Valve has launched a wave of bans against abusive DOTA 2 players, including players who attempt to cheat the game’s matchmaking system. The news was rolled out as part of a DOTA 2 update blog post. Regarding the ban wave, Valve notes that several different groups of various bad actors will now be banned, including players with low behavior scores and players who are detected buying and selling Steam accounts. Anyone using exploits or cheats will also be banned.
These bans will go into effect without advance notice or warning, and Valve isn’t just going to ban people — it’s going to lock out phone numbers. While ordinary Steam users don’t have to associate a phone number with their devices, Valve requires players to provide one if they want to engage in ranked matchmaking. The blog post from Valve is currently offline, but a copy is available from Google Cache.
Smurf accounts — accounts created by the same player to deceptively present themselves as less experienced than they actually are — are also being cracked down on. First, Valve has closed loopholes that allowed players to dodge the phone number verification system. Players will not be allowed to queue for ranked matches until and unless they attach a unique number. Second, access to ranked matches will now require at least 100 hours of playtime in DOTA 2. This should help cut down on the smurfing problem.
Finally, Valve has made changes to the way DOTA’s rank adjustment algorithm behaves, with the goal of assigning players to their correct rank more quickly. If players attempt to game the system but demonstrate a level of skill that indicates they clearly belong in a different group, the game will adjust their matchmaking rating (MMR) more quickly, to line them up against the right players. Because access to ranked is now gated by time played, Valve will also use account history to determine where you should be placed, and hopes these changes will result in players hitting their appropriate rankings more quickly.
DOTA 2 players have not been particularly sympathetic to players getting banned for excessively low community scores or account shenanigans. When Redditor YeezyReseller posted complaining about his treatment, the response from the player community wasn’t very warm or fuzzy.
The player in question had a 509 conduct score. DOTA 2 generates conduct scores in an attempt to inform players that they are being abusive or trollish, and to let them know how to adjust their own behavior. A 509 is… bad. The account in question was also a boosted account based on the win rating, as sniffed out by Redditor Loss35.
I’m mostly a single-player gamer myself, but I’ve been a longtime World of Warcraft player and I’ve dabbled in other online games. Striking a balance between what game mechanics players can and can’t abuse has always been critical to the health of online titles. Put simply, game developers can assume that a certain percentage of their playerbase will choose to maximize their own enjoyment, even at the expense of everyone else playing the game. For some people, that’s the whole point. They don’t want the game to be balanced and they don’t want a fair fight.
Banning players like this is the only way to keep the game running smoothly for everyone else — and banning them for 19 years is infinitely funnier than just slapping people with a forever ban. As for why Valve is banning certain users, the company didn’t mince words: “Users that reach this low level of behavior in the game are too big of a tax on the rest of the community and are not wanted.”
Feature image by R5on11c. Find him on Instagram.