Mar 23, 2022 - Technology

The four kinds of video game cheaters

Close-up illustration of a humanoid video game character in a white wide-brimmed hat.

The leaders of Byfron Technologies worked on anti-cheat solutions for the multiplayer game Valorant. Image: Riot Games

There are four major reasons why people cheat in online video games and even more ways to stop them, according to Clint Sereday and Nemanja Mulasmajic, leaders of an anti-cheat gaming company called Byfron, who gave a talk at GDC, Stephen writes.

Why it matters: Game studios are in a perpetual conflict with cheaters, with the biggest games regularly banning thousands of accounts in an effort to stop cheating from scaring off the rest of the player base.

According to Sereday and Mulasmajic: Content cheaters want a shortcut to obtaining a game’s newest unlockable content.

  • A good counter: Make unlock conditions for content reasonable and achievable.

Money cheaters are people who profit from making and selling cheats that exploit technical loopholes.

  • A good counter: Send lawyers after them.
  • “They care about the money. So if you go after them with legal experts, they tend to fold quick,” says Byfron's CTO Mulasmajic.

Another “most important thing you can do,” according to Mulasmajic: Design the game to resist cheating.

  • Games that limit the information sent to the server about what a competing player is up to far away on the map in a competitive strategy game, for example, stymies the development of cheats that would otherwise reveal that info to a cheater.

Glory cheaters are people who think they need to cheat to get ahead in a competitive game.

  • “They’re more reformable,” Byfron founder Sereday said, and cheating if they think they can get away with it.
  • A good counter: He advises closing off the exploits and fixing game balance, whenever possible, blunting the feeling cheating is essential to keep enjoying the game.
  • Another counter is punishing high-profile cheaters (pros, influencers) to send a message that cheating isn’t OK.

Power cheaters are trolls, people for whom cheating is the game and see bans as a badge of honor.

  • A good counter: Ban at the hardware level and require extra factors for creating new accounts — inputting a phone number, for example — that can be banned too.
  • Another counter could be to turn some of them.
  • Extending an olive branch to some League of Legends power cheaters didn’t eliminate repeat offenders (80% were banned again), but some reformed and provided inside info about previously unknown cheats and communities.

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