Update 29/01/2016: Valve have edited the post on the Counter Strike Blog, adding a strikethrough to the following statement: "To clarify: it is also not acceptable to provide players with custom models and/or weapon skins that do not exist in the CS:GO ecosystem."
A Valve employee has also added a clarification to Reddit, writing: "There hasn't been any change in the stated policy, though admittedly the clarification in that post made it seem that way (so we'll update that sentence).
"Innovation is awesome and almost every mod we see is fine. Our only concern, as the community correctly understands, is with mods that specifically misrepresent a player's skill group/rank or the items they own."
Original Story 29/01/2016: Valve have today come out and banned any and all custom skins from community CS:GO servers in an attempt to prevent the spoofing of player's inventories and allowing them to use paid-for skins they do not own. When some of these skins run into the thousand dollar range, it's an understandable move to not want to devalue their rarity, but it has some knock-on effects to custom game modes that could be problematic.
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The move was announced via a blogpost today, which references a message they had sent to server owners in July of last year telling them to stop providing a number of services. Here's their list of banned stuff, straight from the e-mail:
- – Allowing players to claim temporary ownership of CS:GO items that are not in their inventory (Weapon skins, knives, etc.).
- – Providing a falsified competitive skill group and/or profile rank status or scoreboard coin (e.g., Operation Challenge Coins).
- – Interfering with systems that allow players to correctly access their own CS:GO inventories, items, or profile.
- [To clarify: it is also not acceptable to provide players with custom models and/or weapon skins that do not exist in the CS:GO ecosystem]
That last is where the complaints lie. While the others are vaguely understandable from an economy standpoint, what they're hitting here is any kind of custom game mode designed around new models. There's a zombie mod that I'm unfamiliar with but is quite popular, if reactions on Reddit are anything to go by, that is completely nuked by this move.
So what's the fix? It's quite difficult for Valve to make a rule that will allow for good-faith model replacements but bans anyone from making near-identical skins to the ones on the shop. They could case by case it, but with 10 million monthly uniques playing on however many hundreds of thousands of servers, that's not something Valve's limited customer support team is going to be able to handle.
They haven't issued a statement as to a solution, but the obvious answer is to go play something designed with custom content in mind - Garry's Mod, for example. Valve have made sure their guidelines allow for Surf servers with unarmed players and trade servers dropping knives with skins attached for other players to inspect during negotiations, but it's clear the focus is on the normal forms of play. Skins support that heavily, being half the reason the game is as big as it is today, so it's understandable Valve are prioritising it.
You can read their full letter and the announcement they've started banning people on the official site. Have any of your favourite ways to play been affected by this?