Gabe Newell Speaks On Recent VAC Controversy

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Gabe Newell Speaks On Recent VAC Controversy

Gaben Reddit

"If 'Valve is evil - look they are tracking all of the websites you visit' is an idea that gets traction, then that is to the benefit of cheaters and cheat creators," says Newell.

Earlier in the week, the folks over at the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive subreddit discovered some potentially disturbing information about Valve's anti-cheat system, VAC. Specifically, a new module for the system can read all the web domains you have visited while it is running, and send that information back to Valve's servers. Basically, people were concerned that Valve was checking out what porn sites they'd been looking at.

Now, Valve-boss-that-is-not-really-Valve-boss Gabe Newell has weighed in on the matter, assuring fans that no, Valve is not looking at your porn, and offered a rare insight into how VAC works in an attempt to regain our trust.

"Do we send your browsing history to Valve? No. Do we care what porn sites you visit? Oh, dear god, no. My brain just melted."

First, he explained the reasoning for the new VAC protocol. "Cheat developers have a problem in getting cheaters to actually pay them for all the obvious reasons, so they start creating DRM and anti-cheat code for their cheats. These cheats phone home to a DRM server that confirms that a cheater has actually paid to use the cheat." So, VAC needed to be able to look for the DRM servers in the DNS cache in order to find these cheats.

Second, he said that this protocol isn't actually in use anymore. Whenever VAC makes a new protocol, it's basically an "arms-race" for the cheaters to try and circumvent it, which is why Valve is so secretive about how VAC works in the first place. Newell says that the cheat providers have already worked around this particular protocol by manipulating the DNS cache of their customers' client machines.

Lastly, Newell urges us to put our trust in Valve, as if people start to get the wrong idea about the company, the only ones who will benefit are the cheat creators. "If 'Valve is evil - look they are tracking all of the websites you visit' is an idea that gets traction, then that is to the benefit of cheaters and cheat creators," he says.

"We try really hard to earn and keep your trust."

So what do you say, do you trust Valve to scour through your DNS cache, and not out you to your friends for looking at weird porn?

Source: reddit

Permalink

Whenever a company says "trust us" I lose all trust. I understand why they are being secretive on what their software does, but this is my privacy and I don't have a Facebook page for more then messaging friends because I don't trust Facebook, I can't see why I should trust Valve with this.

I wonder how much hentai is on the Valve servers right now... :3

Seriously, though, this seems kinda...murky. Yeah, I'll go with that. Makes me wonder if people will adamantly defend Valve - since the general conception is that Valve can do no wrong - for doing something as "murky" as this.

Steven Bogos:
Gabe Newell has weighed in on the matter

image

OT:
Pretty fascinating stuff about the cheating. I can't possibly imagine actually paying someone to have an advantage in a game.

Nice that Gaben was willing to say this as well. If this were EA, they would have just called the people asking the question filthy entitled pirates and left.

Still a bit shitty that their doing this. I trust Valve to do it in this case, but it sets a dangerous precedent that could easily be adopted by other companies.

Sanunes:
Whenever a company says "trust us" I lose all trust.

Whenever a company says trust us, I ask why. Suspicion is only as good as what you do with it. Aye, you could decide to mistrust Valve when alot of people keep singing their praises, and you might think you're the only sane man on Earth for doing so. But then, if you're wrong, you would have just been punishing yourself needlessly. Best to get all the facts in first.

If this were any other company I'd be a little more than irritated right now, I don't like it when companies do this or ask you to just trust them because they've done something you liked in the past but on the other hand this is valve who do seem to be the exception to the rest of the developers. I won't say I trust them but I'm not going to freak out and swear them off forever either.

Also is Gabe just slowly turning into Jesus or someone else? He looks like he's been trapped indoors for a long time.

Its VAC. Did people honestly think Gabe Newell needs your browser history so he can get recommended porn sites? he's a billionaire. Valve is the most profitable per employee company on earth.

If GabeN wanted some strange, he won't have trouble finding it when he makes it rain.

Not to mention Valve isn't facebook, so selling personal data is useless when facebook locked that market down.

I understand being paranoid because of the NSA, but this is just over the top. Its no different than Punkbuster or any other anti cheating device out there. We've dealt with this sort of thing since about 2006.

I swear, gamer paranoia has reached an all time high.

'Trust us' is a line used by every corrupt company and government.

So, no, I won't 'trust you'.
Trust is EARNED, and they haven't earned it.

It cracks me up that cracks have DRM now.

Overblown. Your website searches are already tracked by 40 different people, adding Valve changes nothing, plus, like most other people tracking your searches, it's all sorted by algorithm looking for specific behavior (cheating DRM) and isn't likely to show any living human being anything else, so nobody is ever going to see that you visited all those fucked up porn sites.

Hawk eye1466:

Also is Gabe just slowly turning into Jesus or someone else? .

Are you implying that he's not already Jesus?

Anyways: I'd be irate with Valve over this, but there's few game companies that earn as much trust as I do with Valve. Still, the biggest concern most people are probably having is that it might offer a way for possible third parties to infiltrate people's computers, and I do hope Valve is taking more precautions to keep that from happening. The company obviously don't have much use for other people's browsing data, but I wouldn't say that about the NSA.

At first I didn't care about this because total internet privacy is an illusion in the first place, and because I don't think Valve (or EA, or Ubisoft) actually care about my porn/personal info and assume minor "snooping" like this has some at least semi-valid reasoning behind it. But then I got to this

If 'Valve is evil - look they are tracking all of the websites you visit' is an idea that gets traction, then that is to the benefit of cheaters and cheat creators,

Remember kids, trust your government DRM providers implicitly or the filthy terrorists cheaters win!
Am I the only one who thinks this guy is a tosser?

major_chaos:
At first I didn't care about this because total internet privacy is an illusion in the first place, and because I don't think Valve (or EA, or Ubisoft) actually care about my porn/personal info and assume minor "snooping" like this has some at least semi-valid reasoning behind it. But then I got to this

If 'Valve is evil - look they are tracking all of the websites you visit' is an idea that gets traction, then that is to the benefit of cheaters and cheat creators,

Remember kids, trust your government DRM providers implicitly or the filthy terrorists cheaters win!
Am I the only one who thinks this guy is a tosser?

VAC isn't DRM... it's anti-cheat. Steamworks (the DRM) isn't looking through anything. Only the anti-cheat protocol, which is attached implicitly to games themselves, not the client platform.

Andy of Comix Inc:
VAC isn't DRM

Where did I say it was? Steam is, Steam is provided by valve, Gabe is saying "trust Valve or the cheaters win!". I really didn't think I was unclear.

Sanunes:
Whenever a company says "trust us" I lose all trust. I understand why they are being secretive on what their software does, but this is my privacy and I don't have a Facebook page for more then messaging friends because I don't trust Facebook, I can't see why I should trust Valve with this.

But with the vast majority of those companies you can't trust them because at the end of the day they answer to a board of directors/shareholders who are only interested in the $$$. In corporate America the company serves its shareholders first and its customers second, so no as a consumer you can't really trust them.

But Valve? They're one of the few big companies who are actually still a privately held corporations, not public. Gabe Newell doesn't have any shareholders to answer to and gets to call all the shots. Now that can still mean he's collecting all your personal data to sell on the side for hookers & blow, or it simply is what he says it is.

Either way, people should keep in mind this key difference when they look at a company like Valve vs one like EA. Personally I'm fine with Valve, Gabe is already a billionaire so there's little incentive to try and nickle & dime some more $$$ out of his customer base collecting personal information at the risk of losing consumer trust and facing our wrath.

You know what? If this was ANY other company, I would call BS. But Valve? You get a pass.

These guys bend over backwards at every opportunity for their customers, and the company has had a history of allowing their player base to have as much freedom with their games as possible. These guys THRIVE on the goodwill of their fan base, and I doubt they would ever do anything to compromise that.

On top of that, valve isn't Google. They don't cater to a wide arrange of tastes, every single one of their customers is a gamer. What the hell would they do with that browsing history, since they already know what their users want (games and hats) and already know how to keep them coming to their services (bitchin sales)? They don't have a NEED to snoop through your browsing history, they can already analyze your steam library to find out what games you like.

The only time valve has ever been super secretive about their stuff has been on the status of Half life 3.

Tanis:
'Trust us' is a line used by every corrupt company and government.

So, no, I won't 'trust you'.
Trust is EARNED, and they haven't earned it.

Whilst a true statement I am curious. What does a game retailer/developer/publisher (valve is all three) have to do to earn your trust? Sell you games? Make games you like? I'm actually curious here.

I don't care about this, personally. I think Blizzard did something similar with World of Warcraft, and I didn't care then either.

Although after a quick google search, turns out they were scanning your computer for hacks, not necessarily your network traffic:

http://news.cnet.com/Game-players-say-Blizzard-invades-privacy/2100-1043_3-5830718.html

So yeah, I don't care.

One solution would be - opt in. Not everyone would cheat and most cheaters would opt out, but enough data could be gathered by others to still have effective countermeasures. Customers tend to be fairly reasonable when provided with a clear choice and good consequence. "If you opt in it may help us stop cheating which would improve your gaming experience" etc etc.

I not sure if half of you even read the post or understand what was said for that matter. -_-

*sigh*

Say, everyone, remember when developers didn't try to push DRM in our faces? good times...

Oh, wait, I still have my Xbox 360! and it doesn't get prissy about not being online! nor does it try to charge me for looking up cheats or walkthroughs! oh my! what a novelty!

(I wish there was a less obvious way to convey sarcasm in text).

Most of the stuff I (or anyone else really) do is tracked by one party or another, and I don't see any point in being bothered by it.

Other than that, Valve have the decency to provide something in return for their DRM and support my platform so yeah, I trust them. As much as I trust Google with my e-mail and search requests. Or as much as I trust my linux distro's maintainers. You always have to compromise when you deal with the stuff you don't make yourself. Be it PC software, PC hardware or your food.

Valve asks for trust?

Are they kiddin', stupid or just cynical?

But I do take the explanation. It just means I'm uninstalling CSGO right now and will never play a multiplayer game again.

Second, he said that this protocol isn't actually in use anymore.

I feel like some people are missing this spot. I'm fine with it, because Valve. Anyway, I'm going back to playing the games I wanna play again. Oh and school. That's actually important.

RandV80:

Sanunes:
Whenever a company says "trust us" I lose all trust. I understand why they are being secretive on what their software does, but this is my privacy and I don't have a Facebook page for more then messaging friends because I don't trust Facebook, I can't see why I should trust Valve with this.

But with the vast majority of those companies you can't trust them because at the end of the day they answer to a board of directors/shareholders who are only interested in the $$$. In corporate America the company serves its shareholders first and its customers second, so no as a consumer you can't really trust them.

But Valve? They're one of the few big companies who are actually still a privately held corporations, not public. Gabe Newell doesn't have any shareholders to answer to and gets to call all the shots. Now that can still mean he's collecting all your personal data to sell on the side for hookers & blow, or it simply is what he says it is.

Either way, people should keep in mind this key difference when they look at a company like Valve vs one like EA. Personally I'm fine with Valve, Gabe is already a billionaire so there's little incentive to try and nickle & dime some more $$$ out of his customer base collecting personal information at the risk of losing consumer trust and facing our wrath.

I don't trust the internet in general, I know there are records of every website I visit and how much activity my connection sees what bothers me is Valve didn't tell us they were taking our information. The only way we found out is because someone caught them looking at the DNS tables. I don't need to know what they are looking for with VAC or going in-depth, but I do want to know they are looking at my information so I can make an informed choice in what I want to do.

If Valve wants me to trust them they need to keep me informed of changes like this, for I don't trust them anymore then I trust EA for they are both companies that desire to make money even if one is public and the other private.

If this was EA, I'd honestly feel smug about avoiding all of their products since... Mass Effect 2? I think that was the last EA game I ever bought. But Valve? To be honest, Valve have moved heaven and earth to keep PC gaming alive and is (in my opinion) the sole reason why PC gaming is resurging as a valid contender for the best gaming platform, eclipsing all of the consoles by it's openness, modding capability etc. While I do feel massive corporations and businesses generally need to have a constant eye on them, I think Valve has earned a little leeway. I've yet to feel actively burned or frustrated or insulted by them which I've experienced from plenty of other companies.

hickwarrior:

Second, he said that this protocol isn't actually in use anymore.

I feel like some people are missing this spot. I'm fine with it, because Valve. Anyway, I'm going back to playing the games I wanna play again. Oh and school. That's actually important.

Yeah. 20 comments about how much Valve can eat a dick, seem to have been made by people who didn't finish reading the article.

Stay Classy Escapist.

This gets a pass from me. I have very little reason not to take Valve at their word, and as a guy who frequently deletes tracker cookies from his computer, all this really means is that they're another company on the list of people who know which sites I go on, and they almost certainly care much less about using it for advertising.

Sgt. Sykes:
Valve asks for trust?

Are they kiddin', stupid or just cynical?

But I do take the explanation. It just means I'm uninstalling CSGO right now and will never play a multiplayer game again.

Why uninstall the game? You can play on non-VAC servers just fine without VAC scanning your system. And that's ignoring the fact that not every multiplayer game uses VAC. Sorry dude, but I think you're taking your paranoia just a little too far.

Misterian:
*sigh*

Say, everyone, remember when developers didn't try to push DRM in our faces? good times...

Oh, wait, I still have my Xbox 360! and it doesn't get prissy about not being online! nor does it try to charge me for looking up cheats or walkthroughs! oh my! what a novelty!

(I wish there was a less obvious way to convey sarcasm in text).

Dude, what the hell are you on about? VAC isn't DRM, it's an anti-cheat system. And Steam doesn't charge you for looking up cheats or walkthroughs either. It doesn't even charge you for ANYTHING other than the games and actual items, for goodness sakes.

The thing is our browsing is already being watched,and perhaps to a deeper extent.
And the biggest offender is Google of course. First you have the referral system that tells each site you visit on which you one you where before,then there is adsense,which tracks which sites you visit to get know of your tastes so it instructs a personalized marketing plan for you. I personally got all that feeling of being watched when I once visited a thematic site and then its advertisements started following me and showing up in any other unrelated site I'd visit.
Anybody ever wondered why when there are thousands if not millions of different ads,some seem to insist and show up on every site you visit ?

Paying for cheats is a thing? Like, really? Loading a piece of Software from a shady background with shady functionality, that even messes with other stuff on your PC (like manipulation the DNS lists) and actually paying your hard earned money for it!?
Some people are really in need O_o

On another topic, I fear the day, that Valve will lose Gabe Newell. Unfortunately no one lives forever. And if Valve does not have a new generation of employees, who share their mindset, it can easily turn into a second EA. And then it will be hell for all Steam users...

Misterian:
*sigh*

Say, everyone, remember when developers didn't try to push DRM in our faces? good times...

Oh, wait, I still have my Xbox 360! and it doesn't get prissy about not being online! nor does it try to charge me for looking up cheats or walkthroughs! oh my! what a novelty!

(I wish there was a less obvious way to convey sarcasm in text).

Thats because the platform itself is shut as a motherfucker. The OS is the DRM.

OT: Dunno why people are surprised, it sucks but just about everyone does this nowadays. Yeah, even Valve!

*shrugs* Every time you go online you are being tracked by someone or something. If you don't like it, don't go online.
I can't be mad at Gabe, he looks so huggable.

Crimsonmonkeywar:
I not sure if half of you even read the post or understand what was said for that matter. -_-

No kidding! Imagine how I feel...

A few things here...

Probably the whole lot was started by one of the cheat creators who 'blew the whistle', and its not like you can trust those guys, and I bet they (the cheat makers) have a lot more nefarious software running as well as the cheats they provide.
Valve have no real use for your personal browsing data, nor care where you have been and there are already a lot of other companies that have nicked that level of data off your PC years ago, hell do a Google search on yourself and be surprised how much others know about you (and some even charge you for the data on you).
Google itself is a data mining system of note.

I would much rather have less cheats in my game than be too concerned if a company can see what porn sites I have been browsing, and as long as your browsing is not illegal you shouldnt be too concerned either.
Think who would benefit the most if VAC was considered a data miner and not trustworthy... a hint: Not you.

i swear, gabe could be caught as the head of an international child pornography ring and the gaming comunity would just forgive him, give him a pass, probably even rage and lobby for his release, all while making half life 3 jokes

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