The so called “catbot” bans some Team Fortress 2 players have been reporting are not as random as we were led to believe.
Earlier this week, the Team Fortress 2 community was up in arms about a very bizarre occurrence. Thanks to a Github bug report, and multiple other reports from various players, the community believed that Valve’s anti-cheat software, VAC, has been banning any Linux player with the word “catbot” in their name.
Catbot refers to cheating bots, hence the name, that use a script (cheat) running on Linux to automatically join matches and kill everyone with aimbot-style accuracy. The phenomenon itself was popular last year, and it was particularly annoying because a single Linux client is able to run multiple catbots to join in case any of the others get banned.
Of course, the recent rumour didn’t go down well. For the past couple of days, the game’s community believed that Valve was indeed just banning any Linux player with “catbot” in their name, regardless of whether they’ve actually cheated. Because Valve is notoriously silent when it comes to communicating with its communities, the rumour spread like wildfire.
Now, a Valve employee issued a statement on Reddit that denies Valve banning anyone just for having “catbot”, or some variation of it, in their Steam name. The developer called the spread of this rumour a tactic to “try and sow discord and distrust among anti-cheat systems.”
“VAC has many different types of detections and we cannot discuss what they do publicly because doing so makes them less effective,” said vMcJohn.
“However, one thing I can disclose is that all detections require that the detection occur while a user is actively cheating and connected to a VAC-secured server.”
The developer said that Linux has not actually been fertile grounds for cheating, compared to Windows, but this changed when catbots started appearing. He added that their impact on Team Fortress 2 was too big to ignore, hence the ban wave.