Activision’s Plan To Tackle CoD Online Cheaters: Cheat Them Back

from the cloak-and-dagger dept

For those that run online video game services, there have been plenty of ways to deal with those who cheat in-game. Some, like Blizzard, look to twist copyright law into a pretzel to argue that cheating in an online game somehow constitutes infringement. Other companies have gone for more creative options. Cheaters in Pokémon Go suddenly found themselves unable to find any but the most common Pokémon. Rockstar dumped cheaters in Max Payne 3‘s multiplayer into a cheater-only server where all the cheaters cheated against one another.

But Activision has gone with a slightly different plan to combat Call of Duty online cheaters: simply cheat them back.

Cheaters who are subject to a cloaking penalty will find that “characters, bullets, even sound from legitimate players will be undetectable,” according to a post on the official Call of Duty development blog. Those cheaters will remain fully visible to non-cheaters, though; Activision quips that “they’ll be the players you see spinning in circles hollering, ‘Who is shooting me?!'”

The latest anti-cheat update will roll out first for Call of Duty: Vanguard, then be applied to the free-to-play Warzone, Activision says, “to minimize any issues players may encounter.” It also comes on top of another cheating mitigation measure, called Damage Shield, that was announced in February and “disables the cheater’s ability to inflict critical damage on other players.”

Now, the caveat to all of this is that it’s really just one more step in an ongoing arms race between those that make and use cheating software and Activision’s ability to detect its usage. But, if done well, this is sort of an ingenious option. Cheaters cheat in online games for one of two reasons: to troll the other players or to appear to be a master at the game. This option, when working, eliminates both of those incentives.

Instead, it will be the cheaters who will be trolled, rendered helpless by the game, and at the mercy of the non-cheaters. And far from appearing to be gods of any particular game, “cloaking” will put cheaters at the bottom of the leaderboards.

You might think that Activision would be better served just banning cheaters and booting them from a match as soon as they’re detected, rather than merely messing with their effectiveness. But Activision wrote in February that instant mitigation “leaves the cheater vulnerable to real players and allows [the anti-cheat team] to collect information about a cheater’s system.” Activision also insists that there’s “no possibility” of a false positive punishing non-cheaters with mitigation drawbacks and that it “will never interfere in gunfights between law-abiding community members.”

The point here is that there are better options to combat online gaming cheaters than going with draconian legal routes. There’s no reason this can’t be fun!

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Companies: activision

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Comments on “Activision’s Plan To Tackle CoD Online Cheaters: Cheat Them Back”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It really depends on how this particular anti-cheat technique is done.

My limited understanding of modern anti-cheat software assunes that the software has access to the user’s kernel to detect the cheat software, and upon detection, will do something. Usually triggering a ban, or in other cases, apply certain effects to the cheater.

This is regardless of whether the effect is done client-side or server-side. And cheaters can and will find ways to disable these effects if possible.

And as I understand it, if you can detect it, you can do something about it. Eventually.

Anonymous Coward says:

Personally, I’d prefer if it causes entertainment for everyone watching, such as the cheater suddenly firing a chicken gun or turning into a giant head, or, if it was possible, horrid RGB skins while the music changed into sonething comedic, or, PERMANENT FORTNITE DANCE.


Activision also insists that there’s “no possibility” of a false positive punishing non-cheaters with mitigation drawbacks and that it “will never interfere in gunfights between law-abiding community members.”

This is rather concerning that Activision has to explicitly say this. I am very sure this cannot be abused at all.

Composer (profile) says:

Behavior modification

One of the most glaring faults of previous anti-cheat solutions is that penalties—if any were even imposed—were fleeting and visible only to the cheaters (kicks, bans, etc.).

If Activision is able to reliably apply this solution to online gaming, cheaters will suddenly be shamed and punished in a much more public forum.

This strikes me as a much more effective way to discourage bad behavior.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Rather that wasting cycles trying to stop them cold, let them cheat… but cheating is gonna cost you.

Rather than ending up in a tit for tat game where the cheaters demand better cheats & better cheats to get around things, which lets them feel that somehow they won, now they might score a couple wins and then the game will detect them and remove all of their fun.

Even the most die hard trolls have a limit to how much effort they are willing to put into something and when they aren’t getting the payoff they wanted its way less fun.

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