Valve’s Overwatch system was introduced to Dota 2 last week. It’s been generally well-received and praised as an improvement over the game’s previous automated reporting system. But cheaters are already finding ways to circumvent it.
One Dota 2 player encountered a suspicious Overwatch case, posting the video on Reddit. The footage shows the suspected cheater playing Windranger, displaying the often-seen hallmarks of a scripter or hacker: seemingly omniscient knowledge of enemies and wards covered by the fog of war, erratic mouse movements that instantly snap to and from units, and using the hero’s targeted abilities with their screen away from the affected target.
Upon examining the footage, the evidence pointed to an open-and-shut case of a scripting player. There was a catch, however, when the poster was unable to submit the Overwatch report. An error messaged popped up instead, asking the poster to try again later.
Other users have commented with similar experiences of being unable to report obvious cheaters, seemingly proving that this isn’t an isolated case.
While Overwatch is new to Dota 2, the self-regulation system has existed in another Valve game, CS:GO, since 2013. CS:GO content creator Sparkles released a video in August 2020 where he interviewed a cheater named Kessie.
Kessie said that it was a simple matter to circumvent CS:GO‘s Overwatch, with one-click tools and services that could compromise the system’s anonymity and expose the player’s names, removing an important aspect of privacy. Cheaters can then use this information to spam reports, known as “report botting.”
The cheater also said that while it was possible to forcibly ban somebody through Overwatch, it was “way easier to prevent someone from being convicted.”
“I don’t wake up in the morning wonder if I’ve been banned, even after a really cheeky couple of games,” Kessie said. “Because at this point, I just can’t see how I’m gonna get banned.”
It’s possible that the similar systems used in both games have expedited the process for cheat makers to bypass Dota 2‘s Overwatch, paving the way for bad actors.
While the dream is to have a self-regulating community, it’s simply not possible when cheaters own the keys to their own prison. Nobody expects the new system to be perfect, but this is a glaring oversight that should be patched as soon as possible by Valve.