Over the last 36 hours, many users have claimed that Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC), an anti-cheating measure used to crack down on hackers, was used to falsely ban their accounts simply for having “catbot” in their Steam name. A Valve employee responded to the issue, and it appears that things go a little deeper than initially thought.
The issue arose when a group of players made a complaint on GitHub, a repository hosting services that is also used to grab developer attention. In the complaint, they claimed that while playing Team Fortress 2 via the Linux operating system, their accounts were falsely banned simply for having the phrase “catbot” in their names. Catbot is a popular cheat that allows bots to flood Team Fortress 2 servers. These users stated that, despite having the phrase in their name, they never associated with the cheat or cheaters.
These claims were big enough that an official Valve employee stepped in, but he had a completely different side of the story. McJohn responded to the Reddit thread, and many hoped that these false bans would be rectified. What we got was a wild story of false accusations against the “false” VAC bans. Not only were these banned users using the catbot cheat, but they all got together in an attempt to put pressure on VAC’s integrity in order to get their accounts unbanned.
“The bug report is incorrect,” says McJohn. “VAC will not ban you for simply having catbot in your user name (either your steam profile or on one or more of your linux accounts). The bug report–and I suspect many of the posts in this thread–are a tactic employed by cheaters to try and sow discord and distrust among anticheat systems.” McJohn goes on to talk about how Linux is not a popular platform for cheaters, and that “the base rate of cheating is significantly lower on Linux than it is on Windows.” The issue of Linux cheaters steadily grew, however, “and their impact on [Team Fortress] became large enough that they simply could no longer be ignored.”
These banned users are now upset that their popular cheat is having action taken against it en masse, and their attempts at questioning the logistics of VAC on GitHub were promptly shut down. The bans will remain for the catbot cheaters, and other gamers can now rest easy knowing that these cheaters are finally being dealt with.