How Valve Set A Trap To Catch And Permanently Ban 40,000 Dota 2 Cheaters

hero dota2 no hud
Cheating in online games is an epidemic, and it's a big business, too. You've gotta be a pretty smart feller to make game cheats, but you don't have to be that clever to use them. Nothing lately has evinced that as well as this week's ban of some 40,000 Dota 2 cheaters that were caught using third-party software to gain an unfair advantage in the popular MOBA title.

If you're lost, let's explain some acronyms. MOBA stands for "Multiplayer Online Battle Arena", and it may well be the least-descriptive game genre name of all time, similar to how "Intelligent Dance Music" tells you nothing about what IDM actually sounds like. MOBAs are games like Smite, League of Legends, and the predecessor of Dota 2, the original Defense of the Ancients: three lanes, swarms of opposing minions, and "Champion" or "Hero" characters controlled by players. Push the lanes and take down the enemy base to win.

dota2 fogofwar
Fog of war is a major tactical element in MOBAs. An exploit could let you see through it.

Like most live-service online games, Valve has been fighting a war against cheaters and hackers since day one. Most companies hand out bans in waves because it makes the process easier to manage. 40,000 users is a lot of bans in one ban wave, but Valve says that it is "extremely confident" in the justification for these bans because all of these users got caught in a honeypot that the developer set up just for this purpose.

Valve says that as soon as it understood how the latest round of exploits for Dota 2 functioned, it released a game update that added a small section of data in the game client that would normally never be accessed during gameplay.

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However, the third-party tools couldn't tell what memory was used by the game's regular events and what memory comprised the honeypot. As a result, Valve could single out users whose game client accessed those memory locations, because the only way that would happen is if a third-party tool hooked the game and scanned or modified that memory space.

Valve doesn't normally disclose details of its ban waves, but the company says it wanted to make an example of these users to make its position on third-party tools clear. That position is as follows: "if you are running any app that reads data from the Dota client as you're playing, your account can be permanently banned." That includes professional players, who will be banned from all events as well.