Last Thursday was a banner moment for honest gamers, and a ban hammer moment for tens of thousands of rotten cheaters. That is because Valve lifted its mighty VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) ban hammer and with one mighty blow, it obliterated more than 40,000 Steam gamers who had been caught cheating. It was the the largest single-day ban in the history of the digital distribution service.
The unusual spike can be seen in the Steam Database. It shows a relatively steady line of around 3,500 bans per day (give or take a thousand on any given day) up until June 6, the day after Steam's Summer Sale came to a conclusion. There is a noticeable spike on that day, followed by a relatively normal number of bans in the days after. The record setting number of bans is nearly triple the number of the previous record set on October 12, 2016, when Valve swung its ban hammer on 15,000 users.
There is a logical explanation as to why the spike occurred when it did. Getting a VAC ban is a permanent thing, and it basically means affected users can only play with other banned users on Steam's servers. Users can plead their case till their faces turn blue, Valve is like a honey badger, it does not give a rip. So what many banned users end up doing is waiting for a sale to create a new account, and then restock their catalog at a discount.
What is not as clear is if Valve identified these users as past culprits and issued a large number of re-bans, or if many of them simply did not learn their lesson and proceeded to cheat again, only to get caught a subsequent time. Either way, Valve gets kudos for aggressively trying to clean up its community and make it more enjoyable for gamers who play the honest way.
The spike in single day bans also caused an uptick in the number of bans for June as a whole. Valve issued 127,661 VAC bans and 96,023 in-game bans during the month of June, up from 115,396 VAC and 82,784 in-game bans the prior month. Unfortunately, these high numbers have become part over the past few years. Starting in 2014, there is a noticeable rise in monthly bans.