- PUBG Mobile has released a new wave of bans affecting close to 4 million accounts
- This is the largest number of suspended accounts since the Ban Pan initiative began
- Many shooters and battle royale games online face a pandemic of cheaters
A new ban wave in PUBG Mobile has resulted in the suspension of close to 4 million accounts, with the bulk of offenses related to avatar modifications.
Fool Me Once, Fool Me 4 Million Times
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has known a pandemic of a different sort. Infected by throngs of cheaters even at the highest level of play, Krafton and PUBG Corp. are finally stepping up to clear the game from hackers in an unapologetic way.
PUBG Mobile has suspended 3,884,690 accounts for cheating in the week spanning June 18 through June 24, making it one of the most massive dressing-downs the community has seen. The previous “ban hammer” from June 9 pales in comparison, as only 1 million accounts were banned back then.
The sudden surge in suspended accounts doesn't mean that cheaters have necessarily proliferated – it's rather that PUBG Mobile has become more adept at detecting such aberrant behavior.
The hacking issues detected ranged from modification of character models to speed and x-ray vision hacks to other fraudulent habits that ultimately ruined the game experience for others. The cheating pandemic has been a public secret in the PUBG community, with the mobile version of the game long holding the crown as the title to be infected by the largest number of rule-dodgers.
Interestingly, though, the new ban wave focused heavily on character modifications, with 76% of all banned accounts simply suspended for having introduced cosmetic changes to their characters. While you can upgrade your character through the PUBG Mobile shop and sport a new look, using third-party software to do so is a punishable offense.
On this particular count, though, PUBG has fallen short of the objective, which is to discontinue a practice altogether, not just discourage it. For all it's worth, many of the players modifying their characters probably weren't aware that they were doing something wrong.
Who Cheats and How?
The rest of the offenses were attributed to speed hacks (5%), modification of area damage (4%), auto-aim hacks (2%), x-ray vision (5%), and others (8%). Overall, the ban waves have had some effect, suspending the most brazen cheaters but not really ridding the game of the nefarious characters that have been coming back to wreak more havoc.
Since not everyone is playing full-time, identifying some cheaters who only ever show on occasion to play has been difficult. As one Twitter user suggested, PUBG was doing busy work banning accounts rather than targeting IPs, a far more successful strategy in the long-term as it would make it impossible for offenders to connect again, or at least not as easily.
Seeking full disclosure, the company also posted a very detailed breakdown of what levels have been cheating the most. Interestingly, the Diamond level accounted for 25% of all cheaters, with Conquer level reporting only 1%. Overall, cheaters were found on all levels, with Silver and Gold only having around 4% and 6% respectively.
Despite the cheating epidemic PUBG Mobile has experienced, the game has done very well in purely financial terms. Nevertheless, the lack of a fair and balanced ecosystem begs the question of whether some of the professional players out there have been cheating, even if on occasion.
Without sturdier safety protocols in place, calling cheaters out may be difficult. Even Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which uses Valve's VAC anti-cheating system, has been struggling with fully eliminating cheating on all levels of the game for years now.
Valve has called on community members to assist in identifying wrongdoers and help administrators suspend those accounts. Cheating has been a well-documented phenomenon in many first-person shooter genres, and Activision is also looking to address the issue by banning hardware rather than IP from accessing a game.