Counter-Strike: Global Offensive may be going free-to-play in China, according to telling lines in the code of its latest update.
What's that? You'd like to know what else is in the new update? By all means, check out our CS:GO update tracker.
CS:GO is published in China by a corporation named Perfect World. The code suggests that Perfect World customers who “complete identity verification on their account” will be given a CS:GO game licence, granting access to low-latency official servers and social features through the Perfect World launcher.
The code was dug out of the update file and posted by GitHub user SteamTracker. The salient lines are:
“Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is available for free to Perfect World customers who complete identity verification on their account. Perfect World accounts with identity verification also get instant CS:GO Prime status.
“This game license allows customers, who are unable to complete identity verification and get the game for free, to purchase a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Perfect World game license for 8800 点. This license provides access to low-latency official game servers in China and ability to play with friends using the Perfect World CS:GO Launcher.”
Over on Reddit, CS:GO update monitor wickedplayer494 points out that this “8800 Chinese yuan would be roughly $1300 USD,” so this 点 symbol must mean something else - perhaps a currency unique to Perfect World.
CS:GO has technically been available in China for a while, but it's lacked official support from Valve until recently. Their job, along with Perfect World, is to tempt people away from unofficial servers and into their own ecosystem. This is part of their plan for doing so - don't expect a similar scheme to ever come to the West.