Ubisoft is reinforcing Rainbow Six Siege's anti-cheat in 2021. The developer revealed in a blog post yesterday that, while hacking continues to be a big problem at the highest levels of Siege, account bans are on the rise. Last year Ubi banned almost 100,000 players for cheating (a 44 percent rise over 2019). This year a new automated process for detecting cheaters could raise that figure even higher.
Since 2015, Ubisoft has largely relied on manual moderation of player reports to identify cheaters that aren't detected by BattleEye (Siege's anti-cheat software). Developers can sometimes confirm cheaters with hard evidence like a video, but it's more common to examine a reported players' stats to determine if they're getting "help" from third-party software. If, for instance, a player has an absurdly high kill/death ratio or accuracy stat, that's a red flag. This is the part of the process that Ubi is looking to automate.
"We start by identifying data that will make our detection model relevant. Next, we launch it on the backend and make sure we are comfortable with the results," the post reads. Ubi isn't taking its hands off the wheel completely, though. "The first ban waves are done by hand, allowing us to review each impacted player. This helps us ensure the detections are identifying concrete proof of cheating." A human will still ultimately decide if a cheating sanction is handed down, but the fancy detection model will ideally speed up the process greatly.
Faster bans mean more bans, which in turn makes life harder for cheaters hoarding numerous Siege accounts to further their nefarious gaming careers.
Speaking of, Ubi is increasing the severity of bans on "burner" Siege accounts linked with Steam. In the future, BattleEye bans will synchronize directly with Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) bans, issuing both types of bans at the same time. Steam users with a VAC ban are restricted from refunding and gifting games, among other punishments.
Siege's player behavior team is always working to make Siege cheats harder to manufacture as well, but Ubi acknowledges that this is an uphill battle. "With every update we’ve launched for the past few seasons, we have continued to further secure code, making it more difficult for cheat features to keep up. Cheat Developers may only be one part of the equation, but they are the source of the problem. We will continue securing our code and eliminating vulnerabilities in order to make the upkeep of cheats more costly and time-consuming."
It's noteworthy that Ubi (and every other studio running a big multiplayer game, for that matter) doesn't expect to eliminate cheating altogether. Anti-cheat is a constant balancing act. Developers want to tear down barriers to keep their games accessible to a wide audience and build up walls against prospective hackers. It's basically impossible to have both.
Short of requiring a birth certificate on record to play Ranked, banned jerks will always worm their way back into the game if determined. Still, it's clear that Ubi is just as determined to find new ways to keep them at bay.