They say cheating never pays, and that’s especially true when it comes to Valve’s games. In the company’s Source engine multiplayer titles — most notably, Team Fortress 2 and the Counter-Strike series — cheating players will quickly be slapped with an automated “VAC” ban. These bans are permanent, they show on a cheater’s profile for around 7 and a half years, and they are rarely removed under any circumstances.
While VAC bans aren’t the focus of today’s story, they do demonstrate Valve’s no-nonsense approach to cheating and misbehavior in its games. Recently, this approach was further displayed when Valve opted to launch a wave of bans against “abusive” DOTA 2 players. The ban waves, among other things, were unveiled in a September 17 announcement post published by the DOTA 2 team, which has since been removed (and subsequently preserved thanks to an archive).
The first ban wave affected players with “exceptionally low” behavior scores, and the second impacted those who bought or sold Steam accounts for the purposes of gaining a higher or lower matchmaking rank in DOTA 2.
Other bans were dished out as well, for reasons that primarily relate (but are not limited to) cheating the matchmaking system. For example, some users would queue for one role but play another, which can rob a team of a much-needed support or tank hero.
In other cases, high-skilled or high-ranked players chose to create fresh accounts in order to “smurf” and effectively crush new or otherwise lower-skilled players. In addition to outright bans, Valve is making several changes to DOTA 2’s matchmaking systems and Ranked play requirements. To mitigate the smurfing issue, in particular, the company will require users to play 100 hours before they can access Ranked play.
That’s a steep requirement, but Valve hopes the change will allow its automated systems to catch high-skilled players (with new accounts) earlier, and place them in the appropriate matchmaking category before they become an issue. As an additional precaution, Valve will require accounts to have a unique, valid phone number — this won’t stop the most dedicated smurfs out there, but it could slow them down.
One of the more amusing, but not officially confirmed, aspects of this set of ban waves is the length of the bans themselves. A Reddit post submitted by user YeezyReseller, titled “I just got a 19 year BAN?! WTF,” reveals that they have been banned for a whopping 19 years. “Matching disabled due to excessive reports, failing to ready-up or abandoning,” YeezyReseller’s DOTA 2 screen claims. “Time remaining: 1/19/2038.”
We’ll be reaching out to Valve to find out whether the rest of the bans are of a similar length, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they were. Again, Valve does not take cheating of any kind (whether it happens in-game or in-queue) lightly.