Activision wins $14.5 million in lawsuit against Call of Duty cheat maker

modern warfare 3 captain price
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Activision has won a judgment worth more than $14.5 million against cheat maker EngineOwning, which has also been ordered to stop making cheat software and to turn over its website to Activision's control.

The case began in 2022, when Activision filed a lawsuit accusing EngineOwning of "trafficking in circumvention devices", "intentional interference with contractual relations", and "unfair competition." EngineOwning offers subscription-based cheat services, such as aimbots, triggerbots, and wallhacks, for games including Titanfall 2, Counter-Strike 2, and several Battlefield and Call of Duty games. 

Activision described the cheats in its lawsuit as "malicious software products designed to enable members of the public to gain unfair competitive advantages," and sought an order shutting down the service, as well as financial damages including all "unlawful proceeds" earned by the site.

In a ruling issued on May 28 (via The Verge), Activision got what it wanted. After noting that "no defendant has appeared or defended itself in this action" since July 2023, a default judgment of $14,465,000 was awarded to Activision, along with $292,912 in attorney's fees. An injunction against future development and sales of EngineOwning cheats was also issued, and ownership of the domain was ordered to be transferred to Activision.

This is the second courtroom victory for a game publisher over cheat makers in recent days. This past weekend, Destiny 2 studio Bungie scored a jury trial win over AimJunkies. But the financial penalty imposed in that case was much lower: A relatively paltry $63,200, which is still a hell of a lot of money for normal people but, as associate editor Ted Litchfield said, "a rounding error" for Bungie. (When you get down to it, $14.5 million is also a rounding error for Microsoft-owned Activision, but best not to think too much about that.)

Whether Activision will be able to collect remains to be seen. EngineOwning was based in Germany when the lawsuit was filed but the company is apparently now operating out of Dubai, which could complicate enforcement of the ruling. EngineOwning also indicated that it intends to continue operating, and producing Call of Duty cheats.

"There has been a lot of false claims regarding the lawsuit against EngineOwning," it said in a statement. "All the guys targeted in the lawsuit are inactive and have been for a long time. The project was handed over to a new owner years ago. Some news articles claim that Activision got access to the data of our users. This is completely false and to no surprise those news articles don’t link any kind of source. All relevant documents regarding the lawsuit are publicly available if you want to look it up yourself.

"Now Activision is trying to claim our domain. We have created backup domains (listed below) and kindly ask you to bookmark them. We hope and think that our domain registrar will not defer to this bogus claim, that would not have been approved by any clearheaded judge with even basic democratic values in a proper jurisdiction."

EngineOwning also said that a "test version" of a new Call of Duty cheat will be released after the start of season 4, and that it is working on a "free lite version" of its Modern Warfare 3/Warzone cheats once the paid version is restored.

"We can confidently say that business as usual at EngineOwning will continue for years to come," a representative said in a brief statement provided to PC Gamer.

I think there's reasonably good odds that's just bluster, but for now at least EngineOwning clearly isn't inclined to go away quietly. On the upside for Activision, sales of the Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone cheats are currently disabled, although EngineOwning attributed that not to the ruling, but to Activision's anti-cheat efforts: It said subscriptions will be unfrozen once it is able to make the cheat software undetectable again.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.