Balancing an Esports-game is a challenging task. Those games do in general have a fragile nature and some slight tweaks in the wrong direction might just shatter the entire product. Other developers like Riot or Blizzard have a very hands-on approach, where changes are made quickly, when numbers seem to spike out of control.
While this seems to be the only correct way to balance a game at first, it’s sometimes better to let the community figure out a way to counter an existing issue and at times it turns out that there was no balancing issue in the first place. Depending on the size and dedication of a community, this process might take somewhere between a few days and multiple weeks and it can be hard to tell if something is actually imbalanced without giving your player base an appropriate amount of time to develop counterplay.
Valve’s way of balancing CS:GO differs from Riot’s or Blizzard’s approach.
Instead of patching their game every two weeks or so, they wait until they think that a change is ready to go live. No one but themselves knows how exactly this is determined, since we have seen lots of patches that simply seemed to be unfinished.
The R8-Revolver’s implementation comes to mind and it’s understandable that the developers behind CS:GO would be a little bit more restrained, when it comes to changing weapon-balance.
However, we currently do have a problem. This dilemma is stretching over all levels of play in CS:GO and has arguably dealt lots of damage to the competitive integrity of the game already. I’m of course talking about the current state of the UMP-45.
The SMG comes at a fairly cheap prize of 1200$ and is, like most SMGs, a nightmare to any unarmored player. This doesn’t really make the weapon unique in itself, since it could serve the purpose of being an anti-eco weapon that’s a little bit cheaper than other SMGs but has a smaller magazine capacity. This sounds like a nice tradeoff, where a player would have to consider if he would rather buy some utility or spend some more money on the MP9 or the MP7 for a greater chance to reap their equally high kill-reward of 600$.
So what exactly is the problem with the UMP? Well, it’s much better than all of the other SMGs, due to its high armor penetration stat. This, combined with its run-and-gun style and the high kill-reward makes the UMP a viable choice in almost every single situation. Especially at short to mid ranges, you can barely feel the difference between the UMP and an M4, which is a 3100$ rifle with a standard 300$ kill-reward and without the ability to run-and-gun. When looking at both weapon’s stats, it can be hard to tell them apart as well. Both of them do a oneshot-headshot against unarmored targets and their difference in damage at short ranges is close to zero. Just the long range accuracy of the M4 and its lesser damage fall-off makes it the better alround weapon, but as a CT, you don’t need to take any long-range duels while holding a site, if you choose not to. Still, the M4 is a better weapon, because of its accuracy. However, it’s dangerously close to the UMP when comparing their raw damages and their prizes are way too far apart for such a tiny difference.
What I think is much more worrying is the complete disappearance of the FAMAS.
Sure, you might see it being played sometimes, yet there is practically no reason to pick it over the UMP. The SMG does slightly more damage in all situations and just a little bit more accuracy on very long ranges makes the FAMAS even worth considering, although, the rifle doesn’t really shine in that kind of situation either, which makes me ask the question, why a 1200$ SMG with the ability to run-and-gun and a 600$ kill-reward would be better than a 2250$ rifle without those two abilities. There is just no questioning that the current UMP needs a nerf to its damage. This seems to be inevitable to keep CS:GO healthy in the long run, but it’s not like this is a new problem.
The UMP has been in its current state for nearly a year and although it took pro players as well as casuals several months to see the UMPs true potential, it’s been in the spotlight for way too long right now and people like me are asking, why Valve doesn’t do anything about the game-breaking nature of this SMG. I didn’t want to say anything about the UMP at first, because I thought it would be nerfed within one or two weeks anyways, after its true strength was discovered in professional play, but it’s been months now and I see a necessity to say something right here. Rumors state that Valve wants to keep the UMP at its current strength, because it makes force-buys more likely to win, yet I think they don’t fully understand the danger of this.
Winning a force-buy should be accompanied by a feeling of great accomplishment.
It should be a victory against all odds that swings the tempo of the match in your favor, because your team played smarter than the enemy team. However, winning a force-buy with a full team of UMPs just doesn’t feel as satisfying to watch or to win yourself, because the disadvantage over having an M4 is barely noticeable. Also, buying UMPs and armor poses next to no risk to your teams economy, since the strength of the SMG just makes for a few easy kills and just two kills make the weapon pay for itself already.
This makes gun-rounds have less weight, since you can just buy a UMP in the next round, if you should lose. In my opinion, having such a weapon in the game makes for an overall less exiting experience, which is why I do believe, it’s about time for Valve to step in here.