Cheating in games has been around forever, but is it a problem in esports?

Posted on March 5, 2021 - Last Updated on October 13, 2021

Cheating in esports, is it a problem?

Much like any professional competition, there will always be someone looking to bend the rules in their favour or simply take the easy road. Cheating in games has been around forever. Most of the time it was used to make single-player games easier with inbuilt, developer designed cheat codes. Now that games have gotten more complicated and more competitive.

Hackers can influence multiplayer games with all sorts of different cheats and bugs that can tip the scales of the game in their favour.

What games have the most cheaters?

It is unsurprising that the games with the most cheaters end up being some of the most popular games. According to a study published by the VPN company Surfshark, the game that is cheated on the most is Fortnite. They analyzed search data from Google and YouTube to identify the online games with the most cheaters and the countries with the densest population of cheaters.

Fortnite has 26,822,000 YouTube hits for cheating-related videos. That is three times as many as the runner-up, Overwatch. Overwatch only had 9,279,829 hits. The third highest is unsurprisingly Counter Strike: Global Offensive with 6,706,182 hits. CS:GO has been hit with a whole host of cheating scandals in recent years with Valve banning nine coaches for cheating earlier this year.

Fortnite is the Most-Cheated Game on the Web

Infographic credits: Surfshark

How are they cheating?

The two most common forms of cheating in competitive multiplayer games are aimbots and wallhacking. Aimbots use the code of the game to determine where each player is on the map and place the cheaters crosshairs on an opponent automatically. This gives the cheaters a huge advantage and drastically reduces the level of skill needed to play and dominate in the game.

Wallhacks are a lot more devious. It is obvious when someone is using an aimbot. They lock into your position from halfway across a map and shoot you with pinpoint accuracy. Wallhacks, on the other hand, simply give the cheater your location on the map even if you are behind a wall. This is a lot less obvious but still gives them an advantage over the other players.

What can be done to deal with cheaters?

There is already anti-cheat software built into certain games like anti-cheat csgo software and this does wonders dealing with the standard run-of-the-mill cheaters the average person might run into in a public lobby. When it comes to esports and the competitive scene, things have to get more serious. The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) investigates and reports on corruption allegations in esports from around the globe.

According to their global strategy director, Stephen Hanna:

“We’ve seen a very significant upturn in all sorts of match-fixing activity, betting, fraud-related activity in esports, across all titles. If you look at another sport like cricket, they probably have between four to six major match-fixing investigations annually. We have 14 and that was basically picked up in the span of three months and they are all fairly major.”

Are game cheats illegal?

That is a really interesting question and a pretty confusing one to answer. Technically, cheating in a video game is not illegal. If it was, forums like Nexus Mods would be treated like black market websites and shut down. The issue comes from multiplayer games and those that circumvent them for money. Players in Australia have been offered thousands to throw matches in order to make others money. In this case, cheating is illegal because it is a form of Match-fixing.

Do pro gamers cheat?

Like every other competitive sport in the world, a small number of pro players have been caught cheating.  Counter Strike: Global Offensive is one of the worst culprits for cheating in esports with a recent example being the infamous “Spectator Bug”.

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Andrew Boggs

Andrew is a Northern Ireland based journalist with a passion for video games. His latest hobby is watching people speedrun Super Mario 64 and realising how bad he is at platformers.

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