Cheating in video games can be a lot of fun, and it’s no surprise that many gamers do it. But it’s not without its drawbacks and consequences. For one, cheating ruins the experience for honest players who play fair. It also affects game developers and publishers who need to sell their games in order to make money.
Video game cheats have been in use since the early days of gaming. They were initially used as a way to debug games during testing, but players soon began using them themselves. These self-made cheats typically changed game code to alter statistics (e.g. lives, ammo) and could be used as a quick hack to get past tough spots in a game. This type of cheat is sometimes called a third-party cheat, as it isn’t officially sanctioned by the game developer.
Modern innovations such as esports and streaming have shifted the ways that people cheat in games. In skill-based tournaments, where huge sums of prize money are on the line, cheat codes aren’t welcome, and developers have been incentivized to design games that are not easily tampered with. This is in contrast to the more open coding of the past, which welcomed alterations.
Some cheats are incorporated into external hardware or software that can be installed in the system, circumventing EULAs that forbid modification of game software. Other cheats modify underlying system components or data files, which can be more difficult to detect. This type of cheat is often referred to as a wallhack and can change a game’s graphics driver to ignore depth checking and draw all objects on screen.
Despite the best efforts of developers, some players are still able to find and implement cheats in games. Whether it’s to boost their score or just because they feel like cheating is fun, these users are damaging the gaming industry and the integrity of the games they play.
Most game developers and publishers take cheating very seriously, as it’s a threat to their business model. If a game is seen as a cheater’s game, many honest players will refrain from playing it, which can signal the death knell of a title.
To prevent cheating, games need to be designed with anti-cheat technology from the very beginning. The most effective solution is to assume that players cannot be trusted and design games with authoritative servers, where critical variables can be encrypted to resist in-memory attacks. Tools that perform integrity verification can help prevent offline tampering with game logic, data and assets as well. If these tools are implemented, they can significantly reduce the likelihood of online tampering by man-in-the-middle or malicious actors. This will go a long way to preserving the integrity of the gaming industry.