It was a weird weekend in the world of Apex Legends. On Sunday, players discovered that in-game playlists and notifications had been hacked by hackers who disliked different hackers — specifically, Apex hackers up in arms about the hacker-powered plight of Titanfall, one of developer Respawn’s previous games. It was an audacious effort, but now Respawn is saying it didn’t really achieve anything.
Yesterday on Twitter, Respawn communications director Ryan Rigney weighed in on the recent Apex Legends hacks, acknowledging that Titanfall does have a problem with DDoS attacks, but explaining that Respawn has already acknowledged the issue and is working on it. All the hacks did, according to Rigney, was force developers to work overtime.
“Nobody wants to hear devs complain when DDoS attacks are still a problem we haven’t solved,” Rigney wrote. “I was holding my newborn nephew when I found out about the Apex hack. Had to hand him back, go work, and miss out on a day with family.”
“The problem’s not awareness,” he wrote. “It’s that DDoSing in particular is just a hard problem to solve. Really hard.”
DDoS attacks are far from just a Respawn problem. In recent years, the tools and methods undergirding these attacks, which seek to overload servers, have become increasingly sophisticated — but also more accessible to regular people. Major companies regularly have trouble fending off DDoS attacks even when they’re prepared. And when they’re not? “If there is no defence in place, it is very difficult to restore functionality to servers until such time as the attacker decides to let up the pressure,” Dan Shugrue, director of product marketing at the cloud service provider Akamai Technologies, told Kotaku as part of a report on DDoS attacks in 2014.
In this case, then, trying to solve a hack with a hack was like trying to remove a nail from your foot with a bigger nail. If anything, it slowed down progress on the main issue at hand. That said, it’s not hard to see why players would feel strongly about this. Big companies have a habit of allowing older online games to languish after new successes steal their shine, and Apex eclipsed Titanfall — at least, where Respawn’s priorities are concerned — a long time ago.
However, Rigney noted that the beloved mech shooter has not been abandoned.
“The team has never stopped working on DDoS solutions, and anti-cheat is just a never-ending war of whack-a-mole,” he wrote. “On the DDoS front, we will solve this. When we do, I promise you it won’t be because hackers ‘made us aware’ by ruining a holiday. They achieved nothing of value.”