Cheating is bad in online games; we can all agree on that. Having anti-cheat software usually raises some questions back and forth, but the core idea of making sure that cheating is stopped swiftly at the root at least makes a fair amount of sense. Really, the only problem with it in the long term is if it mistakenly flags innocent accounts for immediate banning when they weren’t doing anything wrong. You know, like what seems to be happening to Fortnite players recently.
The studio quickly identified the issue and is working to both fix the problem and correct the automated cheat bans for players unfairly barred from the game; the bug appears to be caused by shooting whilst on a swingset, and players hit by this false positive should no longer be getting fully banned. Still, it takes some time to reverse bans, and it’s hard to argue that this makes the anti-cheat software look good. Unless you think swingsets are inherently evil, we suppose. So that’s a mixed result when the game cracks down hard on cheating, perhaps.
It’s been a little over a week since Overwatch launched, and in that short time Blizzard’s new team shooter has become a bonafide success in the market.
As of yesterday, Overwatch passed its seven millionth player, which represents a lot of revenue for the buy-to-play game. Need some more big numbers before you’ll be impressed? To date, Overwatch players have collectively clocked 119 million hours in the live game and swapped heroes 326 million times.
A small handful of those players won’t be seen in the game any more, however. Over 1,500 Chinese accounts have been permanently banned due to cheating. This is the first wave of bans, with Blizzard obviously sending a message to any players out there who might consider using a hack to gain a competitive advantage.
Curious what the Overwatch experience is like? Read our launch impressions of the super-powered shooter!
It’s hard not to understate how bad the situation is in The Division right now. Over the last few weeks, stories and reports have been surfacing about the many issues plaguing the game, from exploits to glitches to yet more exploits.
An article from UK’s The Guardian paints a picture of how this successful title is “heading for catastrophe.” Exploits used to gain loot in PvE, the writer notes, can be turned around to use in the heated PvP Dark Zone for an unfair advantage. While Ubisoft is attempting to address some of these situations, at least, the article points out that the forum and subreddit is flooded with evidence of hacks and rampant cheats.
In every competitive online game, there will always be people who are willing to cheat to get an advantage over other players and companies willing to develop those cheats for a profit. Developer Valve has waged a constant war against cheaters in its first person shooters since the days of Half-Life 1, using its regularly updated VAC (Valve Anti Cheat) system to detect hacks and ban those using them. A constant arms race has developed between the companies developing undetectable hacks and the efforts of Valve to detect them, and it seems that this war is seriously heating up right now in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Players are reporting that they’ve been running into cheaters at an alarming rate in recent months. Website VAC-Bans.com has reported a sharp rise in VAC bans over the period, with just over 9,000 players getting banned in December and almost 12,000 accounts already banned in January. As this number includes only cheaters who were detected by VAC and later banned and the website only tracks about 5% of players, the real number of people cheating in-game is likely much higher. The rise in cheating has been widely attributed to sales of the game during the Steam Winter Sale and to players attempting to gain back the ranks they lost when developers recently reduced player ranks across the board.
Players who are reported for hacking but aren’t detected by VAC can also be banned through the Overwatch system, which asks players to watch a replay of the suspect match and decide if they think he’s cheating or not. Other attempts to limit cheating in CS:GO have included blocking new accounts from being used in competitive games until they reach level 3, which helped temporarily but was quickly circumvented by the creation of a black market for pre-levelled accounts.
DayZ associate producer Eugen Harton spoke to a GDC Europe crowd earlier today about how Bohemia Interactive handles cheaters in its open-world zombiepocalypse survival title. Harton said that Bohemia has built a library of roughly 400 cheats to date, and he notes that over 76 percent of DayZ players who are banned for cheating come back and get caught cheating again.
In terms of practical anti-cheat measures, Harton says that disabling Windows’ test mode worked well for DayZ’s developers, and he also advocates for community managers infiltrating cheat websites and using on-the-level players as snitches.
Ultimately, though, cheating is big business and is here to stay regardless of developer initiatives. “It’s amazing how much money you can make selling cheats,” he explains. “Many cheat-sellers in Russia and other regions make their living selling game exploits.”
World of Warcraft botters, beware: Blizzard is coming after you hard. The studio said yesterday that it has leveled the banhammer against several accounts — perhaps as many as 100,000 for up to six months — using botting software.