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Newell: Valve may have been doing “something stupid” with bans

Wednesday, 22nd February 2012 01:15 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Asked about a high-profile Steam ban, Valve boss Gabe Newell said the company is still looking into the case, and constantly re-evaluating its policies.

The PA Report asked the Valve founder about a ban highlighted by Rock Paper Shotgun, in which a Russian user lost his entire Steam account; after press interest blossom, the account was restored.

“I think we’re actually checking to find out what was going on with our Russian customer, I got mail from people saying ‘what’s the deal with this?’ So I actually haven’t heard back yet,” Newell said.

“But on its face it seems kind of broken and those are the sorts of things we’re happy to fix. If you’re asking me to render a legal opinion then I’m just not the super useful person to render a legal opinion. I’m actually waiting to hear what the result of that specific instance was. At first blush it sounded like we were doing something stupid and then we’ll get it fixed.”

Newell said Valve has lawyers constantly exploring the troubling question of digital games ownership; many user agreements grant providers the right to withdraw paid-for products without warning or explanation, but the legality of this has never been fully challenged.

“It’s sort of like this kind of messy issue, and it doesn’t really matter a whole lot what the legal issues are, the real thing is that you have to make your customers happy at the end of the day,” Newell said.

“If you’re not doing that it doesn’t really matter what you think about various supreme court decisions or EU decisions. If you’re not making your customers happy you’re doing something stupid and we certainly always want to make our customers happy. And I think we have a track record of having done that.”

In later comments, Newell seemed to be implying that users can trust Steam to treat them fairly whatever the legal situation turns out to be – just as it proved itself a reliable provider, launching at a time when digital game sales were uncommon.

“People were worried when we started using Steam initially because, ‘oh my gosh, if I don’t have my discs what happens when I get a new machine?’” he said.

“And after they’ve done this a couple times they’re like ‘oh my god, this is so much better, I’m so much more likely to lose my discs than I am to have any problem with my Steam account, that seems way better than having a physical token that I use to access my content.’”

Thanks, Shack.

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16 Comments

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  1. Talkar

    I still don’t trust Valve with the whole being able to lock you out of 100-500 games or more, just like that :/

    #1 2 years ago
  2. alterecho

    Yup. Though I like steam, there’s nothing like owning a boxed copy with a reasonable, self contained DRM. Something like Bad Company 2.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. DSB

    I don’t lose a wink of sleep worrying about this sort of thing. Valve have absolutely no reason to keep people from their games. None.

    Paranoia is just a waste of time and energy.

    I’m not going to cry foul because a guy who’s gifting games for money gets a ban, although they do need to communicate very carefully in those situations.

    I’m a lot more concerned about VACS and systems like that. On the one hand people shouldn’t be able to cheat, they should be fucked if they do, but on the other hand you never ever want someone to get banned without a really good reason.

    Valve already screwed up on that once, and it seems to be nearly impossible to get right. Punkbuster is useless as well.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. blackdreamhunk

    honestly I really like steam however you payed for the game you should be able to them not rent the games. I think that ” many user agreements grant providers the right to withdraw paid-for products without warning or explanation” and can be potential be abused.

    That being said that could affect consumers buying from your retail service in the long run.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. noherczeg

    Lose my 60USD disk they mean or what? If I’d lose that worth of an item I’d punch myself in the face intentionaly a few times

    OR

    DL a CloneDVD version and everything’s fixed..

    http://t.qkme.me/35llt4.jpg

    It’s still WAY FASTER to install any Dual layer sized game from disk even if you add the searching that it takes to find ones disk.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. El_MUERkO

    You’d think the Valve bods would be able to lock someone out of buying any future games for that account & block them from using the community features. That way the naughty person would still have access to their games but be unable to game the system or cheat further.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. silkvg247

    I think banning any player from games they’ve paid for is wrong.

    Even if they cheat.

    What I do think would be fun, is if instead there were permenanent labels, badges, or something to recognise said cheaters. To shame them and make them identifiable to the community is surely just as good, perhaps even better than a ban, and prevents the legal qualms of game ownership.

    I don’t think the tag shnould be permanent – say 3 months for a first time offender, scaling up to 6 months, a year, two years, doubling each time.

    Also if the tag was recognisable by punkbuster, there could be a PB setting to autokick or prevent join. That in itself would be an optional setting by a server admin.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. DSB

    @7 Wouldn’t that require a conscience? Cheaters are usually spotted within seconds of a round, they’re not exactly subtle, and they know they’re going to be named and shamed for the better part of a match.

    The only “100%” fair solution I could think of would be to put identified cheaters on special servers or special lobbies. Leave them with their own. They only have fun cheating because everybody else is actually trying to play the game fairly, so it would be poetic justice to lock them out of the game proper and leave them with their own kind.

    The only problem is that it costs money to keep up servers or make a seperate cheater matchmaking system, so that’s not publisher-friendly.

    Sadly I think this is very low on the list of priorities for publishers, but it really does take a lot of the fun out of games like Battlefield or CoD.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. silkvg247

    @8 Some might get shamed, some not – it’s not the only purpose. A label visible on their steam profile would mean server admins could identify, confirm and kick. Right now we’re never quite sure if someone is cheating or just very, very good – obvious cheating aside that is. We also don’t commit to memory the name of every person we suspect of cheating.

    The special servers idea is a good one, and sort of what I was getting at with the punkbuster thing. If PB could check and autoban, then they’d have no choice but to go onto non PB or cheater friendly servers anyway.

    Taking the idea further, if a game could hook into the steam API (which we know it can) and check a user “is a cheater” flag, all sorts of things could be conditioned in a multiplayer game, from an outright ban on joining servers to spectator only, to special server only as discussed.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. DSB

    I really don’t trust Punkbuster :P To play Bad Company 2 I had to manually close down the Steam overlay, because apparently Punkbuster hadn’t safelisted it.

    Good point about the labels though. I’m not too antsy about losing to people who are just better, so maybe I’ve missed a few cheaters along the way. But in something like CoD it’s usually very obvious from the killcam whether you’re looking at assists or human reflex. The assist glues itself to the target and doesn’t deviate even a little.

    In BF3 it’s usually the guy who’s constantly headshotting with something like an M249 straight across the map. It can’t be done consistently without help.

    It’s just really really hard to identify cheaters. Relying on reports is all well and good, but I used to be so good at MW2 that I got called a cheater in every other round. I wouldn’t like to be fucked for being good.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. silkvg247

    That’s my point, the label would only be given to people who have been proven beyond reasonable doubt of cheating, via bot detection or whatnot – there are tools out there that can identify when a person is running hacks. I don’t like PB much either, was just using it as an example. I’d rather steam + specific games have control over what to do with cheaters.

    All we have right now is suspicion, and it’s entirely possible to cheat and be subtle about it. I know, because as a purely experimental thing (honest!), I wallhacked the original CS. Was ridiculously easy to do, too. I’d know when someone was coming, wait til they were in LOS, and shoot them. Of course once I got bored of the experiment, I renamed myself to “IAmAWallhacker” and blatantly shot everyone through walls – the amount of people who couldn’t beleive the hack really existed, who were asking me about it and if it was real, were higher than you’d think. A lot of naive folk out there..

    #11 2 years ago
  12. freedoms_stain

    @10, or the guy who headshots you from the Russian Base on Noshahr Canals with a G18 pistol half way across the map twice without moving several minutes apart in the same match.

    That’s the only definitive cheater I’ve seen in BF3. What a prick.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. nsignific

    I used to get accused of cheating in Counter-Strike: Source. That was the higher form of praise you could get – even if the guy giving it had no idea (they thought you were cheating).

    #13 1 year ago
  14. noamlol2

    that’s why DRM blows in general

    you don’t own the game,you’re just privliged to use the service

    valve doesn’t see games a product, they see that as a service

    that’s why if i buy a PC game i always buy on gog.com or on hard disk

    cause i believe games to be a product, not a service

    #14 1 year ago
  15. CodenameD

    The real problem with Valve and it’s Steam service?

    Because the client is pretty shitty and broken. And heck, to think I can’t play any of my games without it.

    Ok so you wanna update? GREAT! Do it! In the background! And let me freakkin PLAY! Don’t start over if you can’t communicate with your servers!

    And I don’t use steam for multiplay so I guess I have no reason to fear VAC.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. noamlol2

    as much as steam is the PC savior

    it’s still a DRM
    a DRM that will not let you rent or sell your games back

    and that my friends is another reason i only buy from either GOG.com or by disks without a DRM (old games mostly) or with a self contained DRM like Dark Souls have (for online play)

    #16 1 year ago