What just happened? Valve recently dropped the ban hammer on more than 40,000 accounts suspected of cheating in Dota 2. According to the developer and publisher, accounts in question used third-party software to gain an unfair advantage over the competition. How did Valve know the gamers were cheating? Simple – they set a trap and watched them take the bait.

Valve recently learned that some players were utilizing third-party software capable of accessing information used internally by the Dota client. This information isn't visible during normal gameplay and gives the user an unfair advantage.

Devs quickly remedied the issue and released a patch that also set a trap. The patch included a section of data in the game client that could never be seen during normal gameplay but could be accessed using known third-party exploits. Valve was able to flag each and every account that read from this "secret" area in the client, which served as proof they were cheating.

The resulting bans were "well-deserved," Valve added.

The ongoing fight against cheat developers and players that use their wares often takes place behind the scenes but in this instance, Valve wanted to highlight its stance on the matter in public – anyone that runs an app that can read data from the Dota client while gaming can have their account permanently banned. This policy also applies to professional gamers, who will additionally be banned from all Valve competitive events if found to be cheating.

Dota 2 arrived in 2013 as a direct sequel to Defense of the Ancients. The multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) pits two teams of five players against each other as they fight to become the first to destroy their opponent's Ancient structure.

Despite being nearly a decade old, Dota 2 remains massively popular. It occupies the number two position on Steam's most played list as of this writing with 538,616 current players. That puts it well ahead of Apex Legends in third place with 259,467 current players but pretty far behind the 947,689 people playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Image credit: Keyboard by Rodnae Productions, Ban Hammer by R5on11c