Finding cheaters and hackers in PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds (PUBG) isn’t uncommon, every few rounds or so will have you inexplicably die due to unforeseen circumstances, like bullets going through walls or what not. While this sort of offence can easily be reported in-game, in China it’s a whole different matter.
China has become one of the largest gaming markets over the past decade, the game banning days of China has come and gone and now the country fully embraces video games as part of their lifestyle. But of course, this sort of luxury comes at a price. What was once an escape, gaming has consumed many a young gamer in China, with many seeking glory and recognition in their favorite games, leading many on the path of cheating.
PUBG has quickly become one for the top games in the world, making its own sub-genre in the process. If a game is popular, Chinese gamers will definitely get their hands on it, and more than likely, cheaters will as well. But how do these people cheat?
How They Do It
One of the main ways players cheat is actually through the cyber cafes they go to. While cyber cafes have dwindled in popularity over here in Malaysia, it’s still prevalent in mainland China, being the place most players actually play games instead of playing at home. With so many people frequenting these cafes, these establishments actually give out cheats for players in their cafes. Cheats made by hackers are actually sold in these cafes for people to use and exploit in-game.
Another way is actually through direct marketing, these hackers will actually advertise in-game to players. These unauthorised ads are rampant in Chinese servers and any unsuspecting player can stumble upon them, luring them into the trap of achieving glory and being the best in a game by cheating. Cheat sellers can usually be spotted in their handle, with abbreviations that usually mean they can be contacted if you want to buy a cheat for a game. There are of course a lot of actual websites that can be found online which you can search right now, but a majority of those sites are actually banned in China, thus leading to these hackers to take drastic measures.
Why They Cheat
So why do these players cheat? What compels them to actually seek out hacks to up their game? One thing most people will point out is the culture of China itself. Being the best by any means necessary, a concept not foreign to other Asian cultures. Whether it is in studies, at work, or even in video games, being number 1 is what most have on their minds. Even if it means through devious methods like resorting to cheating.
There is also an economic factor to it all, with China’s population being mostly poor. Playing video games and going to internet cafes are more of an escape to most, as most young adults there won’t be able to afford a laptop that can run video games. Besides that, there are a number of PUBG players that use hacks and cheats to win games, to win in-game money, to be able to buy and sell in-game cosmetics. Of course, many others are just making money off of making these cheating tools and getting thousands of dollars from it. It has come to a point where winning doesn’t just mean getting money to eat for these people, cheating is a means for them to get ahead in life.
How It’s Getting Resolved
It may run rampant, but that doesn’t mean cheating doesn’t come with consequences. In 2018 alone there were about 141 arrested cheaters in China. PUBG’s official Chinese website publishes photos and reports on these instances, mostly to inform and discourage others from doing the same thing. Tencent Games, PUBG’s publisher in China, is really cracking down on this and is backed up by the Chinese government on getting rid of those who cheat and those providing the means to hack the game. The more recent arrests are towards those who provide the cheating tools, especially since the tools they provide can leave a trojan virus to other players of the game, meaning it is very detrimental to national security if it gets rampant. This trojan virus can extract other player’s private information straight out of their PCs, so buyer beware.
While PUBG is not the only game to feature cheaters, it is the most at this time as it is one of the most popular games on the market. It’s also one of the few games where its developers are actively trying to get rid of cheaters in their games. The creator of PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds, Brendan Greene, has said that a majority of cheaters are from China, and a survey by security software company, Irdeto, has found that 55% of gamers in China has admitted to using these third-party cheating tools. With that huge of a margin, Tencent and Blue Hole has a lot of work ahead of them in cracking down this growing epidemic. There are even tools like GameGuard that helps in curbing these cheaters.
There is a proverb in Chinese, 当局者迷,旁观者清, which reads dāng jú zhě mí, páng guān zhě qīng. Translated it means “the spectators see more of the game than the players”. Traditionally “the game” referred to Chinese chess and it can also be applied here. Seeing from the outside, we can see how rampant all this cheating has become, how it affects players around the world and their enjoyment with the game. The players who are actually playing with these cheats, they might just not see it. They’re fixated on winning and being the best at the game, this singular vision clouds their judgment and blinds them on the damage all this cheating brings. While all these arrests are bringing attention to this wanton phenomenon, only time will tell if it ever goes away.