Valve Bans Nearly 100,000 Cheaters in One Fell Swoop

Nobody likes a cheater. Yet people who struggle in their video game of choice, especially when it comes to first-person shooters, keep using software to gain perfect aim or see through walls. (Among other things.) Preventing these cheaters from ruining the experience for the many people who don't cheat isn't easy, but that didn't stop Valve from banning almost 100,000 of them from its platform over the course of a single week.

Those figures arrive courtesy of SteamDB, which offers a peek into what's happening on Valve's platform every week. The company noted that its figures might not be totally accurate because it compiles them by scanning through public Steam profiles. It can't scan every profile every day, and even if it could, people whose profiles are private wouldn't be included with the figures. Still, this is more information than Valve itself gives out.

SteamDB shows that Valve banned 28,469 people on July 18 and 61,479 people on July 19. That's a marked increase from the 1,000 to 2,000 bans tallied up in the days before, and the number of bans quickly dropped to just over a dozen in the days after. Unless Gabe Newell simply wanted to do his best Thanos impression, odds are good that Valve simply chose those days to conduct a mass ban instead of keeping up a steady pace.

These bans resulted from the Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) System that automatically scans devices that connect to VAC-Secured servers. The company says VAC bans result when someone uses any "third-party modifications to a game designed to give one player an advantage over another," including any that make some "modifications to a game's core executable files and dynamic link libraries," and connects to VAC-Secured servers.

Valve appears to put a lot of faith in this system: VAC bans are "permanent, non-negotiable, and cannot be removed by Steam Support." VAC bans that were incorrectly made, however, will be automatically reversed. (Which presumably happens when a mod is mistakenly flagged as a cheat.) Steam users can still play games that aren't secured by VAC, or games that offer VAC-free servers, but they're barred from everything else.

That means 100,000 fewer people should be waiting to beat you with software instead of their own skill. Those who are truly dedicated to cheating at their favorite game will come back--they can always make a new Steam account--but at least the cheaters get a strong dose of short-term inconvenience.

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