Valve is still letting robots invade one of its oldest games

Nine months ago Team Fortress 2 was invaded by racist, homophobic, sexist and transphobic robots. They were active in almost every match, using tricks to secure headshots while spitting hate speech into the chat. Players documented the behavior and shared their frustration with Valve, the developer behind TF2, but the problem persisted for months. Once news of the bot invasion hit the media, Valve has finally rolled out an update aimed at curbing their business. the June 2020 update fixed a cosmetic bug that robots were exploiting and removed the possibility for free accounts to chat by SMS.

It has been nine months since this update. There is still a big bot problem in TF2, and it seems Valve is still ignoring it.

Long duration TF2 player Jason Hughes (his name was changed to keep him anonymous in the game) brought up the bot situation to my attention early June 2020. At the time, he called it “disastrous”. Today his description of the situation has changed. He said it was “shit”.

Specifically, Hughes said, “Robots are worse than ever. They may have stopped bots from unequipping your cosmetic items, and it’s now impossible for free accounts to spam chat with racist stuff, but casual mode is virtually unplayable now.

Hughes had the impression that the chat restrictions on free accounts would be temporary, but they are still in place today. This removes much of the bigotry talk, but it also means that free account players cannot communicate in the game. And while most bots can no longer chat, they can still cast votes against real players and flood matches with coordinated disruption campaigns. Additionally, there is still hate speech coming from a handful of bots with the ability to mimic the names and avatars of real players and type in the chat.

Hughes describes it as follows: “It may differ from week to week, but there are times when the majority of the players on a server are bots. Even if they don’t, it often takes a few minutes to eliminate them all at the start of a match. “

Hughes is not the only one TF2 player with an ox against the bots. The game’s Steam forums are full of players to complain about the invasion, offer potential solutions, and wondering if Valve will do something about it. The consensus seems to be “no”.

There is a clear reason for this lack of confidence in Valve. The studio has a long history of miscommunication with gamers, and he tends to ditch incredibly popular properties without warning and seemingly without a plan. Team Fortress 2 hasn’t received consistent support for years now, and the Left 4 Dead and Portal franchises stalled over a decade ago. Despite releasing a Half-Life VR-only game in 2020, fans are still waiting Episode 3, almost 14 years after the launch of Episode 2.

In the meantime, Valve has run Steam, the largest PC game distribution center in existence, and is focusing on the non-software aspects of its business, such as VR devices, esports tournaments, and animated series. Unfortunately, the company also has transparency issues in these areas. Professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive the players are dropping out of the esports scene in the midst of widespread league mismanagement, and long standing communication and gambling problems. the Dota 2 The esports scene is currently a mess in the midst of a multi-team coronavirus outbreak during the first major tournament of the season in Singapore. On the Dota 2 Reddit forum, fans blame Valve’s history lack of responsibility.

As for Steam, Valve refused to interact with developers who say the company’s revenue-sharing model is exploitative and overtaken by modern standards. Valve takes 30 percent of every sale made on Steam, while its main competitor, the Epic Games Store, charges 12% to developers.

So, it is not surprising that TF2 players don’t have much faith in Valve. They tried to implement their own solutions to combat bots, but bots tend to require player intervention and self-moderation, and they can’t actually stop fake accounts from pouring in. Nowadays, the start TF2 means manage bots.

Hughes and other players just want maintenance TF2. He has a few suggestions for Valve, including establishing a system of trust as in CS: GO, making it impossible to create mass free accounts, update the game’s anti-cheat system, and communicate with players. Basic stuff.

Valve did not respond to a request for comment.

Even though the company has a huge TF2 update scheduled for the near future, that won’t change the fact that it has left its most loyal players on the breeze for years. And why? It’s not good customer service, it’s not good for the game itself, it’s not good for Valve’s reputation, and it’s not good for Valve’s bottom line – but this is also not going to bring the company to its knees. Thanks to the revenue machine that is Steam, Valve remains a private multibillion-dollar company, run by reclusive billionaire Gabe Newell, and is not beholden to anyone. In the same way that Google is so big in the tech industry that it can create and destroy products that change the world on a whim, Valve is equally at home in its position as the gaming powerhouse. video. In the end, leaving TF2 dying will not kill Valve.

Maybe Valve will resurrect TF2 One day. Maybe Newell will reveal that a team of 50 developers have been working on a massive overhaul of the game over the past seven years. Maybe there are already plans for a TF2 esports league. Yeah maybe. This kind of optimistic reverie is the lifeblood of Valve. Maybe Valve will do L4D3, or Episode 3, or Portal 3; Maybe Valve will start communicating with the CS: GO and Dota 2 the communities; Maybe Valve will consider the deluge of developer feedback and institute a more equitable revenue sharing model. Perhaps. Valve’s reputation is built on this word.

As the arbiter of a handful of legendary genre-defining series, Valve has the power to tease feelings of excitement and anticipation. without even trying. And, in a lot of ways, that’s what Valve does – not even trying. Just ask the TF2 community.

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