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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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Whatever (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 4:43am

    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.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:01am

      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.

       

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        Whatever (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:15am

        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.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:26am

          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.

           

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            beech, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Come on Paul. Clearly there is no real crime going on so our real money taxes should be spent on sending real police, and tying up real court systems with imaginary things.

             

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              Chris, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:20am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

               

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                John Fenderson (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 8:08am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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"

                So you don't care that you're ruining the game for everyone else? This is borderline sociopathic behavior.

                 

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            Whatever (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:13am

            Re: Re: Re: 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.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:20am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

               

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              Gwiz (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 7:10am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

               

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              PaulT (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 7:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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?

               

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                G Thompson (profile), Jun 28th, 2014 @ 2:14am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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, et.al.) or trespass to person (assault, battery, et.al)

                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.

                 

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                  PaulT (profile), Jun 28th, 2014 @ 3:16am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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!

                   

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:09pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You are an amazing troll, i really am impressed

               

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 7:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Here's an example of unbanning, at least on the Playstation Network:
            PS3News

            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.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2014 @ 9:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Steams loves to ban accounts because they know that cheaters will create another account and buy Steam games again!

            BANNING WON'T END CHEATING

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:09am

          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.

           

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          John Fenderson (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 8:05am

          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.

           

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          btr1701 (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 3:35pm

          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"?

           

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            PaulT (profile), Jun 28th, 2014 @ 3:10am

            Re: Re: Re: 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?

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:09pm

          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.

          Rephrased:

          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.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 7:56am

        Re: Re:

        Trolls be trollin' and fools be feedin'.

         

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      Ferel (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:02am

      Re:

      Yeah, let's skip the ban and send folks straight to prison. Because fuck being rational.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:06am

      Re:

      Why is it the government's job to protect the business model of game makers? I want a more productive use of my taxpayer money.

       

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      LesserMook, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 10:38am

      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.

       

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      art guerrilla (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 10:50am

      Re:

      well, but, of course:
      banksters crashing the world economy, violating laws and morality left and right: no problem, no investigation, no arrests, no convictions...

      'unscrupulous' gamers using some obscure cheat method on a STUPID FUCKING GAME: THE END OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, they must be strung up ! ! !

       

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      chillinfart, Jun 29th, 2014 @ 9:41am

      Re: srsly?

      In the other hand Valve is giving impunity to them, at least in Dota 2.

      is funny and sad at the same time seeing this troll attempt in Japan and see the lack of moderation by Valve.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 4:52am

    I am appalled, yes you heard me correctly, to hear that computers users expect people that use computers to have integrity.

    Modern version of Rick in Casa Blanka.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 4:55am

    Yes, it is criminal behavior because online gaming is exactly like eating at your favorite restaurant.

    Rational? .. we dont need no stinkin rational!

    btw, online gaming is for chumps.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 4:56am

    "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.

     

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      Ninja (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 7:20am

      Re:

      If this was the case then it might have been the right course of action. But if I got it right from the original piece is that they were in-game cheats such as those that give you a 100% head-shot chance or something. This surely should be dealt within the company or at most as a civil issue, not criminal.

       

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        PaulT (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 8:07am

        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.

         

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          Michael, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 11:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Look, it's software.

          If you did a poor job of programming and testing it and there is a way to cheat, FIX IT. Don't whine and call the police.

           

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:00am

    You have angered the corporation, you will face its full fury.
    They have learned nothing from every other industries full on campaigns against its customers, and will follow the same path.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:13am

      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.

       

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        Michael, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 11:59am

        Re: Re:

        Well, if this were in Massachusetts, you would have a 70% chance that the SWAT team coming after you was private anyway.

         

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    beech, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:24am

    That noob is camping! ! Summon the swat team! Scramble the jets!

     

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    Ninja (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:34am

    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.

     

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    scotts13 (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:37am

    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...

     

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    Geno0wl (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:51am

    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?

     

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      Gwiz (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 7:50am

      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.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 8:44am

        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.

         

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          Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 10:31am

          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.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 10:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2014 @ 8:34am

      Re: On a deeper look

      If people can cheat then the game is poorly made. Period.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:54am

    Mixed Bag...

    If it is an online game... yea I am okay with cheaters being criminally prosecuted, under the same guidelines as it they walked into a Walmart and started annoying customers.

    No new laws though.

    Single Player cheating is fine and should left alone.

     

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    Jay (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:56am

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 5:58am

    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.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:09am

      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.

       

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    Prashanth (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:18am

    SWAT Monopoly

    So how long will it be before a SWAT team shows up at my door on suspicion of a Monopoly bank robbery (and then claims to be immune to oversight regarding that operation because it is a private corporation)?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:23am

    If they initially banned the person and then they tried to force their way back in through hacks, etc. then yes, that should be a criminal matter. If that's in fact what happened. If police was the first resort, then yes, this is ridiculous.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:26am

    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.

     

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    william e emba, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:27am

    The followup story says the trio allegedly made about $80,000 off their cheating.

    There's a world of difference between cheating at solitaire and cheating at poker.

     

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    John Cressman, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 6:49am

    OBEY CITIZEN!

    Citizen Obey the government! Obey the Corporation! Consume! Obey! Consume!

     

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    Anon, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 7:05am

    RTFA

    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.

     

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    Sapphireb (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 7:23am

    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!

     

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    Baron von Robber, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 7:55am

    Better not cheat on a Japanese game from out of country.

    They sick the Yakuza on ya.

     

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    John Nemesh, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 7:59am

    John

    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.

     

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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 8:46am

    If cheating is illegal

    Can we arrest all of our so-called government representatives and officials now? They steal our hard-earned $$ by giving themselves unearned salary raises, take taxpayer-funded cruises, etc, etc...

     

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    Almost Anonymous, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 9:02am

    Only way I can see arrests for cheating be reasonable...

    Was there money involved? I'm too lazy to RTFA. But if people are duping items that can be sold with currency that in any way relates back to real world currency, I could see that sort of cheating being an arrestable offense.

     

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    Anonymouse, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 9:55am

    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?

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 10:08am

      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.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 10:35am

        Re: Re:

        I generally agree with that - however, the prospect of actual financial loss may be a factor in the police deciding to actually investigate. They have better things to do than check out every time a server is hacked and no harm is done, after all.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 12:34pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          This is true, but the key point is that causing a business financial loss should not be, in and of itself, a crime. It may be the end result of a real crime, and it may factor into law enforcement decisions, but there still needs to be a real crime involved.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 10:07am

    I believe cheating at a blackjack table is a crime. Blackjack is a game.

     

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    LesserMook, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 10:50am

    Dangerous

    So, according to Kotaku, they were arrested for "obstructing business"

    That's pretty scary; that could be anything from revealing/whistle blowing business misconduct to leaving a negative review.

     

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    r0rschach, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 11:26am

    Your article misses a key fact. They weren't arrested for cheating, they were arrested for profiting from the selling of cheats. I'm not sure I even agree that the sale should constitute a crime, but your Chicken Little story about gamers being arrested for cheating is misinformed.

     

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    pouar (profile), Jun 27th, 2014 @ 3:18pm

    When I "cheat" it's on a single player game so I can avoid screwing other players

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2014 @ 9:02pm

    "Cheating is wrong, but couldn't Nexon simply ban these players?"

    Banning won't solve anything. Cheaters should pay fines not get arrested.

    I HATE FUCKING CHEATERS

     

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    Alt0, Jul 3rd, 2014 @ 1:23pm

    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."
    http://kotaku.com/gamers-hit-with-criminal-charges-apparently-made-tons-o-1596352729

     

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    CooloutaAC, Jan 7th, 2015 @ 12:15am

    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.

     

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    GTFO, Feb 12th, 2015 @ 10:48pm

    Good Riddance

    Finally someone doing something about the real problems with online gaming. I can't wait till a program is installed in every online game to track any external programs running. If they turn out to be cheat programs, then send them to prison!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2015 @ 1:10am

    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.

     

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    Samuel Panneton, Mar 15th, 2015 @ 3:30pm

    Hacking games

    Its a good thing to start arrest those people who ruinning entire game title by modify the parameter of the game also creat lag and a waste of a life time to play againts bot .. we spend 2k for a pc than 500 dollars min yearly to start gaming online and relize we cant win until we all hack

     

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    noyfb, Apr 16th, 2015 @ 12:25am

    good stuff they have no honor anyways and it is criminal when i pay to play and have some loser cheat me

     

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    noyfb, Apr 16th, 2015 @ 12:41am

    yes police should be used if the jerk dont care he gets banned becouse he can just chnage his ip or make a new name theres real no point in banneing when they can do this so yes arrest them and have them sexualy assulted in jail MAKE YOU THINK ABOUT GOIGN to jail huh

     

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