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Activision sues company distributing Call of Duty cheats

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Activision has sued EngineOwning, a company that advertises cheats for Call of Duty games

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Activision Publishing, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against EngineOwning, a company that advertises cheats for Call of Duty games and other popular online shooters, and is seeking to shut down software that allows people to cheat in any Activision-published game.

“By this lawsuit, Activision seeks to put a stop to unlawful conduct by an organization that is distributing and selling for profit numerous malicious software products designed to enable members of the public to gain unfair competitive advantages (i.e., to cheat) in the COD Games,” Activision said. “These ongoing activities damage Activision’s games, its overall business, and the experience of the COD player community.”

According to the lawsuit, “the Cheating Software enables players to manipulate the COD Games to their personal advantage, such as by automatically aiming weapons, revealing the locations of opponents, and allowing the player to see information that is not normally available to players because it would give them an unfair advantage within the game.” The company says it believes the defendants “have been fully aware that their conduct violates Activision’s rights but nevertheless have brazenly continued their activities.”

The company is naming 50 “Does” in the lawsuit, and while it notes the believed identities of some individuals involved with EngineOwning, it acknowledges that “the true names and capacities, whether individual, corporate, associate, or otherwise, of the Doe defendants are unknown to Activision.”

Activision has recently been making a lot of effort to tamp down cheaters in the Call of Duty games, focusing a particular amount of attention on the hugely popular — and free to play — Call of Duty: Warzone. The company rolled out its new Ricochet anti-cheat system globally in Warzone in December, and the company said soon after that it had banned 48,000 “cheater accounts” thanks to the new system. In the lawsuit, Activision says it has “been able to identify and ban hundreds of thousands of accounts using cheating software in the COD Games in just over the past year.” (That presumably refers to 2021.)

A Twitter account that appears to belong to EngineOwning did not immediately reply to a Twitter DM asking for comment. It has not posted about the lawsuit on that account, and its website is live as of this writing.

Activision Blizzard is currently embroiled in scandal after being sued by the state of California, which alleges it fostered a culture of “constant sexual harassment” and gender-based discrimination. Some workers at the company have entered their third week of a strike to protest surprise layoffs of QA employees at Raven Software, which is known for its work on Call of Duty.