The video game industry is one of the largest in the world, generating hundreds of billions of dollars each and every year. It’s so big, in fact, that in 2019, it is estimated that more money was spent on video games than was on the global movie and North American sports industries combined. With that in mind, it’s perhaps not too surprising that there is also a growing black market of hack and cheat providers looking to exploit the industry’s phenomenal growth and success.
These cheat “services” can be used to gain a competitive edge in online multiplayer titles or even gain access to high value content for just a fraction of its intended price. Now, however, publishers and developers are fighting back, with one of the world’s largest video game vendors teaming up with a special police unit in order to bring down the “world’s biggest” video game cheating ring ever uncovered by authorities.
Tencent first reported the cheat providers to Chinese police back in March of last year, and has been working closely with the force since then in order to shut the ring down. At the height of the operation, some of the group are reported to have been earning as much as $10,000 a day; with more than $764 million racked up between them before they were finally brought to justice. Most of the money came from the sale of cheats for mobile titles, although the group also catered to players of popular games like Overwatch and Valorant as well. After the year long investigation though, they now find themselves facing jail time, and many of their assets have been seized.
The Kunshan police recovered cash, millions of dollars worth of luxury vehicles and a substantial amount of cryptocurrency worth an incredible $46 million following a series of arrests just a few days ago. During a press conference shortly afterward, the force praised the work of its investigative unit, thanked Tencent for its assistance, and vowed to “continue to work hard to maintain the game environment.”
While undoubtedly great news for the industry, western publishers may well be wondering why they too do not get this level of support from authorities. At present, it is up to them to deal with hackers and cheaters in their games, although this is something that many of them are becoming incredibly good at doing. Over the past month alone, tens of thousands of players have been banned from titles like Call of Duty: Warzone and Destiny 2. Despite this though, with new hacks and exploits popping up on a near daily basis, many may feel as though they are fighting a losing battle.