If you have ever put a foot in the online gaming community since Ultima Online, you'll know that cheating is a thing, and it's a huge problem. Many games implement their own system to face the problem. Valve, for example, has VAC. When someone is caught cheating, usually the way to go is a ban. Not all the developers, especially the small ones, have the means to implement or buy an anti cheating system or to enforce a ban. Valve wants to try to offer a solution for the latter problem by giving all the developers the option to have Steam prevent misbehaving users to launch their game.
Game developers that find disruptive players in their games can now inform Valve about said players. Valve then proceeds to issue a game ban on the culript account. A game account ban only prevents the player from launching the game he/she was supposedly found cheating on, so the Steam account itself will remain functional.
This feature is a great advantage for small developers of multiplayer games. Enforcing a ban is not always easy. If the game doesn't force you to create an account to play multiplayer, it can be particularly tricky. We all know how much we love creating an account for every single game we play. Delegating the ban enforcement to Steam is an easy and quick way to revoke access to your game from cheaters.
On the other side of the coin, this system as it's described in the link above is easily exploitable. We all know of instances where some developers start mass deleting comments on Steam forums or even ban users from discussions from merely dissenting. An unscrupulous developer could abuse that power and ban people from the game with no good reason. The phrase:
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.on the description of the Game Ban feature does not give much hope about the control Valve will have on the ban requests.
There are also more unanswered issues. What about games with single player? Will the ban prevent the banned players from launching the game altogether or just to access the online features?
We have contacted Valve for clarifications on these points and we'll update the article as soon as we receive a response.
What you think of this feature? Does the possibility of exploit outweigh the right of the developers to protect their product? Let us know in the comments