The Future Is Now: Cheating In Online Games Leads To Arrests In Japan

from the not-the-best-use-of-your-time dept

Any video game producer who produces a product for which online play is a large component also has to fight an ongoing arms-race against cheaters and hackers who gain an unfair advantage in the game and threaten the gamer ecosystem. It’s annoying, it sucks, and the fight is unending. For online games, that’s just kind of the deal. Most companies work with programmers and 3rd party service providers, like Steam, to try to ban players who cheat. Other companies, such as Blizzard, choose to try to twist copyright law into some kind of anti-cheater pretzel. Japan, on the other hand, appears to be done screwing around.

Newspapers in the land of the rising sun are reporting that three teenagers have been arrested for cheating in the online first-person shooter Sudden Attack. Yes, arrested.

Yomiuri Online, one of Japan’s largest newspapers, reports that this is the first time gamers have had criminal liability charged against them in Japan for allegedly using cheat programs. One of the gamers is a university freshman, another is a 17 year-old vocational school student, and the last of the trio is a 17-year-old high school student. In Nexon’s statement about the legal charges, the company explains that these three players allegedly used the cheat tools repeatedly in the game. IT Media reports that distribution of cheats was also allegedly involved.

Yup, things just got a little more real in the realm of pretending to shoot everyone you see. Yes, cheating is annoying. But criminal? That seems like a massive overreaction and tremendously dangerous. Cheating in online games goes back all the way to the dial-up days and companies have always taken it upon themselves to keep cheaters out of their games. They may not like the arms race, but that hardly means it should reach the level of criminal liability — especially when the line between cheating and just gaining some kind of advantage may get blurry pretty fast. It’s reasonable to argue that if the game maker allows something to happen in the game, then it’s on that game maker to set things up to block actions it doesn’t like. Opening it up to the criminal justice system seems like a recipe for disaster.

Cheating is wrong, but couldn’t Nexon simply ban these players? Maybe the company tried, but was unsuccessful. Or maybe Nexon should’ve tried harder to combat the cheats. But making them a crime?

It’s easy to point at cheaters and say they aren’t worth defending, but nobody really wants to open up this can of worms where we can all be charged with crimes for messing around in a game.

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Comments on “The Future Is Now: Cheating In Online Games Leads To Arrests In Japan”

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Whatever (profile) says:

In an online gaming environment, especially one where customers either pay for the service or have paid for the software in question, the user experience is key to the business.

Online cheaters are no different from disruptive people in a restaurant. They spoil the experience and they do harm to the business in question. In an online world where reputation is everything, cheaters can do real harm outside of the game.

Good on them for taking it seriously, and for that matter getting the police to understand and take it equally seriously.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh dear, so close! But, yet again, you miss the actual point.

For once, I actually agree with you on what you wrote. But, you missed the entire subject of the article and instead addressed a different question. The question is not whether cheating is right or whether they should be dealt with at all. The question is whether the police should be doing it or whether the game developer should be doing it themselves (e.g. banning the users or freezing their accounts). The question is why it’s a criminal matter rather than a civil one.

Cheating happens all the time on XBox Live as well, but Microsoft tend to block the Live accounts rather than start shipping people off to the police (though this may have happened for serious offenders, not sure)

What’s your opinion with this actual question raised in the article, and why do you think that way?

“Online cheaters are no different from disruptive people in a restaurant”

Do those people get arrested and charged with criminal activity? Or, do they merely get ejected from the premises with the police only involved if they become violent or otherwise refuse to co-operate? I see no indication that the latter occurred here.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Simply banning them won’t work, they will just “cheat” their way around it. It’s perhaps good time that hacking in this manner is treated as a criminal behavior, rather than just a nuisance.

As for the restaurant, you may get kicked out – but they may also call the cops and you will likely be charged with disturbing the peace or some other similar crime. It’s not just people making a little noise, it’s people disrupting the actual operation of the business.

I can see clear harm here, calling the police is a pretty good response, actually.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Simply banning them won’t work, they will just “cheat” their way around it”

Citation? You must have reports from all the other companies who are doing this to prove your assertion? I mean, Steam, Microsoft, Sony, Blizzard and all the other companies who don’t tend to call the cops as a first resort must have thousands of repeat offenders, right? Where are your figures?

Or is this another one of those situations where you pretend you know better then whine and disappear when challenged?

“As for the restaurant, you may get kicked out – but they may also call the cops and you will likely be charged with disturbing the peace or some other similar crime.”

MAY call them, yes. But never as a first resort. Where I live, it’s only if people become particularly disruptive and/or aggressive, and even then the mere threat of police action is usually enough to get them to leave. The only time I’ve seen an arrest was when someone got violent with the cops themselves.

Is this another one of your failed analogies, or do you think that’s an accurate description of what happened here? If so, provide citations, because I don’t see anything like that in the linked articles here.

“I can see clear harm here”

Then perhaps you can explain exactly where, with citations, rather than basing things on a crappy analogies and false assumptions.

Chris says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I play online games, and I cheat. It’s not that I want to destroy the game experience, its that I cheat at every game I play. Personally I don’t do it to break competition, I could care less about the size of my online cock. I’m just not interested in some system of progression someone else made that’s supposed to fit the play style of everyone equally. I want the content I paid for. If I have to make some changes to get to that content before I get bored then so be it. It’s a game. Like chess or hopscotch before it. Just because its fantastically more complicated and someone is making money off of it doesn’t make it sacred. EA manages to ship a broken Battlefield game every year and it hasn’t hurt their profits. This article talks about an abuse of the system that uses Japanese tax dollars to protect Japanese citizens.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Then perhaps you can explain exactly where, with citations, rather than basing things on a crappy analogies and false assumptions.

I used an analogy to try to make it simple. That apparently didn’t work out for you. That’s okay.

The clear harm is simple in an online game: If I am a player and others are cheating, my gaming experienced can be diminished. It could make my online playing less enjoyable, and perhaps lead me to go to a different game / company for my relaxation. Bad reviews may be posted, reputation lost, and in the end, the company operating the gaming system suffers.

Your reputation is everything.

Most of the larger companies don’t deal with this as a potential criminal matter. Perhaps that this is a Japanese company inside Japan dealing with Japanese people makes it easier for this company to do something about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“The clear harm is simple in an online game: If I am a player and others are cheating, my gaming experienced can be diminished. It could make my online playing less enjoyable, and perhaps lead me to go to a different game / company for my relaxation. Bad reviews may be posted, reputation lost, and in the end, the company operating the gaming system suffers.”

and that’s fine but that’s not a problem taxpayers should pay for. If you can’t create a game and manage cheaters then you have only yourself to blame. It is my responsibility. As someone who doesn’t even play the game I do not want my taxpayer money going into funding your game and your business model. Let those that actually play the game fund it by paying you for the game and you using that money to hire moderators to ban cheaters. Don’t get my tax dollars involved. Don’t socialize the costs of your personal business model problems and waste my taxpayer money.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The clear harm is simple in an online game: If I am a player and others are cheating, my gaming experienced can be diminished. It could make my online playing less enjoyable…

What about my game enjoyment? I just happen to like trying to outsmart the game programmers and have since ever since I started playing computer games in the early 80’s. That’s the enjoyment part for me. Just being a mindless in-game sheep holds no appeal for me whatsoever.

I’ve always used bugs and oversights in programming to my advantage in most every game I’ve played, online or off. To make that a criminal act is shear stupidity.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“I used an analogy to try to make it simple. That apparently didn’t work out for you. That’s okay.”

Yes, you do have a habit of picking poor analogies that don’t really fit the situation at hand and distract from the points actually being made. Maybe you should skip those and stick to the actual facts.

“The clear harm is simple in an online game”

You didn’t explain why this should be a criminal matter rather than a civil or even internal one. Perhaps instead of piss-poor analogies and trying to address subjects not covered in the article, you might wish to address this??

“Your reputation is everything.”

Indeed. Many of the companies I mentioned have a reputation of booting off cheaters and not tolerating them. They do not have a reputation for shipping people off to the police at the drop of a hat. Yet, they still have good reputations as gaming platforms.

Do you see the difference between these scenarios? I notice you haven’t posted your figures showing that their return is inevitable and guaranteed to damage if people aren’t arrested…

“Most of the larger companies don’t deal with this as a potential criminal matter.”

Exactly my point. Why is this?

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I have a major suspicion he has no idea what the differences with civil and criminal laws actually are and conflates harm against an illusory and ambiguous thing against harm against society in general.

@Whatever: Criminal laws are specifically for the purpose of regulating conduct that may without those behavioural constraints cause specific harm & absolute damage to society itself.

Most criminal laws draw on the historical basis of trespass, whether that is trespass to property (larceny, theft, destruction of, unauthorised access -NOT usage, or trespass to person (assault, battery,

The slippery slope of allowing alleged reputation damage (which is already structured as a tort under defamation – an offshoot of negligence) to also be a criminal act except in the most exigent of circumstances where no damage can be specifically shown either by causation or otherwise (its highly ambiguous and tenuous in the extreme) allows a whole range of actions to then be reclassified as criminal acts.

If you do not understand this, by all accounts keep telling yourself and everyone that classifying things you do not like as criminal is great, though do not be surprised that soon you yourself would then be criminally charged due to doing something that someone else might feel aggrieved over.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“I have a major suspicion he has no idea what the differences with civil and criminal laws actually are and conflates harm against an illusory and ambiguous thing against harm against society in general”

Probably. I suspect he’s merely a troll who gets a weird kick out of being a contrarian against whatever’s said here, but isn’t interested enough to carry on a conversation after being proven wrong. But, he seems to give it an effort and tries to explain a viewpoint (even if that viewpoint is often wrong or bears no relation to the actual points being raised), and hasn’t yet devolved into tantrums, swearing, lies and personal attacks like our other regulars, so I like to keep prodding him in case he shows some real honesty.

The funny thing is, if he’s being honest, he’s actually in danger of agreeing with the points in the article – he just doesn’t understand what they are!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Here’s an example of unbanning, at least on the Playstation Network:

As most people know, you can use VPNs to bypass IP blocks, MAC address changers to fake out physical addresses, etc… Usually companies want to make it easy to subscribe to their games, so simply creating a new account isn’t that bad.

Is it criminal behavior? I would say no until you get to the point where you are disrupting the actual performance of the game/network itself. IE DDoS attacks, exploiting memory leaks/SQL injections to run foreign software on the server, basically really hacking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Its very simple actually

"Hacking their way around a ban" is probably not the most accurate way to put it but it gets the point across.

The most common way to circumvent a ban is to just create a new account and start over (most cheaters dont care if their ACCOUNT is banned for this reason).

If the cheaters IP address is banned then they can use a VPN with a new account and I kno for a fact there are people out there skilled enough to literally "HACK" they’re way around a ban.

While I believe in some circumstances "criminal charges" should be brought against cheaters I also believe it should be a case by case decision. Meaning that if the "cheating" is causing undeniable harm to the games community and company then perhaps it becomes a criminal case.

Friends that I regularly play games with will not play certain games anymore because of cheaters and these are games they admit to wanting to play and being willing to buy dlc and microtransaction content. That’s a case of cheaters running customers off and costing the company money and should be criminal case.

I’ll make this very very simple. "Fraud" is a crime and cheating is a way of committing a "fraudulent act". Therefore cheating in video games is a crime.

Tho as I said above it should be judged case by case as there are drastically different degrees of cheating in online games that vary from simply exploiting a games poor programming (advantageously using a glitch in the game) to actually tampering with the programming (hacking it) to give yourself an advantage (invincibility, aim bots, invisibility, etc…).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you want to start an online game part of your responsibility, part of what you are getting paid for, is to keep cheaters out. If you can’t do that then you deserve to go out of business if users don’t like the online experience. But It’s not the responsibility of tax payers to undergo the financial burden of keeping cheaters out for you. It’s your responsibility to do it at your expense and not the expense of everyone. Don’t socialize the costs of your business model.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Simply banning them won’t work, they will just “cheat” their way around it. It’s perhaps good time that hacking in this manner is treated as a criminal behavior, rather than just a nuisance. “

So you’re arguing that because dealing with cheaters is difficult, cheating should be a jailable offense?

That’s quite simply insane.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Simply banning them won’t work, they
> will just “cheat” their way around it.
> It’s perhaps good time that hacking in
> this manner is treated as a criminal
> behavior, rather than just a nuisance.

I admit to not knowing much about Japanese law, but I’d be curious to know exactly what law was being broken here? Has Japan passed some kind of anti-viedeo game cheating statute?

Or is this just another case of the cops making up a crime where there is none to stop something they don’t like and calling it “disturbing the peace” or “disorderly conduct”?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m also unfamiliar with Japanese law, but that’s the beauty of anti-“computer misuse” legislation as found in most countries. Since it’s so vaguely worded, often by people who don’t really understand technology, it can be interpreted to mean pretty much anything. Whether it’s changing a URL, circumventing DRM on stuff you supposedly own or cheating in a game, everything is “hacking” – and hacking is a criminal activity! Isn’t that fun?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Online cheaters are no different from disruptive people in a restaurant. They spoil the experience and they do harm to the business in question… Simply banning them won’t work, they will just “cheat” their way around it. It’s perhaps good time that hacking in this manner is treated as a criminal behavior, rather than just a nuisance.


Comment board trolls are no different from disruptive people in a restaurant. They spoil the experience and they can reduce readership and therefore the advertising revenue for the business in question… Simply banning them won’t work, they will just periodically change their screen name. It’s perhaps good time that hacking in this manner is treated as a criminal behavior, rather than just a nuisance.

Suddenly, it sounds reasonable.

Derek says:

Re: Re: Re:

For me the bottom line is this: I pay to play a game because its fun, if someone is using cheats/hacks to get an unfair advantage it takes the fun out of playing the game, so i stop playing the game, the game maker stops getting my money. If I stop playing because of cheats so do others, this can amount to millions of dollars in losses to the provider of the game, That alone seams a legal avenue to sue the cheaters or the providers of cheat programs as they are responsible for loss of income to game makers who spend untold amounts of time and money to provide a fun experience to players. Is it the game makers sole responsibility to stop the cheaters? that takes time and more money, again more loss of income for the game maker, I say sue the cheaters, fair is fair, cheating is cheating.

LesserMook says:

Re: Re:

It’s not illegal to be disruptive in a restaurant, the law only gets involved when the individual refuses to leave the property when told to by the owner. Then it’s trespassing.

Laws like this are not necessary, businesses can already take users to civil court for violating terms of service; it’s a contractual dispute. Most do not because it’s easier and cheaper to just ban players. This sort of law shifts the cost burden to taxpayers, and ties up our judicial system; diverting resources away from pursuing real crimes.

PaulT (profile) says:

“Yes, cheating is annoying. But criminal?”

Normally, I’d say no. It should be something to be dealt with by the game’s producer itself and should never go beyond them kicking people out of the game, let alone go beyond civil proceedings.

But, a quick look at the game suggests it’s a free-to-play type of game with in-game transactions. In other words, they’re directly undermining the way the game works in order to access to things they should be paying for. They will probably also be losing money from those people the cheats were “distributed” to according to the article, as well as the people put off playing entirely by the cheating.

There’s still the question of how much harm they’re actually doing and whether it should be a criminal matter – more information is necessary to make that judgement. But, investigation is certainly appropriate to get that information.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I agree mostly, but the nature of free-to-play games does mean that there may have been some reason to suspect actual financial losses. Multiple people were working together, therefore potentially a reason to suspect the work of organised gangs – thus police involvement might have been logical.

I don’t agree with criminal charges unless such links are found, but I at least understand why the police may have been asked to investigate in this instance. I’d have preferred internal investigations/bans and preferably civil rather than criminal action in the case of proven losses. But, there’s not enough information to really say and I’m unsure of the differences between Japanese law and the rest of the world on these issues.

Unlike chucklehead above, I certainly don’t think this is the right default move, and I don’t agree with the seriousness of the charges, but I can sympathise with the investigation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“You have angered the corporation, you will face its full fury.”

That’s fine, but I don’t need to face the fury of government at taxpayer expense. The government should concern itself with more productive uses of taxpayer money. Just because some Joe Blow starts a business doesn’t mean he gets to socialize the costs of his business.

Ninja (profile) says:

Maybe a civil offense so companies could fine the cheaters. I could agree with that. But even if it is that obnoxious turning it into a criminal behavior is simply despicable.

When something you should be having fun with turns into something you fear breaking some rule and being hit with criminal charges starts becoming less and less attractive, no? Did you read the entirety of the ToS? No? Be very, very afraid.

scotts13 (profile) says:

What charge?

I would LOVE to read the (english translation) of what these people were actually charged with. Did the country pass new laws to cover this? Something generic like “creating a disturbance”? I find it hard to believe they’ve had a “not playing fair” statute sitting waiting all this time – after all, they’ve had card games and board games and…

Geno0wl (profile) says:

On a deeper look

Sudden Attack is a F2P game. Which means they make money by getting people to buy items in game and potentially through in game ads.
AKA cheating in a full retail game is DIFFERENT than cheating in a F2P game. Because in a full game it is just annoying for player, in a F2P game they are literally(or potentially depending) taking money straight out of the Developers pocket.
The cheating itself potentially drives away customers, depriving them of money.
What if they are cheating by giving themselves all of the unlocked items? That is in this case essentially stealing from the devs.
What if they are getting all the items and then GIVING those to other players? That is potentially taking money straight from the devs even more, maybe even a real chunk between the three of them.

The point is that cheating in a F2P game has drastically harsher effects than cheating in Counter-Strike or Halo. And just because it is a video game doesn’t mean actions can’t have real world monetary consequences.
The biggest question to me is did they use third party tools to hack the games or servers, or just use in game exploits that anybody could do with a vanilla client?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: On a deeper look

The biggest question to me is did they use third party tools to hack the games or servers, or just use in game exploits that anybody could do with a vanilla client?

Hacking a game server crosses a pretty bright line in my opinion. Hacking a game client is completely fair game to me. It’s data on my hard drive and I will do with it what I please. If hacking the client breaks the terms of service, then they can ban me, but it still doesn’t rise to the level of criminal activity in any sane world. Whether I use third-party tools to hack with makes no difference.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: On a deeper look

“Hacking a game client is completely fair game to me.”

That’s debatable. If you are hacking your client to spawn a 1000 cabbages per second and blow up the server, than that’s beyond hacking the client and starting to effect the server. Still not criminal unless you continually shut the server down, since it’s not much different than using LOIC.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: On a deeper look

If your game relies on trusting the client to the degree that it can that easily crash the server, then you have far more problems than people spawning cabbages.

I did some development a long time ago (geeze I feel old now) on a text-based MUD prior to graphical MMOs taking over. We didn’t trust the client with any hidden information and anything coming back had to be well sanitized. I realize that a more complex 3D MMO doesn’t quite compare, and there’s some things you’d need to give the client, but there is no way the client should be responsible for creating items and anything coming back still needs to be thoroughly sanitized.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 On a deeper look

Josh, no problem about age, I’m in the same boat.
Your talking MUDs though, something like a MOO was much more vulnerable due to the player’s ability to have some scripting. Even MUDs though usually had some scripting/alias support, and the possibility for a buffer-overflow is always present. It could even be a simple malformed TCP packet that could take out the underlying TCP stack.

Jay (profile) says:

A tale of two responses

Yes, I’m going to toot on the Valve horn. Yes, this is going to be extremely biased. For all the haters, Deal with it…

Nexon going after their biggest fans is stupid firstly. Criminalizing people for cheating is not going to stop the cheating and keeps them deprived of how people are cheating.

This also makes Blizzard a bad investment for security because they do the exact same thing in terms of copyright law.

But here’s a story that actually occurred. A few years ago, Valve had someone that was heavily invested in figuring out how Valve ticked. And he did it twice. Instead of jailing them (I’d like to think that Valve learned from that…) they gave him a job.

And that job helps enrich the community and add value to it.

The point here is simple. Criminalizing your patrons is a fool’s errand. Hiring the kids to help you spot bugs will be far more advantageous if someone actually understands how to make their company grow and prosper.

Anonymous Coward says:

The question raised: Is Cheating a criminal act or civil act?

This is the real question to answer. Funnily enough it can be both civil and/or criminal.

One simple comparison is that it is fraud and hence a criminal act.

In another comparison it is under the rules of the organisation in question and is dealt with internally (such as at school or university, breaking rules in sport, etc).

Generally the distinction is how wide the effects are.

We have a situation here about drugs in sport and a government body taking the matter to court over the breaking of an organisations internal rules. The drugs in question are not illegal in law and there is no illegality about taking them. The kerfuffle is over whether or not there is any legal case by which the government body can bring the matter to court.

So in the case of the story above, it boils down to whether there is fraud or if it is covered by organisational rules.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The question raised: Is Cheating a criminal act or civil act?

With currently laws it should be easy enough to sort out.

Cheating where people are annoyed or harassed = civil. The business can BAN!

Cheating that harms the business by driving customers away or acquiring for pay items at reduced or no cost (burden of proof on the business) = criminal.

Anonymous Coward says:

While I think criminal charges are a little out there and most of what I see is about making the game less fun for other players, look at it from a different perspective.

I play Star Trek online. You can pay money to buy Zen, one of the currencies in the game, which in turn can buy good stuff.

You can also exchange Dilithium(dil), rock earned or mined, for Zen. The mined version has to be refined and can only refined so much per day.

So if the cheaters figured out a way to refine more dil the allowed, they could exchange large amounts of dil on the exchange, basically causing inflation, in for Zen. Zen which they would have spent money to purchase. Thus the company losing out on those funds.

I’m not defending arresting these teens; I’m just saying look at it from the creators point of view.

Anon says:


They were charged, the article says, with “obstruction of business”. (Whaaa?) They made up cheats, and sold them online to other players. They made about $80,000 from tis.

Which brings up a number of questions – what exactly is “obstruction of business? Business is like the cops and obstructing The Corporation lands you in jail?? Welcome to the 21st century!

What is the moral situation of using cheats? When does something stop being a preprogrammed set of keystrokes and become a criminal misuse of a licensed software? Is my smart keyboard liable to get me arrested in Japan? This is sillier than a business built on thousands of tiny antennas hooked to the internet.

dsvdsvn says:


obstruction of business mean that a third part, without the rights to do so, do something that interferes between a vendor and its customers, making it more difficult for the vendor to conduct its business

so to make an example contingent with MMOs:
basically your customers are not buying things on your games because they are using my cheats instead, causing to you; a loss in sells in first place, plus expenses to keep at bay cheaters and for anti-hack measures developement, furthermore the cheating software itself is useless outside your game, so they I can only make money with it by tampering your business. that is obstruction of business 🙂

off course only a court has the authority to decide that
but keep in consideration that all hackmakers ended in court with this charge have lost so far, in europe and in america that i know.

Sapphireb (profile) says:

Lighten up people!

I could see maybe this being a civil matter where the cheater could be sued in court for causing damage to the online business but I wouldn’t call this a criminal matter. That is way over the top and is setting a dangerous precedent. It seems these days authorities try to criminalize everything especially in the United States where it has the highest prison population in the world and people are jailed long periods of time for petty crimes and things that shouldn’t be criminal. Bottom line is it is a game for heaven’s sake! It is supposed to be fun! Lighten up people!

John Nemesh says:


Important to note, they weren’t just cheating, they were SELLING cheats and profiting from them!

Rules and codes of conduct will be increasingly important as we spend more of our time, and conduct more of our social interactions in the virtual world. Cheaters and griefers ruin the experience for the entire community…and there SHOULD be stronger protections against people who ruin the experience for the members of that community who PAY to be there.

Are criminal charges “overreaching”? I don’t really think so…it’s not a harmless prank here, it’s people trying to profit by selling illegal goods that infringe on the property of the business and the experiences of that businesses paying members. Just because the crime only affected people online doesn’t make it any less of a crime.

Anonymouse says:

Kotaku is a gaming site, thus the pro-gamer stance. These three accused supposedly wrote and distributed a software package designed to allow others to access the server in some manner (i have no idea how) and grant the user of the tool items and power ups that were only available by paying real cash for them. In addition to using this tool themselves multiple time on their own accounts, they stand accused of selling this package to others to use as well.

This is hacking, not cheating. The accessing of goods rather than cash is only important for showing possible damages in court, but it is no different from accessing customer data illegally, fraudulent funds transfers, etc. It is hacking in the wholly illegal sense of the term.

NHK and Yomiuri both ran stories about it. This was also covered on Sankaku Complex. It is not a group of gamers using cheat hack to ghost, wallslide, access god-mode, get infinite ammo. They used their tools to gain access to items the company was attempting to sell, and sold those tools to others.

It IS disruptive to the corporation’s business, as selling those items IS its business. Should that be an actually illegal act? Seems like no to me as it can b covered by other laws (much like cyberbullying laws are bullshit cause there are laws that specifically cover those behaviors already including anti-stalking, harassment, assault, domestic abuse, battery and several more). But this is hacking, in the very real, illegal-in-most-countries sense. I get the feeling most of the ill will in these comments is because “its only a game” to most commenters. Aren’t game companies entitled to protection of the law too?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“This is hacking, not cheating.”

I agree. That explanation changes the nature of the case completely. The problem isn’t the cheating, it’s the computer intrusion.

“It IS disruptive to the corporation’s business, as selling those items IS its business.”

I would argue that this point is 100% irrelevant to whether or not the act should be illegal. We absolutely should not have laws preventing acts solely on the basis that they are disruptive to a business.

However, hacking into someone else’s server should be illegal, and theft (which is what this boils down to) should also be illegal.

Alt0 says:

Article Update takes these teens out of the normal cheater pack…
“According to a report published today by Yomiuri, one of Japan’s largest newspapers, two of the suspects, a 17 year-old high school student from Nara and the 18 year-old college freshman from Fukushima, allegedly made 37 different kinds of cheats and from 2011, they supposedly sold them via a dedicated Sudden Attack cheat site online.”

CooloutaAC says:

The first thing most of you have to realize, is that online video games are no different then any other professional game or sport. IT should be treated with the same respect. Period.

Once you get over this common bias, you will see nothing wrong with legal actions being taken against individuals trying to interfere, or simply destroy a companies ability to make money on these public venues.

E-sports should be a billion dollar industry like athletic sports, but because of anonymous trolls its never been that popular, and its only gotten worse over the past decade. Even online games on consoles are apparenlty infested and unpopuar. All these unsportlike communities of hacking nerds, that get their kicks exploiting the game and rage quitting players or dox’n other game servers, are basically taking food out of babies mouths.

Anonymous Coward says:

Online multiplayer games live and die on the player to player interactions. Changing ANY code or files to gain an advantage over the players your in competition with leaves the other party dis-satisfied with their experience and ultimately damages the potential for success of the game based on the merit of its design and gameplay. Spending resources on anti-cheat takes away from the developers focus on creating superior online gaming experiences, and thus damages the industry as a whole. I am fully in support of sending anyone who makes and distributes cheats for multiplayer gaming, in any degree, directly to prison. The people who buy, download or use the cheats, i.e. “script kiddies” should be slapped with fines to help finance the authorities in charge of prosecuting the crimes.

Online Gamer says:


If this is true and accurate, then its about time!! I have played lots of online games and each time I have left one, its been down to these greedly little bastards bot cheats. Not enough that they create one character to cheat like the old days, now, its litterally 100s of them all over the place ruining the game play and economy. Now, dont tell me to just get on with it and ignore them, or worse still: its part of the game. Well BS it is, anyone who devaules genuine players efforts deserves what they get. E.g I spend 3 months “earning an item, then a prick with a bot prog get 100 of them in 2 days?? You think I will get three months of value on my item anymore?? NO. Also, the company earns money from the game, if these DH’s are taking revenue away from the company, yes, jail them for theft!!

Roll it out all over the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Own up already

Stop blaming the creator. The reason anything……and I absolutely mean absolutely anything ….consumer based is bad…….is You. Is us. Everyone. At least every consumer. Want something truly improved? Than stop lining up to throw money at things you are instantly disappointed with. You can cry every time the bully beats you up, snitch, whine and complain but until you at THE VERY LEAST stop running to the front of the line for your ass whooping it will not stop. Want cheating to stop? Epiphany….stop cheating. Stop supporting businesses whose practices you disagree with. Period. You know why I don’t gripe about COD MW? Because I don’t pay for things from companies that spin out crappy, redundant products whose main consumer is fleeced to support an unregulated cheater who not only goes unpunished but in most cases is rewarded for their behavior. You think McDonald’s would laugh off somebody inventing a ‘glitch’ that allowed you to have twelve Big Macs and only pay for one? Would you buy a car from a manufacturer that leaked how to legally steal their car? You know why all those kids are starving in all those places…’s not conspiracy, it’s not illuminati, it’s that I like Starbucks….. And so do you. You want better? Either find it or make it yourself and stop acting like you been victimized

SoonPresident says:

Welcome to idiocracy! Everybody supporting this, should be put into a jail, you can play your games there and your lan will be hopefully secured from cheaters! Game addiction, that’s the next crime??? I would love to see you shooters behind the bars crying, I can’t believe there are really so many brainless/brainwashed people posting here. You reap what you sow.

ToHellWithHackers says:

Was thinking of this a long time ago

Want to make a game myself, will clearly state in user agreements that whoever plays accepts to make his IP accountable for cheating and must pay a large sum of money if they do this.

Cheating in online games is horrible and should be able to lead to jailtime and lawsuits. They ruin gameplay for people -> people leave-> less income for developpers.
Not to mention it just sucks to be on the receiving end of cheats.

vancedecker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Thanks for the info – short, simple and relevant, just the way I love it”

wtf nina, are you delusional? how is that short and to the point?

as usual the writer took this as another opportunity to shove his libertarian BS down everyone’s throat and then the readers as usual engage in a circle jerk about non-existent rights to cheating and fraud.

vancedecker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Exactly. i.e. Riot Games. These assholes are so blatant about it that cheaters literally advertise to players in game!

While at the same time publicly the Company claims to be fighting cheaters, they ban more users for being ‘verbally abusive’ than they do for hacking and scripting.

Basically, why police our own game and e-sports movement, when it’s more profitable for us to lie, cheat, and steal?

This is why there must be an element of higher moral authority than pure profit motive, that element must be the state.

vancedecker (profile) says:

As usual the prehistoric Libertarian reductionists Have Proven Their Danger To Society, by ignoring the tangible and more subtle dangers of cheating, AND ignoring MY RIGHTS TO CHEAT FREE GAMES

First of all, can you please stop writing in your absurd opinions and just stick to the facts? Is that too much to ask?

“The question is why it’s a criminal matter rather than a civil one.”

Yes and No.

The gaming companies have discovered that a policy of obfuscation and appeasement work better than direct confrontation. This has led to a community of delusional, easily fooled children, who do not understand higher moral principles at work here. Basically, instead of spending money trying to fix the problem, we are going to engage in a campaign of disinformation and viral marketing, in order to instead convince enough people that there is no problem. (i.e. sure the footballs were illegally deflated, but the game wasn’t affected mentality)

League of Legends one of the most popular games is full of this type of intrinsic fraud, maintained by an army of delusion mentally malformed children, who don’t know any better and don’t have fully developed moral centers in their brains. Very similar to the Nazi Youth or Stalin’s ‘Pioneers’

One response by John Fenderson to a criminal cheater si:
“So you don’t care that you’re ruining the game for everyone else? This is borderline sociopathic behavior.”

Why borderline? If not clinically insane then this is straight up sociopathic behavior, well over the border, and into the suburbs of Mexico City itself. This individual should be rotting in prison.However, because Riot Games and similar low life profit maximizing companies have failed to build their wall but have lied and told their users that a wall exists.

An Anonymous Coward made pseudo-edgy comment:
“If I am a player and others are cheating, my gaming experienced can be diminished.”

Can be? Can? If I pay money and/or invest my time, i.e. labor into a game that has made the claim of assessing personal skill, then a cheater is not a philosophical slap in the

face, it is a PURE THEFT and SLAVERY! My time has been STOLEN from me, first by the gaming company through fraud, and more importantly by some sniveling little nerd

with slow reflexes. That person is no different than a thief walking into your home and stealing your coffee maker.

I would go one step further, if a company like Riot Games does not do everything in its power to maintain the integrity of it’s own gameplay, then they should held criminally liable as well. Sorry folks you shouldn’t be able to go around squawking about “e-sports” while at the same not doing shit about rampant cheating and exploitation.


It doesn’t fucking matter! The company making the game MUST put forth a sincere effort to exterminate cheaters, and if they don’t, like Rioting Games League of Legends or Blizzard’s WarCrafting, then the companies executive should be held criminally liable for fraud. Lyte should have to face trial in criminal and civil court. The cheat makers should also be held criminally accountable. It’s a principle here at work, the effort itself is what is important with regards to the maker of the game.

But the sub-optimal grey matter of the readership here, still doesn’t get it, over and over again we get comments like this:

“Why is it the government’s job to protect the business model of game makers?”

Because many of these games are now claiming to be “e-sports” and trying to expand their business through universities and schools as some sort of competition similar to a sporting event. If that’s the case then they have crossed the Rubicon from simple entertainment.

Creating ‘cheats’ and ‘hacks’ is tantamount to THEFT and SLAVERY and won’t stop until they are physically stopped from accessing the internet through the force of state. I have a right as a cheat-free gamer to play a game free of cheats and hacks. Cheating at a game is no different than fraud, physical violence, and forced slavery.

If I told you, here’s is League of Legends, the ranked ladder is full of cheaters using hacks and exploits, would you still play? No. However, if I lie to you, then you play, I have now stolen your labor through fraud.

Gaming companies don’t have morals, and found it easier and more profitable to lie about ranked integrity rather than fight cheaters. Therefore, companies which do this must also be held criminally liable for fraud.

Cheaters are just like child molesters, THEY WILL NOT STOP THERE IS REHABILITATION, therefore they must be removed from society in order to stop them. I also would not opposed to having a registry and map of those who cheat in games.

JMcMillen says:

I approve of arresting cheaters and throwing them in jail. Cheating in online/multiplayer games gives the game a bad reputation. A bad reputation could cost a game countless new customers and revenue from people who avoid the game. This can cost the developers tens (even hundreds) of thousands of dollars in lost sales. It also sours the relationship between players and the developer, making them less likely to buy DLC or other micro-transactions. This can also make it harder for the developers to have success with future games because of the reputation of their previous titles.

Cheaters cost game developers money and should be punished.

Chris says:

This should be criminal but only in the strictest sense.

I believe some hacking and cheating already is pretty criminal in most places. You just never hear the stories about it being charged. A lot of these cheat creators are criminal because even when the companies spend tons of effort to stop them they still find ways to circumvent that. So it is in a sense a never ending circle of hacks and cheats. Maybe stuff like this will finally put a end to this madness. Arrest them all Japan! They deserve what is coming to them for playing around with civil codes in cyber law like this.

Moirraine says:

People are being threatened and more

Those who think games don’t have dangerous people should be some of us who have had death threats and more.

If the game has any rules, a “Terms of Service”, what ELSE besides a charge of UNLAWFUL use and some teeth to rules so we can finally get rid of some of the people who cause so much disruption in gaming?

It’s not that many… out of millions of us playing there is a tiny fraction who can get others to follow them into hell, literally, but gaming hasn’t grown up enough to protect its player base after over 25 years of MMOs?

We have lost our way – and we need to find a flashlight.

Stephen says:

Lock Cheats Up, Sue Developers that Allow Cheating

I disagree, there is only so much companies can do, they test the games but cant prevent it all while i think companies that allow cheating should be sued when it comes to online gaming, I also think cheaters should be put in jail the amount of stress cheaters causes players can lead to serious depression, a feeling of powerlessness and inability to win at something they dedicate so much time to only for cheaters to completely mock allmthe hard work they put in. That to me is reason enough for these cheats to be locked up, but they should first be warned if they carry on cheating they will go to jail. I really think this needs to happen to prevent cheating in gaming as now because of these cheats I recormend staying away from online gaming, and as a kid i wanting to be apart of the gaming industry learned programming and went to university. This has ruined gaming for me, and makes me feel physically sick, because that i loved has turned to hate due to cheats and developers letting this happen.

sir john says:

u are breaking TOS, this is a criminal act online aswell offline.
given cheaters ruin the day of normal gamers, it could be seen as bullying or harrasment. wich are both illigal enough to be criminalized.

so yes the future of cheating will be facing criminal charges.
aswell the suppliers wich are evading taxes and are in general the main TOS breakers.

beside there are databases where cheating ip’s are collected, just imagine the world where everything u do is online, and you end up being marked a cheater. for Always.. i hate cheaters but this is scary stuff my friends.

Aspi says:

Cheating can very well be a crime

If cheaters cause financial impact by their cheats (for example farming by bots an selling items an thereby compete to an ingame item store) or if methods to cheat include accessing the servers by hacking (gaining acces to systems)
can very well be illegal and crime. Then yes its compleatly OK if the police acts.
Even just destroying a reputation of a game by cheating can be a real financial impact therfore it can very well be a crime in some cases.

Online games (user link) says:

Thanks for informative post

Thank you for informative blog. Online games are becoming popular, and the demand for Online Games users is growing. We offer you a variety of online games, such as puzzle games and strategy games. You can play these online games with your friends and can even broadcast them on Twitch.
I waiting for your next blog. Advance Thank you.

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