Feature Articles

How can developers better address cheating in games and esports?

By Kenneth Ang - 17 Aug 2020

What are some of the common cheats nowadays?

Image: Unsplash

Regardless of what game you play, be it a sport or recreational activity, one thing's for sure: nobody likes a cheater. 

Sure, giving yourself unfair advantages in single-player games will probably raise fewer eyebrows than it would in a PvP setting simply because your performance doesn't affect others' experience, but it's hardly the most satisfying way to win, don't you think? Not only does it take away from the challenge of completing the game through sheer grit and skill, but it essentially tramples over all the effort the game's developers have put into creating them. 

Which brings us to today's topic: what are some options that developers can explore to better address cheating in games, especially with esports becoming as prominent an industry as it is?

But let's not jump the gun. Before we can talk about what developers can do about these issues, let's first go over three of the more common tactics employed by cheaters these days, as well as several examples of how they've compromised the integrity of esports. 


One Shot, One Kill

Image: PUBG

For the record, I hate aimbots. And so does every honest, self-respecting first-person shooter player out there. After all, having a piece of code do the hard work for you in a FPS game really defeats the purpose of playing it. There wouldn't be any more satisfaction from reacting faster than your opponent did, nor the "aww yes" moment of scoring a difficult headshot. At that point, you'd might as well be playing Boxhead on Y8.com. 

Anyway, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, "aimbotting" is the practice of having an external software automatically aim and fire the gun for you in shooters like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, removing the minor (but crucial) human reaction time between seeing an enemy, lining up the shot and pressing the fire button. Naturally, in a genre where swift hand-eye coordination is as valuable as a Minecraft diamond, this makes a lot of difference in gameplay, as it is borderline impossible to kill a player who is basically as precise as a machine. 

Image: Valve

Frankly, we don't have to look too far back to find an excellent example of a cheater who used this hack in a professional setting, and more importantly, got caught using it. The man in question was Optic India's Forsaken, a pro CS: GO player whose use of an aimbot software he'd amusingly named "Word.exe" let him score a near-impossible shots on opposing players during the 2018 eXTREMESLAND Asia Finals.

Naturally, this logic-defying "wallhack", as they're called raised many eyebrows, and match officials went over to double-check his computer. What makes this one really memorable was that he tried to delete the software when he realised the gig was up, although he wasn't able to do it in time, and it was all caught on camera. Accordingly, he and his team were disqualified outright, and subsequent investigations revealed that he'd cheated at previous tournaments too. Tsk tsk. 


Be seeing you.

Image: Riot Games

For those who got the John Wick reference, congratulations - you're really sharp. 

But let's get back on track. In many modern PvP genres such as the battle royale, tactical shooters and MOBAs, a lot of the game's excitement comes from players having a certain degree of uncertainty throughout the game, especially regarding the location of other players or their resources. 

As such, having possession of that kind of information provides one party with a really, really unfair advantage, since it allows them to make significantly more informed decisions. Although such cheats are more commonly seen in battle royales nowadays given the genre's popularity, it is probably at its most devastating in a MOBA like League of Legends.

In 2012, Korean team Azubu Frost was caught for possessing such information in their match against Team SoloMid (or TSM for short). During the match, Azubu Frost's players kept looking away from the center of their screen, to the point where people started to suspect that something fishy was going on. Their hunch was correct - Azubu Frost was actually watching the spectator screens (the ones meant for the audience) to "spy" on TSM's movements across the map and using that knowledge to make plays.

Surprisingly, the team wasn't banned outright, and were only awarded a fine, though it was a rather hefty one. Still, it's a great example of how such "cheats" can interfere with the sanctity of modern esports competition. 


9999/9999 hp

Image: Rockstar Games

Let's face it - we've all seen players with an ungodly amount of health (or lives) at least once. The good old invincibility (or lives) cheat has been around since someone thought it'd be a brilliant idea to replace a game's regular health value with a bunch of nines. 

Strictly speaking, I'm not entirely against this being used in certain situations, because sometimes it's tossed in by the developers themselves. The Grand Theft Auto series is actually one of them - the single player version, at least. You see, in a franchise whose main selling point is letting you have fun doing (and mostly destroying) random stuff on a whim, it's all about that "feel good" factor, and what can make that even better? Not being able to die in the process, of course.

However, that doesn't mean it should be encouraged, especially not in official gaming competitions. Fortunately, this type of cheat is hardly used in esports given it's ridiculously easy to tell if someone is using it. 

Still, that doesn't say anything of the situation outside of competitions, and shooters are bearing the brunt of it. In addition to the aforementioned aimbots, games like Call of Duty: Warzone, CS: GO and suchlike also have to deal with a surging number of people adopting invincibility cheats in matches. In some respects, cheaters who employ such tactics are even more annoying to deal with than those who use aimbots, since a well-coordinated squad can still corner and take down someone with "godlike" aiming skills - how do you even outplay a guy that can't be killed?

Join HWZ's Telegram channel here and catch all the latest tech news!
Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you buy through these links, we may earn a small commission.