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Cheaters are ruining Call of Duty: Warzone

Cheaters are ruining Call of Duty: Warzone


Update: Activision says it’s banned 60,000 additional accounts

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EA has a new custom anti-cheat system for PC
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Cheaters in Call of Duty: Warzone are ruining the game and forcing professional players to abandon it. Game hacks and cheat software are being widely used in the battle royale hit, and it has left the community of millions of players feeling frustrated with the lack of attention from publisher Activision and developers Infinity Ward and Raven Software.

Today, that frustration boiled over to the point that the companies decided to take action, banning 60,000 accounts in a single day, and issuing an official blog post that, once again, promises zero tolerance for cheaters. Developer Raven Software is also promising to communicate frequently about the situation, offering “monthly updates at a minimum.”

Cheating in some of the world’s top PC games has been getting worse over the past year, and aimbots and wallhacks are now increasingly common in the industry’s most competitive shooters. Aimbots automatically lock onto opponents’ heads, making it easy to wipe out waves of players. Wallhacks expose everyone on a map, so cheaters get a huge advantage by knowing where their opponents are at all times. In battle royale games, which ask players to spend sometimes between 20 to 30 minutes playing a single match, losing to a cheater can be especially frustrating.

Cheating has reached a breaking point for some who primarily play Warzone. YouTuber Vikkstar123 quit the game last week, after a cheater was blatantly using wallhacks and aimbots and streaming to Facebook Gaming.

The cheater was even part of Facebook’s Level Up program, so they were able to freely stream game cheats and actually make money doing so. Facebook has now demonetized the cheater. But since the company did not ban them, the streamer continued with blatant wallhacks enabled just hours ago.

A cheater streaming live on Facebook Gaming.
A cheater streaming live on Facebook Gaming.

Vikkstar isn’t alone in his frustrations. A $250,000 Warzone tournament was rocked by accusations of cheating last month, when rival high-profile players accused a Canadian player of using an aimbot, which the player denied. It led to a situation where a member of the esports organization 100 Thieves searched through the computer of the accused player live on Twitch, in an attempt to find cheating software.

Prominent Warzone players Nickmercs and YouTuber Drift0r have also both been highly vocal about the rise of cheating in Warzone. This latest round of outcries follows months of issues with hacking in the game, where players have regularly spotted people using aimbots and wallhacks and sharing clips on Reddit and TikTok.

The response from Activision and Infinity Ward has lacked urgency. Activision made it clear it has “zero tolerance” for cheaters in Warzone nearly a year ago, when it moved to ban thousands of players. By October, Infinity Ward revealed it had banned more than 200,000 accounts for cheating across Warzone and Modern Warfare, and Activation says it’s now banned 300,000 accounts as of today. There’s been a vague promise of “additional security updates and added backend enforcement tools,” but many players feel there isn’t enough being done to combat the problem.

Cheating isn’t a problem that’s unique to Warzone. Popular games like PUBG, Destiny 2, Valorant, and many other titles have been experiencing high levels of cheating recently. People are even cheating in games like Fall Guys or Among Us, where aimbots aren’t exactly necessary.

It might seem like this cheating surge is limited to PC gaming, but it also extends to game consoles. Cheaters can purchase specially modded controllers to get an edge in games, improving aim assist, gun recoil, and more. CronusMAX is popular across both PlayStation and Xbox, and it allows players to run millions of scripts, mods, exploits, and macros to automate and improve gameplay.

The biggest problem the industry faces is tackling this collectively. There are a variety of anti-cheat solutions being used by various game developers, but it’s a cat-and-mouse game against the hackers developing the cheats. It’s very much like the malware industry, and game developers have to be on top of detecting new cheats with a sense of urgency.

Game developers are often too slow to respond to blatant cheating, or don’t do enough to communicate with the communities frustrated most by the cheating issues. With hackers able to generate huge sums from selling cheats, it increasingly looks like a problem that will get worse before it gets any better.

Update, 8:34PM ET: Added Activision’s blog post promising zero tolerance and revealing that 60,000 additional accounts have been banned today, for a total of 300,000 permabans since launch.