In a new effort to reduce the amount of cheating that goes on in multiplayer games, a new Steam ban is in effect. It gives qualifying developers the power to ban cheaters from multiplayer.
Like many of Steam’s changes that give more power to devs—paid mods, early access, and Greenlight—this decision has been met with a lot of skepticism and concern from the Steam community. Are developers being given too much power here? What’s the potential for mistakes in handing out a Steam ban? And what can gamers do if they feel the system is being exploited?
Concern 1: Does The Steam Ban Give Devs Too Much Control?
Critics of Steam’s new policy on banning have some valid concerns about how much power this gives developers. While the game development community has a lot of great people making great games, past controversies have people a little wary. A lot of this comes from the Greenlight and early access parts of Steam, where some developers have responded less than ideally to feedback. Some people are concerned that this program would give developers the power to target critics (unfairly) with the ban, not just prolific cheaters.
Thankfully, Steam’s full description of this system offers a little more insight into what this program will actually do. First, developers will actually have to be approved to use this system. The description doesn’t explain how approval is awarded—likely to avoid shady developers from gaming the system—but hopefully past behavior is assessed to determine who will use the ban in limited and fair fashion.
There are also a couple of checks in place if you find yourself the victim of an unwarranted Steam ban. First, Steam recommends contacting the developer to appeal the ban, as they have the data that would explain why the ban was enacted. If that falls through, the player can contact Valve, who will investigate and, if necessary, remove the dev’s ability to ban players.