The Counter-Strike rank system in Global Offensive, has got people thinking the pros and cons of player nibbling order. The ability to rank players in games is a cherry on top of the multiplayer sundae—you spend some time grating and learning in the trenches, gaining levels and experience as you go. Eventually, you hit a high rank that reflects your progress, and get the insignia to attest it.
Ranking players obliges a logical end in that it can create more even matches, since players of higher rank are more regularly matched with others of similar rank. That keeps the competition firm for highly-ranked players and allows lower ranks to improve their fangs against others at an analogous skill level.
At least, that’s how it works in notion. Regrettably, as with any multiplayer game, players’ intent on exploiting their experience do so at the impairment of other players, making many fans wonder if there’s a better substitute to the ranked match system.
One hitch of the Counter-Strike ranking system is that it works both ways—cultivating means you move up the ladder, while floundering means you move down. For people who want to play with their friends of lower rank, that can mean losing their rank.
While losing rank might seem like a small price to pay, it’s also punishing players for wanting to play with their friends— which is supposed to be one of the best parts of playing games in the first place. While rank isn’t the most significant thing about the gaming experience, a high rank is difficult to work up to and easy to lose. Playing with your friends shouldn’t come at the cost of your hard-earned rank, even if the loss is trivial.
Of course, some fans have approaches of fighting back. Buying a second (or third, or fourth) copy gives you another account, meaning players can use one account for conserving their rank while using the other to play with friends.
Having multiple accounts also has a snag. While some people might be using a second account just to have some no-consequences fun with friends, there are others who just like the joy of messing with lower-ranked players. There’s a mounting problem in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community, where high-ranked players have an alternate account to ranch kills just because they can.
While this kind of thing can be amusing for the high-ranked players, for low-ranked players it can also kill any chance they have of moving up the rankings ladder. Getting repetitively thrashed by people at higher ranks isn’t an operative method of learning to play better—it’s more like pitting a newborn kitten against a storming whale. It’s also far more likely to drive new players away from the game.
Whether Valve will address fans’ concerns about Counter-Strike rank problems remains to be seen. Ranking players is a great thought for matchmaking, but manipulation on the part of players is causing some heartache. With any luck, Valve will take steps to eradicate the inequity without distressing the matchmaking, as more and more players ask to enjoy their games without having to sacrifice ranks or deal with high-ranking gnomes on alt accounts.