The latest Dota 2 update has made editing game files almost impossible, but Valve has come under fire once again.

Dota 2 developer Valve has quietly patched the game to make playing with modified game files virtually impossible. The update was first spotted by tracking site Steam DB at almost midnight on Friday, January 14th. Most users will have installed the update the following morning.

The patch installed protections against editing and modifying the game files to cheat online matches. The game now uses Cyclic Redundancy Checking to verify the game’s cache. If Dota 2 detects changes to the game files, you will no longer be able to access online play. 

However, the uncommunicated update has caused confusion among the player base. Some have worried they’d been VAC banned after receiving an error message. Still others, with benign or helpful mods, were left frustrated that their games no longer functioned at all.

The fix likely comes in response to controversy earlier this month after a clip surfaced of Dota Pro Circuit players using modified game files. Daniel “ImmortalFaith” Moza, coach of Team Tickles, shared a clip of Neta “33” Shapira playing Broodmother. He was allegedly playing with his Dota 2 config files edited to improve spiderling macro.

No More Edited Game Files 

Players using modifications and game file edits were greeted with this message upon login (Image via wickedplayer494)

Confused players took to Reddit to air their grievances. Multiple players were simply worried by the message stating, “Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) Locally modified game files detected. Play is disabled.”

But for others, it was the fact they would now be unable to use their custom hero sets. Or their shaders set. Or perhaps most egregiously, the colorblind person now unable to distinguish between creeps. Dota 2’s main competitor, League of Legends, has had colorblind mode since at least 2012. However, it doesn’t support all types of colorblindness.

From harmless fun to potentially essential accessibility improvements, removing the ability to use modified game files has affected all types of players. In Valve’s defense, it would be nearly impossible to distinguish between “good” mods like the colorblindness changes and malicious alterations like Spiderling AI edits. 

But this will be little comfort to those now missing out on their favorite mod. Supported modifications and custom game modes are still available through the Steam Workshop.

More Kindling for the Fire

Prior to the change, players could use custom Hero sets like the one above (image via Reddit user Chuchello)

In perhaps the most damning criticism of the change, Reddit user Kuroyukihime1 alleged that the change had nothing to do with combating cheating. Instead, they suggested it was to do with preventing players from using any cosmetic change Valve couldn’t charge for. Calling it “greed,” the user described bypassing Valve Anti-Cheat with ease.

It’s not a good look for Valve. The company is still facing flack from the competitive community for the cancellation of the first Major amid a lack of communication. So it should be no surprise that this change to the game was not communicated either. 

And while charitably, this patch could be interpreted as a move to help the competitive scene (it was a DPC coach who first complained about the Broodling spider exploit), it just feels like another poorly executed and largely unneeded change to the game. Especially when rather than take a sledgehammer approach to the problem, the issue within the competitive scene could have been solved simply by using rule change to prevent players from using edited game files.

Michael Hassall -

Michael Hassall

| Twitter: @hoffasaurusx

Michael is a UK-based content creator who caught the esports bug in 2010, but took eight years to figure out he should write about it. Throwing away a promising career in marketing and PR, he now specialises in MOBAs, covering League of Legends, Dota 2, and esports in general since 2019. When not glued to tournaments taking place on the other side of the globe, he spends time nurturing an unhealthy addiction to MMOs and gacha games.