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Gabe Newell gives some rare insight into Valve Anti-Cheat system

Gabe Newell gives some rare insight into Valve Anti-Cheat system

February 18, 2014 | By Mike Rose

"We don't usually talk about VAC... This time is going to be an exception."
- Gabe Newell, head at Valve, takes to Reddit to address recent concerns over its Steam anti-cheat program.

Earlier in the week, a number of Reddit users alleged that the Valve Anti-Cheat solution was reading the domains that players were visiting, and potentially utilizing this information.

Newell took directly to the popular social website today to give his side of the situation, stating that "Trust is a critical part of a multiplayer game community - trust in the developer, trust in the system, and trust in the other players."

The core issue, he says, is that the people who create cheats for online games are finding that players are simply downloading cheats for free rather than paying for them -- and so, in return, these cheat creators are putting DRM in place.

"They start creating DRM and anti-cheat code for their cheats," he claims. "These cheats phone home to a DRM server that confirms that a cheater has actually paid to use the cheat."

Thus, when VAC spotted cheats, it would then also check which cheat DRM server has been contacted by looking at your DNS cache. If a match was found with a DNS entry on the VAC servers, your details were double-checked, and you were marked for a potential ban.

Notably, Newell says that the cheat creators have already managed to work around this and as such Valve pulled this VAC feature after just 13 days.

"Cheat versus trust is an ongoing cat-and-mouse game," he adds. "New cheats are created all the time, detected, banned, and tweaked... Kernel-level cheats are expensive to create, and they are expensive to detect. Our goal is to make them more expensive for cheaters and cheat creators than the economic benefits they can reasonably expect to gain."

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