Cheating is a part of gaming. There are many different forms of cheating and motivations for players to cheat. A player can cheat by themselves against the computer, simply as a new way to enjoy the game or to advance faster. I definitely remember times I would type in HOW DO YOU TURN THIS ON in Age of Empires II to get my flashy cobra car to effortlessly conquer my computer opponent’s medieval forces.
I would do this purely for fun and as a comical way to enjoy the game; however, if I used this cheat while playing other players this would have given me an unfair advantage and ruin the gameplay for everyone. In this short article we are solely focused on diving into why people cheat in specifically online multiplayers, the greater effects this cheating has on gamers and developers, and what ultimately led us to investing in EQU8.
Why do people cheat in online multiplayers?
If you play online multiplayer games, you have inevitably encountered another player cheating. The cheating you encounter could take many forms, sometimes it is a player who is experienced and they create a secondary account so they can easily beat less experienced players (known as “smurfing”). It could also be a player running an additional program to artificially enhance their performance (e.g. using aimbots or walling). I play CS:GO regularly, and cheating unfortunately is a normal part of the community and a reality you accept when deciding to play online. At Konvoy Ventures we decided to dive into the motivation to cheat in online games, and discovered two primary drivers:
1) The cheater wants to reap destruction and feeds off the frustration of others. This “trolling” (ruining the experience for everyone) mechanism is the one I most frequently encounter and the one I believe is most common. The desire to destroy and frustrate others is often an anger outlet for a player.
2) The cheater wants to feel superior over their competition (even if they are not). We have all wondered what it is like to be great at an activity you may be average at. In video gaming, players have the unique ability to cheat and feel like the best player in the lobby. Many gamers fall to this temptation. In professional esports, there are famous examples of pros running cheats at tournaments, one which occurred last year was when Nikhil “forsaken” Kumawat was caught cheating by tournament officials in Shanghai at the CS:GO Zowie eXtemesland Tournament LAN finals. Nikhil is not the first nor the last to attempt to cheat in a professional gaming setting.
An example of a player using wall hacks^
What is the cost of cheating?
For the players: When a player cheats, their fun is gained at the direct loss of someone else’s experience. Gabe Newell, the founder of Valve, said “cheating is a negative-sum game, where a minority benefits less than the majority is harmed.”
For the game developers:
- 77% of online gamers stated they would likely stop playing a multiplayer game online if they thought other players were cheating (Irdeto Global Gaming Survey).
- 48% of online gamers also said that they would buy less in-game content as a result of cheating (Irdeto Global Gaming Survey).
The amount of cheating that occurs: Cheating is arguably the biggest problem plaguing multiplayer PC games with cheats easily available online costing anywhere from $10 to $500 per download. Cheating is so prevalent in popular multiplayer games that Apex Legends banned 500,000 accounts in the first month after release. According to Irdeto, 12% of online gamers (4% always, 8% sometimes) admit to using instruments such as modified game files and hardware tools regularly to cheat. According to Bohemian Interactive, an independent game studio, approximately 1% of online gamers are willing to purchase a cheat.
Why we invested into EQU8: EQU8 is teaming up with game developers to battle online cheating. EQU8 will look at all the static info of the game executable and check for differences. So when the game is played, EQU8 will monitor to see if any of the code being run and executed is different than the standard game code that was shipped. These differences are flagged as potential cheats and sent to the EQU8 servers with details on what code was run differently and any program that may have intervened. We are thrilled to partner with the EQU8 team as they battle what we believe to be one of the most crucial pain points in online gaming.