Competitive multiplayer games wage a neverending shadow war against cheaters, a network of profiteers who make and sell aim-assists, speed boosts, x-ray vision, and other illicit, performance-enhancing mods.
When Respawn added its widely-requested reporting tool to Apex Legends in the March 19 Season One update, almost half a million players had already been banned for using such cheats. 44 days later, the studio now says that a total 770,000 players have been banned, partly off the back of this new reporting system.
"The recently added in-game reporting tool has had a big impact on discovering new cheats, including previously undetectable cheats that are now being found automatically via [Easy Anti-Cheat]," writes Respawn community manager Jay Frechette.
The figure is massive but not unprecedented for popular multiplayer FPSes. In December over 600,000 Steam accounts received VAC bans not long after CS:GO went free-to-play. Before that point, the number of monthly VAC bans had never exceeded 200,000.
As it released this figure, Respawn underlined its commitment to stamping out cheaters. "We take cheating in Apex incredibly serious and have a large amount of resources tackling it from a variety of angles. It is a constant war with the cheat makers that we will continue to fight," wrote Frechette. "We’ve been working closely with key experts across EA including: EA Security and Fraud, the Origin teams, our fellow developers at DICE, FIFA, and Capital Games, in addition to Easy-Anti-Cheat."
Respawn also shared these related statistics:
- We have blocked over 300K account creations
- We have banned over 4,000 cheat seller accounts (spammers) in the last 20 days
- Total affected matches on PC impacted by cheaters or spammers has been reduced by over half in the last month due to recent efforts
Apex Legends uses Easy Anti-Cheat, the same system employed by Fortnite, as well as For Honor, Rust, The Division 2, and a few dozen other games. Although Apex Legends is free, Respawn has made it difficult for banned players to simply create a new account by identifying players by their HWID (hardware ID), a unique number generated when the OS is first installed. This itself isn't a silver bullet either, as tools that enable you to spoof your HWID also exist—an illustration of the battle of proliferation that exists between developers and cheatmakers.