Steam's cheating community is a network worth millions of dollars every year, and the shadowy rabbit hole goes deeper than you might think.
In a 40 minute "Anti-Cheat" talk delivered earlier this year at Valve's annual Steam Dev Days, Simon Allaey and Aarni Rautava of Easy Anti Cheat dished on Steam's seedy underbelly. It is a deep dive on the hows and why's of cheating on Steam:
Some things they touch on:
- There's a portion of the Steam community who are basically vigilantes, seeking out cheaters to dole out revenge.
- Some private cheating communities are so selective, you need to do Skype interviews to get in. If you do get in, some places will ask for your passports so they know exactly who you are, and can thus keep track of you easier.
- Some cheats are limited availability, and are sold based on that prestige. Very private cheats can cost up to $US1000 ($1300), and are said to be undetectable.
- People who sell cheats often own legitimate businesses - they pay taxes and everything. Based on those records, they have seen companies that make anywhere from $US750 to $1.5 million ($974 to $1.9 million) a year.
- Free-to-play and low-cost games, as well as games sold on G2A and bundles, are more susceptible to cheating because players can easily purchase multiple copies of the game.
- Most cheaters are not malicious griefers, in that they don't want to actively make the experience worse for others (as paradoxical as it might sound).
Really, those bullet points are a very small slice of everything covered in the talk; you should watch the entire thing if you can. And, if you're interested, you can catch some more fascinating panels from Steam Dev Days here.