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!