Valve Anti-Cheat, an automated software system (dare I say… AI?) which identifies and auto-bans accounts it finds cheating on Steam, went on a veritable spree last week. Between Wednesday, 18 July and Thursday, 19 July, the system identified and banned 89 955 accounts from playing specific games on Steam and oh, boy, is that unusual.
Usually, VAC will ban between one or two thousand accounts per day, which is why last week’s frenzy was so strange. Given the large volume of accounts involved, as reported by Geeks Are Sexy, it’s most likely that a single, widespread cheat code was identified by Valve and then VAC was sent to dispatch all accounts using it.
Since VAC’s bans can’t be re-assessed or lifted manually, Valve must have been pretty sure about themselves, because of course many people spend large amounts of money on in-game purchases. VAC bans are only applicable on VAC-secured servers, and will ban the offending account from all those Steam servers.
What’s the room for error here? According to Valve there is none, as “you will not be banned by the VAC system unless you log in to a VAC-secure server with a cheat installed on your computer”. So, basically it’s like going to the airport – don’t let anybody touch your bag because you’re the one who’ll go to jail.