[Community] Should Developers Start Blacklisting Customers?

Chronicle_Steam_date_announce_01

Did you know that Riot Games maintains a very small blacklist of players deemed so toxic that they are banned from having an account for life? They do, and while it takes a lot to be added to the list, the end result is that any account that can be verified as owned by said person is immediately handed a permanent ban. Sounds fun, right?

It’s important to note that these blacklisted players aren’t one-time offenders, or even two-time. If you look at their stories, the players that Riot Games decides are no longer welcome in their community have gone through a multitude of accounts, all banned for death threats, denial of service attacks, and other actions that are toxic at best, illegal at worst.

While developers are constantly looking at methods of lowering the bar of entry, by converting their games to free to play or having regular sales, the increased convenience has only made it easier for the communities of said games to be infected by the rampaging plague that are cheaters and anti-social gamers. People who have no intentions on playing fair or fostering a welcoming community, but are only interested in watching the world burn, in a manner of speaking. And because creating an account is so easy, developers waste precious time and resources trying to keep problematic re-offenders from getting back in.

Valve recently adopted a policy in Counter Strike: Global Offensive to rid the game of cheaters. In order to use the “Prime” matchmaking service, you need to have two-factor authentication with a valid phone number. Get banned for cheating, and all accounts associated with that phone number will also receive a VAC ban. In addition, the phone number cannot be used for three months.

It goes further: If you don’t own the banned game, you can’t even purchase it on any of the affected accounts. Every time a phone number is banned, the ban length gets longer. With 95% of the Steam community making use of mobile authentication, according to Valve, it’s a lot harder to avoid.

So the question this week is, should developers begin blacklisting repeat offenders? If so, how should they go about doing it? Riot Games bans accounts completely and bans that person from competing in sanctioned tournaments, while Valve’s stance has always been to segregate said players to their own corners of the game where they can be ignored.

In MMOs, the issue of cheating has raised a lot of contempt between players and developers, the latter of whom have been seen on multiple occasions being lenient towards cheaters. As it turns out, the guy who spends a fair amount of real money to cheat in a game also tends to spend a lot of money in the game itself, and like an abusive customer who also happens to bankroll a small business, they are unwilling to throw him out the door without a heaping helping of warnings.

Riot Games is regularly accused of not dealing with abusive customers unless there is enough publicity to cause actual harm, like said abuser being a streamer with a large following. We’ve seen numerous accusations against companies like Trion Worlds for allowing high-paying guilds in ArcheAge to get away with exploits.

Would a blacklist work? How would you go about identifying a problematic customer and getting rid of them? Let us know in the comments below.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.