It seems like cheating only pays until it doesn’t. According to a report by BBC, a collaboration between Chinese police and Tencent led to the arrest of ten members of a video game cheats operation known as “Chicken Drumstick.” The police tout this as the “world’s biggest” cheating operation based on the company’s revenue stream and the caliber of games that its cheats impacted.
The cheat manufacturer made “roughly $76m” in revenue based on subscriptions it charged clients for access to cheats in games like Overwatch and Call of Duty. The operation sold its services to hundreds of countries and regions around the world, charging anywhere from $10 a day to $200 a month for subscription fees. Along with arresting 10 people associated with the cheat operation, $46m in assets were seized by the police, including several luxury super cars. The police also said they “found and destroyed 17 cheats,” though it’s unclear exactly what this means.
With the expanding interconnectivity of games and more and more titles turning to multiplayer and living games in order to retain players and bring in revenue, cheating and hacking in games has also grown, with the BBC report calling it a “massive criminal enterprise.”
Developers and publishers are in a constant battle to find and eliminate exploits and cheats in their games, both at the player level with bans and by pursuing lawsuits against cheat manufacturers at the source. Big online games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite, Destiny 2, and Overwatch, among others, are besieged by cheaters and hackers who exploit the games to their advantage in various ways, often ruining the experience for those looking to play legit.
Outriders developer People Can Fly is handling cheating in a different way, branding cheaters with a unique watermark on their HUD to let everyone know that they cheated. Matchmaking will also take longer, with cheaters being placed exclusively in a pool with other cheaters.
While cheating tends to be a bigger problem on PC where modifying the game files and hacking is much easier to accomplish, it does still happen to some extent on consoles as well. PS5 developers can take advantage of Denuvo anti-cheat to further prevent cheating in PS5 games.