On July 23rd, two of the video game industry’s biggest companies filed a joint lawsuit to take down a cheating ring that allegedly sold services for their top games. According to TorrentFreak, Bungie and Ubisoft filed the suit in the California state district against members of the company known as Ring-1. The defendants named in the suit go by the usernames Krypto (Andrew Thorpe), Overpowered (Jonathan Agueda), and Grizzy (Wesam Mohammed), and the complaints include allegations of copyright and trademark infringement, as well as intentional interference with contractual relations.
According to the suit, services offered by Ring-1 included “distribution of malicious software products designed to enable members of the public to gain unfair competitive advantages (i.e., to cheat) in the Games.” Ring-1’s website details several game-alerting services for customers to choose from, including PvP aimbots, configurable ESP tools that can change health and ammo, and other services that help players control the recoil and spread of weapon fire. For a PC game such as Rust, for example, there's a package that includes a hardware spoofer, protection from all recording software, an aimbot, and other miscellaneous features like magic/silent bullets, that starts at around £64.
In the joint suit, Ubisoft and Bungie are seeking monetary and punitive damages but are hoping to shut down Ring-1 altogether. Both companies cite the highly competitive nature of their respective games (Destiny 2 and Rainbow Six Siege) and make clear in their complaint that the services offered by Ring-1 give players an unfair advantage in various PvP game modes.
Since the onset of the pandemic, competitive online games have seen a surge in the number of cheaters. Vincent Flores and Ramsey Pace, senior directors at FTI Consulting, recently explored the rise in isolation in gaming because of the pandemic and its relationship to cheating. They found that between February and April 2020, the number of Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) Bans went from less than 100,000 to over half a million cases. They also noted that this significant spike occurred around the same time that the Covid-19 pandemic was declared a national emergency. While a move like Ubisoft and Bungie's joint suit is nothing new in the gaming world, it does highlight the significant actions game companies are taking to combat the increasing number of cheaters online.