Why do so many gamers cheat?

In 2018 Irdeto published its Global Gaming Survey Report in which 9,436 adults from China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, UK and US were surveyed (5,911 were gamers). According to the survey, 60% of online gamers felt they had their multiplayer gaming experience negatively impacted by cheats and 77% felt they would likely stop playing online multiplayer games if they thought others were cheating. More recently a survey by time2play suggests 77% percent of gamers thought it was perfectly acceptable to cheat.

Why is cheating so prevalent?

If you can’t beat them, join them. There’s an understanding that hacks and cheats are so prevalent in online gaming that you’re actually evening out the playing field by using cheats yourself. This is no different to the justification often used by athletes who use performance enhancing drugs. “Everyone else is doing it at the highest level, so the only way to remain competitive is to dope too.”

Some people cheat because they simply find it fun. While the impression that gamers cheat because they suck at a game can be true, it’s not always the case. For some people they like the thrill of being one step ahead of detection technologies and it gives them a sense of power that; 1) Valve Anti-Cheat can’t catch them, 2) They have an advantage over other gamers.

Professional gamers

Money. The internet age continues to create new opportunities for income generation and cheating is one of those opportunities. While in the past, cheats were available to download on torrent sites, there’s now enough demand for cheating software that developers can even sustain a career doing it. And in order to test their cheats, developers need to cheat online. To provide an understanding of the scale of revenue generated from making cheats, in 2021, 10 people in China were arrested for selling cheating software for games such as Call of Duty and Overwatch. $76 million was seized by the authorities.

Gamers cheat to enhance their reputation. As long as they don’t get caught, gamers can enjoy the respect and adulation that comes with being a top-ranked player. Some cheat developers openly admit that some top-ranked global players use their cheats.

While cheating shows no signs of slowing down, gamers are losing patience. A common argument is that cheating takes away resources from game developers, who would otherwise be focused on creating new levels, functionality and releases. It’s also contributing to revenue loss. A reputation of a game can get worse if many people see it as a game that’s ‘full of cheaters’. New gamers who may have been considering buying the game may look elsewhere.

Gamer playing FPS game

In response, companies are coming down hard on cheaters. Gamers who have been caught cheating in professional tournaments have been given hefty bans. Some well known YouTubers and Twitch streamers have been banned too, regardless of their prominence in the gaming community. Some who have been banned include streamers who have signed lucrative contracts with the platform, meaning that gaming companies and platforms are taking it seriously to route the problem.

The gaming community is also finding more ‘informal’ ways to deter cheaters, one of which is to ridicule a cheater when they’re caught. “Your aimbot is pretty bad.” “How much did you pay for that wall hack? Maybe you should ask for a refund.” This is the opposite of
reputational benefit a cheater might be seeking, and often the result is a quick exit from the game.

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