vac strike 2
Credit: Valve

L for Valve

Valve just handed out thousands of bogus VAC bans in CS2

Valve has announced that it has started unbanning Counter-Strike 2 players that were mistakenly handed bans from VAC, its proprietary anti-cheat engine.

Counter-Strike fans have long griped about VAC. The game has a cheating problem and while it’s difficult to put an exact percentage on how often cheaters are actually in one’s games, any longtime player can remember at least a few times where they witnessed obvious hacking during one of their games. Valve is constantly working to improve VAC but in its latest Counter-Strike 2 update, it went overboard.

The company acknowledged that it handed out bogus VAC bans to an unspecified number of players. and said that it was working on a fix. Tens of thousands of bans were handed out hours before the announcement, according to trackers.

The false bans that followed the release of a CS2 update which focused primarily on grenade adjustments, but it remains unclear what the actual issue was. A bug in the VAC system previously caused the system to trigger when players used certain graphics card drivers or configurations.

Unsurprisingly, the huge false ban wave shocked and upset the CS2 community. Many players took to social media to express their frustration and anger. Some players even reported that they had been playing the game for 10 years now, and they suddenly got banned out of the blue.

I got VAC banned for no reason, what do I do?

Players can submit a support ticket to get a ban from Counter-Strike 2 lifted, but there is no guarantee that Valve will oblige.

While Valve says it’s actively working on resolving the false ban issue, there isn’t much players can do to expedite the process. The company has traditionally handled this sort of situation with automated processes, and that’s likely the case with this wave of improper VAC bans.

Valve states on its VAC FAQ page that bans “are permanent, non-negotiable, and cannot be removed by Steam Support,” but this has proven to be untrue. Prominent personalities have successfully made direct appeals to Valve to have their accounts restored. That’s not always the case though, as CS pros have appealed VAC bans unsuccessfully.

Submitting support tickets or raising complaints through Steam support may not yield immediate results and may not work consistently. Instead, the only option is to have patience. Fans have confirmed having erroneous VAC bans lifted in the past, but Valve has never been even-handed when dealing with these sorts of issues.

Hacking is still happening in Counter-Strike 2

While the game launched with fans and Valve hoping for a smooth, hacker-free experience, that hasn’t been the case with Counter-Strike 2. Cheat creators were quick to get themselves situated in the game, allowing aimbots, trigger bots, and wall hacks to make the jump from CSGO to CS2.

Overwatch, Valve’s previous approach to punishing cheaters through an in-game reporting system in CSGO, has not yet been implemented in CS2. This removes the human element from identifying possible hackers, something that previously complemented Valve’s automation-focused approach. Time will tell whether it comes back and whether that proves to be enough to curb hacking troubles.

Steven Rondina is a long-time gamer who loves the Persona series, but not quite as much as he loves all things Pokemon. He has a background in writing about video games, gaming culture, and combat sports.