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Bungie explains Destiny 2 PC bans (update)

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Reasonable third-party software won’t result in a ban

Destiny 2 - three Guardians standing together in European Dead Zone Bungie/Activision

Update (2:36 p.m. ET): Bungie said today that it banned “approximately 400 players” of the PC version yesterday, and promised in a blog post that it did not — and will not — ban anybody who uses software that employs screen overlays or performance monitors.

“Bans were applied to players who were using tools that pose a threat to the shared ecosystem of the game,” said Bungie, essentially saying that anybody who got banned deserved it, because they were using something like hacking or cheating software. The studio did say that it is overturning four player bans, although all of them originated during the PC version’s beta in late August, not after yesterday’s launch.

Bungie noted that ban is never an automatic process; it’s not like the Destiny 2 client itself can detect something and immediately block people from playing. Only a member of the studio can issue a ban “after a manual investigation,” said Bungie.

That seems to contradict the stories of players who claim they were banned shortly after booting up Destiny 2 on PC, or who say they were banned even though they don’t have anything installed on their computer besides the Blizzard app and the game.

Update 2 (9:48 p.m. ET): Bungie updated today’s blog post this evening to say that it has since “identified a group of players who were banned in error.” Those bans, said Bungie, were unrelated to the use of third-party applications with Destiny 2.

The studio did not give a number for the size of that group, but said it has unbanned the players in question. That could account for the people who were reporting that they were banned for no apparent reason.

“We will continue to review the process we use to ensure a fun and fair game,” said Bungie.

Original story: Destiny 2 finally launched on Windows PC yesterday, and there’s already a controversy surrounding that version of the game: Dozens of people are finding that they’ve been banned from playing, and they don’t know why.

The initial culprit was thought to be the use of third-party software that interacts with the Destiny 2 game client by inserting code into it, which Bungie explicitly forbids. The studio explained earlier this year that this draconian policy is intended to maintain the security of the PC version, and to prevent players from hacking or cheating. “We [...] believe that this is a necessary measure in bringing you a great gaming experience in Destiny 2 on PC,” said Bungie.

This restricts some features of apps that handle game capture and livestreaming, such as OBS and XSplit, as well as software that employs screen overlays. Under that umbrella are voice chat apps like Discord and Mumble, and hardware monitoring software such as EVGA Precision XOC, MSI Afterburner and Fraps. To be clear, Bungie says that players should still be able to use those kinds of apps alongside Destiny 2 — it’s just that the game will block any software overlays.

“Should” is the operative word there. Ever since Destiny 2 went live on PC yesterday, players have been reporting on Bungie’s forums, Reddit and elsewhere that they’ve been banned from playing the game. It remains unclear what’s causing the bans, although players quickly began to assume that third-party software was the reason, since Bungie previously announced that it wouldn’t be allowed. On Bungie’s support page about account bans, the studio lists a wide variety of behavior that may result in a restriction (which is temporary) or ban (which is permanent), including “using an external program to modify the operation of the Destiny game software.”

Destiny 2 ‘not so fast!’ ban message on PC
The kiss of death.
Bungie/Activision via Mkilbride/Reddit

However, people are saying they’ve been able to use Nvidia’s GeForce Experience — which employs a screen overlay — without issue, even with the program’s frames-per-second counter enabled. (As many chagrined players have pointed out, it would be ironic if Nvidia software caused problems, since the company partnered with publisher Activision to promote Destiny 2.) And even those who say they have nothing installed on their computer except the game and the Battle.net app are being banned.

Bungie has not yet commented on what’s causing the bans, although community manager Chris “Cozmo” Shannon said on the studio’s forums yesterday that third-party software isn’t the issue. “Third-party applications that aren’t compatible with Destiny 2 may cause the game to not run but won’t result in a ban,” said Shannon.

Regardless of whether that’s true, plenty of Destiny 2 players are still left in the lurch for now, unable to play a game they paid at least $60 for (and unable to easily get a refund). What’s particularly galling is that bans are permanent, and that banned players have no recourse: They can’t dispute the situation, and Bungie says it won’t overturn bans. “Permanent account bans are only implemented with rigorous checking to ensure that the innocent are not punished alongside the guilty,” the studio notes.

We’ve reached out to Bungie for more details, and will update this article with any information we receive. For more on Destiny 2, read our review and check out our comprehensive guide.