Valve cracked down on a record number of cheaters following the 2017 Steam Summer Sale July 6. More than 40,000 Steam users felt the wrath of the Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) ban. The 40,411 bans handed out far exceeded the previous high of 15,227 set in October 2016, according to Dot Esports.
The VAC ban is typically automated, and triggers when outside changes are made to the game that give players a competitive advantage. Once banned, a users renders cannot play in games on Valve servers. More than 400 games on Steam have VAC ban support, and once you’re caught cheating once, Steam permanently brands you as a cheater for all to see.
For context, Valve normally bans anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 users, based on examining the Steam Database chart. To date, more than 6 million users have been banned by VAC since 2003.
As far as which other games users were caught cheating in, official statistics haven’t been provided.Many of the culprits of the colossal July 6 bans were likely trying to cheat in Counter Strike: Global Offensive, as more than $8,000 worth of weapons skins were surrendered, according to tracking site VAC-BAN.
The bans were put in effect following the Steam Sale, suggesting that users may have attempted to send cheap copies of games to secondary Steam accounts to cheat on. The process of moving a game from a main account to an account designated for cheating ensures that if they are caught, their main account will not be subject to the VAC ban. Last year, in an effort to thwart cheaters, Valve removed the ability to stockpile Vac-enabled games for gifting at a later date, instead forcing users to immediately gift the game.
On top of the VAC bans, 4,972 accounts were banned in-game on July 6. An in-game ban means that a player was flagged for inappropriate activity such as “griefing” (harassment), intentionally throwing games, or suspected cheating not picked up by Valve’s anti-cheating software.
Considering that Valve games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 are known to have cheating problems, the huge crackdown following the sale is good news for many. Earlier this year, it was revealed that Valve was training AI to detect Counter Strike cheaters. Valve also recently introduced anti-troll features in Dota 2.