By Jared Newman | Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 1:12 pm
Back when Game Genie gave unskilled gamers a way to cheat, Nintendo could do nothing but unsuccessfully sue the maker, Galoob, for copyright infringement. With the rise of online connectivity, game makers finally have a workaround to third-party cheats: They can punish the players instead.
Blizzard’s anti-cheat enforcement in StarCraft 2 is the most extreme I’ve seen. Even in the single-player campaign, players who cheat are subject to suspensions or lifetime bans from Battle.net. Enforcement is well underway, according Cheat Happens, a company that sells cheat programs for PC games. Because Battle.net is a necessary step for initial activation and updates, players who are banned for life could be locked out of StarCraft 2 forever if they move to a new computer, even if they never intend to play online.
Why target single-player? Cheat Happens speculates that Blizzard doesn’t want players collecting achievement awards without earning them fairly. Single-player cheaters could still go online and show off their achievements, and although they have no effect on the game, they give the cheater undeserved bragging rights. That still wouldn’t explain why players are banned from single-player as well as multi-player. My guess is that Blizzard is using heavy-handed tactics to discourage cheating overall.
In the Nintendo era, the idea of using Game Genie repulsed me, but I’m just as sickened to see game publishers exercise so much control over players who aren’t harming anyone else. Kicking cheaters out multiplayer is one thing — Microsoft already bans modified Xbox 360 consoles from Xbox Live, and Valve’s Steam platform for PC blocks cheaters from its game servers — but revoking their license to play at all is unnecessarily harsh.