Measures against cheating and toxic behaviours
Since the release date of Valorant was announced, the development teams have started to take stock of this short closed beta phase. Riot Games spoke about cheating since Valorant’s announcement. It’s therefore not surprising that the first subject addressed in this debrief is Vanguard, what they have learned from it, and how they plan to deal with cheaters as well as problematic behaviours in the future.
Vanguard and the anti-cheat
As you should know by now, the Vanguard software is the anti-cheat software developed by Riot Games beside Valorant. Their joint launch was the baptism of fire for the company in terms of software and even though it’s not perfect, Riot is rather satisfied with the result. Vanguard is very effective at detecting cheaters in game. However, there are still two delicate points to solve.
The first is that Vanguard doesn’t seem to be as dissuasive as Riot would have hoped, but its developers have learned a lot about the methods and mindsets of cheaters during these two months of beta.
The second consists in setting up and automated banning system. Today, bans are dealth with manually, on a case-by-case basis. A solution that will not be viable in the long term, especially once the game is released and open to everyone. However, with an automated system, there is the risk of potentially banning innocent players.
Banned players will however be unable to recreate an account. Phillip Koskinas called it Soulbans in a tweet last week. Some of the players banned during the beta will have their sanctions lifted and be given another chance to play Valorant, but this is the only case where Riot intends to be lenient in this matter.
Valorant « Soulbans » are live, so if you’ve cheated before, all your past, present, and future accounts will also be suspended. Some spirits will be released when the game is, allowing you to try once more on a new account, but this is the absolute limit of our mercy.— Phillip Koskinas (@mirageopenguins) May 13, 2020
Anyway, this desire to create its own anti-cheat tool allowed Riot to be reactive and to adapt very quickly to Valorant’s needs. This flexibility would not have been possible using other software like PunkBuster or Easy Anti-Cheat, which is found on most online games.
Cheating isn’t the only way to spoil the gaming experience for others. With the release of the game, Valorant will inevitably attract waves of players, for some of whom it’s hard to remain sportsmanlike. Unfortunately, players who give up, abuse, harass are commonplace in online gaming and there is no reason why Valorant would be an exception. Especially when it’s a free-to-play game where you can quickly re-create an account.
Upon its release, Valorant will have several systems in place to regulate problematic behaviours. An automatic player report system will identify players with colourful language in the chat. A manual system for players to report non fair-play behaviour and verbal abuse will also be put in place.
Players reported will too often receive automated penalties. Initially, these functions will be limited to chat and voice chat restrictions, in the way of what we can already see in League of Legends. These measures are, however, more severe than they’re in Riot’s MOBA, since communication is essential in a tactical FPS.
As with all anti-cheat systems, Riot still has a lot to learn when it comes to managing a community on Valorant. (There is still no system mentioned to fight against AFK players.) The various measures will therefore evolve over time, to adapt to Riot’s objectives and the demands of the players.