Good news for Steam users named “catbot.” Valve isn’t banning accounts with the term “catbot” in the usernames, profiles, or any other manner. A Valve employee claims the initial reports regarding the bans are actually a hoax.
Reports emerged after the rise of catbots in Team Fortress 2, which are cheating bots created purposefully to target and kill players in through aimbots and other cheats. At first, catbots were largely considered an annoying form of cheating ignored on regular servers, until Valve began taking active steps to ban users creating them. So in retaliation, Valve says cheaters began spreading rumors that users with “catbot” in their name were also receiving the boot.
The original report came from GitHub, and sites like PCGamer and PCGamesN quickly picked up on the rumors, which alleged that Linux Steam users with the name “catbot” in their Steam username were getting VAC bans as soon as they installed Steam. Eventually, moderator kisak-valve closed the GitHub thread, saying the bans are “intention” and “not open for discussion.”
So after speculation emerged that the “catbot” bans were true, one Valve employee, vMcJohn, cleared up the situation in a post on r/linux_gaming.
“The bug report is incorrect,” vMcJohn explained. “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.”
The Valve employee went on to say that VAC bans require detection through in-game cheating on a VAC server, not usernames through Steam. Catbots are commonly executed through Linux, but Valve cannot ban users just because their Steam name is “catbot.” That’s not how VAC works.
“Those banned users are very annoyed that VAC has dropped the hammer on them,” vMcJohn said.
For the time being, it seems like users with “catbot” in their name have nothing to worry about. The situation, however, does pose larger questions over whether users trust VAC fully—and, for that matter, if cheaters can easily engineer fake outrage against Valve through the gaming press.