Friday, June 3, 2016

Cheating in Overwatch Gets You Noverwatch

Your throat tightens. You can feel the blood rushing up your neck and into your face. The heat coming off your cheeks makes your eyeballs sting. If anyone could see you they'd be able to tell something is amiss. Your shoulders slump and you sink a little bit in your desk chair, pondering the actions that led to this. You cheated in Overwatch, and have been banned for life.
For real?

Not quite, but pretty damn close. Generally when an account is permanently banned or closed due to whatever reason, all the player has to do is start a new one. In games like Heroes of the Storm or World of Warcraft, this means you'll lose all progress on the banned account, and in Warcraft's case will have to purchase a new game license, but at least you can still play.

Blizzard's approach to cheating in Overwatch seems a bit more strict, ensuring it's absolutely not worth a player's time, energy, or money to even attempt it. I'm not going to get into the ways one can cheat, as it's all over the web and pretty standard FPS fare. But as far as the bans go, Blizzard appears to be tying them to Hardware ID (HWID), which can have a much greater impact than simply closing the account. Similar to an IP ban where the player's IP address is essentially blacklisted from accessing the servers, the HWID ban sees Blizzard taking a "snapshot" of your computer's configuration and hardware (in addition to other things), then using that information to "re-ban" you if they find you've started a new account. The method they use to accomplish this is something well within their rights, as we agree to it when we accept the Terms of Use.

The reason I think we're seeing HWID bans this time around is because of a few stories I've read like this.

As you can see, this person purchased the game four different times (*cough* retail value of $240). They began cheating in beta (emphasized because I lol'd) and got their first license banned the day after the game's official release. The second license was also banned, though the OP claims they weren't cheating any longer. Then, the third license was banned even after a clean install of and Overwatch, once again without cheating. After messing with some technical hardware crap that's way beyond me (aside from using an IP masker) to try to fool what they suspected was an HWID ban, the fourth license was yet again banned. I will concede this individual should be given an A for effort.

Blizzard does not want cheating in Overwatch, period. Granted, there will always be ways to get around these things with enough know-how, but Blizzard seems to be making sure it'll be difficult and perhaps even costly for offending players---costly enough that it isn't worth trying. Due to the seemingly more stringent approach, which I heartily applaud, I can't help but wonder when we'll start to see this action by Blizzard in response to cheating in their other titles.

It's disappointing Blizzard has to threaten and carry out such a strong punishment to deter players from cheating. They've got a game with a well-defined set of rules that are meant to effectively provide an equal opportunity for success to all players, yet we have pathetic individuals who need to god-mode themselves in order to feel competitive. They're probably the same kid who had to rock the SuperSoaker in the neighborhood water-pistol fights in order to feel good. It's sad they never grew out of that mentality.

Answer me this, cheaters: when you've equipped a set of I.W.I.N. elements which leads you to, well, winning, do you then gloat over the losing team, too? Does your victory gained through unfair means really contribute to a feeling of superiority and self-worth? Or is the satisfaction found in the fact that you can actually mod the game and get away with it?

Perhaps the cheaters out there can petition Blizzard to create an unregulated server where players who want to hack the shit out of the experience can do so. I hear that's been a thing lately. But I suppose that would take the fun out of having an advantage over your opponents. Of course, you can always go with the simpler, safer option.

Hint: it's the one that requires actual skill and doesn't involve cheating. 


  1. I didn't know you could cheat in overwatch...

    1. Basically by hacking the game, either directly or by using 3rd party software; things that essentially let you see all players at all times, or eliminate recoil, or provide unlimited ammo w/o the need for reload. Aim assists, etc.