Last week, rumors circulated that Valve had released a fake key to Half-Life 2 to various "warez" sites in an effort to trap game pirates. Today on the forums of Steam, Valve's download service, the developer announced that it had busted nearly 20,000 people who tried "to access Half-Life 2 without purchasing it."
As a result, the offenders have had their Steam accounts suspended indefinitely. Valve also warned that "accounts also may be closed due to fraudulent activity in an attempt to obtain additional products for your Steam account. This includes credit card fraud, theft of accounts you do not own, and using cracked versions of Valve games."
Valve's statement was coy about how it caught the pirates. "The method used was extremely easy for Valve to trace and confirm," it read, "and so there is no question that the accounts disabled were used to try and illegally obtain Half-Life 2."
However, Valve was extremely clear about one thing--it did not create a special version of Half-Life 2 to bust pirates. "Valve did not put out any kind of fake key or fake warez or hack instructions to trap people," read the statement. "The hack came from the 'community' as do they all."