Apex Legends cheaters may be getting more than they bargained for, as developer Respawn Entertainment says it’s implemented a system that detects cheaters and forces them into matches together. That’s added to a slew of other anti-cheat measures Respawn has in development or already in the game to combat Apex Legends’ longstanding cheating problem.
Cheating has been a problem since the early days of the game, and Respawn has aggressively worked to root out the culprits. The game’s subreddit is full of mentions of cheating, from players complaining about the problem or calling out other players who they suspect of hacking to the developers themselves explaining what they’re doing to address the issue. When a list of suspected cheaters began circulating through the community, Respawn took action to ban any user who had been caught on video cheating. In May, community manager Jay Freshette announced that more than 770,000 players had been banned for cheating, cutting the number of affected matches in half.
One of the latest measures Respawn is using to keep Apex Legends in line is a matchmaking system that groups cheaters into matches with other cheaters to keep them from ruining honest players’ matches. It’s just one part of Respawn’s current anti-cheating strategy, as laid out in a developer update on Reddit. The new matchmaking system is aided by a machine learning tool that can detect cheaters automatically and ban them in some cases, reducing the developers’ need to manually identify cheaters through player-submitted reports. Respawn is also working to automatically detect spam accounts, which are often used to sell cheats. According to Respawn, it’s even looking into people who form parties with cheaters:
“Even if you are not specifically using a cheat, partying up with cheaters is still cheating.”
Most online games have cheating problems, but Apex Legends being free-to-play makes it an easier target than most, since banned users can simply sign up for new accounts with no financial consequences. Just a month after the game’s release, Kotaku interviewed cheat-makers on their extremely lucrative business, with one revealing that he made $5,000 in less than a week of selling cheats to other players. At that time, Respawn had already banned 355,000 players for cheating.
No game can ever really solve its cheating problem, but it’s no longer quite the plague it once was, and the new measures announced by Respawn may help push it even more to the margins. Apex Legends player counts have dropped from its post-launch phenomenon status, which is seen as partly due to its more relaxed update schedule than its competitor, Fortnite. The less time Respawn is forced to spend dealing with cheaters, the more time it may have to improve the game and bring in more players.