Here’s how PUBG Mobile is combating the growing menace of cheaters, hacking
PUBG Mobile, one of the most popular mobile games, faces a problem of cheaters. The problem has become so severe that the gaming company has started handing out 10-year bans on such players. PUBG Mobile on Monday said it will work on improving cheat-detection methodology during its 0.15 update. For instance, the company can now detect cheaters who try to game the system by making it appear a player has a poor network connection.
PUBG Mobile in an open letter laid out guidelines it follows for detecting and managing cheaters and hackers, how users can spot a cheater and ways not to spot a cheater. Here are the edited excerpts from the open letter.
How does PUBG MOBILE catch cheaters?
So, what are we doing to catch cheaters? Tencent has a fantastic Game Security Team that is constantly working around the clock to monitor, identify, and remove cheaters in game. The first line of defence against cheating is our systems that scan for suspect software and modified game data. Most cheating software is fairly easy to spot, as we have an enormous library of cheating software and techniques that allow us to catch hackers fairly quickly. We're constantly adapting these detection efforts as we learn about new software and new methods, and this only gets more effective over time. This is the simplest way to catch cheaters, and one that we are constantly improving.
In an ideal world the above solution would be sufficient, and we could call it a day. But new software is constantly being developed, and the people who create this software are pretty clever at finding ways to hide it, so we need a second line of defense to stop the hackers who have managed to avoid detection. Because this is a sensitive area I'm going to have to keep this a little vague, since we don't want to give hackers information they can use to make it harder to catch them! Essentially, our second line of defense is looking for impossible events in game, because cheating leaves tell-tale signatures. There are shots you could make if you are lucky, and there are shots that literally can't be made but somehow connect. That's a cheater. If you drop in Pochinki, you can't be at the Military Base 30 seconds later. That's a cheater. So even if we can't identify the exact hack cheaters are using, we can identify them through these methods. If they cheat, their behavior will give them away.
🍗🍗NO CHICKEN DINNERS FOR CHEATERS🍗🍗— PUBG MOBILE (@PUBGMOBILE) October 23, 2019
Here's our latest roundup of hackers and cheaters we've banned in the last 48 hours! 💯 We're fully committed to providing a fair battlefield for all PUBGM players. Check back tomorrow for more! 🎯
⬇️Mobile Link⬇️https://t.co/4oHwtyQcaq pic.twitter.com/Fp4axpcr8J
In some cases our systems identify someone as a probable cheater, but we can't get quite enough evidence through game data to be absolutely sure. This is especially true for the most talented players in game, who pull off some stuff that seems like it's cheating even when it's probably not. For questionable cases where we have good reason to suspect that someone is cheating but can't prove it, we can employ the final tactic in our arsenal: In-game Observation. This is very manpower intensive, but our commitment to catching every cheater we can is strong.
Those aren't everything we are doing, there's more we can't talk about because we don't want the cheaters to know how we're catching them. In all cases, your reports truly help. Reports can help us revise our backend systems to identify cheating more quickly and accurately. Reports can help us identify players who we suspect of cheating and get an observer on them. Reports come with tons of data in game that isn't visible in a screenshot or video that can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that cheating is occurring.
Ways not to spot a hacker
Here are a couple of questions that we should ask ourselves about when considering if anyone is a hacker:
Is the shot impossible or just improbable? One of the PMCO Spring Split's amazing moments was a 300m+ headshot with a mini-14 by an SSG player. The shot was good, but at that range you need to be lucky too. He wasn't cheating, he just had a great combination of luck and skill. A lot of "impossible" shots aren't actually impossible, they just feel like it.
Could lag or packet loss issues possibly contribute? Many times I've seen reports of people shooting through walls, and when I review the video the person is dodging in and out of view behind an obstacle. A tiny bit of lag at the wrong moment could have left you exposed longer than you thought, and by the time the server was reconciled with your client as to your intended position you'd already been hit. On your screen that looks a lot like getting shot through a wall. If you're near a window, that's a real possibility.
Is the action purposeful? We've all seen rare bugs that occur where something odd happens in the game. The one I've noticed is a very rare issue where something in game has issues with its Z-axis position and appears to jump repeatedly in the air, usually a motorcycle but sometimes a car. This can happen to players too, so they'll seem to be leaping into the air super high over and over again. If it's not purposeful, it might just be a bug. If it somehow gets the player an advantage, it's more likely it's actual cheating.
Is my evidence mostly from Spectate Mode? Spectate Mode is great, it lets us watch other people's gameplay and learn a lot about how others play or cheer on friends. But while Spectate mode is usually pretty accurate; it isn't as accurate as playing the game yourself. Potential lag issues are multiplied as you're watching something impacted not only communications between you and the server, but also between that player and the server.
These things are all making a difference, but we have much more planned. We're looking at additional ways we can communicate with you (beyond daily or weekly updates), especially about players you have reported in the past so you can get more information on what actions are being taken. The first step in this process was our recent start of sending in game messages about hackers you have successfully reported, something a number of you have noticed and commented on. We've also made major improvements to our detection methods recently, while they are having a major effect we are actively working on various even more sensitive means of detection on our servers to keep the game cleaner than before.
Finally, during Update 0.15.0 we will invest more service and computing resources to gradually start rolling out improvements to our Server Infrastructure that will enable us to detect efforts to hide cheating through making it appear that a player has a poor connection, allowing us to detect these cheaters even more quickly than before. We also pledge to increase our communication on this front, and thank you for your patience as we work to reduce the impact of these cheaters on your gameplay.