Is It Game Over for Cheaters? Using Blockchain Technology to Eliminate Unwanted Gaming Behaviorby@lillgibbons
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Is It Game Over for Cheaters? Using Blockchain Technology to Eliminate Unwanted Gaming Behavior

by Lisa GibbonsMay 6th, 2024
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Can blockchain technology be used to eliminate unwanted online gaming cheating? Let's discuss
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When in-game cheating becomes the norm, does the gaming industry have a major problem on its hands? A global study of the gaming industry would say yes. It was found that 77% of online gamers are likely to stop playing a multiplayer game online if they think other players are cheating, and 48% of online gamers are likely to buy less in-game content. Add in the accrued value of digital assets as a key feature of blockchain gaming, and developers have an obligation to tackle this problem head-on.

An attractiveness to bending the rules is not something limited to the world of online gaming; it is rife in all parts of society. However, as social psychologist Corey Butler points out ‘anonymity (playing with strangers or online) and opportunity can tip the scales toward greater cheating. When strong incentives like money or grades are on the line, otherwise honest people might be tempted to cheat.

If somebody with a competitive nature is presented with the opportunity to easily outperform the other at a task, then it's safe to say that many will bite the bullet and risk the reward for the easy win—factor in the monetary value of rewards in Web3 gaming, and this desire to win increases significantly.

However, when it comes to multiplayer online games, the competition is designed around entertainment, fun, and the community. These core values of gaming make cheating a stain on the industry as a whole.

Cheating is the new norm.

Cheating in some of the largest games has become an economy of its own, with many platforms and YouTube channels dedicated to introducing cheating, hacks, and navigating the ways to cheat. Don't believe us, simply type fortnite cheat terms into a google search. Combating this trend is critical for maintaining the reputation of these brands.

Simon Vieira, CEO of MixMob, a Solana-based gaming platform, believes the temptation to cheat is rife, but it is nothing new, “Web3 games offer enhanced incentives due to the tangible value of game coins and digital items. However, this also creates a greater temptation to cheat. That said, traditional gaming has previously addressed similar issues. For instance, real money gaming employs methods such as biotic randomness to obscure certain game aspects like matchmaking. This approach reduces predictability, thus diminishing the incentives to cheat while still maintaining a skill-based gaming environment. We apply these strategies at MixMob to ensure fairness and keep the game engaging for all players,” says Vieira.

When hacking games, cheaters now have an endless stack of tools to choose from when it comes to infiltrating game mechanics with glitching and farming to using aimbots in the software and speed hacks. This problem is exacerbated in Web3 gaming as it lacks an authoritative host.

“Fair play is crucial in multi-player games as it directly impacts player engagement and retention. A fair environment ensures that players feel valued and that the game remains competitive and enjoyable for everyone,” notes Vieira.

Furthermore, with AI, it is easier than ever to predict patterns of player behavior and create new ways to exploit and manipulate gaming data. So, how can this problem be addressed without compromising the gaming experience? Speaking to Tashi Protocol CEO Sandeep Bhatia, it is clear that consensus will play a future role in blockchain gaming. “Dynamite as the network transport for multiplayer games can prevent certain forms of cheating like 'lag switching' or local state hacking. The benefit of having consensus on top of a peer-to-peer network layer ensures that players cannot cheat, and the architecture reduces costs.”

Frustration with the publishers

Publishers are tackling the issue of one player, or several players at a time, by banning them and using anti-cheat software. Just last month, Activision, a gaming giant and creator of Call of Duty, banned 27,000 accounts from the game. However, this isn't deterring new cheats coming into the sector.

Tackling it from the outset in the process of the game studio is the only way to ensure that both the publishers and the gamers benefit in the long run. To restore confidence, creators of blockchain games must demonstrate trust from the outset.

“Shifting from a traditional gaming infrastructure to adopt a decentralized, serverless framework will optimize the entire Web3 gaming experience and solve the issue of cheating from the ground up. Not only can we reduce the costs by eliminating the need for centralized servers, but Tashi's Dynamite ensures fair distribution and protection against common security threats,” says Bhatia.

Once a player sees that a game is compromised, it ruins the fun element and may even deter them from entering the environment because of security fears. In addition, the influx of bots and other hacks has led to unfair advantages within some of the most loved games.

What can blockchain game publishers do?

Gaming studios must take the necessary steps to demonstrate their commitment to fair play. This is essential in the blockchain space as it continues to build trust with the traditional gaming communities.

At MixMob, they leverage blockchain transparency to allow the community to participate in monitoring and reporting cheaters actively. “This community refereeing not only helps maintain fairness but also fosters a sense of responsibility and integrity among players, and it has worked great for us,” says Vieira.

“Web3 game publishers must take decisive steps to limit cheating. The actions taken should vary based on the severity of the cheating incident. Potential measures include banning, suspending, or permanently removing players involved in unfair practices. Additionally, publishers can adopt proven strategies from traditional gaming, such as introducing randomness to some parts of the game to reduce predictability, which helps deter cheating,” he continues.

Game developers who are keen to implement anti-cheat measures are often outplayed by hackers who have mastered the art of cheating and the avoidance of detection. Sure, developers can ban cheaters who are caught in the act or embed cheat detection software.

However, this doesn't prevent cheating from occurring from the outset. The vulnerabilities have already been exploited by the time the developer has their hands on the activities. If, however, a game creator starts the development process using the Tashi Consensus Protocol, it has eliminated the act of cheating from the initial design stage.

“Gamers rely on trust that game developers would have implemented the best practices to ensure cheaters are punished. That is why Tashi works to educate all its gaming partners on the novel ways blockchain solves cheating issues. We make our tech easy to use and guide all our partners who might come from the Web2 world and are new to using blockchain tech,” added Bhatia.

While anti-cheat software like Riot Game's Vanguard or Activision Blizzard's Ricochet stands as the frontline defense, the second layer can utilize the transparency provided by blockchain technology to fight against bad actors. Implementing innovative approaches to game development, like the Tashi Dynamite Consensus Engine, pushes gaming to a new era of fair play and reclaims the values that true gamers want to see in the game development stage.

In addition to fostering a culture of fair play, a paradigm shift is necessary in the approach to combating cheating in online gaming.

By 2027, the number of users in the Online Games market is expected to amount to 1.2bn users. The projected revenue in the Online Games market worldwide is expected to reach US$27.97bn in 2024. Reclaiming the gaming sector for true gamers who value the entire gaming experience is crucial as blockchain games position themselves alongside some of the gaming giants.