In-game cheats can enhance the gameplay, spice things up, or help us jump a challenging hurdle. However, in online multiplayer gaming, having a certain edge over other players is undesirable. How to make sure your online game stays fair?
In a previous blog in the series, Launching and fixing your online multiplayer game, we have shown you a few things to consider when launching your game online. And now the gamers are all over it!
Playing games, like so many other things in life we like, gives us gratification – especially if we’re succeeding at the game. There’s a plethora of different genres and types of online games, and every one of them can provide different experiences with differing goals and ways to achieve them. But sometimes, goals can seem distant or too difficult for what we want to do right now. Whether it’s adding money to your pocket or making your car fly, cheats enabled by the game developer were always a way to enhance the gameplay, spice things up, or just help us jump a challenging hurdle.
But cheats work a bit differently with single-player or offline experiences. If you’re playing by yourself and influencing only your own gameplay, a little cheating never hurt nobody. But once you enter the arena of online multiplayer gaming, giving yourself a certain edge over other players is an entirely different beast altogether.
In competitive and online multiplayer gaming, cheating can ruin the game for many people. Every player goes into the game expecting only their skills and some level of luck influencing the outcome. So when they encounter cheating, it can have lots of adverse, real-life consequences, including angry or disappointed players leaving the game forever. That is why many game developers are actively trying to squash cheating in their games to the best of their abilities, and that’s also why you should consider the best way to make sure your game is safe and fair for everyone.
When setting up the rules for what’s allowed and what’s not, it’s essential to consider the limits you’ll set for the community. Some online gaming experiences are actually improved by certain mods – whether to enhance graphics to the player’s liking or manipulate some game’s visual elements to create an entirely new way of experiencing the story.
Don’t forget that the modding community can bring a breath of fresh air to your online game with their enhancements – not all modding is cheating. Set up the rules to include that, and the community around your game could reward you by making it go places you never imagined it could.
Having said that, rules need to also be fair to everyone. The worldwide gaming community constantly strives to provide fairness and support equality in all aspects, including leveling the playing field. Every player should have the same opportunity to succeed in the game, so make sure to be on the lookout for types of cheats and mods enhancing players’ abilities, inventory, or stats.
Since the rise of online shooters, one of the more popular mod-based cheats is aimbots – cheating devices that automatically enhance the player’s aim and increase their efficiency. Be sure to properly investigate the mechanics present in aimbots and other cheating devices so you can include their characteristics in your game monitoring.
Knowing what you will allow and what you will ban from your game is one thing – the next step is figuring out the enforcement. This is where game monitoring comes in; a particular category of tools that analyze player behavior, movements, and actions within the game. Based on existing experience models, they can predict cheating and alert the game moderators about a possible breach. Whether automated, based on AI, or manual, these systems are checked by a moderator analyzing game input, and stats are gaining traction. Riot Games implements a massive, automated behavior system into League of Legends, their flagship game.
Ensure you have proper tools to monitor both player behavior and in-game reports from other players. Implementing those well into the game’s life might not only prove to be a difficult task. It will require extensive downtime – which should be avoided at all cost – but could also drive the players away, whether frustrated by widespread cheating or by a sudden change in the rules of the game.
Speaking of game rules, you need to make sure they are easy to understand and display them within the game prominently. Avoid burying them in Terms and Conditions or other long legal texts – communicate the dos and don’ts clearly and openly to avoid confusion and frustration.
Having said that, sometimes players cannot wait to jump straight into the game without analyzing the rules too carefully. Some might bend the rules slightly or use tools that should not be used simply because they didn’t know any better.
When choosing appropriate action against cheating players, remember to treat the community fairly, with transparent reasoning. Try to avoid banning every offender right away – instead, investigate their behavior and explanations – it might be an honest mistake or misunderstanding on their part. Stay strict – if a significant offense against community guidelines was committed, take appropriate action accordingly. It’s nice to be nice, but it’s important to stay strict about keeping the gaming experience fair for everyone.
A lot of this comes down to implementing the right tools into your game early on. Many game hosting providers can help you combat cheating and keep your game fair, so when preparing to run your game online, check out how they can make your community management easier.
Suppose you want to use a game platform that combines excellent networking with trusted safety features. In that case, i3D.net’s Game Hosting Platform includes FairFight®, a server-side anti-cheat system with effective and transparent tools trusted by AAA and independent gaming studios.
Safety doesn’t end with cheating players. The biggest online threat is precisely where you’d expect it to be – trying to get in from the outside. With hackers and malicious agents trying to ruin the fun for everyone, you need to safeguard your game and community from their actions. What should you consider when doing that? Find out more in our blog, How to protect your game from online attacks.