Police and Tencent collaborate to seize "world's biggest" video game cheating operation

jsilva

Posts: 51   +0
Staff
What just happened? The Chinese Police joined forces with tech giant Tencent to halt the operation of what's believed to be the "world's biggest" video game ring. During the bust, the police apprehended $46 million worth of assets, including numerous sports and luxury cars.

Cheating has been part of gaming for as long as games have existed. Cheating on single player games usually doesn't affect others and can even be seen as a feature or "easter egg," unless you're trying to break a speedrun record in a competition. As for online games, even if not playing professionally, the gaming experience of non-cheaters will probably be rather unpleasant and that's where most of the issues arise. Not to mention, many of today's most popular games are riddled with microtransactions and in the worst of cases, pay-to-win type of schemes.

The investigation started over a year ago, in March 2020, when Tencent reported the group "Chicken Drumstick" to the authorities. A year later, on March 26th, the Kunshan police held a conference announcing the bust of the "world's biggest" video game cheating operation.

As per the Anti-Cheat Police Department, the group was making around $10,000 a day by selling aimbots, wall-hacks, and other cheats to gamers around the globe, though mostly in China. Considering they earned a total of $764 million before shutting down, cheat coding sure looks like a profitable business.

During the investigation, the Kunshan police raided various places, closing down 17 websites and arresting 10 resellers. Moreover, the police also apprehended $20 million worth of cars from one individual and $26 million in assets from another.

The subscription service offered by the group cost between $1.50 a day, up to $26 a month. Mobile third-person shooters were the major focus, but as Dexerto reports, there were also cheats and hacks for titles like Overwatch and Valorant.

As for why this is probably the "biggest game cheating provider bust ever," authorities stated three main reasons: the money involved, the games affected by the cheating group, and the sheer number of users.

Image credit: Weibo

Permalink to story.

 

BadThad

Posts: 449   +422
Even though it was America that made the bust, BRAVO! Anything to stem the tide of of cheaters ruining the gaming experience for us non-cheaters. I wish ALL gaming companies had special departments to deal with cheating and then the wherewithal to go after the authors of cheats and their distributors!

CHEATERS SUCK
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,924   +2,992
Even though it was America that made the bust, BRAVO! Anything to stem the tide of of cheaters ruining the gaming experience for us non-cheaters. I wish ALL gaming companies had special departments to deal with cheating and then the wherewithal to go after the authors of cheats and their distributors!

CHEATERS SUCK
Problem is, many game companies actually LIKE cheaters, as it often raises the player count of a game that people would otherwise lose interest in. Plus, it gives a "goal" for the legit players to see.

Like "hey, you CAN actually get the Bugatti Bolide, so I'm gonna keep playing until I get it too..."
 

m3tavision

Posts: 603   +363
Cheaters should be flagged & can only play on cheater servers... with each other.

Secondly, Hackers and cheat developers should have their fingers caught off. As there is no need for them to exist anymore within the digital realm, let them try cheating at outdoor sports... where punishment is immediate.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 404   +563
Secondly, Hackers and cheat developers should have their fingers caught off. As there is no need for them to exist anymore within the digital realm, let them try cheating at outdoor sports... where punishment is immediate.
I love the idea Herschel Greenbaum, but this is the 21st century...
 

Austinturner

Posts: 136   +137
Problem is, many game companies actually LIKE cheaters, as it often raises the player count of a game that people would otherwise lose interest in. Plus, it gives a "goal" for the legit players to see.

Like "hey, you CAN actually get the Bugatti Bolide, so I'm gonna keep playing until I get it too..."
That’s quite a claim. Have you got anything to support that accusation? Cheating stops many people enjoying games, that would lead to less engagement and active players which means less revenue. My evidence is game companies invest a lot into measures to stop cheating.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,402   +3,489
And how exactly you want to fix wallhack which is based on system settings outside of the game?
Do server side code verification instead of client side code verification. But this would require game developers to A) actually put EFFORT into their PC ports instead of just slapping some compatibility settings onto their game and B) would requie QA work out of a game developer on a continuing basis, and lord knows we cant do that, that wouldnt make EVEN MORE MONEY.

Every time you hear about a big multiplayer game having hacking problems, its ALWAYS one of these client side catastrophies, like the division. Alternatively they could bring back private servers for friends to play with, but that would mean less money for developers because they couldnt force you into the newest (TM) game to buy more microtransactions.

Consoles can use client side, because they are consoles, are much harder to load hacks onto, and can be MAC banned from their closed networks. PC is a different animal and should be treated as such, but that would require effort, which is a 4 letter word in the industry these days.
 

Knot Schure

Posts: 347   +161
Problem is, many game companies actually LIKE cheaters, as it often raises the player count of a game that people would otherwise lose interest in. Plus, it gives a "goal" for the legit players to see.

Like "hey, you CAN actually get the Bugatti Bolide, so I'm gonna keep playing until I get it too..."

DAM, where is the 'thumb-down-button' when you need one?

Cheating creates all sorts of frustration & anger in the gaming community, and has players leaving in their droves.
 

Austinturner

Posts: 136   +137
Nobody is likes to play with cheaters. I am curious what law they are break and what is penalty.
They were making and selling code that would modify the game, I bet their hacks include a bunch of original game code as well as their own changes and that would mean they copied and then sold copyrighted software code.

The tweet said jail time as a penalty.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,924   +2,992
They were making and selling code that would modify the game, I bet their hacks include a bunch of original game code as well as their own changes and that would mean they copied and then sold copyrighted software code.

The tweet said jail time as a penalty.
Generally the criminal activity is the DISTRIBUTION and SELLING of the cheats.... I don’t think anyone has gone to jail just for cheating.

I understand lots of people hate cheaters... I’ve found that this generally applies to people who aren’t able to cheat themselves.... I’ve had people moaning about how terrible cheating is in certain games only to pay for “mods” for some other game.
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 683   +588
Let me guess, they made $750 million and what they seized will amount to maybe $50 million, so where's the other $700 million. Spend a few years in jail and come back to riches beyond imagination.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,924   +2,992
That’s quite a claim. Have you got anything to support that accusation? Cheating stops many people enjoying games, that would lead to less engagement and active players which means less revenue. My evidence is game companies invest a lot into measures to stop cheating.
Game companies will never admit it, but having cheaters actually increases player counts - and while this peeves the “legit” players, freemium game companies make much of their revenue from advertising - which they get paid on based on player count.

While rampant cheating certainly hurts profits, this is one of the reasons many game companies simply don’t care about cheaters...

What they do instead is pretend to fight cheating... they’ll ban people every so often, introduce “security” features in order to placate the legit players.

An example would be the freemium game CSR2... 99% of the top players all mod.... but they increase the player count, so tend to be left alone by the devs.

Those who’ve loyally played for months (or years) are thus given the choice of continuing to play legitimately, stop playing, or join the cheaters...

If you’ve already invested tons of time and your own money, it’s hard to quit the game... but continuing to pay legitimately is also not a viable option... thus, more turn to cheating in order to play...
 

Austinturner

Posts: 136   +137
Game companies will never admit it, but having cheaters actually increases player counts - and while this peeves the “legit” players, freemium game companies make much of their revenue from advertising - which they get paid on based on player count.

While rampant cheating certainly hurts profits, this is one of the reasons many game companies simply don’t care about cheaters...

What they do instead is pretend to fight cheating... they’ll ban people every so often, introduce “security” features in order to placate the legit players.

An example would be the freemium game CSR2... 99% of the top players all mod.... but they increase the player count, so tend to be left alone by the devs.

Those who’ve loyally played for months (or years) are thus given the choice of continuing to play legitimately, stop playing, or join the cheaters...

If you’ve already invested tons of time and your own money, it’s hard to quit the game... but continuing to pay legitimately is also not a viable option... thus, more turn to cheating in order to play...
So your proof that game companies benefit from and tacitly support cheating is that...the actions they take and the things they say are not effective enough at preventing cheating and you assume that they could actually prevent it if they wanted to? Sounds pretty tenuous.
 

Gastec

Posts: 107   +48
Depressing that so many people buy cheats. I want to believe that maybe there are some cultural differences involved here, although that could be naive.
From what I've seen and heard in the Chinese culture there is no stigma for cheating, on the contrary.
 

Gastec

Posts: 107   +48
Generally the criminal activity is the DISTRIBUTION and SELLING of the cheats.... I don’t think anyone has gone to jail just for cheating.

I understand lots of people hate cheaters... I’ve found that this generally applies to people who aren’t able to cheat themselves.... I’ve had people moaning about how terrible cheating is in certain games only to pay for “mods” for some other game.
DISTRIBUTION and SELLING of the cheats WITHOUT PAYING the tax on profit (and the local "protection" tax) to the Chinese government.
 

toooooot

Posts: 1,465   +733
I hate online cheaters so much..
I mean you are not just cheating.
You come to play with others because it is more fun than playing alone and then screw them up.
That is a first class scambuggery.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,924   +2,992
So your proof that game companies benefit from and tacitly support cheating is that...the actions they take and the things they say are not effective enough at preventing cheating and you assume that they could actually prevent it if they wanted to? Sounds pretty tenuous.
For the game in question, it would be a simple matter to scan for any items that are illegal on any account and ban that account - and the Apple/Gamecenter ID or IP address associated with it.

Instead, the company bans a few - but never by Apple/Gamecenter ID or IP Address.... so the banned player simply copies their file to a new account and goes on with perhaps 30 minutes of inconvenience...

The obvious reason is: if they actually banned all the cheaters, they would cripple their player count... and lose tons of money from their advertisers...