In an effort to cut back on the number of bots, players running troll or smurf accounts, and generally disruptive gamers, Valve has introduced a new barrier for entry to ranked DotA 2 play: A valid phone number. As of May 4, anyone wishing to play ranked games of the popular multiplayer online battle arena game will be required to furnish a unique phone number.
Cutting back on toxic and negative play within some of the world’s most popular games is one of the most difficult aspects of running them. Riot Games has famously taken many measures to do so with League of Legends over the years, and Valve has taken similar steps with DotA 2. Its latest measure, though, is rather different.
The idea behind the requirement of a phone number is to make it difficult for players to have more than one account. That means if they want to play in ranked matches, they will have to play as themselves. They can’t start new accounts to play against less-skilled players, can’t abuse people without consequences, and can’t deliberately feed or troll their teammates in a variety of other fashions.
That’s how it would play out in theory, but there will certainly be people who get around the system. Valve is acutely aware of that and has said it will not tolerate the use of fake phone numbers. That said, it knows that it can’t stop everyone; it simply wants to make the practice of running secondary or fake accounts more hassle than it’s worth.
“Our goal is to add just enough friction to this process that the number of players doing this will be noticeably reduced,” it said in a statement (via Ars). “Having more players using their primary accounts will have a positive effect on both ranked and unranked matchmaking.”
To give people some time to get used to the change, or acquire a valid phone number if they don’t have one, Valve has granted a two-week grace period. After May 4, however, players will need to have a phone number attached to their account to continue playing ranked matches.
Alongside this additional stipulation for ranked play, Valve also announced new, more strict penalties for those on the low-priority matchmaking queue reserved for rulebreakers. Anyone who repeatedly trolls other players — on their team or a rival team — will find themselves banned from ranked play entirely for set periods of time. Bans will start at a few hours, ranging up to four days for frequently troublesome players.
Valve has also added better detection for feeders — those who deliberately allow themselves to be killed in order to power up the enemy team — and will leverage stricter punishments for violators. Ranked matches have also been disabled for South Africa, India, and Dubai, where low populations made abuse more prevalent. Players there are encouraged to join other regional ranked queues.
Finally, updates to Solo Queue ranked play should pit gamers against others who aren’t playing with teammates they know, which should help those playing alone avoid being squashed by a well-organized enemy team.