If you're into online FPS games, you'll likely have heard of Cronus. The Cronus Zen is one of many little hardware modules that have been giving cheaters a physical way to skirt anticheat software for years, in top games like Call of Duty and Destiny 2. Now big-name game developers are cracking down on their use, with Activision pushing out a ban. And it looks like Bungie could be soon to follow.
On the Cronus site, the creators place the Zen as "the world's best game controller converter." Similar to how Xim and other physical cheat devices work, it's essentially a controller emulation peripheral with scripting technology that offers a little bag of tricks to anyone willing to drop $120 for an advantage. Common uses include reduced kickback from gunfire, and giving mouse and keyboard players use of the aim assist function.
There's some grey area as to their use, though since it's all but impossible to tell if players are using these kinds of devices responsibly, an outright ban seems to be the logical step for developers to prevent people from gaining an unfair competitive advantage. As such, Activision is now closing in on cheaters with the latest Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0 update, which includes "third-party hardware device detection".
A few days later on April 9, an admin on the Chronus Discord posted an announcement, letting users know there are likely to be consequences for using a Cronus device in CoD.
"We are currently investigating reports that the latest game update includes a detection system that might be able to identify the use of the Cronus Zen. Therefore, we want to remind you that using the Cronus Zen could potentially result in penalties such as a ban or account suspension.
"It is important to note that the use of Cronus Zen in any game is solely at your own risk. Please be aware of the risks involved and make an informed decision. Thank you for your attention and understanding."
Similarly, Ubisoft recently warned Rainbow Six Siege players that using XIM or other devices would, thanks to the new Mousetrap system, result in deliberate input latency to mess with them. Late last year Epic announced a ban for Fortnite players, too, releasing the following statement:
Best CPU for gaming: The top chips from Intel and AMD
Best gaming motherboard: The right boards
Best graphics card: Your perfect pixel-pusher awaits
Best SSD for gaming: Get into the game ahead of the rest
"The use of hardware that provides, or is intended to provide, a competitive advantage is not allowed. When detected, players will receive an in-game warning. Players must remove the attached hardware device and restart Fortnite to continue playing."
Since the anti-hardware cheat trend began, Cronus Zen eBay listings have been popping up all over, with people trying to flog the devices cheap before the ban spreads to too many other games.
Bungie looks to be the next to crack down, and told The Verge a couple of months back that the use of these devices is "something we are currently investigating.”
I'm in contact with Bungie now about potential bans for using cheating hardware, and will make sure to update this page if the company puts out an official statement. For now, we can assume other games are likely to follow suit.