Epic Games Sues Creator Of “Powerful” Paragon Hack

Last week Epic Games, the developers of the early access MOBA Paragon [official site], filed a lawsuit in the state of California over the creation of a powerful suite of hacks allegedly created by a German player. Including an aimbot, triggerbot, and 2D and 3D radar, the defendant, Robin Kreibich, was reportedly selling the hack online for a monthly subscription fee (via Polygon).

Now, creating and selling the hack isn’t exactly what is getting Kreibich into hot water, but apparently he uploaded two videos in which he demonstrated the hack in order to advertise. When Epic Games filed copyright takedown notices for the videos on June 1st and 6th, Kreibich disputed the claims which, according to Epic’s lawsuit, constitutes consent to be tried under the jurisdiction of the Northern District of California, where YouTube is located. And the path to properly suing Kreibich was laid. The developer is currently seeking reparations for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and unfair competition. In Epic’s lawsuit, it alleges that the hack was advertised as an aimbot that “gives you full control over the game.”

In the advertisement for the hack, which is still online, it reads: “Our hack is fully customizable for all your hacking needs. For example you can change the speed that the aimbot aims using Smooth Aim. This way you won’t look like a hacker and yet be the best player in the game. You can limit the aim angle of the aimbot as well. Our 3D Radar and 2D Radar give you full overview of the map, you will always see an enemy! Our 2D Radar gives you the ability to see if there is anyone sneaking behind you. Even if you haven’t checked the 2D Radar our Warning System will still help you out by telling you if an enemy is visible, can see you or is aiming at you.”

According to Epic, these hacks and the videos Kreibich created have caused “irreparable harm” to the developer, and will continue to do so because of Kreibich’s ongoing involvement with the hack. Because of this, Epic is seeking restitution and damages, including costs incurred from the lawsuit. They’re also asking for the destruction of Kreibich’s copies of Paragon, any derivative works (like the videos), and the hack itself. All of this has been requested to be handled via a trial by jury.

Being in what’s basically a closed beta, it’s no surprise that the developer is defending the game so aggressively, as the last thing they need is hacks ruining online play. Polygon also has the full filing, which you can read here.

From this site

46 Comments

  1. GallonOfAlan says:

    “This way you won’t look like a hacker and yet be the best player in the game.”

    You won’t be the best player in the game, you’ll be a hacking fuckwit because you’re not good enough to be the best player in the game.

    • Unsheep says:

      Yeah, it’s like those people who claim to be awesome at Dark Souls yet goes around one-shotting enemies with a Tweihänder or some other OP Mega Sword….or like the speed-runners who take advantage of game glitches and claim to be good at the game.

      • Jekhar says:

        Those were poor examples. The Zweihänder guy is still using a valid option within the game, open to all others. Speedrunners need a deep understanding of a given game, in order to exploit it’s mechanics and glitches. They’re not even competing with normal players, just trying to finish the game as fast as possible. Both very different to just using cheats or an external hacking program.

      • Inph says:

        Let’s be fair to the ANY % category speed runners; all those glitches that require frame-perfect input are incredibly hard to reproduce! Harder than playing the game normally in some cases… and just different. What’s wrong with playing a game differently?

        The apparent hate for glitch-based speed runs (non-glitch based runs are just as popular) is bemusing to me. Some people, like me, LOVE to get things to do things that were never originally intended. It becomes an entirely different game, one which is sometimes preferable to a software engineer like me, who loves bug hunting. I know that’s not a common trait of software engineers, but I’m more of a software hacker.

        Which leads me on topic, to these cheats/hacks. I’ve made things that could be considered cheats for games in the past, but I’d never use them in an online game, and I wouldn’t want any cheaters getting hold of it. I made them because it is a huge passion and fascination of mine to break apart and mod the things that interest me a lot. Video games interest me a lot, so I’m gonna hack around with them if I have the files on my computer.

        Is this particular cheat so incredible that they can’t patch out it’s ability to function? (A genuine question, because he could indeed be using some technique that forces Epic Games to do considerably more programming or end up in a cat and mouse game)

        Disclaimer: I don’t respect this particular cheat coder, he’s clearly an exploitative dick, but I do respect the practice of doing impressive things with another developer’s closed source software.

        • ComicSansMS says:

          It’s at least difficult. For the radar eg. the game has the info where the other players are in memory. You usually cannot keep this on the server, as the player could turn around suddenly and you want them to see the enemy right away, instead of having them pop up once the server latency is gone.

          So the client always has the info (which on the PC always automatically means it’s potentially accessible to cheaters) and the best you can do is make it more difficult to find for the cheater. Which is basically an arms race.

          Similar situation for the aimbot: You can try to detect that the input shows certain patterns that would not occur in human player input, but then the aimbot could simply be modified to act more human-like. Also, you want to avoid falsely blaiming highly skilled non-cheating players at all costs.

          In the end, if players are willing to cheat and the developers of the cheat tools are sufficiently skilled and dedicated, there is nothing you can do to prevent cheating. That’s the price we have to pay for the PC as an open platform.

  2. Unsheep says:

    Trying to make money from it was not the brightest idea. When you are modding a pay-for-game you are still using someone’s property. You made the modification but all the tools and the modification options themselves, were made by the actual developers. So I think they have the right to sue the guy.

    Modding to me should be about having fun with what the developers have courteously made available for modding, they are never forced to make their games modifiable. It’s fan service more or less.

    It’s an oddity today that modders consider themselves game developers or game creators, when they are not.

    • Unsheep says:

      I realize this is a matter of ‘hacking’ and not ‘modding’, but the principles are still the same: you are altering the game to suit your wishes.

    • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

      This is wrong on every level.

      If the guy wrote his own code it is nothing to do with Epic (hence why they couldn’t sue him for that). If we took your argument to its logical conclusion, everybody who wrote a program for Windows would be “using somebody else’s property” because all the interactions between hardware and the OS are handled by MS’ code. I don’t know what “tools” and “modification options” he used and exploited here, but I’d very surprised if either existed – he isn’t doing the kind of thing developers make mod tools and APIs for. At worst he’s breached Epic’s ToS. That’s it.

      Note, I don’t agree with what he’s doing, but if we allowed your thinking to become the norm software developers would be fucked.

      As for this:

      “It’s an oddity today that modders consider themselves game developers or game creators, when they are not.”

      The creators of Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, Red Orchestra, Stanley Parable and DOTA all say hi.

      • Perjoss says:

        Regardless of what’s right or wrong, he has created a program or hack that could impact the enjoyment of the people who buy their game. If there is talk going around that the game has cheaters or hackers early on it can also affect sales.

        • zbeeblebrox says:

          Whether or not someone should be allow to alter a game is a question that NEEDS to be asked *independently* of said alteration’s positive or negative impact on players. Otherwise, we’re using moral justifications to decide how much access you have to software you’ve bought. And we know where that road leads. It’s not good.

  3. aepervius says:

    i see this suit going nowhere fast : my understanding is that he is only changing local data on the local PC. Well yuppee doo, he is not hacking as per the “hacking” law the remote server. Therefore they (paragon) have no cause in germany, and as such won’t be able to have a california court act upon a german person. Sure they can yell and blabber as much in california as they want, and the guy better no travel to the US, but as such, there is no extradition possible because there is nothing done illegal per see by that german guy in germany. At worst only the user of the hack could be penalized.

    • aepervius says:

      oh and in germany that guy will be able to argue fair use as academic demonstration of the hack as far as I can tell.

      • nickclarkson says:

        Think he overstepped “fair use” when he started selling it. Fair game I say.

        • sosolidshoe says:

          Why though? If he’s developed an external program that interfaces with the game there’s no legal basis to sue him because he’s not using assets created by the devs.

          Putting aside the intended use, hacks like the sort described in the article are, fundamentally, no different in operation to keyboard macros, voice command software, of software that lets you rebind your mouse buttons to keyboard keys – it’s an input method. If you argue a developer can sue someone for creating hacks, you’re arguing they can sue anyone who created an input method they dislike, or realistically speaking, who refuses to pay them a licensing fee.

          At this point someone will doubtless be righteously composing a response about “slippery slope fallacy”, but that doesn’t apply here because we’re talking about the law – precedent matters, and if a court establishes that software developers are allowed to decide if and which third-party software people are allowed to create then it will take about five seconds for the big publishers to get their legal departments calling round peripheral makers demanding fees and threatening small indie software devs like the Voice Attack guy with destitution.

          Hacks are shite, but they’re a price we have to pay since the only valid legal arguments to prevent them can all too easily be used by greedy corporations to do far, far worse than annoy you for a few minutes until you switch server.

          • lglethal says:

            I have to disagree with you Sosolidshoe. In a multiplayer game, hacks and Aimbots are on different from performance enhancing drugs in Sport. They give their users an unfair advantage, steal potential from other people, deprive others of enjoyment and drive people away from the sport (or in this case game).

            This guy is no different to the doctors who dope sports stars. They’re not breaking the rules themselves, but they are facilitating it. That’s why they also get arrested when the Sports stars are caught.

            The specific case you predict, where companies will sue for third party software, is a fallacy. Mod communities have existed for a long time and companies are embracing them more and more with the release of mod supporting tools. Admittedly, these are usually for single player games, for the very reason that a hack to a multiplayer game affects everyone – the person using it positively, everyone else negatively. What you do with your own game is up to you, what you do with a game that interacts with other people is NOT.

            So personally, I hope Paragon can throw the book at him. if it stops more gamers having to come up against cheating scum bags then I’m all for it.

          • Emeraude says:

            Mod communities have existed for a long time and companies are embracing them more and more

            Yes, and all too often the embrace reeks of extend and extinguish.

          • lglethal says:

            I’m interested Emeraude, what ones recently (say the last 5 years) are to paraphrase you “embraced in order to extend and extinguish”.

            To be honest I’m not even sure what you mean by that statement?

          • Emeraude says:

            That’s exactly what Bethesda and Valve have been positioning itself to do with paid mods – a process which is all about turning the surplus value generated by the very existence of modding modding community into direct (emphasis on that work) profit for the companies.

            As for embrace, extend, extinguish, that was a passing by reference to this: link to en.wikipedia.org

          • ohminus says:

            @Iglethal

            That may be true, but doping isn’t illegal in all jurisdictions. In fact, Germany has only recently made it a matter of law. The main sanctions in doping come from the fact that athletes have a civil law agreement with the sports associations to abide by certain restrictions such as the WADA code and if they don’t, they are in breach of contract and will thus be banned from participating in events by that association.

    • Thurgret says:

      They don’t appear to be taking legal action over the hack itself, strictly speaking.

      • Fadaz says:

        Well, not exactly. They’re suing for copyright infringement with the videos but that’s just to have something solid. This is common in court. Probably the famous example is how they got Capone – for tax evasion (solid case) and not murders, racketeering etc (where everybody knew but there was no solid proof).

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Part of the solution would be not to send radar data (other characters location) if the players Avatar is not in range/not looking within the FOV and not obscured by terrain.

      As to the aimbot… that’s difficult. I’ve always wondered if with todays CPU/GPU power, I could wire up a mechanical robot arm to a mouse and keyboard and with a webcam get a PC to play a FPS… is that hacking?

      • Yglorba says:

        The problem with not sending radar data is that that would require doing FOV calculations server-side, which is comparatively computationally expensive.

      • Don Reba says:

        Part of the solution would be not to send radar data (other characters location) if the players Avatar is not in range/not looking within the FOV and not obscured by terrain.

        You need the full game state for client-side prediction. A player who is not visible at the moment might become visible before the next update.

      • Ross Angus says:

        It might not be hacking, but it’s certainly an excellent way to remove all fun from the game.

        Perhaps in the future, we’ll all watch YouTube clips of robots playing our computer games for us.

        • Emeraude says:

          “We” already do. Well, AI, not robot, but same idea.

        • Perjoss says:

          isn’t there some kind of starcraft tournament where teams of programmers set their custom created AI against each other?

    • MajorLag says:

      As someone on Slashdot so eloquently put it recently on a different topic: He cost a company some potential future profit, the worst crime imaginable under the US legal system.

      • lglethal says:

        Your comment MajorLag makes it sound like Paragon are the ones at fault here.

        Lets be clear people who make and distribute Aimbots in multiplayer games are a$$hats. It’s cheating front and centre. No excuses. It is the equivalent of doping in sport.

        You can argue it doesn’t hurt anyone, but it takes away the enjoyment of other players and drives them away from the affected games. That costs the publishers money. Why shouldn’t they try and stop the a$$hat from destroying their player base before they even get out of beta access?

        You can also say its just a game, but tell that to the people who work for paragon, who are relying on the company making money selling the game in order to have a job. For them its not just a small bit of cheating, it is a dedicated risk to their livelihood. I hope they win their fight against a facilitator of cheating…

        • Emeraude says:

          What is worse though, people cheating in a game to satisfy their narcissism, or companies gaming the judicial system for actual gain and control over the social body?

          • lglethal says:

            I’m curious where you see “actual gain” in this case. Paragon are trying to prevent someone from costing them a shitload of money. They’re not even out of beta yet and people are talking about aimbots for their game. That’s immediately going to turn a lot of other people away from buying the game.

            I would also hardly call taking someone to court who is facilitating this cheating “gaming the judicial system”. We have laws in place to prevent people doing things that harm others, just to satisfy their narcissism, in the real world. Why should it be any different online?
            I’ve used the example in another post above about a doctor who supplies doping drugs to an athlete. The athlete is taking the drugs just to satisfy their narcissm. Should we not take action to try to ban them from their sports? Or get the doctor struck off the medial register for supplying the drugs for profit?

          • Emeraude says:

            I would also hardly call taking someone to court who is facilitating this cheating “gaming the judicial system”.

            I might call using the copyright infringement of the video to get at the issue-raising code just that though. At the very least voluntary muddling.

            I’ve used the example in another post above about a doctor who supplies doping drugs to an athlete.

            Yes, so should the company producing the doping drug be condemned? And should the drug and any data pertaining to it be destroyed because of the doping use? Should amateur athletes be condemned for doping before a friendly game? That’s the problem with analogies, isn’t it?

            The way I see it the only things that could lead to a valid condemnation would be, first breach of contract (the TOS) for cheating, only that’s on every cheater’s head, not the on the creator of the cheating tool as long as it doesn’t infringe copyright, and I have a hard time picturing the condemnation being anything more than forbidden access to servers for that; or then there could be an attack for the loss of profit, which, unless there is definitive intent of sabotage, I have a hard time defending myself. Companies don’t have a *right* to profit per see. Hacking is competition. They just don’t want that competition nor to deliver the product.

            That being said, I may be missing something, and anyone that could add significant data, I’m interested.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            I havne’t played the game, but I’ve played a ton of Counter Strike and TF2 where cheaters crop up on occasion.

            Aside from detection and VAC and the like, surely they just need to have robust private servers so players can simply just ban cheaters.

            Problem solved.

            Unless it’s one of those dumb ass games with no private servers, in which case, they brought it on themselves.

          • ironman Tetsuo says:

            As a gamer which do I find worse? Why it’s the people hacking to feed their narcissism and ruin the entertainment I paid for of course.

            It’s no different to turning up to a game of football at your local park, bringing your own balls and standing next to the goal knocking them and in, claiming you’re the best football player ever then walking off with the trophy. Except no one does that in real life because then everyone can see how much of a twat you are.

          • Emeraude says:

            Good to know you’re putting being a “gamer” before being a citizen I guess.

          • lglethal says:

            Emeraude, now to try to counter your arguments :) ;)

            A drug is produced by a drug company to serve a specific purpose. That purpose is never human enhancement (it would never receive its qualification for human use if it was). Take the Melodinium that was just banned and has caught out Maria Sharapova and a large numbers of other athletes. It’s a drug that is hugely beneficial for people with heart problems. It basically strengthens the heart. This leads to the rather unintended side effect of making it desirable to athletes, as it strengthens their heart even though they have no problems to begin with. Do I blame the drug company – No. They produced the drug with the plan to help people with heart problems. (Although they should have been suspicious with the quantities of drugs being sold but thats another point entirely.) Do I blame the doctors who effectively gave Sharpova and others a “cheat” to be better than their clean opponents. YES.

            This guy just made a code, true. But that code has one purpose – to allow people to cheat at this specifc game. It has no other purpose, it cannot be used to help someone get better at the game (the opposite in fact). To continue your analogy, our hack manufacturer is not a drug manufacturer – he is a methlab. His product has one purpose and it is not beneficial to society. It makes the user feel like a god, but the overall outcome is a lot of other people have to suffer. So yes I still condemn him uttertly.

            Oh and your next point about whether an athlete should be condemned for doping before a friendly – absolutely. It might only be a friendly but that still means he is taking an unfair advantage. Even at friendly’s “scouts” come to check out players, if a player is made to look average because another player is using a “cheat” then he is robbing the clean player of his chance to shine, his chance to get ahead. But even more so he is taking away some of the enjoyment of the game from others by not competing fairly.

            Perhaps this comes from the fact I’m Australian – we value a “fair go” as the ultimate rule that “thou shall not break” *cue thunderbolts and lightning*. If you cannot have a fair game, you may as well not have any game, and that is actually what people like this risk.

            For their to be competition you need to start with fair competition. This is why we dont put 10 year olds into under 18’s level. You put people on a fair level, and adding aimbots and hacks into that, is no different to having your pub side being forced to play a Premier League team. Your going to have your ass kicked, your going to be embarrased and your not going to enjoy yourself. And after that you probably wont bother playing again.

            Maybe Paragon should do more on their side to try to identify and block this aimbot from a technical side, but why shouldnt they also go after the a$$hat making the “meth” that’s destroying the society of their game?

          • ohminus says:

            They should by all means try to go after him. But in a German court.

        • MajorLag says:

          The solution isn’t legal action, it’s making your game more secure, having better banning systems, etc. We’ve been dealing with cheaters in network games since there have been network games, it’s not a new problem and we don’t need to make the world an even more litigious hell hole to solve it.

        • Cederic says:

          I despise people that use aimbots in online games. I will still fight for their right to write one.

          My PC belongs to me. I can create and run whatever software I choose on it. If that software interacts with your software, that’s my choice. Not yours.

          This is an essential component of software development. Take that away and you lose the Internet, the services available on it, the game you play and the tools you use at work. Deal with it.

          But sure, despise idiots that use aimbots online. No sympathy for them.

  4. Emeraude says:

    Just going to ask this to help me frame things, but, of course, there is no possibility of end-users of the game making a private server? And then, more importantly, anyone knows what “CALIFORNIA UNFAIR COMPETITION” entails?

    Not the first nor last time a company tries to twist IP laws for personal gain.

  5. HumpX says:

    I could never get my head around the idea of using a hack. I cant think of a faster way to make whatever you are playing dull and uninteresting. How can there be any satisfaction of a game well played knowing you had to revert to an aimbot or whatever.

    • Sacarathe says:

      It’s no different to social media trolling.

    • Inph says:

      I tried out some Counter Strike cheats in the past on some LAN games and some online servers made specifically for people using cheats. It became a different game all about how to most effectively use these crazy overpowered cheats against other cheat users. Every player was using cheats and it was a LOT of a fun… However, you are correct in that it got a little boring after a while.

      Some people will be deluded and think cheats make them a god without attribution to the cheat.

      Some will get a rush out of exploiting the game and the people in it (perhaps those with a bully mentality).

      Some just like to change the rules, experiment, and add variety to a game or just have a general curiosity (that was my reasoning).

      The latter also offers an insight into how the game’s mechanics are built if you are interested in that sort of thing and dig into how the cheat functions.

  6. NephilimNexus says:

    Well that’s one down. Only 48,291 hackers to go! Woohoo!

  7. DrMcCoy says:

    The interesting thing here, though, is that we have a Germany citized being sued in California. Will Germany extradite him? For copyright infringement via YouTube upload?

    Also, IIRC, there’s been some grumblings in Brussels about that common ToS bit about forcing a Californian jurisdiction. Basically, the argument is that you should have the right and access to a reasonably local court. This case here could become quite interesting, maybe.

    Tangentially, the common forced arbitration clause in ToS/EULAs/contracts are difficult to enforce across jurisdictions. As far as I know, this is all completely untested.

    • ohminus says:

      I can answer your question – no, Germany will not extradite him. Germany doesn’t extradite its citizens except to other EU countries and international courts.

      More, since copyright infringement is also punishable under German law and he was personally located in Germany while doing what he did, German courts would likely insist that the case be tried in Germany anyway.