Wherever there are online video games, there will be people trying to cheat. It is human nature, and no matter how much it annoys the rest of us, we will never be rid of it. So we should all expect, on some level, that video game companies will do the work necessary to protect us from aimbots and wallhacks and autoclickers.
It is in their best interest after all. If a game is overrun by cheaters, then regular, law-abiding players – the majority of their paying customers – might stop playing the game, might tell other people not to buy the game, and might never buy a game in that series, or from that. company, ever again.
We should all be thankful, therefore, for the an idea of anti-fraud measures. But as I look around at the video games I’ve played, or at least tried to play in 2022, I wonder if they’re starting to become more trouble than they’re worth.
I reviewed FIFA somehow on this site for more than a decade, but regular readers who are also football fans may have noticed that I haven’t said a word about it this year. That’s because, more than a month after the release of the PC version, I’m still locked out of it thanks to a broken, overzealous instance of anti-cheat protection.
Publisher EA uses Easy Anti-Cheat, which gave me an error that prevents me from even launching the game, which every published solution—from running the program as an administrator to turning off overlays (?) to editing my computer’s bios (??!!) – did not solve. And so for a whole month, a game that I own and have never cheated in my life remains unplayable. I never even got to the main menu.
The same publisher and the same anti-cheat program also locked me out Battlefield 2042 (getting good!) for almost a week earlier this month, for no reason, just because. At least in this case it was a temporary bug (I was able to boot the game up and play for a few minutes before it froze), and not a complete failure at the point of launch, but still.
This shit sucks! Games not working for weird technical reasons is a thing that happens all the time, especially if you’ve owned a computer for any length of time (I couldn’t play Fallout 3 for over a decade!), but when the problem isn’t the game but something attached to the side of the game, something designed to protect your experience but instead harms it, it’s much more frustrating.
To be clear, I’m not posting this as some kind of isolated, woe-is-me personal account. FIFA 23’s there are problems very widespread, to the point it affected reviews from another outletand in this line of work, across all the games and platforms we use, we encounter hiccups and bugs. whole time that goes unnoticed because, well, that’s just life.
Here, though, I think that the cause of the issues is an external issue just makes it that much more annoying. And EA is far from the only ones who influence users with heavy measures. Check out Activision, with frankly ridiculous mobile demand for its latest games that have been stepped back Overwatch but which remains in place for Modern Warfare 2’s upcoming launch. It means that a huge number of people, legitimate customers who wanted to buy the game and play it fair, will be prevented from doing so because of their…phone plans. Then there’s Bungie, which saw innocent players accidentally banned—extreme punishment!—earlier this month when their own anti-cheat went wrongwhile some Apex Legends players were booted for the same reason in August.
At what point do police cheats to that extent start having more impact on your rule-abiding user base than the cheats? Is it really worth it for these publishers install these programs at the kernel levelwhere they technically have the power to access and change everything on your computer, something that has long raised not only technical but ethical concerns as well?
Maybe I’m biased by my recent experiences, but I’m starting to think the answer is fast approaching “no.” I’m not saying we don’t need cheat protection, of course we do, cheats aren’t just a huge pain in the ass, they’re so big they’ve become. profitable business for himself. Ask anyone playing NBA 2K23or GTA OnlinepC games notorious for the amount of cheating going onwhat it’s like to play online without any safety net and you’ll get some passionate answers.
But surely we can find a better, cleaner way of doing things than this.