Fresh off removing paid mods from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Valve is back in the news again. Steam, its digital distribution service for PC games, will now let developers block users from their individual games.
While the platform has previously banned players for cheating in multiplayer games, this new system lets developers remove users from games based on their own anti-cheating methods.
"Playing games should be fun. In order to ensure the best possible online multiplayer experience, Valve allows developers to implement their own systems that detect and permanently ban any disruptive players, such as those using cheats," the company said on its website.
"Game developers inform Valve when a disruptive player has been detected in their game, and Valve applies the game ban to the account. The game developer is solely responsible for the decision to apply a game ban. Valve only enforces the game ban as instructed by the game developer. For more information about a game ban in a specific game, please contact the developer of that game."
This move has a few consequences. It means that vindictive developers could end up banning users who criticise their game. Keep in mind that an individual developer is more likely inclined to spend time and energy to police its own games. In comparison to this, it's not really possible for Valve to moderate communities across the entire roster of games on Steam.
However, a host of questions has yet to be answered. Could players appeal their bans? To what extent would someone be banned - for a specific game or the user's entire library of content? How exactly would Valve enforce game bans instructed by developers? For a service that's been the bedrock for many a PC gamer, this change could have potentially harmful ramifications.