Dealing with online cheaters might be both easy and hard

Anyone who has played games online know that cheating has been a regular issue over the years but the recent crop of battle royale titles seem to have brought out the worst of it. Call of Duty: Warzone appears to be one of the worst effected of the recent crop of games with the developers still battling away against the cheats. It’s so bad at times that it can be hard to really know if a person legitimately beat you or they had help. The wall hacks (to see through level geometry and spot players) and aim bots (to assist targeting and counter recoil) through software used to be the main tools of the trade but the release of hardware based devices to tweak controller inputs on the fly means that even console gamers aren’t insulated from cheaters. However I do think there may be ways to fix this or at least control it on console.

On Xbox and PlayStation the cheating involves connecting your controller to a device which is then connected to the console – as inputs are made, the programming on the device modifies them to take into account of what happens in your current game. So if you fire a gun using the trigger and it results in recoil pushing your aim up, the device will pass through additional down movements to counter it and keep your aim true. That’s the basic idea anyway. And with the device being a “man in the middle” the console doesn’t know any different from a controller being plugged in directly. People may only get suspicious by watching replays (“death cams”) and have little means to prove anything. The big shame about this is that such devices can be useful for accessibility but their purpose has been subverted by a great number of cheaters.

To be able to beat something like that you have to find ways to make it impossible to use. At least on the Xbox side there may be one way to do this out of the box – force the controllers in games to go wireless. Microsoft’s console supports a custom wireless implementation which only licensed manufacturers are allowed to use and may be a deterrent for anyone trying to copy it. It’s then up to developers to be willing to take a chance at setting up game lobbies that filter by wireless controllers only, much like many do now to allow for controllers and mouse/keyboard players. There’s bound to be plenty of people who’d be against an idea like that for many reasons including wired controllers tend to have faster response times and this would exclude third party controllers that are wired including Microsoft’s own adaptive controller. And what about the PC where there is no way to lock down a “standard” controller? These are all valid but if there is a possibility of leveling out the playing field for a greater number of people until a better solution presents itself would it be worth looking at to see if it helps? Making people happy at the expense of others is always going to be result of trying to solve this issue but having one of the biggest multiplayer games on the planet would certainly allow room to experiment with such an idea…

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