Video games are already a challenging medium, but the addition of cheat codes can really make a game’s difficulty skyrocket. Cheating in a single-player game isn’t such a big deal, but when you’re playing multiplayer against other real people, using a cheat can be a little bit shady. That’s why many players avoid using cheats, even though they can help give a player an edge over their opponents.
While the use of cheats in video games isn’t exactly new, it’s become a lot more accepted in recent years, due to the rise of online gaming and the esports industry. As a result, modern developers have to program their games with controllable environments that are less prone to hacking.
The term “cheat” refers to any internal alterations made to a game’s code that give the user an advantage in the game. This can be done either by exploiting an internal weakness found within a game’s software (like a bug), or external tools created specifically for the purpose of cheating. Some examples of these cheats include Aim Bots, allowing the user to shoot with perfect aim at their opponents, and Camera Hacks that allow the user to see a larger view of their surroundings than the developer intended.
Gamers have long used self-made cheats in their quest to conquer difficult video games. In the early 1980s, savvy gamers could take advantage of the 8-bit computing systems of the time and change a game’s memory values with a simple POKE command. This allowed them to change a game’s statistics — like health and ammo — and gave them an unfair advantage over their enemies.
With the advent of multiplayer and achievements, it became more frowned upon to modify a game’s code in order to cheat, but that didn’t stop some developers from cheating outright to boost their sales. For example, the popular arcade title Dragon’s Lair features a secret code that allows the user to skip the game’s first half.
As gaming has moved to a more competitive landscape with the emergence of esports, cheating in multiplayer games has grown out of hand. According to a survey by Irdeto, 32% of players admit that other players’ cheating negatively impacts their multiplayer experience and an additional 12% claim that it happens often or constantly.
In the future, developers will have to create more challenging games in order to keep their users engaged and cheating to a minimum. While that may be a good thing for the gaming community, it’s hard to imagine what it’ll mean for the profitability of multiplayer games in general.