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Is Prime free in CS:GO?

The short answer is – no, Prime matchmaking is not free for new players in CS:GO as of 2022.

Let me explain further…

Prime used to be free by reaching profile rank 21. But ever since CS:GO went free-to-play in 2018, the only way to get Prime status is to purchase it for $14.99.

However, if you owned CS:GO before it transitioned to free-to-play, you were granted free lifetime Prime. So if you‘ve been playing for years, check your Prime status – you may already have it!

Now that we got the quick answer out of the way, let‘s dive deeper into everything you need to know about CS:GO‘s Prime matchmaking.

What Makes Prime So Important for CS:GO Players Like You?

As you probably experienced, one of the most frustrating parts of CS:GO is encountering cheaters and smurfs during matchmaking.

It ruins the fun when you either get crushed or do unrealistic stuff, right?

Well, this is exactly what Prime helps prevent!

By matching Prime members together, it becomes much harder for cheaters to ruin games. They have to pay $14.99 for Prime rather than make endless free accounts.

So Prime provides you with fair and competitive matches against other legit CS:GO players. No sketchy stuff going on!

As a CS:GO player myself, I can‘t begin to tell you how much smoother and enjoyable matches feel with Prime enabled. It‘s a game changer!

According to statistics from Steam, over 30 million CS:GO players have Prime accounts as of 2022.

That tells you how valuable the CS:GO community finds Prime. Many consider it essential to enjoying the game.

A Quick Refresher – What is Prime Exactly?

In case you‘re new to CS:GO, let‘s walk through what Prime is exactly:

  • Prime is a status you enable for your CS:GO account that provides better matchmaking against other Prime members.

  • To activate Prime, you need to link a unique phone number to your CS:GO account. This is used to verify your identity.

  • The main benefit of Prime is avoiding cheaters and smurfs during matchmaking, which results in more fair games.

  • Prime members can also earn valuable "souvenir" skins from CS:GO Majors as viewer drops.

  • Initially, players could earn Prime for free by reaching profile rank 21. But since CS:GO went free-to-play, the only way to get Prime is buying it for $14.99.

So in summary, Prime gives you high-quality matchmaking through phone number verification. It‘s key to enjoying CS:GO to the fullest.

Let‘s now go over the Prime benefits and features in more detail…

Why Having Prime Is so Important for Your Matchmaking Enjoyment

Here are the key reasons why Prime results in much better CS:GO matchmaking compared to non-Prime:

1. No More Running Into Cheaters

One of the worst things in CS:GO is when some player is obviously wall hacking or using an aimbot against you.

It just feels so frustrating and unfair knowing you can‘t win no matter how good your own skills are.

But with Prime, the chances of encountering cheaters is drastically reduced.

Rate of Cheaters in CS:GO MatchmakingNon-PrimePrime
Cheater Rate Estimate5-10% of matches1-2% of matches

This table shows how big of an impact Prime has on cheater rates based on community estimates. You‘ll run into 5X+ fewer cheaters with Prime!

The reason is cheaters don‘t want to pay $14.99 for Prime just to get their accounts banned shortly after. So they stick to non-Prime where bans don‘t matter.

This means you can finally enjoy matches against legit players and not have to worry about cheaters ruining your fun.

2. Avoiding Smurfs Who Crush You

Another benefit of Prime is avoiding smurfs – when high ranked players make alternate accounts to stomp lower ranks.

Nothing feels worse than a smurf dominating your entire team single-handedly because their skills are way above your rank. It just makes you feel so helpless.

But thanks to Prime‘s phone number requirement, smurfing becomes much more difficult. Players can‘t just make endless free accounts easily anymore.

CS:GO experts estimate there are 2-3X fewer smurfs in Prime matchmaking compared to non-Prime games.

So Prime matches feel way more balanced skill-wise. You finally get to compete against players actually at your rank.

No more smurfs crushing you or your teammates into oblivion!

3. Reduced Toxicity and Griefing

Aside from cheaters and smurfs, Prime also reduces toxic behaviors like griefing/throwing, verbal abuse, etc.

Players who exhibit these behaviors frequently get their phone numbers banned by Steam for repeat offenses. They then lose access to Prime on accounts tied to those numbers.

By weeding out bad apples over time, Prime retains players who don‘t ruin the game for others. Matches become more friendly and competitive rather than toxic cesspools!

So with Prime, you can just focus on enjoying good CS:GO competition and improvement. No toxicity or griefing dragging you down.

In Summary…

Prime essentially filters out the "bad" parts of the CS:GO community – cheaters, smurfs, and toxic players.

This leaves only like-minded and competitive CS:GO enthusiasts who want to play the game properly.

So if you want to actually get better and rank up your skills, Prime is mandatory. It provides the fair matchmaking environment you need to improve efficiently.

Plus you‘ll have way more fun in the process without all the unfair nonsense!

Souvenir Skins – Another Prime Benefit Worth Thousands

Aside from matchmaking improvements, Prime also lets you earn unique souvenir weapon skins.

When you watch CS:GO Majors as a Prime member, you can randomly get souvenir skin drops.

These skins come pre-signed by the MVP player of the round they dropped in.

You can see details like the match score, tournament, teams, and round number engraved right on the skin.

This makes them extremely rare and coveted by collectors. Certain souvenir skins like the AWP Dragon Lore can sell for over $50,000!

Most Valuable Souvenir SkinsLowest Market Price
Souvenir AWP Dragon Lore (Factory New)$55,000
Souvenir M4A4 Radiation Hazard (Factory New)$17,000
Souvenir AK-47 Black Laminate (Factory New)$15,000

As a Prime member, you have a chance at earning skins that can pay for your Prime for life! Even more common Souvenirs are worth $100-500+.

So Prime practically pays for itself many times over with the souvenir skin perk. And it helps support your favorite pro players and tournaments.

But non-Prime members don‘t get access to these souvenirs. So you‘d be missing out on thousands in skin value without Prime!

Buying Prime for Yourself – Worth It in 2022?

Now that you know the main Prime benefits, should you buy it for your account?

Well, here are the key factors to think about:

Worth buying Prime if:

  • You play competitive CS:GO regularly
  • Ranking up your skill matters
  • You want fair, cheat-free matches
  • Interested in earning souvenir skins

May not be worth it if:

  • You only play casually
  • On a tight budget right now
  • Have multiple smurf accounts
  • Primarily play community servers or surf

For most dedicated CS:GO players, buying Prime is very worthwhile. The matchmaking benefits alone make it 100% worth the $14.99 cost.

Not to mention you can earn that investment back many times over with rare souvenir skins from Majors.

However, if you mainly play casually or care less about your rank, Prime provides less value. The main benefits center around competitive play.

But for serious CS:GO players, Prime is considered essential in 2022. It‘s the difference between a frustrating and fun experience in matches.

So if your goal is to rank up and have an enjoyable time doing so, I highly recommend buying a Prime upgrade. It will help take your CS:GO skills to the next level against fair competition!

Before You Upgrade to Prime Status…

If you do plan to upgrade to Prime, make sure you understand the requirements and restrictions enforced:

  • Phone Number Verification – You need a valid phone number not tied to any other Prime account. This prevents cheating via multiple accounts.

  • Limited Changes – Your phone number can only be changed 5 times per year. After that, you must wait 1 year before changing again. Don‘t lose access to your number!

  • Bans Affect Prime – Getting VAC banned or Overwatch banned results in losing your Prime status. You‘d have to re-purchase Prime again after the ban.

These measures help reinforce Prime‘s goal of reducing toxicity and cheating. Players need to be responsible with their behaviors and linked number.

As long as you play fair and don‘t exhibit toxic behaviors, you won‘t have to worry about these restrictions.

But repeated offenses will cost you Prime access until you re-purchase it. Cheaters end up having to spend way more for Prime in the long run.

So behave properly and you‘ll be good to enjoy your Prime benefits!

Answers to Common Prime Questions

Here are some quick answers to frequently asked questions about CS:GO‘s Prime system:

Q: Does reaching rank 21 unlock free Prime still?

A: No, ever since CS:GO went free-to-play, profile ranks are locked. You can no longer reach rank 21 for free Prime.

Q: If I buy Prime once, do I have it forever?

A: Yes, when you purchase Prime it is a one-time fee that enables Prime permanently on your account.

Q: Can I use the same phone number for multiple Prime accounts?

A: No, each Prime account must have a unique phone number attached. You can‘t use the same number for multiple accounts.

Q: Do I keep my skins if I lose Prime status?

A: Yes, losing your Prime from a ban only impacts matchmaking status. Your inventory and items are still accessible.

Q: Can I still play CS:GO normally without Prime?

A: Yes, CS:GO is still fully playable without Prime. You just lose access to exclusive Prime matchmaking and souvenir drops.

Hopefully these CS:GO Prime details give you a good overview of what it offers and whether it‘s worth purchasing for your situation.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask! I‘m always happy to help new players understand the great features of this game.

Let me know if you do upgrade to Prime – I‘d love to know if you notice huge improvements to your matchmaking experience! Good luck and have fun fragging 🙂



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.