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Playerunknown's Battlegrounds launching new anti-cheat tech next week

Sure, you can expect a stag & hen weekend to get rowdy when 100 hungover top lads are dropped onto an island brimming with guns, but cheating just isn’t cool. There’s a fine line between banter and being an arse, Gary. In their ongoing battle to keep Gary and his cheaty mates out of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, the developers have been working on new anti-cheat tech of their own. Following a stretch in testing, this should hit the main servers next week. The devs say they are planning to make it less strict about blocking non-cheaty software which hooks innocently into the game – but ReShade is definitely banned.

Plunkbat initially relied on third-party anti-cheat software BattlEye–which in December boasted of having banned 1.5 million players–but developers PUBG Corp have set up a team dedicated to fighting cheats and work on their own cheatbuster too. In today’s dev update post, the devs say their new anti-cheat solution “will complement the systems that have been developed and implemented already.” They add that “Its main focus for now is blocking unauthorized programs but it will be further developed to broaden the scope of its abilities.”

Maybe they could make the anti-cheat phone a cheater’s parents to tell them their child is naughty. Perhaps make a little water sprayer pop out of the cheater’s keyboard and spray their face while shouting “No! Bad!” Just some suggestions.

The devs explain that their tech is looking for programs which “hook into our game and transform game files”, which also means that “programs that are not used to gain an unfair advantage can also be blocked if they behave like cheats.” They are checking over programs which have been blocked on the test servers and will unblock harmless ones “as quickly as possible”. ReShade will not be one of them.

ReShade is fairly common tool which applies post-processing effects to games, which can be handy for things such as making Fallout 4 more colourful but is a grey area in multiplayer games. While some Plunkbat players use it fancy the game up to their particular tastes, others have grumbled about ReShade being able to tweak sharpness and colours to make enemy players more visible. Perhaps the final straw was cheaters figuring out how to use ReShade to create a zoom effect – a big advantage in a game where scopes are a rare item. A community manager has posted that they’ll block ReShade on purpose, so away that goes.

It sounds like players who have deleted map files to skip the map they dislike might be out of luck too, as the post says “If you tamper with the game files, your game access may be blocked, especially if you delete, modify or manipulate in any way the files affecting any of the game systems and mechanics.” Aye, that wouldn’t be a surprise. An official map select option is coming, the devs have said, but we still don’t know when.

One surprising casualty of the cheat crackdown is Steam Family Sharing. This feature of Steam, which is intended to let people share games from their library with family and friends, supposedly has “a number of vulnerabilities that are being exploited.” To stomp bad behaviour, the devs say, it must be disabled. I’d be fascinated to learn what the problem with that is but, alas, they don’t explain.

Not all anti-cheat solutions are in-game. A report in January said that the future operators of Plunkbat in China, Tencent, called in the rozzers to arrest 120 people on suspicion of developing cheats. Sicking The Man on cheaters isn’t uncommon with big games but dang, that’s a lot of busts.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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