“Work is ongoing” to stop new account abuse.
It’s almost surprising these measures hadn’t already been introduced, but Valve has finally addressed complaints about a swarm of bots invading Team Fortress 2 matches. No, not the ones in Mann versus Machine – racist, hacking, horrible bots.
As highlighted in a report by Kotaku, bots had been flooding servers by spamming the chat with racial and homophobic slurs, and also deploying game-breaking hacks. Players on the TF2 subreddit and Steam forums made dozens of posts to highlight the problem, and in the absence of an official response from Valve, some had even created a “TF2 hacker police” subreddit to document the bots and target them in-game.
Hopefully the vigilante bot squad is no longer needed, however, as Valve has introduced a number of changes aimed to tackle the problem. The patch notes for yesterday’s update explain that restrictions will be placed on “certain new accounts” to prevent them using chat in official matchmaking modes, which should make it harder for bots to cause problems before they can be banned. “Work is ongoing” to find further solutions to prevent new and free accounts being used for abusive purposes, but in the meantime, players can now disable text chat and voice chat, and further detail has been added to the Report Player dialog “so players can make informed decisions about who they’re reporting”.
It’s an ongoing joke amongst those in the TF2 community that Valve does little to update or change the game nowadays – particularly after one Valve employee confirmed suspicions that “hardly anyone” is still working on TF2. So the introduction of these changes, although basic, comes as quite a surprise to many – and it would seem most in the community are pretty grateful, although some have expressed concerns that some free-to-play users may be muted unfairly.
We’ll have to see if these anti-bot measures bring about any meaningful change, or if Valve’s work to tackle the abuse of new and free accounts amounts to anything significant. Oh, and as a bonus: the localisation files have been updated.