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Valve has implemented a new feature for Steam: the ability for developers to ban gamers from their games. The new measure puts a lot of the control of user behavior and restrictions solely in the hands of those who run the game.
In a brief announcement over on the Steam community page, Valve announced that developers are now given the ability to ban individual players from their games. Why? Because nobody likes playing with cheaters.
If you think this is some kind of totalitarian measure in place to ensure Steam users only speak about rainbows and discuss ponies... it's not. The idea is to better help developers prevent server-hopping hackers stay out of the game for good. It's explained on the community page simply enough, with Valve stating...
Game developers inform Valve when a disruptive player has been detected in their game, and Valve applies the game ban to the account. 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.
It's not entirely clear if this applies to single-player games or just multiplayer games. A hacker found out in a game like Counter-Strike: GO or Dota 2 is left with little recourse but to leave the games for good if they get banned, since the multiplayer components make up for the majority of the gameplay.
What's not really defined is what happens for games with single-player components attached? What if someone gets banned from Red Orchestra 2 for cheating online... does that also forfeit them the ability to play the single-player portion of the game as well?
And what about mods, scripts and trainers? A game like GTA on PC thrives on its modding community. While GTA IV had multiplayer as well, Rockstar would restrict players with modded games to only playing with other people who also had mods installed. But what happens with something like GTA V and the online mode? For as far as modders have discovered, there is no separate setup for modders to goof around in the game. So if Rockstar decides to ban players for cheating in the GTA Online experience would that also forfeit them from being able to play the game offline in the single-player modes as well?
On the outset I think Valve has good intentions with this, because as mentioned above there are a lot of server-hoppers who use hacks and then move onto the next server after being banned by a server administrator. Preventing people like that from having access to the multiplayer seems fair. But then again, does that also prohibit them from the single-player? It seems a little cruel to completely lock someone out of a game they did pay for.
Discussions across the web also bring up another good point: what happens when cases like The WarZ transpire? What happens when developers ban or block players to prevent them from exposing a scam? Is there an arbitration period where a user can get a review of the event? What happens?
I'm sure we'll get more answers about this new feature, but in the meantime Valve has instructed curious gamers to contact the developers for the respective game to get more details about game bans.