Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) system caught and banned a record number of players in December: more than 600,000 received VAC bans in that month, and most of them have been playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Twitter CS:GO expert Nors3 noticed the massive spike in VAC bans earlier today, posting a graph that estimated December’s VAC bans at 609,373. As he points out, there were multiple ban waves over the course of the month, each netting high numbers of cheaters.
His numbers roughly line up with SteamDB’s, which puts the number of December VAC bans slightly higher, at 611,492. SteamDB also shows a breakdown of bans by day, and there you can see the five spikes that indicate when Valve performed a ban wave.
Counter-Strike’s popularity has skyrocketed since the game introduced a battle royale mode called Danger Zone and switched to free-to-play. Over the course of December, the game had a whopping 20 million unique players – a new record, and an astonishing number for a competitive shooter that launched in 2012.
Figures like that help put the high number of VAC bans into perspective – it stands to reason, after all, that with newfound popularity, CS:GO is going to attract a proportional number of new cheaters along with the rest of the new players, and battle royale games seem to be magnets for cheats as well.
It seems likely Valve had anticipated this, and rolled out VAC ban waves more frequently last month to head things off at the pass.
609,373 VAC bans on December, biggest number in a month ever. There were like 5 VAC waves in the month.
Vast majority of this VAC bans are for CS:GO, it's more difficult to know the origin of the Game bans. pic.twitter.com/BhDTOrITkg
— Nors3 (@Nors3) January 6, 2019
But despite the high number of bans, players are still complaining that cheating is a problem in CS:GO, and many are convinced it’s become more prevalent since the game went free-to-play. While most of the reviews over the past several days have been positive, the negative reviews almost uniformly complain about cheaters and hackers, and ask either for a better version of VAC than the existing one, or for some additional anti-cheat measures.
It seems there’s still more work to be done.