Steam Adds New Way For Devs To Ban Naughty People

Nice use of the logo when you can't think of another picture, Alice.

You’re good aren’t you, dear reader? You wouldn’t speedhack in the corridors, wallhack in a test, or aimbot a dog’s ball, would you? No, no, of choose not. Then you have nothing to worry about. But those scruffy herberts you dutifully report to the prefects, those lot are in trouble.

Valve have expanded Steam’s banning to allow developers to easily ban ne’er-do-wells from the online sides of their games, without using Valve Anti-Cheat. Rather than being automated, the new ‘Game Bans’ (catchy name) rely on devs reporting players to Valve.

As Valve explain in a support article, they let developers ban “disruptive players” – not limited to cheaters – in the same ways as VAC bans, such as blocking them from their game’s multiplayer. However, Valve are quite clear, “It cannot prevent the user from launching and playing the game offline. It cannot prevent the user from using Steam.”

The self-reporting is a concern for some as, in theory, a player could be banned because of a personal vendetta. As Valve say:

“Game developers inform Valve when a disruptive player has been detected in their game, and Valve applies the game ban to the account. The game developer is solely responsible for the decision to apply a game ban. Valve only enforces the game ban as instructed by the game developer.”

However, Valve go on to explain, only approved devs can access this new style of banning, and the power can be taken away. “If Valve determines a game developer is abusing the ability to apply game bans, Valve can remove the ability for that developer to apply bans in the future.” Folks who feel hard-done-by should first try the devs, then turn to Steam support if they still feel they wuz robbed. Anyone who abuses that won’t have the power for long, in short.

In practice, we should see fewer awful people around in online games, which is a change I always welcome. I was glad to recently see that the license agreement for Killing Floor 2 explains that if players cheat or are abusive, Tripwire Interactive will remove their CD key and tell their mother.

Developers could have cooked up their own ban systems before, but this way is far easier.

34 Comments

  1. AngoraFish says:

    Given the number of emotionally stunted devs who are and hyper-sensitive to criticism, I can’t see this ending well.

    • jezcentral says:

      I think the entire Hivemind immediately thought that, too.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      From the article above:
      “However, Valve go on to explain, only approved devs can access this new style of banning, and the power can be taken away. “If Valve determines a game developer is abusing the ability to apply game bans, Valve can remove the ability for that developer to apply bans in the future.” Anyone who abuses that won’t have the power for long, in short.”

      • SIDD says:

        “If Valve determines a game developer is abusing the ability to apply game bans, Valve can remove the ability for that developer to apply bans in the future.”

        Considering Valve’s piss-poor reputation when it come to customer support, how exactly are we supposed to contest a ban and raise awareness about a developer abusing their powers?

        I’m pretty sure Valve will not be monitoring anything and will only react to customer complaints … which they usually ignore anyway .. so yeah! Nice one, Valve….

        I wonder how long it will be before we see the first user banned for giving a game a negative review – and Valve not giving a toss?!

        Two for Two in regard to shitty customer experience initiatives in less than 2 weeks … can’t wait what else is in the pipeline … Subscription fees?

        • Artist says:

          Nah! I bet they will announce that HL3 will be 2D only, hehe!

        • Nevard says:

          This system only applies to online games, and any online game which launches without having a ban system ANYWAY is honestly incomplete.
          Valves system saves dev time, nothing more, it’s not going to create any problems which don’t already exist.

        • defunct says:

          If you gave the game a bad review, why are you still playing it? It’s bad right? Masochistic? Some of the games I’ve given negative reviews to had nothing to do with the game itself, but because of the community, which was extremely distruptive. Perhaps this will correct that problem.

          • airmikee says:

            100% agree.

            I avoid most multiplayer games like the plague because the community is actually worse than the plague. If people that don’t like a particular game are prevented from playing it and spreading their toxic filth, that might actually make multiplayer games a little more appealing to me.

            I don’t get why some people feel entitled to make rocks appear sociable just because they don’t like a game. IF YOU DON’T LIKE A GAME, PLAY A DIFFERENT GAME. TA-fucking-DA!

      • Baines says:

        Anyone who abuses that won’t have the power for long? Has Alice seen the glacial speed that Valve can move at, when it bothers to even care at all?

        Just look at their history of forum moderation, since that is actually somewhat visible despite Valve’s attempts to sweep incidents under the rug. The speed of Valve’s response depends on the degree of internet coverage, and even for big deals it can take days. Smaller incidents can see abuses of power running for longer periods, with Valve seemingly ignoring any complaints, because Valve decided it was best to remain silent.

      • Berzee says:

        Man. Getting banned from banning people from your own game. They should add a ‘chievo for that.

    • JimThePea says:

      As long as it doesn’t result in the accidental banning of everyone from Steam, including Valve, it can’t go any worse than last week.

  2. K33L3R says:

    BAN HAMMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I say good, maybe some nasty minded people will think twice (or just go elsewhere)

  3. Orija says:

    Disruptive can mean just about anything.

    All this story does is remind me of how little control buyers have of the games that they buy on Steam.

    • Nevard says:

      To be fair, and as the article points out, this is just Steam streamlining a process a dev could just make for themselves, and more punitively.

      • LionsPhil says:

        If the dev is enforcing online accounts (e.g. coupled with DRM), yes, which sadly is often the case.

        Reminder of how much we’ve lost: this is technically infeasible in older multiplayer games like UT2004. A server can ban you. A server might even share ban lists across a network of servers. But nobody can stop you setting up your own and playing on that with anyone willing to put up with whatever it is you do that incites bans—which, where technology and drama are involved—includes things such as bugs.

        The costs of being tied to a central authentication server are high.

        • frymaster says:

          ” this is technically infeasible in older multiplayer games like UT2004.”

          It may have been patched out now, but certainly at launch ut2k4 had a global auth system (I just googled and got people complaining about the bugs in it), meaning if the devs decided to “ban” you (say your CD key was invalid) then you couldn’t play on any servers

          • LionsPhil says:

            Odd. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work unless the blacklist is baked into the server, since you can set up UT2004 games on a LAN, isolated from the Internet.

          • PikaBot says:

            Presumably, it didn’t check the authorization for a LAN server. I have many fond memories from my youth of installing various versions of Unreal Tournament for LAN parties – versions which would be ineligible for online play once I left the party’s comforting confines.

  4. TimorousBeastie says:

    In most cases a developer that needs to ban players already stores accounts per player and can just do it there, so for the most part this doesn’t really change anything.

    • Premium User Badge

      pegolius says:

      Except for those games with always-online where, if the dev would block the account on his side, the player would perhaps loose access to the online part AND the single-player part. Also there are games that rely exclusively on steam for online play, especially smaller devs/indies.

  5. Lobotomist says:

    There are so many potentially scary problems with this.

    1. First would be the fact that once you receive Steam ban you are banned from any game using Steam multiplayer.
    And reverting this ban is painful and long process that is almost impossible.

    2. Dealing with Steam support is bureaucratic nightmare, requests take forever and more often than not leaves you with more damage.

    3. Steam owns your games. They can simply lock all you have for any number of random reasons. It was reported to happen many times.

    4. Who will control the devs ? Same stellar Steam support staff ?

    Basically a system with high potential for exploitation combined with slow bureaucratic supervision, and potential to close thousands of dollars worth of your digital library on a whim…

    Steam is slowly building to be a nightmare

    • derbefrier says:

      Yes there is always the inherent risk of an abuse of power and this isnt just because steam. Any mmo you have ever played is subject to the same risks as bans are handled by the developer not a independant 3rd party yet most people are perfectly fine with that. There may be a few fringe cases here and there i am sure people will use ( probably without even confirming its true) to claim steam is the hitler of video games or whatever but the fact is for 99.9999% of players the change wont ever be noticed.

    • airmikee says:

      1. Being banned from one game doesn’t equate to being banned from all games.

      “Does this apply to all my games? Are banned players only banned from a specific game, or is their account banned from Steam entirely?
      This only applies to games that have been approved for this feature by Valve, and a game ban only applies to that specific game.”

      2. Remember when we used to buy games from brick and mortar stores like Best Buy and Software, Etc? What kind of support did those companies offer? Would ‘NONE’ be an accurate description of their support? So isn’t ‘SOME’ better than ‘NONE’?

      3. No, the developers own the games. We own a license to the game. This is nothing new and that doesn’t change with this new program.

      “Does this mean developers can take my games away from me?
      No. The developer can only impose restrictions consistent with VAC, such as preventing online play and/or prevent the trading of items for that game.”

      4. That was answered within the article here and on Steam’s support page.

      You’re gonna have to try again if you want to provide some evidence to support your claim for this scary new program that could be easily exploited, because so far all you’ve got is flimsy evidence easily refuted with common sense and a couple mouse clicks.

  6. SuicideKing says:

    This doesn’t quite sound right to me, given that there’s no indicated way of contesting a ban.

  7. ButteringSundays says:

    I’m loving all the tears from the (I’m guessing) trolls who are suddenly worried devs will ban them for being assholes. Kind’f delicious.

    However as has been pointed out this is a tool in a massive toolbelt. I’d like to see more dev involvement when it comes to online play, some games have horrible communities – if you hand over money to enter a RL event and act like a raging asshole you will be ejected. For some reason with video games you should be able to act however the hell you want.

    • ThatFuzzyTiger says:

      You’ve clearly not seen some of the developers on Steam. A lot are good people, but there’s a percentage (HELLO HIDDEN PATH ENTERTAINMENT) who are shady and skeevy (HELLO FRONTIER) as all sin, who could in theory abuse this in all manner of ways. Speak up about their business practices? Get a game ban. Speak up about abandoned games like Windborne? Get a game ban.

      • sharkh20 says:

        My favorite is when the Steam servers go down for unexpected maintenance and everyone playing CS:GO competitive gets timed banned for abandoning their games. I have yet to see any sort of response to this but it is pretty funny watching the steam discussions explode every time it happens.

  8. Rise / Run says:

    Frankly, I just want some system that allows easier kicking/banning of people using hate speech, be it misogynistic, racist, homophobic, etc. Few media companies (other than maybe fox) would be okay with people using their lobby or courtyard as a place to spout off (though some American fast foot restaurants might…) — personally, I feel like not actively demonstrating to players that this kind of behaviour is in a sense condoning it. If Valve, EA, (or hell, Twitter, facebook), started understanding that, maybe we’d have a bit less cyberbullying.

    Wallhacks and aimbots are a pain in the ass, and make a game not fun, but hate speech is a whole different level of problem that really needs to be addressed.

    • ThatFuzzyTiger says:

      Some of the hate speech is easy to pick out, for obvious reasons, but then you get to the point of things like Pillar’s of Eternity where you have what might have been an in lore poem that people may have seen as a general joke taken -way- out of context for the sake of offending a specific group of people (and out of context, it WOULD offend people, that much is very true), at which point you have to sanitise everything that is said and run it through some severe censorship filters. You have to be careful about that kind of thing, that you don’t accidentally trample on legitimate speech as well.

  9. AbsoluteShower says:

    Wow, I wonder how many ‘harassed’ devs are going to go nuclear with this.

  10. Jahandar says:

    This sounds great, more tools for developers to more easily deal with cheaters.

  11. socrate says:

    Garry Newman will be happy about this.

    P.S- RUN!!!!