Unsurprisingly as the world's biggest game, Playerunknown's Battlegrounds has an issue with cheaters. Where until now developer and publisher PUBG Corp has been relying on anti-cheat specialists BattlEye to manage this issue, in China, publishing partner Tencent is not messing around.
A report from Bloomberg says that the Chinese tech and entertainment giant is teaming up with local law enforcement to crack down on underground organisations making cheat software for the battle royale game. Between them, they have uncovered 30 cases and arrested 120 people suspected to making hacks.
So far these include programmes that give x-ray vision to players or auto-targeting tech. Those convicted of these crimes could face jail time.
The game is yet to officially launch in China, with Tencent snapping up the exclusive publishing rights for the region last year, but roughly 40 per cent of the game's playerbase is from this part of the world owing to it being available via Steam. That platform in itself exists in something of a grey area in China.
One interesting note in the report is that eight of the Top Ten Playerunknown's Battlegrounds players have contact info in their name for platforms such as Tencent's own WeChat service.
Bloomberg was offered software for as little as $15, while another WeChat seller was saying that they needed to keep kills to "within 15 people per game," likely to avoid being outed.
“PUBG is going through a puberty of sorts and cheaters threaten to stunt its growth,” South Korean stock analyst Kim Hak-joon from Kiwoom Securities said.
“Cheaters mostly drive away new users, and without retaining new users, PUBG won’t be able to consolidate its early success and become a long-lasting hit.”
Niko Partners' Daniel Ahmad added: "There are more cheaters than any normal game because of the huge popularity. China as a gaming country is very competitive. There’s a reason why e-sports and pay-to-win is so big there."