Valve Apologise For VAC Goof

Free Left 4 Dead 2 for people who got banned, eh? That sounds okay. You can read Gabe’s letter of apology to banned people below.


Recently, your Steam account was erroneously banned from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

This was our mistake, and I apologize for any frustration or angst it may have caused you.

The problem was that Steam would fail a signature check between the disk version of a DLL and a latent memory version. This was caused by a combination of conditions occurring while Steam was updating the disk image of a game. This wasn’t a game-specific mistake. Steam allows us to manage and reverse these erroneous bans (about 12,000 erroneous bans over two weeks).

We have reversed the ban, restoring your access to the game. In addition, we have given you a free copy of Left 4 Dead 2 to give as a gift on Steam, plus a free copy for yourself if you didn’t already own the game.

To share your extra copy of Left 4 Dead 2 with a friend, you can ‘Manage Gifts and Guest Passes’ from the ‘Games’ Menu in Steam, or visit this article on the Steam Support site for detailed instructions:

To access your own copy of Left 4 Dead 2, visit your library of games in Steam. If you didn’t already own the game, it will now be listed among your others there, and is available for download immediately.

Gabe Newell
President, Valve


  1. dave says:

    any chance of a free L4D2 anybody?

  2. Javier-de-Ass says:

    nothing awesome about this. it’s happened before and will happen again. vac is total shit.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      [Citation Needed]

      And don’t quote the four wikipedia instances.

  3. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Bwah. Now, it’s nice and all (also necessary and not so nice if he hadn’t) that he did this, but the issue with an automated cheat-o-seer and ban-a-thon is that it’s bound to happen. Instead of going for a case-by-case basis where some people actually fall between the cracks and stay wrongfully banned, it’s better IMHO to either watch VAC better or to change to another type of surveillance-thingy.

  4. Zero says:

    Bayesian statistics, son. The a priori probability of VAC being right for a given case, calculated by a reasonable person given information about previous bans, is quite high. Now we can adjust that down a bit.

  5. Tyler says:

    He’s some kind of gigantic f-ing idiot if he thinks that Windows doesn’t routinely futz with dlls in memory.

  6. cdyne95 says:

    Yes, if you have a pesky LFD2 clogging up your gift section of steam, let me know :)

  7. Jambe says:

    This is exactly what I predicted in Quinn’s post (press release, restored account, free game). It wasn’t that hard to predict, of course. Yay for Valve.

  8. ChampionHyena says:

    So it WAS a VAC mistake! Whoopsie-doodle.

    I still stand by my maintenance that Valve are perfect gentlemenne. Especially now.

  9. Jon says:

    Wow, this is why I love Valve- the occasional problem is inevitable when you run a service like theirs, but they own up and fix it and give away free stuff as a show of goodwill.

    I want to have 10,000 of their babies.

  10. Duck says:

    Okay, I hereby demand apologies from all of the idiots who called us liars, and automatically assumed we cheated anyways (because Valve is infallible), and trolled us mercilessly out of some arrogant sense of internet-justice.

    I want to see some effing groveling, you narrow-minded jerks.

    • Skinlo says:

      Just because you wrote that, you appear the idiot. Thought you’d like to know.

  11. Hokie says:

    Valve make mistakes, they are just man enough to fix them, and make you happy about it.

  12. Ricc says:

    So… Valve dun goof’d?

    Sorry, sorry, I know.

  13. Skinlo says:

    Pixar wouldn’t start giving out free movies??

  14. Duck says:

    Say what you want, you guys were wrong, and we were right.

    I’m just pointing out that lots of extremely stupid things were said and done in the name of the wrong assumption. Call me an idiot, but I just wanted everyone who tried to make themselves feel better by picking on innocent people to be taken down a notch.

    Apparently, the internet tough guys just can’t give it up even after they’ve been proven wrong.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Except everyone in your camp was acting like an even bigger tool, and you still play MW2 so your opinion is invalid anyways.

    • Boldoran says:

      So because he plays MW2 his opinion is invalid? Who did you say was acting like a tool again?

      Note that I do not own MW2. Also it should be clear to everyone that VAC making mistakes is as unavoidable as it is infeasable for Valve to allow every banned user to appeal the VAC verdict separatly.
      So if you are unjustly banned (it will happen again) all you can do is make a post on the Forum and hope for Valve to pick up on the issue. Of course every ban wave will trigger a torrent of forum posts from real cheaters claiming their innocence.

      I don’t see a way to improve the current mechanism so you can expect such forum posts after every ban wave. The best course of action for you would be to ignore them since you can not know wether its just another cheater or a real victim complaining. Being rude just to be proven wrong a day later makes you like a bit of a jerk.

  15. Spliter says:

    Please tell me of any other company that does this!
    Seriously! EA/Activision wants people to pay monthle fee to play their multiplayer games like CoD
    Ubisoft has their horrible DRM in place.
    Valve has the best customer support, gives away love, free hugs and free games.
    …just wow…
    Best game company in the entire world.

  16. Burningpet says:

    Hello?!! whats going on with all this totally justified apllause? diz iz da internet, so act accordingly!


    now this is more like it.

  17. Vinraith says:

    Why does everything have to come to this “Valve is God” vs. “Valve is Satan” crap? Valve is a business, and a smartly run one. They made an error (everyone does, and any business this size was bound to), it affected a lot of people and would have resulted in a significant loss of face if not corrected, so they corrected it and made a small conciliatory gesture to smooth things over. Good business? Absolutely. Proof that Valve is divine? No more so than the initial error was proof that they’re satanic.

  18. Snall says:

    Feel free to give the free game to Snall …. :-( One of the few games I am puzzled I dont own…

  19. Max says:

    A massive “told you”, to all the shit heads on the Steam forums who constantly kept saying that VAC bans were irreversible.

  20. pagad says:

    The next installment of Half-Life should have a free game attached to it by way of apologising for the universe suffering heat death before it came out.

  21. dsi1 says:

    Every time I hear something about this I wonder what game the issue was with, because I certainly didn’t have any issues.

    Then I remember, oh yeah, MW2, ahahah silly people.

  22. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Valve can never be the bad guys… and Gabe can take me when ever he wants :’)

  23. Daniel Carvalho says:

    Yup, pretty much what I thought. I can’t believe people were saying that Valve won’t do anything, even if it was a VAC issue. Not a chance. No choice in the matter.

    However, how they do do it (apologise), separates the boys from the men.

    Valve are men.

  24. Dreamhacker says:

    Well, their brainwashing tech is evidently quite bug-free…

  25. Edwin Herdman says:

    Valve can do no wrong eh?

    How about their cutting out the last day of the free weekend for Lead and Gold? The developers of that game tried to extend it a day due to some technical issues but apparently Valve ended it at the last second without telling anyone. So the developers looked bad and we looked bad.

    In any case, the original L4D still grabs me more. I won’t call it “superior” because it’s not, but as everybody was afraid it’s been pretty much ditched.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Maybe by Valve but the community won’t let it die. Have you played “I Hate Mountains”?

  26. C4Cypher says:

    Jobs may be more vicious, but Gabe has a crowbar … and more HP.

  27. Willful Murder says:

    @Duoae “I don’t need to know how VAC works or what it’s banning to get an explanation/have a conversation with a support representative.”

    Late on the bandwagon here, but I got myself banned and unbanned during this thing, and over a series of several emails the VAC support guys told me that they had proof i had been cheating (proof = i was banned), that they wouldn’t ever tell me what i had allegedly done, and that there was no way they’d ever reverse the ban. The attitude was “you got banned therefore you cheated, what else do you need to know?” On the forums the responses, even from moderators, were essentially “quit whining and eat justice, cheater!”

    I don’t bring this up because it hurt my delicate feelings or even because i particularly care to play MW2 anymore, it just worries a consumer a bit when he owns a product and yet someone else owns his right to use it, and that second party is willing to rescind that right based solely on a computer algorithm they apparently place 100% faith in. Yes i got unbanned (and yes i got 2 copies of L4D2 out of it), but 20,000 bans for one of the world’s most popular games within a couple of weeks may have had something to do with someone’s taking notice. If the algorithm can make mistakes (which it clearly can, and it’s illogical to assume this was the only one possible), can players always count on this or similar circumstance attracting enough attention, or can they more likely expect the “that’s what you get for cheating” response that most of us got initially?

    I tried to sell my copy of FEAR 2 once and realized right before i shipped it to the guy that it was a Steamworks game, and already associated with my account. No problem i figured, call Valve and have them remove it from my account, hell maybe they can even transfer it to his so he doesn’t have to wait until he gets it in the mail to play it. Except they won’t do that, again, ever or under any circumstances, period.

    I know i’m in the minority here, but i’ve always somewhat distrusted this sort of setup (or OnLive for instance, or Ubisofts copy protection even if their servers worked), for exactly these reasons. Sure it takes a bit longer to get my game in the mail from Amazon or drive up to Walmart, but when i get it (providing it’s not Steamworks enabled anyways) I not only own the product, but (for all intents and purposes) my right to use it. Short of showing up at my house and physcially taking it from me, there is no (reasonable) way Activision or anyone else could prevent me from using my copy of MW1. And so i’m not forced to depend on the accuracy of VAC’s cheat-detection algorithm, or the responsiveness of their support staff, or the generosity of Gabe Newell. I don’t have to be thankful that someone let me play my game; I just get to play it.

    Just my opinion, not trying to disway anyone from using Steam or anything…

  28. Masterofdisaster747 says:

    hey i been vac banned for no reason can i please be not vac banned i dont want the l4d2 i will just buy l4d2