Blizzard Sues Overwatch “Cheat” Maker For Copyright Infringement

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I can think of better ways to spend my 4th of July than being served court papers. I don't know who Bossland is or why they thought this was a good idea but I can guarantee you that Blizzard is going to make life miserable for them.

Blizzard Entertainment is suing Bossland, the maker of the popular Overwatch cheat tool "Watchover Tyrant" and several other game cheats. Among other things, the developer accuses the German company of various forms of copyright infringement and unfair competition.
 

Sovereign

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I wish there was a way to shut this down without getting into the weeds of copyright infringement because it could set horrible precedents.

Also, the type of scum who peddles cheatware while squawking about "freedom" and acting as though they have some kind of moral leg to stand on is the lowest of the low.
 

Daniel_Chang

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I wish there was a way to shut this down without getting into the weeds of copyright infringement because it could set horrible precedents.

Also, the type of scum who peddles cheatware while squawking about "freedom" and acting as though they have some kind of moral leg to stand on is the lowest of the low.

Bottom line is that these cheat tools cost companies money. I can personally attest that I now avoid the entire genre due to the rampant cheating. I haven't played one of these games online since UT2K4 and believe me, I want to. But it's just not fun. The SW Battlefront Beta was my most recent reminder. I was strongly considering OW, but cheating is starting to make its way there too.

So I hope that Blizzard is successful. These tools hurt the genre. But I think this may be a case where companies need to shift their focus. Find a legal way to hammer the users. Right now the punishments there aren't severe enough.
 

Spidey329

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I wish there was a way to shut this down without getting into the weeds of copyright infringement because it could set horrible precedents.

Also, the type of scum who peddles cheatware while squawking about "freedom" and acting as though they have some kind of moral leg to stand on is the lowest of the low.

I think this is the cheaper method of addressing the issue. An alternative method would be to code in anti-cheat measures, but companies see that as a low-priority measure.

A lot of games could have decent anti-cheat systems by just monitoring the analytics of their game. When cheating hit BF3 hard, I couldn't understand why EA/DICE didn't just automate the battle log records to flag people. Have set parameters of what is expected maximum skill, if a player exceeds those, flag him. After an undisclosed amount of flags, they're banned.

For example:
- Did a player just kill 10 players in the span of 2seconds? Flag.
- Is a players accuracy for a particular gun greater than 100%? Flag.
- Is the players K/D outside a reasonable range?
- Anti-Aimbot: Does the player have an unreasonable headshot%? Deeper analysis on client-side could check if the aiming movement of a player is "snapping to" their target.

And so fourth. All of these stood out in Battle log. The more you look for, the more the cheaters have to disguise their play. The advantage of that is it reduces their abilities to hurt the gameplay. I'd rather play against a cheater who's about as good as the best player than one who is just god like.

However, they won't invest in this because cheating is primarily a PC problem. Executives like the consoles, and put a good majority of their budget into those platforms.
 
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NemesisX

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I don't understand why Blizzard hasn't figured out a way to prevent these cheat tools from being used in the first place. They seem more concerned with banning cheaters than they do with banning the source and I think that is the main problem. If they can tell people are cheating then why can't they prevent the cheating in the first place?
 

DukenukemX

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I don't understand why Blizzard hasn't figured out a way to prevent these cheat tools from being used in the first place. They seem more concerned with banning cheaters than they do with banning the source and I think that is the main problem. If they can tell people are cheating then why can't they prevent the cheating in the first place?
Probably because they can't. The only way they know is through reports, and sometimes they update the tools to detect it better. Problem is, Blizzard can't win. The cheaters will always find a way around their system.

Banning cheaters is to show what the consequences are for using this tool in the first place. By using these tools you are hurting their community, and therefore their sales. Since the game doesn't have a monthly fee like WoW does, a ban will benefit them because they already have your money. So if you value your $40, don't cheat.
 

Azphira

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They should make an anti-cheat that doesn't ban anyone, or move them to a special server, it just detects them, then makes every bullet shot at them from other players 100% head shots. Make the cheater the free kill he's supposed to be if he didn't resort to cheating.
 
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NemesisX

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Probably because they can't. The only way they know is through reports, and sometimes they update the tools to detect it better. Problem is, Blizzard can't win. The cheaters will always find a way around their system.

Banning cheaters is to show what the consequences are for using this tool in the first place. By using these tools you are hurting their community, and therefore their sales. Since the game doesn't have a monthly fee like WoW does, a ban will benefit them because they already have your money. So if you value your $40, don't cheat.
On WoW they end up banning 500K people at a time. That's like 84 million a year in lost revenue. I'm wondering if by removing the ability to use cheat software if these people would still subscribe and just deal with it or if they'd quit anyway. Kind of hard to find this out by just banning everyone outright. Cheating is garbage and I'd prefer these people not be in the game anyway, but financially it seems like a big hit to just remove that many people from the game. Their efforts don't really seem to be helping much though. It's been going on since the dawn of the game. They can detect if you are using cheating software. They have code set in place specifically for that purpose. I just don't understand why they can't just prevent the use of the software entirely. Maybe it's a far more complex issue than I realize.


They should make an anti-cheat that doesn't ban anyone, or move them to a special server, it just detects them, then makes every bullet shot at them from other players 100% head shots. Make the cheater the free kill he's supposed to be if he didn't resort to cheating.
That would be hilarious.
 

azuza001

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I remember the days when they would just ban you if you used map hack in Diablo 2. Now they sue the people making the hack. It seems fair to me to a greater degree, but it's the equivalent of the movie studios going after the people who release a pirated movie instead of going after the people downloading it.
 
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I wish EA would do something, cheaters have taken the fun out of all of these games. It's the reason pve is popular.
 

M76

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What I don't get is why don't they make online games in such a way that the important bit is decided on the server, and the client would only be responsible for the graphics. Sure it's harder on the servers, but it's surely better to spend more on server infrastructure than to see your player base slowly trickle away.
 

/usr/sbin

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Bottom line is that these cheat tools cost companies money.

Who gives a fuck if it costs them money, it's irrelevant. Cars ended up costing horse drawn buggy makers a lot of money too, but that doesn't make it copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works.

The only part I can see where it cold be a potential issue is the "make derivative works" part. For example if they modified the EXE file directly, or an in memory copy of the EXE to say... allow you to see through walls, that could potentially be considered a derivative work since you made a modified version of their EXE. However, if they modified a graphics driver DLL to allow the hack where the DLL was property of AMD, it would be up to AMD to file infringement charges as Game studio XYZ doesn't own the copyright to the graphics card drivers. Another potential item is a local server/client that intercepts packets and send back modified data to the server, in that instance, no modifying of the actual game files the company owns a copyright on was done and I couldn't see that holding legal water.
 

Daniel_Chang

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Who gives a fuck if it costs them money, it's irrelevant. Cars ended up costing horse drawn buggy makers a lot of money too, but that doesn't make it copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works.

Very poor analogy. The car was a superior method of transportation to the horse and buggy, and thus supplanted it. That's normal competition. That would be like Overwatch losing customers because a future game was better at the same concept. That's normal.

But OW and games like it lose sales to potential customers like me because of unwanted third parties doing things with/to the game that make the experience less than optimal. In a way, its more like someone hacking your connected car. If there's a common, widespread hack of connected cars, I might avoid them for my safety. This causes a loss of revenue for the industry, and thus, they'd want to go after the perpetrator(s). Not exactly the same, but similar concept.
 

M76

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I think online games should be considered a sport in this regard. So when someone is caught cheating he should be banned not only from the game he was cheating in, but every online game for a year. Game studious should band together for this goal.


This lawsuit won't achieve much, apart from setting a bad precedent of misuse of copyright, the next cheat creator will just release it anonymously.
 

socK

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What I don't get is why don't they make online games in such a way that the important bit is decided on the server, and the client would only be responsible for the graphics. Sure it's harder on the servers, but it's surely better to spend more on server infrastructure than to see your player base slowly trickle away.

They do. You can only retain so much sanity with certain tasks left to the server.

Say player culling. Even with low latency you can get weird artifacts with players popping into existence as they come around corners. Is that an OK trade-off?

Your client is already trying to hide latency from you because it's everywhere online. Watch a demo of yourself in CS and you'll likely find slight inconstancies because you're effectively watching a dump of the game state with none of the lag compensation voodoo in play.

People already complain about stuff like I DIED AROUND A CORNER when it's really improving the experience in all but the edge cases. It's tricky to solve everything, though most of the would be worst offenders are handled already. Health, player collision and location, ammo. You're unlikely to find anyone just no clipping through walls with God mode enabled because that's a trivial check for the server to make.
 

M76

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They do. You can only retain so much sanity with certain tasks left to the server.

Say player culling. Even with low latency you can get weird artifacts with players popping into existence as they come around corners. Is that an OK trade-off?

Your client is already trying to hide latency from you because it's everywhere online. Watch a demo of yourself in CS and you'll likely find slight inconstancies because you're effectively watching a dump of the game state with none of the lag compensation voodoo in play.

People already complain about stuff like I DIED AROUND A CORNER when it's really improving the experience in all but the edge cases. It's tricky to solve everything, though most of the would be worst offenders are handled already. Health, player collision and location, ammo. You're unlikely to find anyone just no clipping through walls with God mode enabled because that's a trivial check for the server to make.

There is no OK trade off. But it's possible to stream an entire game from servers now, so it must be possible for multi player games as well.

I can't be bothered to deal with even regular non cheating players, so I don't play online games at all. But I do play games with replay features which in many cases is based on the same principles as online code, and yes there are inconsistencies between the original and what the replay shows. That's why maybe it's better to run everything on the server and suck it up about the lag. That way at least everyone sees the same thing.
 

Inu

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They've had online hacks available for pretty much every game in some capacity for the past 10 years.

Hack companies are big money. They often offer to buy you a new copy of a game if you even get caught.
They're quite confident in their software, and for good reason, they rarely actually get delt with.

I'll never understand cheating, it's very much a self-esteem power trip thing i suppose.
I'd never want to play a game where my ability to succeed wasn't based on my own skill.
 

DukenukemX

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They should make an anti-cheat that doesn't ban anyone, or move them to a special server, it just detects them, then makes every bullet shot at them from other players 100% head shots. Make the cheater the free kill he's supposed to be if he didn't resort to cheating.
If we don't want to promote cheaters, then we need to punish them. Banning them is harsh, but something like a temporary ban or a special "cheat" server would just allow them to come back with better cheats. At least by banning them they have to go buy another copy of the game, which would certainly make them rethink cheating.

And we know cheaters don't want to fight other cheaters, cause it would be the most boring thing ever. Game starts and everyone dies instantly. Cheaters cheat to have the upper hand against non cheaters.

Who gives a fuck if it costs them money, it's irrelevant. Cars ended up costing horse drawn buggy makers a lot of money too, but that doesn't make it copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works.

The only part I can see where it cold be a potential issue is the "make derivative works" part. For example if they modified the EXE file directly, or an in memory copy of the EXE to say... allow you to see through walls, that could potentially be considered a derivative work since you made a modified version of their EXE. However, if they modified a graphics driver DLL to allow the hack where the DLL was property of AMD, it would be up to AMD to file infringement charges as Game studio XYZ doesn't own the copyright to the graphics card drivers. Another potential item is a local server/client that intercepts packets and send back modified data to the server, in that instance, no modifying of the actual game files the company owns a copyright on was done and I couldn't see that holding legal water.

Blizzard sells a gaming experience, and by cheating you're changing that experience. Remember Blizzard suing bots for WoW, and they don't touch the game code what so ever.
 

DukenukemX

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BTW, kinda easy to see who does or doesn't use cheats in this thread.

Saving%20Private%20Ryan%20-%20I%20rank%205th%20on%20the%20server.gif
 

socK

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There is no OK trade off. But it's possible to stream an entire game from servers now, so it must be possible for multi player games as well.

I can't be bothered to deal with even regular non cheating players, so I don't play online games at all. But I do play games with replay features which in many cases is based on the same principles as online code, and yes there are inconsistencies between the original and what the replay shows. That's why maybe it's better to run everything on the server and suck it up about the lag. That way at least everyone sees the same thing.

OK so we just throw our hands up, say fuckt, and make everything worse for everyone.

You can disable most client prediction in CS. Even with low ping, you'll probably find it completely unplayable within a few minutes. Having a delay on effectively everything feels like shit.

Do you think it makes sense for your character to move as soon as you hit the key? Of course. Well, something has to give until we beat the speed of light.
 

M76

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OK so we just throw our hands up, say fuckt, and make everything worse for everyone.

You can disable most client prediction in CS. Even with low ping, you'll probably find it completely unplayable within a few minutes. Having a delay on effectively everything feels like shit.

Do you think it makes sense for your character to move as soon as you hit the key? Of course. Well, something has to give until we beat the speed of light.
So what are you suggesting? Leave everything as it is? I don't think anything can be worse than having to deal with cheaters.
 

Litfod

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Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works.

Welcome to the DMCA.
 

socK

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So what are you suggesting? Leave everything as it is? I don't think anything can be worse than having to deal with cheaters.

I think you're massively overstating the scope of the problem.
 

ELox

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I wish Blizzard luck in their attempts to get the hacks out of their games. I'm all for banning hackers first but I see no problem with attempting to go after the ones that make the hacks, especially making a profit from it.
 
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NemesisX

Guest
I wish Blizzard luck in their attempts to get the hacks out of their games. I'm all for banning hackers first but I see no problem with attempting to go after the ones that make the hacks, especially making a profit from it.
If they can stop the source then they stop the problem. They definitely need to go after these folks.
 

Azphira

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I think you're massively overstating the scope of the problem.

Buying a cheat is as easy as buying a steam game. I'd take a guess it's a pretty large scope.

Only $10 or so a month to satisfy self entitlement? what a steal! Have to pay the monthly fee for the DRM upkeep though, because cheaters also copyright infringe too, go figure.
 

gxp500

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I think the solution here is simple... blizzard should get into making cheats, $10/month is very lucrative.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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I have no idea how successful they will be going after the cheat makers, but I hope this works, and other studios do the same.

Letting unscrupulous players who get a kick out of ruining things for other players has gone on long enough.

I fully encourage giving the kids the baseball bat to the knees treatment.
 
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NemesisX

Guest
Letting unscrupulous players who get a kick out of ruining things for other players has gone on long enough.
It really has. These people are pathetic and it strips the fun away from people that legitimately put the time in to actually become good at a game.
 

CaptNumbNutz

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I think this is the cheaper method of addressing the issue. An alternative method would be to code in anti-cheat measures, but companies see that as a low-priority measure.

A lot of games could have decent anti-cheat systems by just monitoring the analytics of their game. When cheating hit BF3 hard, I couldn't understand why EA/DICE didn't just automate the battle log records to flag people. Have set parameters of what is expected maximum skill, if a player exceeds those, flag him. After an undisclosed amount of flags, they're banned.

For example:
- Did a player just kill 10 players in the span of 2seconds? Flag.
- Is a players accuracy for a particular gun greater than 100%? Flag.
- Is the players K/D outside a reasonable range?
- Anti-Aimbot: Does the player have an unreasonable headshot%? Deeper analysis on client-side could check if the aiming movement of a player is "snapping to" their target.

And so fourth. All of these stood out in Battle log. The more you look for, the more the cheaters have to disguise their play. The advantage of that is it reduces their abilities to hurt the gameplay. I'd rather play against a cheater who's about as good as the best player than one who is just god like.

However, they won't invest in this because cheating is primarily a PC problem. Executives like the consoles, and put a good majority of their budget into those platforms.
The reason they didn't do it for BF3 is because a system like that takes a while to implement. It's ashame they never really did it before then, but I guess BF3 was DICE's wakeup call that they can't rely on Punkbuster for all the cheat detection.

What you are describing is exactly what DICE's FairPlay system does that they implemented in BF4. Whether it does it well or not is another story. If you want an idea on what server admins look for in BF4, hit up sites like BF4Stats.com and 247fairplay.com
 

crusty_juggler

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Blizzard has sued this company once before. They lost in German court, and were required to pay the hack maker's legal fees. So what does Blizzard do? They turn around and sue them yet again!

This is why I like Blizzard. They put the player's quality-of-life above everything else, above money and above profits. Wish I could say the same thing about that other game dev that makes that other class-based shooter.
 

5150Joker

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I think the solution here is simple... blizzard should get into making cheats, $10/month is very lucrative.

Imagine if publishers engaged in actively making cheats/hacks for other publisher's games using affiliated companies they invest in. Would the govt then cry foul? Because they certainly are allowing 3rd party nobody's to get away with it so there should be nothing wrong if an actual company sponsors it. Valve already condones gray area gambling so maybe they'll be the first ones to dip their toes into allowing cheat makers to publish their wares on Steam? You just never know...
 
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NemesisX

Guest
Imagine if publishers engaged in actively making cheats/hacks for other publisher's games using affiliated companies they invest in. Would the govt then cry foul? Because they certainly are allowing 3rd party nobody's to get away with it so there should be nothing wrong if an actual company sponsors it. Valve already condones gray area gambling so maybe they'll be the first ones to dip their toes into allowing cheat makers to publish their wares on Steam? You just never know...
Clearly the current cheat makers are getting away with it in court ... so ...
 

B00nie

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Clearly the current cheat makers are getting away with it in court ... so ...
That's why they turned the deal to copyright infringement. Judges are accustomed to give big penalties for that thanks to record industry lobbing and paying them off.

They'll probably ask for something ridiculous such as 10 000 bucks per customer :D
 

Gigus Fire

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is dmca valid is germany?

It'll be hard to prove that it's derivative work if it modifies the program in memory.

I hear talk of potential customers. Lol. Imaginary customers don't count as revenue loss.

The best analogy of this whole situation is like the health companies and hospitals loosing records of their customers/patients to hackers because they have no security. Instead of getting serious on security and improving their system, they just put all the blame on hackers.
If blizz wanted to aggressively counter the hacks and detect them it's not hard to do. Just buy the popular ones, figure out what they do and then roll out a detection of it. Let it accumulate the list of people who use them for a few weeks and then ban like mad. Ban their credit cards and all associated accounts. Get some real in house cheat detection going on. It wouldn't even be hard to put in a check for unrealistic players who perform too good to be true, then take screenshots while they're playing and upload them for review.
There's a lot they could do. Hiring lawyers doesn't work. Other cheating sites will spring up and be driven more underground.
 

Trepidati0n

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The largest issue when dealing with cheats is bandwidth and latency. Everything they do is to get all three versions of the game (your client, target's client, server's version) as close together as possible so it feels smooth/real. The more shit that has to be done on each piece makes that delta get larger. Consider that favor the shooter is pretty much "common law" these days...yep, cheats will find a way in.

There is also one thing worse for a FPS game than cheater...banning non-cheaters who you are think are cheating. That is the story that can generate even larger negative headlines than banning cheaters.

so..yeah..it isn't a simple problem.
 
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Darunion

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It is nice they are trying to do something. Those that say they should just fix the software or buy out cheat companies, this is probably one of those things where they have X amount of legal budget available which is more than the amount of development budget etc etc. Also going the legal route if successful could make an example and cause others to not want to make them. Developing software changes always introduces bugs no matter what, so if they can fight it in the courts without having to change code, that would probably be the path of least resistance.
 

krotch

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What I don't get is why don't they make online games in such a way that the important bit is decided on the server, and the client would only be responsible for the graphics. Sure it's harder on the servers, but it's surely better to spend more on server infrastructure than to see your player base slowly trickle away.

Cause it wouldn't change much. The server still needs to send data to the client and in this case, all the client needs is the data on the other players. Bullet shots and such could still happen on the server and in the case of Overwatch, I'm sure they are done on the server anyways.

I'm not sure how this cheat works, but it somehow lets the client receive the data. Tricks the server into giving the other players data.
 
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