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Valve offers free game after 12,000 false Steam bans

"This was our mistake" says Newell to players accused of MW2 cheating

Valve Software is offering two free copies of its game Left 4 Dead 2 to the 12,000 players it erroneously banned from playing Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 via Steam.

A bug in Valve's digital distribution platform caused the company's proprietary VAC anti-cheat tech to believe thousands of Modern Warfare 2 players had hacked their games.

Instant bans from playing the Call of Duty title followed, which resulted in an outpouring of forum posts and messages to gaming sites. Valve support staff had reportedly told players that they were unable to help.

Valve has now admitted that the error was its fault, and as well as lifting the bans has gifted the accounts of those affected with two complimentary copies of Left 4 Dead 2.

The company's boss Gabe Newell last night sent out an apologetic message to the accounts concerned:

"This was our mistake, and I apologize for any frustration or angst it may have caused you," he said.

"The problem was that Steam would fail a signature check between the disk version of a DLL and a latent memory version. This was caused by a combination of conditions occurring while Steam was updating the disk image of a game.

"This wasn't a game-specific mistake. Steam allows us to manage and reverse these erroneous bans (about 12,000 erroneous bans over two weeks).

"We have reversed the ban, restoring your access to the game. In addition, we have given you a free copy of Left 4 Dead 2 to give as a gift on Steam, plus a free copy for yourself if you didn't already own the game."

The outrage does not appear to have greatly affected the Activision-published title's fortunes on Steam, however. Modern Warfare 2 remains the third-best seller on the service, with its DLC the Resurgence Pack taking the top-spot.

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Latest comments (12)

Nuno Silva6 years ago
Very nice, few have the "balls" to admit their mistake and apologize properly.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 6 years ago
Good for them to admit their mistake and recompense those affected. It's also a way to get people who obviously enjoy online games to sample L4D2 as well... ;)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Terence Gage on 27th July 2010 11:50am

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Explaining what happened, admitting to making a mistake, personally apologizing and gifting L4D2 plus a 9$ coupon is what support people mean with "Going the extra mile." The only ones who can seriously complain how Valve handled this incident are those who were not affected.
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Show all comments (12)
Nick Hidayat Studying Advanced Diploma in Character Animation, Animation Mentor6 years ago
Valve are great. They really make me as a consumer feel that what I think of them actually matters. They repeatedly go above and beyond as far as value for money, and create amazing content.

This is the way to do business!
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Christopher Bowen Owner, Gaming Bus 6 years ago
Dear EA, Nintendo, Activision, Sony, Microsoft, et al: Pay attention. This is how you keep the goodwill of your customer base.

EDIT: And you too, Apple. You guys take your popularity for granted.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christopher Bowen on 27th July 2010 2:28pm

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James Prendergast Research Chemist 6 years ago
Thing is, fair enough they made good this time, how many people and instances otherwise slip through the cracks? With a system that is opaque, "unquestionable" and "100% correct" there are always going to be issues like this. Valve could have ignored it and stuck with their usual "You cannot appeal a VAC ban" and no one would have been the wiser since everyone always supports Valve unquestioningly. Even just looking at the Valve forums and other places the community as a whole demonised these people who complained.... This hasn't been a good day for gaming.

Not to mention that Steam support is still slow and unwieldly - this is not the way to manage your systems/customers.
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Saehoon Lee Lead technical artist, Kuno Interactive6 years ago
Very good example of how "mistake" can turn into "genuine show of good service" with some marketing gain. Judo to Steam for admitting.
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Simon Arnet6 years ago
Valve is one of the most trusted companies among the PC community, this is a good example why. I don't know many other companies with this type of ethic. It truly is customer service at its greatest.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 6 years ago
Its so strange how Valve have changed there reputation so quickly. Gabe Newel was a known narcissist who would request developers to fly out and meet him, then refuse to see them in a Steve Jobbs way of controlling people.

When ATI paid for the launch party of Half Life 2 at Alcatraz Gabe reassured them the game would be ready. Gabe flew out, gave a speech about Steam then flew away without saying anything else.

The rants he would make to people on his forum, the luring of the Modder who got a copy of the Source engine to come to America to arrest him.

For a while Gabe Newell was the John Romero of the industry. Its amazing how history is written by the winners and since he not only delivered but exceeded expectations for Half Life 2 consumers in general have completely forgot his psychotic aggressive behaviour and reputation that plagued the games development.

Makes me think what would of happend if Daikatana had delivered as well as Half Life 2 did.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 28th July 2010 5:31am

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Scott Doman Freelance Writer 6 years ago
I think this sort of response was vital from Newell.

If he failed to deal with this issue wearing kid gloves then the media would (Most likely) put him through a typical make over and he would step out from the smoke saying "Matthew, tonight I will be....Bobby Kotick!".

This is nice to hear though, a refreshing story of a man doing the correct and decent thing.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 6 years ago
Whilst I'm sure those affected were somewhat irritated this is a fantastic display from Valve. Admit your mistakes and make up for it, many should and can learn from this.
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Ernie Ortega Studying Game Programming, Art Institute of California - Los Angeles6 years ago
This is why I really enjoy playing and buying valve games. They have great customer service and Im never let down with their games.
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