Because it’s one of the biggest games on the planet right now, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is attracting a lot of players. And wherever there are a lot of players, there are a lot of cheaters.
We’ve covered this before, of course, from the waves of rule-breakers coming from Chinese servers to cheatmakers selling their wares in-game to people being brazen enough to cheat in charity matches.
But it’s the sheer numbers of players cheating in the game at any given time that’s the most mind-boggling thing about it.
Take a look at this tweet from anti-cheat provider BattlEye, made in October last year:
We have banned nearly 25K PUBG cheaters within the last 24 hours. And no, we don't like such numbers at all.
— BattlEye (@TheBattlEye) October 22, 2017
Here’s November 2017:
After releasing new security updates last week, we banned almost 100,000 PUBG accounts this past weekend totaling over 700,000. That being said, fighting cheaters will always remain WIP and never be solved completely, especially in the most popular Battle Royale game.
— BattlEye (@TheBattlEye) November 14, 2017
Update on the number of PUBG bans: 1,500,000.
— BattlEye (@TheBattlEye) December 28, 2017
Note that 1.5 million figure is a running total for the time.
Now look at this, just over a month later:
We have banned over 1,044,000 PUBG cheaters in January alone, unfortunately things continue to escalate.
— BattlEye (@TheBattlEye) February 4, 2018
Speaking with Kotaku in December, the game’s creator Brendan Greene told us that his team had been working on new automated systems that would be able to more accurately and quickly catch cheaters in the act once they go live, by using “statistics and various other things.”
If PUBG fans want something to hope for, those systems are about to go live. Here’s Dohyung Lee, Head of Service Management & Anti-Cheat for PUBG writing in a Steam community post:
…we have developed a new anti-cheat solution internally. We will be introducing an early version of the solution on our live servers next week (this is the solution that is currently being tested on our test servers). This solution will complement the systems that have been developed and implemented already. Its main focus for now is blocking unauthorised programs but it will be further developed to broaden the scope of its abilities.
This feature will also block different helper programs that alter the graphics or aid in gameplay in some way. What these programs have in common is that they all hook into our game and transform game files. Programs that are not used to gain an unfair advantage can also be blocked if they behave like cheats.
Some programs that do not affect gameplay may be blocked temporarily as we hone the new anti-cheat features. We are checking the programs that are being blocked on the test servers and will allow the use of harmless programs as quickly as possible.
In addition to this, the team has also made the decision to deactivate family sharing for the game. Previously, PUBG had allowed multiple users to share the same copy of the game, but Lee adds that “we have decided to deactivate this feature because we have identified a number of vulnerabilities that are being exploited. Please understand that we are introducing this measure to fight abuse and ensure a fair environment.”
Nobody is saying this stuff is going to fix PUBG’s cheating. That would be naive. This game is huge, and wherever the people/money are, that’s where cheaters gravitate towards.
And the battle against cheats is never won; much like piracy, it ebbs and flows, and so even if these new measures help reduce the scale of cheating within the game, they won’t get rid of it.
But at the moment, with so many cheats running wild in the game, any progress is progress.