Valve bans 20,000 Steam accounts

Discussion in 'Computer Science & Culture' started by Aborted_Fetus, Dec 4, 2004.

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  1. Aborted_Fetus Bored Registered Senior Member

    If you haven't heard about this, check it out:

    Basically, Valve banned 20,000 Steam accounts for trying to use an illegal Half-Life 2 CD-Key. Now this may seem somewhat fair, but Valve did not put out a demo for the game. How are people supposed to know if they are going to like it or not if they don't try it first? I downloaded the game and used the cracking method to play it (for those who are not familiar with it, the game uses a program called Steam to validate the game thru Valve's servers. There was a way to put in a certain CD-Key and exploit the system to make the game playable. They have recently patched the exploit). I liked the game, so much in fact, that I bought the Collector's Edition for 80 bucks. I play it for a few days, and bam, account disabled. The game uses Valve's Steam software to play, and without an account, the game is un-playable. I spent 80 bucks to have my account banned. Is that right?

    This happened to 20,000 accounts! And they are not un-banning ANY of them. They are denying full paying customers the right to play their game. And all this, they claim, is to battle against piracy. Are they stupid? Right now, there is a working way to download the game, make the game think it has been activated, and play it. It requires no Steam account, and no internet connection. In effect, Valve is fueling piracy. All 20,000 people that tried to play the game through the first cracking method can now play the game through the current cracking method, and Valve can do nothing about it. So now, they are forcing paying customers to pirate their game. It doesn't stop there either. I personally know many people that were planning on buying the game, but after they heard what Valve did, they are definitely not going to give them money. Valve is hurting themselves by doing this. They are making many paying customers very angry and they are damaging their reputation in the process.

    I have been emailing Valve about my account being banned, but I am not getting very far. From what I have heard from other people, they are not giving in at all to these bans. I will be forced to pirate the game that I paid for fair and square, if my account is not un-banned. I am on a college campus with a large file sharing community. At this very moment, I can download the game in literally a few minutes, and using the latest crack method that does not go through Steam, I can play the game. It is easier for me to download the game, skip the whole activation process, and play it, not to mention the fact that I don't have to pay for it, than it is for me to buy the game. I often download games to see if I am going to like it, then if I plan to play it, I will buy it. I did the same thing here. I downloaded the game and used the original Steam exploit to play. I liked the game so I bought it. But Valve tracked all the accounts that used the original exploit and banned them. I can see them banning accounts that did not buy the game at all, but this is just rediculous.

    Are they stupid, or just evil?
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  3. Bachus Registered Senior Member

    Email them with why you first tried to play with a hacked version before. Also scan the receipt and add it to the email. They'll unban you then I think.
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  5. Combine Back from the Dead!!!!! Registered Senior Member

    yes, email them all the evidence you have that its brought copy
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  7. grazzhoppa yawwn Valued Senior Member

    They are looking after their business. Not to judge you in anyway, but a large majority of people that pirate PC games do not buy the game afterwards. You are in a small percentage of people who pirate games to honestly demo them. Business wise, banning 20,000 illegal accounts is better than looking after that small percentage of people whom you are apart of.
  8. spuriousmonkey Banned Banned

    I think the people that cracked the game and went online are stupid, not valve. Obviously it is not allowed to crack a game for demo purposes. Does it really matter then that you bought the game afterwards? I would say no. Valve puts out a demo game (or not if they don't wish too) for you to judge the game. That is legal. You shouldn't bitch to much about doing something illegal and then something nasty happening to you. You took the risk, valve is not responsible for your actions, how well intended they might be.

    rant over.
  9. Combine Back from the Dead!!!!! Registered Senior Member

    i agree strongly spuriousmonkey that we are responsible for our own actions, and we shouldnt blame other people for them.
  10. Thor "Pfft, Rebel scum!" Valued Senior Member

    Wolfenstein and DooM. Excellent examples of how demoing a game brought great success. iD gave users the first chapters for free. That was about 3-6 hours worth of fresh gameplay. Some people, like the guy above, must seriously miss these kinds of advertising. I refuse to purchase a game until I have actually played either the full game or at least tried a demo. I gave HL2 the benefit of the doubt and got it without doing either. I was pleased with my choice. So, I can see where Aborted is coming from and I agree with is approach fullheartidly.

    Valve decision to ban 20,000+ steam users is a bit contraversial, they are trying to cover their own asses. But them not allowing those who tried to pirate then purchased to play the game is going to hurt them. Anti-piracy measures are there to encourage people to purchase the game. Now, if they don't allow those people to play, then they've gone and fucked up.

    Also, I doubt a proof of purchase will help. These can easily be fraudulant. You could just borrow a friends receipt and game. How would they know for sure that you actually went out and got the game. They should have implemented some kind of activation procedure that made Steam scan the CD drives for the legitimate CDs.

    This is a step forward for Capitalism, a step back for gnu and a blow to Valve's failing reputation.
  11. Combine Back from the Dead!!!!! Registered Senior Member

    They should have given you the 1st chapter and ended that in like a cliffhabger so people would want to know whats next.
  12. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    Someone already mentioned what you should do but this is what you do:

    In the back of the user manual of most games are a bunch of support phone numbers, What you will have to do is ring them up and explain to them your case, in fact suggest to them sending the version you purchased to not just identify it as being authentic but also to perhaps get another version. (In fact if you are crafty take it back to the shop you got it from and swap it for a new version).

    The same discussion about Values security was floating around on another bulletin board, It was one where the individuals were talking about using a No-CD crack and the potential for Steam accounts to be disabled. Simply put you don't have to use Steam if you have a CD key for single player, it's just the multiplayer.

    There is some method using either -nosteam or -steam through the icon you use to click to bypass steam and purely pull on your CDKey.
  13. Aborted_Fetus Bored Registered Senior Member

    bachus and combine,

    They don't care that I bought the game, in fact they know that I bought the game. I have offered to show them any kind of proof of purchase, but it doesn't matter. Look at the last email they send me (I have removed my CD-Key just in case):
    Those first three times are when I tried the game, using the initial exploit method. Then, when I bought the game two days later, you can see that I activated with a valid CD-Key. They know I bought the game. But they are still refusing to reactivate my account.

    Also, I would like to add, it is not just for Half-Life 2. I cannot play any other Valve games such as CS and Half-Life 1 either, becasue my Steam account is disabled.


    I somewhat agree with you, but how can hey sleep at night knowing that they banned to account of an honest person that bought their game? Sure, I may bent the rules a bit to demo the game, but I bought it. I think they should reactivate all the accounts that actually entered a valid CD-Key after they demoed the game by downloading it. I mean, they didn't put out a demo, so how are people supposed to know if they are going to like the game before dropping at least 50 bucks on it?


    I can see where you are coming from. I guess you can relate it to stealing a car and taking it for a joy ride, just to see how it drives before you buy it. Although this is an extreme example, and does kind of make sense, I still don't think I should be banned. Like I said before, I bent the rules a little, but who doesn't? Especially since they did not put out a demo, I think quite a few people downloaded it just to try it out before they bought it. Of course, there are the majority that just wanted it for free, I think Valve should keep those accounts banned. But being that many people that bought the game are now banned, I don't think that is right.

    Well, I can just hope now that Valve decides to be nice to me, which I don't think is going to happen. I guess I will just have to really pirate the game now, which is what they were trying to stop in the first place. They are making someone that legitimately bought the game use illegal means to play the game they spent their money on. Sounds like their anti-piracy method worked just great, eh.
  14. Aborted_Fetus Bored Registered Senior Member


    Yes I have heard of that method, but it is just the point of it. I paid for the game, I want to legitimately use it. Valve does have a way to reset the CD-Key to new if you send them the actually CD case, but again, it is just the point of it that pisses me off.

    And like I said, Valve doesn't care that I bought the game, they know I did. They are just coming down tough on piracy, so they claim, and are not giving in much at all.
  15. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    I agree with spurious.
    The company isn't required to issue a demo at all.
    You have not been slighted by them.

    Maybe the stolen car was not a fair anolgy.
    I think this one is...

    Let's say you go to a store and want to take a DVD player they sell home and try it out for a while first before you buy it.
    The store manager informs you that they do not offer home trials.
    What are your options?
    1.) Buy it without trying it first. Complain to the company if you don't like the features.
    2.) Don't buy it. Let them know that you will not buy it without trying it first (maybe if enough people do that they WILL offer samples because not enough people will buy without trying).
    3.) Wait until the clerk isn't looking and steal it.

    Let's say you go with option 3.
    Two months later you mail the store a check and a letter:
    Two days later the police show up and serve you with an arrest warrant for shoplifting.
    How much right do you really think you have to bitch about being held responsible for knowingly stealing the DVD player from the store?

    Now, imagine 20,000 other people did the same thing to this store, and the vast majority of them had no intention of paying them, but still keeping the DVD player.

    If it was MY company I would pissed off that there was no economically feasible way of prosecuting all 20,000 of them for theft.

    It may be the smart thing for them to offer a demo, but they aren't required to, and it is not your place to force this company to change it's policy by breaking the law.
  16. Aborted_Fetus Bored Registered Senior Member


    I don't think that is a fair example, either. Both that example and the car example involve physical property loss. The game is intellectual property, which is a different story. When you steal intellectual property, there is no loss in assets, so to speak. In almost every situation, the victim does not even know that he is being stolen from. I see know moral problem in downloading a game, trying it out, and buying it if I am going to play it. Of course this is not an option with, say, buying a DVD player, but it is a totally different situation. A DVD player will play DVDs. All the options and features are listed on the box, you know what you are getting. With a game, you have to try it out first to know if you are going to like it. You can read all the reviews and look at all the screenshots you want, but you will not know if you like it until you can actually play it.

    However, I know that I broke the law, and I know that they don't have to reactivate my account. I am saying that Valve is being stupid by doing this to try to stop piracy. If they are forcing someone that was willing to pay for the game to pirate their software, is this really helping to prevent piracy?
  17. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    They aren't forcing you to pirate anything.
    It is a choice you are making with open eyes.
    If you don't agree with the way they do business, you don't have to play the game.
    Is Porsche forcing me to steal their cars by not making them cheaper so I can afford one?

    I think the analogy stands.
    Theft is theft.
    It has nothing to do with whether or not the object in question is tangible.
    It is a material loss to a person or company caused by willful theft by another.

    It isn't intellectual property theft, either.
    You aren't stealing an idea and capitalizing on it.
    By stealing from a company that offers a product or service you are causing that company material loss.
    It's not a matter for intellectual property courts, it's a matter for petty theft courts.

    Like I said, they MAY be stupid for not offering demos (that is a fairly standard practice and people have come to expect it) but that in no way justifies stealing the game from them (whether or not later payment was intended).
    I don't, however, consider them stupid for sticking to their guns about not unlocking the accounts.
    I would support them in getting petty theft convictions for all pirates involved.
    I would love to see a conviction on a pirate's record.
    Maybe it will make them think twice before the next time they thing they have the right to steal someone else's property because they have convinced themselves it's not as bad as OTHER thefts using whatever justification suits them.
    I would also love to see misdemeanor convictions for anyone that has used a peer-to-peer files sharing system to download a single copyrighted file.

    Just because you didn't stick it up your shirt does not mean it's not theft.
  18. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    If they stick to it and other companies follow their lead?
    Yes, I think so.
    I commend them for taking a stand on this.
    Besides, they would much rather have legitimate paying customers, anyway.

    If I catch someone stealing from me, I would no longer want them as a customer (even if they would be willing to pay later).
    And I certainly wouldn't want to offer them any kind of customer or tech support.
    By legitimizing the theft by selling it to the theif later, and making that theif a paying customer, thats what they are doing.
    I personally wouldn't want a customer that will be doing what they can to swindle, cheat and get over on me.
    Screw that. Go shoplift somewhere else.
  19. Aborted_Fetus Bored Registered Senior Member


    The fact still stands that I bought the game and now I can't play it. And yes they are forcing me to pirate the game. If i buy the game legitimately, and they don't allow me to play, I am forced to use illegal means to play it.

    And how am I causing them material loss? I bought the game. Also, P2P networks are not illegal. You can download as much as you want as long as you have bought the original license to use it. If I bought a music CD in the store, I can download it as much as I want online. I know most people don't do this, but don't say everyone that uses P2P networks should be charge with a crime.

    And does it matter if other companies follow them? Pirates will ALWAYS crack games. Look at this issue. They force you to authenticate the game through Steam every time you play, they even make you download the rest of the files when you originally activate the game because all the files aren't on the CDs. But it has been cracked. I really don't think there is anything that can be done about piracy, besides maybe going about the groups that release the games, but they are pretty much protected by the Internet Privacy Act, which prevents authorities to enter private networks to enforce piracy laws.

    In my opinion, their system just puts an extra hassle on people that buy the game. I actually have a friend that bought Half-Life 2, but didn't even take it out of the box. He downloaded the game and used the crack to play it, because it was easier than creating a Steam accout and activating the game.

    I don't think they are preventing piracy in the least, and this system they have put in place just puts an extra hassle on everyone. Plus, you can't even play the game unless you have a decent internet connection, which rules out a fair group of people as well.
  20. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    Heres a point, if you go to a shop an buy a game or music CD you get:

    The Music or Game
    The CD
    The printing on the CD
    The copy protection on the CD (Which can sometimes cause it to fail on older hardware)
    A Manual
    The CD case
    and maybe a box
    Your statuary Consumer rights

    All of those things cost to manufactuer, and accumilate together to generate a price.
    There are then hidden costs contributed to the price too, for instance the overall projects cost total (programmers are not cheap, especially when a game has been set back by 6-12 months), Theres the Distributation, the Advertisement bills, the bean counting of hardware costs for online gaming and of course the future costs for updates as and when they happen.

    Now if you were to download the game online the cost should have deduced all the physical things (the manual, the box, the Cd) but you would still be left with all the time and effort of the work put in and the fact that for it to be housed securely bandwidth and space would be required. (Bittorrent might be okay, but it's no where near fully secure and safe from malicious seeds)

    I do see alot of people complain about the loss of their accounts, and admittedly it's bad in certain cases, however some of those accounts are rightly shutdown.
    I wouldn't be suprised if Valve is actually operating at a loss for the next couple of months, by which time Steam will be completely circumnavigated. So they might just get back what they put into it.

    However I have seen posts complaining about how often attempts are made to connect, and people with low speed modems are really upset at how they have put their authentication together.

    But whats a software company to do when standing against all those kids out there that want it all?????

    (In fact it's healthy for those kids to realise that they have to go out and earn the money for it, because it gets them in good habits for the future. Otherwise civilisation as we know it will just be drop-outs and lay-abouts.)
  21. blackmonkeystatue Unregistered User Registered Senior Member

    The only stupid one is you. If you want to hack/exploit, that’s fine, but deal with the consequences. Don't bitch about it. Better yet, do the coding yourself and don’t share. If you're going to be hacking, cracking, exploiting, etc, no matter how good you are, there is a chance at getting caught, expect that. There isn’t too much at stake 99% of the time. If you decide to go legit...I cannot illustrate how idiotic it is to use the same account/screen name/e-mail/info/etc that you used when you were cracking/exploiting. Honestly, you deserved it. Suck it up, chalk it up to experience, and never make that mistake again. Stupid shit like that happens to all of us, but afterall it is illegal.

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  22. Neildo Gone Registered Senior Member

    I gotta agree that you got what you deserved. I'm glad to see you actually bought the game afterwards but hey, that's still no excuse to use a cracked copy. Surely you should have just known right off the bat that Half-Life 2 was going to be awesome so there should have been no need to try the cracked version. And sometimes demos come out a good month or two later after the game's release. If you have no demo to try it out, that's what reviews are for. I know it's not the same as being able to play the game yourself, but hey, it's HL:2, the answer is obvious if it's a good game or not to get even without trying before you buy.

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  23. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    I have to admit it's been intriguing analysing how Steam works. don't get me wrong here I haven't pulled anything apart, or redirected anything but mearly theorised into how it works, I came up with this philosophy.

    I shall call my hypothetical system "Gas" just incase Valve gets upset about any near similarities.

    Firstly a new user signs up for Gas, Gas generates a private key in their database that the user doesn't know about. This key is used to "Encrypt" some of the game files that the user has to download from Gas. The User has to use Gas to download it because Gas uses Tunneled encryption to attempt to stop people viewing or altering the encrypted files between the Gas servers and the user.

    The Encrypted files exist on the users system and can't be Decrypted without obtaining the key from the Gas Server, which of course requires the user to log in.

    With this method every users encrypted files are "Uniquely" encrypted, so if they share some hack that uses a cracked file it will show up on the Gas server logs.

    When a user wants to play the game online, they login the keys transparently tunneled to decrypt the file (after doing some checks to make sure the file hasn't been altered) and they can then play the game. For offline gaming it can cache the key for de-encrypting, however if you were to malform your connection by say logging into Gas to play a games server, the main Gas server will be informed as to your attempt to play and it will question if you have either asked for the key recently or how many attempts the key has been asked for to work out if you are using a genuine copy.

    Now understand, I don't know how close to Steam my "Gas" is. The only reason I theorised about it was because I was bored while waiting for steam to download all the preportions to the package I bought (which was days of downloading).

    However judging by my "Gas" version, it's a very clever piece of software, that isn't as stupid as the game players would suggest.
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