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Playerunknown's Battlegrounds anti-cheating crackdown leads to arrests

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Not too long ago, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds was a scruffy little also-ran in Early Access, barely evolved past its Day Z mod roots. Now, it’s multi-billion dollar business worldwide, especially in growing eastern markets. Big money protects itself, for better or worse, and a recent crackdown on the creators of popular cheat tools for Plunkbat has resulted in the arrest of 15 individuals in China, according to this developer update on Steam, along with reaffirmations that the anti-cheat software in-game would be improved.

According to Chinese authorities, and translated by the PUBG team, here’s what the crackdown has resulted in so far:

“15 major suspects including “OMG”, “FL”, “火狐”, “须弥” and “炎黄” were arrested for developing hack programs, hosting marketplaces for hack programs, and brokering transactions. Currently the suspects have been fined approximately 30mil RNB ($5.1mil USD). Other suspects related to this case are still being investigated.

Some hack programs that are being distributed through the internet includes a Heybox(小黑盒) Trojan horse*(Chinese backdoor) virus. It was proven that hack developers used this virus to control users’ PC, scan their data, and extract information illegally.”

That’s a hell of a fine, although it makes me wonder just how much the creators of these cheating tools had raked in already. The market for Counter-Strike cheats is still lucrative to this day, even though it frequently results in a bizarre rolling game of whack-a-mole, as cheaters just buy fresh copies of the game time and time again after getting banned. You’d think that just playing the game enough to get better at it would be easier and less expensive, but apparently not.

The game has had a problem with cheaters for some time now. I’ve even been killed by them a few times myself – at least, that’s the only reasonable explanation I can come up with for someone on the other side of a very solid, very opaque hill killing me with a single bullet from an SMG. As draconian as raids, arrests and multi-million-dollar fines may be, I hope it results in some good in the end.

There’s also confirmation – at least from the Chinese police, so take with a pinch of salt – that cheats for the game were being used to distribute trojans/backdoors and potentially steal information. Not exactly the greatest of news if you’ve been buying your accuracy advantages online. Hopefully this’ll lead to a few cheaters reconsidering, but knowing the kind of people who insist on cheating in online games, I doubt it. As for the rest of you, you’re going to behave, right? Good.

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Dominic Tarason

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