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The World's Biggest PC Games are Fighting a New Surge of Cheaters and Hackers

If you’ve ever played a PC game that has a competitive element, you’ve probably played against a cheater. Whether it’s that sniper bullet that felt a little too accurate, the person teleporting around the map, or the opposition that just somehow knows which angle you’re about to peek from every single time. Some of the world’s most popular PC games are now fighting back against cheaters in new and interesting ways — just as cheating becomes an even bigger problem. The developers behind Call of Duty: Warzone, PUBG, and Destiny 2 have all announced big pushes to respond to cheating in recent weeks. The hottest game on Twitch, Valorant, isn’t even out yet, and cheating is already a problem that needs to be addressed. Cheating in PC games isn’t a new phenomenon. Game hacks and cheat software have been around as long as PC games have existed. Aimbots automatically lock onto opponents’ heads, so cheaters can fire and immediately win a battle. Wallhacks expose everyone on a map so cheaters get a huge advantage of knowing when you’re about to push a point or turn a corner. There’s even lag switching, which mainly affects peer-to-peer games, allowing cheaters to stutter around a map and become very difficult to hit.

A wallhack cheat for Warzone.

Aimbots and wallhacks are the most common forms of cheating in online shooters, allowing people who are new to a game or simply at a lower skill level to get a huge advantage over other players. Some cheats are the obvious type, where a player is flying around a map at an impossible speed or firing a gun faster than anyone else. Others, like wallhacks, are far less obvious, and often go undetected in games for weeks or even months. There’s a constant cat and mouse game between developers and communities that create and sell mods and cheats for games. Cheaters often purchase tools that act like malware, hacking and injecting a game with specialized code that will change how it works. These tools have gotten increasingly complex in recent years, with whole underground communities and forums dedicated to ensuring aimbots and wallhacks remain undetected for monthly subscription fees.

A PC Gamer investigation back in 2014 warned that some of these cheat providers could be making millions of dollars per year, and some cheat developers now claim to sell specialized tools for hundreds of dollars a month. The cat and mouse game has intensified recently during a pandemic that’s helped Steam break its all-time concurrent user record multiple times in recent weeks. The perfect storm of more people looking to play games and find cheats has been met with new titles like Call of Duty: Warzone and Valorant, alongside plenty of existing battle royale games. Developers are now looking to increasingly unique and controversial ways to prevent people from cheating. Read More...