Lost Ark Steam ban wave hits inactive players with cheating claims

A Lost Ark Steam ban wave to clamp down on bots has seemingly led to casual or former players of the free game receiving account bans for supposed cheating

Lost Ark Steam ban - a character with pink hair and yellow eyes, with a red 'no entry' sign over the top

Update, Jan 15 –  Added comment from Smilegate.

A Lost Ark Steam ban wave aimed at clamping down on bot accounts has seemingly hit a large number of Steam users with erroneous bans. If you’ve just found out you’ve been banned from Lost Ark despite not playing in a while, you’re not alone – many users of the Valve storefront are reporting a ban in Amazon’s free game on Steam despite barely playing it or not booting it up in months. This follows a bot ban wave that cut the Lost Ark player count to one-third of its previous number.

In most cases, it appears that the majority of accounts affected are ones that haven’t played the game recently, or have relatively low playtime. The players might not have noticed, had it not been for a notification from Steam that they had received a ban. While this might not seem like a big problem if the player in question wasn’t planning to return to Lost Ark, permanent bans do leave a mark on your Steam account record.

Following this, the Lost Ark Steam reviews have plummeted to 52% positive in the last 30 days, with a huge spike of negative reviews landing on January 14, when players seem to have been hit with the ban. The Lost Ark Reddit, meanwhile, has had to resort to a pinned post from the moderators due to an overwhelming flood of posts from inactive players asking why they had been suddenly banned seemingly out of nowhere.

As a fairly casual Lost Ark player myself who hasn’t logged in for a few months but still keeps it installed in case the itch strikes me, my curiosity was naturally piqued. I boot the game up and, lo and behold, a message awaits me: “Your account has been permanently banned. If you believe you received this penalty in error, you may appeal. Reason: Cheating.” Obviously, take my word for what you feel it’s worth, but I’ve certainly not ever used any form of bot or cheat while playing.

Lost Ark - a screenshot of the title screen, with a message reading, “Your account has been permanently banned. If you believe you received this penalty in error, you may appeal. Reason: Cheating.”

Some players say that their appeals to Amazon Games have already borne fruit, reporting that they have been unbanned after appealing. I’ve submitted a ticket of my own – any sort of Steam black mark aside, I’d just quite like the option to play Lost Ark again at some point when I find the time. A thread on the Lost Ark forums notes that this isn’t the first time a large ban wave has mistakenly hit innocent players.

One comment in the Reddit thread suggests a possible reason, pointing to the fact that the recent December update requires new accounts to prove their trusted status before they can engage with most of the multiplayer economy tools. As such, the user suggests that inactive players may have been banned to try and prevent gold farmers from having a potential pool of old accounts to take advantage of.

Amazon Games and developer Smilegate have yet to comment on the issue. We have also reached out to Valve for comment on the matter, given the nature of players’ Steam accounts being marked with a record of the ban, and will update this story with any responses.

Update, Jan 15 – Smilegate has responded on the Lost Ark forums, saying, “We have determined the error that triggered these false bans, and are actively working on reversing them for all affected legitimate players regardless of whether a support ticket has been filed.” It adds that players may still submit a ban appeal to assist in more speedy recovery of your account and removal of penalties.

The Lost Ark Witcher collaboration is set to start soon, which could be a reason for old players to return to one of the best new MMOs on PC that we saw arrive last year. If you are planning to play (and are currently able to do so) then our Lost Ark tier list will help you choose the best class to play.