killing enemies, was only able to drive his teammates nuts. But the main feature of the bot was the ability to play for him after your death. 

Naturally, this wasn’t the best compensation. The bot was difficult to control. To add to it, he often bought non-meta guns and made pathetic attempts at rushing. However, in the rounds where the bot was killed at the spawn location, the team was able to improve its score by assuming control over him. 

What’s the problem with this system?

Globally, two opinions exist in the community about the reason why bots were removed. According to the first one, this was done to reduce toxicity. Actually, the dev team has already tried to prevent the “4+1” problem. When four players act as a normal team and a fifth one is on their own, nothing prevents the team from kicking them out. This led to frustration in individual matchmaking. The worst punishment for such toxic players was a ban from the game due to too many kicks. 

Second opinion: bots facilitated cheating. How exactly was it possible? The game community didn’t give a clear answer to this question. If we remember the previous measures in this battle against unscrupulous players, such as the emergence of VACnet or the prohibition of third-party software, the removal of bots may indeed be related to this “campaign.”

What now?

Now each player in an outnumbered team gets an extra thousand dollars each round. If a fifth player is kicked in a vote, the team gets no compensation. So as of today, you should only kick players out when they performance is woefully bad. 

Note that this monetary compensation didn’t emerge right away. For a few days, whenever a team got outnumbered, nothing changed for them. This greatly reduced their chances of victory. 

What was the problem with the thousand dollars? 

The main problem with the compensation is that it helps the offense more than the defense. At the same time, the offense suffers less from the lack of a player. Add to that the difference in the buying phase expenses for the defense and the offense, and the overall situation gets quite sad. 

An outnumbered attack team can afford a Galil AR rifle, a full set of armor, and a couple of grenades after two consecutive losing rounds. In contrast, under the same conditions, the defense can afford a FAMAS, a full set of armor, and one grenade! No pliers or extra grenades. 

Obviously, the offense has a greater advantage in this situation. Playing in the defense, on the other hand, is sure to cause frustration. This can’t be fixed by changing sides or anything else: half of the players on the server will certainly be uncomfortable with the monetary bonus. 

What do we do?

We know full well that the problem of a quitter player can’t be solved definitively. However, the idea of this compensation doesn’t look good. Instead, Valve could take other measures.

Such as adopt the system from ESEA. On that platform, you can start looking for either a new match or a place in an already ongoing one. In this case, the player improves their ranking in case of a victory and doesn’t lose anything in case of a loss. This system encourages the player to join ongoing matches as a replacement for the quitter.

Another option is to decrease the ranking penalty in case of a defeat. The player’s MM ranking is impacted by both their personal skill and team performance. Nobody wants to lose and get a decrease in the ranking. Therefore, one possibility would be to halve the rating penalty for all players who play in an outnumbered team.

Finally, it’s possible to simply end the match when a player gets disconnected. Outnumbered play is little fun, and many players are willing to give up so they don’t have to continue the futile struggle. Ending the match automatically could reduce the amount of negativity. However, these are all just our own suggestions.

How do you feel about the new rules in matchmaking? It’s a significant question, so be sure to answer it in the comments after you give this post a like.

11 Mar. 2021

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