There’s nothing worse in an online multiplayer Call of Duty lobby than facing a cheater that ruins the game, but players can now revel in the satisfaction of seeing them booted in real time. Activision’s proprietary Ricochet anti-cheat system will now notify Call of Duty lobbies when a cheater has been removed from a game. It’s the latest shot in an ongoing battle to kick cheaters out of PC games.
The notifications are being added to season five of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0, which kicked off on Wednesday and also includes the ability to equip a dog.
Activision has been pursuing cheaters for awhile now, after issuing a stern warning a few years ago that “cheaters aren’t welcome.” The Ricochet anti-cheat system arrived in 2021 with a kernel-level driver designed to catch PC cheaters — developed internally for the Call of Duty franchise by Activision.
It’s an ongoing cat-and-mouse game to catch cheaters and the methods that developers use to circumvent anti-cheat systems. This has led to Call of Duty making legit players invisible to cheaters, enabling an automatic god mode to destroy cheaters, and even a crackdown on third-party hardware cheating devices like XIM, Cronus Zen, and ReaSnow S1.
These hardware devices are becoming increasingly popular as they’re designed to be undetectable and provide mouse and keyboard users with the benefits of aim assist from a controller mixed with the benefits of movement from mouse and keyboard.
The bigger issues are still aimbots and wallhacks, which have surged in popularity in recent years. Aimbots automatically lock onto opponents’ heads, so cheaters can fire and immediately take you out. Wallhacks expose everyone on a map so cheaters can see exactly where you are.
Developers are still struggling to kick these types of cheaters out of games. While kernel-level anti-cheat systems are the preferred method for game developers and publishers to monitor PCs, cheat developers can bypass these anti-cheat systems on Intel-based processors by using a specialist hypervisor layer that’s usually used for virtual machines to run undetected on systems.
There’s still hope that Microsoft might eventually step in to control its Windows environment for PC gaming. It’s the platform that the vast majority of PC games are played on, but its openness allows cheaters to develop workarounds easily. Microsoft has created a new Pluton security chip that’s designed to protect future Windows PCs with Xbox-like security, but the Windows developer hasn’t announced any plans yet to tie Pluton to an anti-cheat system.
Some game developers are even turning to lawsuits to target the sellers of cheat systems. Destiny 2 has been plagued by cheaters for years and its Sony-owned developer Bungie has been engaged in legal action for months against the developers and sellers of Destiny 2 cheating software. Even if Bungie is successful, more cheat developers will appear as it’s an industry making huge sums of money by offering monthly subscriptions to cheats. Some cheat developers even create private undetectable versions of cheats that are sold at a premium to those desperate to have a competitive edge.