Earlier today, we posted a news story about Valve’s opening of a line for developers to ban someone from their game. Previously, developers had been able to code ways to do that themselves or use APIs to do it. For instance, Killing Floor 2 had that ability and recently put in what some have called an overly broad anti-harassment policy. With this new plan, all the developer has to do is tell Valve about it and they’ll implement the ban.
The goal here is pretty clear: to make it easier for smaller indies to be able to curtail cheaters and destructive members of the community. A lot of those developers don’t have the funds or ability to do a lot in the realm of anti-cheat and there’s isn't much in the way of middleware to help that. Giving devs the ability to tell Valve ‘this person is cheating, we need him gone’ is a way to help keep players around as players will quickly abandon games with rampant cheating.
Given the recent arguments in the gaming community, it isn't really too surprising that a lot of people automatically jumped to the worse conclusion – that it could be potentially used to ban those who disagree with the developer for one reason or another. TechRaptor’s Twitter feed was full of that, and we got numerous comments on it on the article itself, with most being of that nature.
As the title says, I have a piece of advice for everyone: calm down.
Right now we’re light on details for a lot of it, like how it works for single player games or single player modes. I can’t imagine Valve being willing to ban people from single player games as there is no reason for them to anger the fan base in that way. It is just stupid and there’s no reason for a developer to really do it either outside of spite. So far, we’ve only seen one developer willing to go that far with David Gallant, and I doubt even his friends consider that anything close to a smart move.
While we hear stories about developers abusing DMCA’s and banning people on the forums... think about it. You don’t hear one of those every day or every hour. Look at how many developers there are out there on Steam. There are a ton, and over 99.9% of these developers won’t be abusing these tools because they want to make good games, and are often decent people. It’s bad business to go about banning people from games for no reason.
That brings us to another reason: Valve isn’t going to be quiet internally when people abuse it. If they find out people abuse it, they will bring it up with them. Valve is much more talkative in the background than they are with us poor members of the press, and other developers won’t be quiet too. Abusing this system would lead to a loss of trust in all developers on Steam and the platform itself.
So calm down everyone for now, hold off the million letters again and take a deep breathe. There is some potential for abuse here if Valve hasn't implemented proper internal policies, but we don’t know if they have or have not. The first time someone gets banned without proper reasons, that’s the time to say something, and once Valve hears it and the other developers do too, that will make it far more effective. It will also have meaning rather than acting like a mob afraid of possibilities that may never happen.