Can Steam detect pirated games? – Answered

Steam is a widely-known place for selling and buying video games from a variety of developers.

Steam also acts as a game launcher, which allows you to play the games you purchased on the platform. Games you purchased on Steam get added to your Steam library.

However, there are instances where you can manually add a game to Steam from an external source.

These may be games you pirated with the intent to play-test, or you may simply worry that Steam could detect pirated games outside of itself.

This is what we’re going to discuss and answer in this article, and whether you should consider adding a non Steam game to your library.

Can Steam detect pirated games? The correct answer

To simply answer the question, Steam cannot detect pirated games. So if you want to play a cracked game, you don’t need to worry about a Steam ban.

Windows 10 and MacOS also don’t have this capability, although your browser may warn you against certain downloads they believe to be malicious.

You can choose to download them regardless, but this is inadvisable unless you are certain the file you’re downloading it safe. Such warnings are the doings of the Windows Virus and Threat Protection program.

Despite warning against certain downloads, the program still can’t detect pirated games so there’s no need to worry.

Steam can’t detect cracked games because it doesn’t have permission nor the ability to scan the files outside its own program.

This would be a major privacy breach if Steam could indeed check everything you download on your device. So, you don’t have to worry about getting reported or banned on Steam for downloading pirated games.

When regarding games with VAC, Steam will only detect them as non-steam programs if you choose to connect them to Steam. Steam still can’t detect if the game is pirated or not.

You’ll only get banned or reported if you enable cheats in games with VAC. VAC stands for Valve Anti-Cheat Software. It is an automated system that detects cheats.

Sometimes, a game could have its own defences again piracy but these would still be external from Steam.

Steam can only read and verify its own game files. Steam may still try and look for any cheats when you play the games, but that’s the extent of it.

You could also get banned if you’re caught using a hacked version of Steam, but simply launching and playing a pirated game outside of that won’t lead to any banning.

Adding pirated games to Steam

For those that decide to, you may want to know how to pirate games on Steam. There’s no way to transfer games between Steam accounts, so cracked games can be appealing.

If you choose to add games to your Steam library from a third-party source, Steam will detect that there is variation between them and your Steam-purchased games.

However, it will only classify the pirated game as a non-steam game. As a result, the game won’t be able to use the usual steam services available to Steam games.

Otherwise, there should be no issue for adding cracked games to Steam. The best place to start your journey to finding Steam or Steam Deck pirates games is the subreddit

Though, the truth is that this is typically best to avoid since there is no real merit to doing it.

Pirated games usually come with their own launcher, so Steam is not needed in order to successfully run the game. Plus, cracked games can have loading issues.

Related: Why Steam is Downloading Slowly

Making sure such games can function well within Steam can also be quite convoluted, so it’s not really worth the hassle if it’s not necessary to do.

It may be best to keep the pirated games and Steam in their separate folders for the sake of convenience.

Pirated games are usually installed into their own folder outside of Steam. These folders are usually just found in the File Explorer apart from any existing program files.

However, you should keep in mind that whilst most pirated games can function fine with their own game launcher, certain features may not be accessible.

These features are usually of the multiplayer or online variety. Even adding the game to Steam won’t allow you to use such features because Steam can still detect that the pirated game is different from a Steam-purchased game.

The issue for most people is that non-Steam games aren’t eligible for the same updates that you get with games you’ve paid for.

This can be annoying when you play online, but unfortunately there’s no way around this – Steam is clever enough to know the difference.


In conclusion, Steam can’t detect pirated games because it doesn’t check or verify any files outside its own program.

This means that Steam doesn’t know what you download external from itself.

So, there’s no need to worry that Steam can detect when you download or run a pirated game, as it won’t affect your account, and you won’t get banned for playing that particular game.

See Also: How to Level Up a Steam Account

On the other hand, if you add a pirated game to Steam, Steam can detect that it’s different from other Steam games.

Fortunately, that’s the extent of it. Steam still can’t detect whether the game is pirated, but it can prevent the game from utilising certain Steam services.

This is because it doesn’t recognise the game as a genuine Steam game. This usually means that the pirated game won’t be able to access any multiplayer or online features.

However, ethically stealing video games from small publishers and developers by playing the pirated version may be immoral – only you can make that decision.

Photo of author

Connect: Twitter



I love reading, writing, drawing, and other creative pursuits. I wish to travel more and do extreme activities, such as bungee-jumping and skydiving. I'm a casual gamer with an affinity for narrative-driven games and unique art styles. I like watching a variety of different media, but I particularly enjoy animations and musicals. My favourite genre, for both books and visual media, is psychological-thriller.

Read more from Jenny


Apps UK
International House
12 Constance Street
London, E16 2DQ