In some cases the best thing to say is nothing at all. Valve has embraced this motto with open arms as Counter-Strike has risen to FPS and eSports dominance, remaining mute on the details of cases, events, and accusations levelled at both players of the game and the company itself. From the perspective of players, fans, and observers alike, this policy of silence can be frustrating, yet its effectiveness is consistently masterful.
Calls for action within the professional scene have been abundant and widely supported by several players and personalities, yet these frequent outcries have only been met with silence from the one entity that can attempt to mend the issues that plague its poster-child game title.
Self proclaimed eSports historian, Duncan “Thorin” Shields recently released a video expressing the angst felt by the larger CS:GO community. You can watch the full video here:
To condense Thorin’s 11 minutes of carefully articulated insight, he suggests that Valve should attempt to deal with the growing issue of cheating in CS:GO by hiring a team of experts to work through the long list of “hackusations” on a case by case basis – both in the professional and non-professional areas of the game.
The alarm bells regarding the poor management of ramped cheating have been ringing for a while now, yet Valve has hidden away from any confrontation, opting to either stay silent or introduce weak measures that cause little impact: Overwatch and Prime Matchmaking have posed very little threat to CS:GO cheats.
By allowing players to police other players through the Overwatch program, Valve has been able to hide behind a well-crafted PR veil by placing the onus on players to police one another – it’s a move that is as clever as it is devious. The introduction of Prime Matchmaking may prove to have more impact in the future, but as popular YouTuber and Streamer Nick Bunyun has showcased in one of his latest videos, matchmaking servers are still packed full with hackers.
The iBuypower match-fixing scandal is a long story with many sides and perspectives to it. Notable streamer and ex-iBP player Sam “DaZeD” Marine has been rather outspoken about the lifetime bans that Valve doled out to him and three of his teammates, following the surfacing of evidence against them. Regardless of whether his points hold water, one cannot deny that calls for re-examination of the case have been abundant, in particular for Braxton “Swag” Pierce who was a minor when the incident occurred.
Valve has once again maintained a unified silence on the issue, despite many players and personalities coming forward in defence of the once great North American Counter-Strike team. The Brazilian Godfather of Counter-Strike Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo has said there was a lack of legal precedent, and a lifetime ban is excessive for something that had not been dealt with before, regardless of whether Valve wanted to make an example of these players or not. DaZeD himself has made the point that match-fixing was not a new thing when they did it, and it certainly has only barely been curbed by Valve’s ruling against him and his team. Yet again, extremely few words have been spoken by Valve apart from a brief statement reiterating the initial ban a year later.
The point here is not to simply take the arguments presented as gospel, rather, it is to observe and consider the masterful PR strategy of silence from Valve.
From Valve’s perspective, Silence is golden – though not in the sense you might expect. As they have proven time and time again, keeping sealed lips on issues pertaining to their game has been extremely effective. Counter-Strike, as a franchise, is still growing exponentially alongside its brethren eSports titles.
Regardless of the volumes of consumers, players, and personalities that have levelled informed and valuable criticism, Valve treats all of them with equal disdain. From a PR perspective, it works like a charm.