Valve lures thousands of Dota cheaters into bans with fake Christmas presents as it declares 'this year is gonna be a bloodbath'

A pair of trap-laying goblins in Dota 2, smoking cigars and chucking bombs.
(Image credit: Valve)

It's ten days to Christmas, and you know what that means: It's time for the world's most famous jolly, bearded man to draw up naughty and nice lists, handing out rewards to the latter and pitiless justice to the former. That's right, Gabe Newell is sticking it to Dota 2 cheats once again.

Well, Valve is, anyway. Newell is probably busy hanging out on his yacht. This year, the studio has come up with a crafty way to lure Dota criminals into their well-earned bans. It's given out Christmas (or Frostivus, in Dota terms) presents to people on its naughty list that spit out a "Highly Toxic Lump of Coal," when opened. The description on that lump of coal reads "Your Dota account has been permanently banned for Smurfing, or other violations of the Steam Terms of Service." Here's a clip of a player receiving one in real-time: 

You've gotta admit, it's very funny. The Christmas-themed ban scheme came accompanied by a post on the Dota blog yesterday, in which Valve threw down the gauntlet to ne'er-do-wells of all kinds. "If you're on the Naughty List, we've got great news for everybody else and bad news for you, because this year is gonna be a bloodbath," read the update from Valve, calling out smurf accounts and behaviour score farmers specifically, before promising that "regardless of how you've been naughty, we've been watching you… and we're cracking down on all of it." According to Valve, "tens of thousands" of smurf accounts were banned yesterday alone.

If you're not up on your Dota lingo, smurfing is a phenomenon whereby seasoned players start new accounts for the purpose of being matched with newbies they can easily stomp, which sucks for the newbies and is kind of pathetic behaviour on the part of the pros. Behaviour score farming, meanwhile, just means paying for people (or bots) to give you a thumbs-up in Dota's player behaviour rating system, the one that's meant to keep toxic players away from, well, nice people.

Valve has gone pretty hard at Dota cheats this year, and often in spectacular fashion. Just last September, the studio banned 90,000 smurf accounts and then got the main accounts too before mounting the heads on spikes in the form of another celebratory blog post. Before that, Valve duped another 40,000 bad actors into snitching on themselves in February.

"As we've said before," Valve continued in its update post, "smurfing (and other negative behaviour) makes matches worse, and we want to make sure your matches are as good as possible as we head into the new year. So we’d like to wish everyone a Happy Frostivus Update! Except smurf accounts, who we assume will not enjoy the update as they choke on their richly-deserved coal-flavored just desserts."

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.