Thanks to the combined efforts of Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Chinese police, 141 hackers are under arrest for creating and distributing cheat software for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). This bust comes after months of collaboration and investigation from Tencent, the game’s distributor in China, as well as local authorities.
According to a translation of the source article, this most recent operation occurred between April 22 and 26. Over 200 police officers traveled between some of China’s largest cities and provinces, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shandong, and Zhejiang. At this time, officers seized over 200 pieces of equipment, such as mobile phones and computers, and over 20,000 plug-ins.
Despite reportedly earning “tens of thousands of yuan every day,” the hackers now face severe punishment. The news report classifies illegal game plug-ins as “destructive procedural tools.” Furthermore, the actions of these hackers constitute “providing intrusion, illegal control of computer information system procedures and tools.” While cheating software may seem to provide a competitive edge, there is often a deeper, malicious intent on the behalf of the cheat’s developer. More often than not, they seek to extract personal information via Trojan Horse viruses. And despite additional high-profile arrests earlier this year, the situation shows little sign of improvement.
A year of arrests for PUBG hackers and cheaters
Unfortunately, cheating and hacking are not uncommon in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. As one of the most popular games in the world, it’s also susceptible to negative attention. For starters, back in January, Bloomberg reported a massive 100-person arrest. This occurred prior to the game’s official release in China. At this time, hacks included unfair gameplay mechanics such as auto-aim and X-ray vision.
More recently, in April, PUBG Corp. informed users on Steam that additional arrests were being made. The team re-affirmed their commitment to implementing their own anti-cheat software and also revealed that legal action was being taken. At that time, police arrested another 15 people for developing and selling programs that affected PUBG. Furthermore, the post shared a translated excerpt from a local news report, which highlighted some of the repercussions of these crimes, as well as the impact the programs had on users’ data.
15 major suspects including “OMG”, “FL”, “火狐”, “须弥” and “炎黄” were arrested for developing hack programs, hosting marketplaces for hack programs, and brokering transactions. Currently the suspects have been fined approximately 30mil RNB ($5.1mil USD). Other suspects related to this case are still being investigated…Some hack programs that are being distributed through the internet includes a Huigezi Trojan horse*(Chinese backdoor) virus. It was proven that hack developers used this virus to control users’ PC, scan their data, and extract information illegally.
Policing the future of PUBG
Clearly, the hacks extended beyond granting players an unfair advantage. People who use cheating software jeopardize the personal information of themselves and others. Perhaps these issues factor into why the active PUBG player base on Steam is dwindling. Once the undisputed titan of the battle royale market, the game faces increasing challenges. New titles are introduced daily, many of which are from larger developers than Bluehole. For example, PUBG will soon have to square off against the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield.
Meanwhile, its current competition isn’t facing the same level of cheating or negative press. And, further adding salt to the wound, PUBG Corp. recently dropped their lawsuit against Fortnite developer Epic Games. Try as they might, they can’t catch a break. Despite these difficulties, Bluehole and Tencent are looking for further expansion. Fortunately for fans of the game, they continue to address the cheating situation by any means necessary. Hopefully, the continued vigilance of PUBG Corp. and Tencent lead the game into a safer, more fair future.