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Playing ‘Overwatch’ On Linux May Get You Banned

Some Linux gamers playing Blizzard’s Overwatch are on the receiving end of the ban hammer today, and it’s suspected that DXVK — a compatibility tool that hooks into WINE to translate DirectX 11 to Linux-compatible graphics API Vulkan — may be the the source of the problem, albeit not maliciously.

Overwatch install page on Lutris GamingBlizzard / Lutris

This is an issue worth highlighting because gaming on Linux has become much more visible in the mainstream press, and a lot of people frustrated with Windows are contemplating the switch. This visibility was propelled by Valve’s recent introduction of “Proton,” an addition to Steam Play that allows thousands of Windows games to be installed and played directly from the Steam for Linux client.

Prominent YouTubers like Linus have also highlighted gaming on Linux recently, thanks in part to the expertise of Linux guru Wendell from Level1Techs.

As first reported by Phoronix, these Overwatch players have been enjoying the game trouble-free on Linux for quite some time. Something changed in the last 24 hours. This Reddit post details the reasoning behind the ban:

  • Account Action: Account Closure – Overwatch Account Offense: Unauthorized Cheat Programs (“hacks”)
  • Recent activity on this account shows the use of an unauthorized cheat program, also known as a “hack”, which harms the intended player experience.

It appears to be a permanent account closure, not just a temporary ban.

In a matter of hours since the post was published on Reddit, several other gamers have chimed in with stories of their accounts being banned as well.

It’s worth noting that Blizzard does not have a policy of banning gamers simply for playing any of their titles on Linux. Blizzard states via their community forum that “playing on Linux or even a Mac while on an emulated Windows environment is not bannable. Since the game isn’t actually designed for those operating systems, we can’t guarantee stability however. You may see performance problems depending upon your setup. We at Blizzard can’t support it directly, but there are a number of players who play without issue on these sorts of configurations. Good luck with it at any rate!”

The current theory is that the “async” option in DXVK, which reduces stuttering as the shader cache is built up, might be to blame and could be falsely detected as a hack resulting in an auto-ban. DXVK is an option that’s available after installing games via Lutris, a popular option for Linux gamers with titles not present on Steam.

If this has already happened to you, politely reach out to Blizzard support and explain the situation. But just to be safe, if you’re enjoying Overwatch on Linux, you may want to take a break until this is resolved or explained.

I’ve reached out to several PR contacts at Blizzard for an official comment or explanation, and will keep you posted.

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