Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds rolls back anti-cheat update after a wonky weekend

If you tried to take the laaads on another Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds stag do over the weekend but found the game stumbling and crashing even before the J├Ągerbombs started to fall, know that it was caused by a wonky update to the game’s cheat-blocking technology. Developers PUBG Corp launched a new anti-cheat update on Friday morning but, after two days of complaints about crashes and poor performance, decided to undo the update. The cause was… hazy. The devs say it seems that having certain other programs open while playing caused weird interactions with the anti-cheat but they weren’t sure which, how many, or why.

At first, the devs tried to identify causes with the update still live, asking players to file reports. But evidently it became clear that the problem was big enough to warrant hitting Ctrl+Z.

The game’s Twitter support account tweeted on Sunday morning that “despite its effectiveness in blocking cheats, we have decided to roll back our latest live server update.”

If this update was more effective at blocking cheats, that is encouraging to hear, but obviously not if it comes at the cost of random crashes and stuttering framerates. Though I suppose a game you can’t play is a game that can’t have cheaters.

Not all players were hit by the problems, but those affected did include the game’s developers. Lead community manager “poopieQueen” (the Internet, yeah?) explained the problem on Reddit before the rollback:

“Some of us in the office have experienced the same problems ourselves, and after some troubleshooting we’ve determined that various programs are interfering with our anti-cheat solution, and that there’s a lot of tweaking we need to do on our end to fix that.

“The program that was causing interference for us was a Text Expansion app that automates and makes easier some repetitive communication tasks. We’re not sure why it’s interfering with the anti-cheat solution, but we closed it and it immediately solved the problems we were having. Our assumption is that many of you are experiencing issues because of other types of programs interfering. We’ve seen reports that some antivirus solutions are causing problems, automation and productivity tools are as well.”

I saw a few players reporting that OBS, the popular livestreaming and recording software, was causing problems for some.

The devs say they’re working on fixing the problem, now the patch has been rolled back, so fingers crossed that it returns soon to block cheaters without wonking it for the rest of us.

Anti-cheat technology is a fast and endless arms race between gamemakers and gits. Anti-cheat updates are best launched as a surprise, not giving cheatmakers any time to prepare. That said, Plunkbat’s anti-cheat changes often seem to have teething problems. Only a few days earlier last week, false positives slapped some noncheaters with temporary bans. The game does use test servers for game updates, and maybe it’s time to consider using them for anti-cheat updates too.

5 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Well this seems well thought out.

    But really, fixing cheating isn’t easy outside of making literally everything server-side, and then you have lag.

    So hey, good try, Plunkbat Corp. Keep working on it.

  2. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    It strikes me that there’s probably a really interesting technical explanation behind this. (Assuming you find technical explanations interesting of course.)

  3. doodler says:

    It felt briefly better hacker wise over the weekend. My friends roped me into about 5 games over the weekend and only one of those resulted in a squad wipe to a hacker.
    One of my friends definitely had performance issues(he said he was averaging about 20 FPS lower than usual) and I’ll have to ask him about a text expander. I have one on my computer(Phraseexpress) but I didn’t notice any issues so maybe that affects false positives on their end rather than issues for me.

  4. Freud says:

    This open world sandbox PvP genre is so odd. We have had several games gain a massive audience only to lose it to the next thing. From HZ1, DayZ to now Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. Granted, the latter is still a big game but Fortnite has overtaken it in just a few months and PUBG seems to be losing players at a steady pace.

  5. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    It seems like a really bad sign that “some of us in the office have experienced the same problems ourselves” and it went out the door anyway.

    “Some of us in the office” is a fairly tiny number of people, unlikely to be running cracked copies/cheat tools/assorted mystery war3z; and potentially on standardized hardware, depending on whether they are talking about personal machines or company equipment.

    If you are seeing problems in a sample that small and well behaved just what do you think is going to happen when you bounce it off a giant pool of motley internet people?