"Mousetrap" is an anticheat technology developed for Rainbow Six Siege that's intended to detect and punish "spoofers"—that is, players who use mouse and keyboard on their consoles in order to gain a precision advantage over people using controllers. Ubisoft announced the system (opens in new tab) in February and said it was supposed to go live in April, but it may have jumped the gun on that a bit because some Xim Apex users are already reporting that their devices are being detected.
Conventional wisdom dictates that the speed and precision of a mouse makes it inherently superior to controllers when it comes to shooters. Way back in 2010, for instance, Voodoo PC founder Rahul Sood claimed that Microsoft decided against enabling crossplay between PC and Xbox 360 consoles after testing found that "console players got destroyed (opens in new tab)" whenever they faced off against someone on PC. More recently, former Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan said Blizzard "objects to the use of mouse and keyboard on console (opens in new tab)," and "will continue to lobby for first-party console manufacturers to either disallow mouse and keyboard and input conversion devices, OR openly and easily support mouse and keyboard for ALL players."
In games that officially disallow the use of mouse and keyboard, you can't simply plug them into your console and have at it. You need a device like the Xim Apex (opens in new tab): Essentially an adapter that, for $100 plus shipping, enables Xbox and PlayStation owners to use PC controls for any game. The box works by tricking your console into thinking mouse and keyboard input is a normal controller. It's not exactly cheating, because there's no aimbot or wallhacking going on, but it's not really cricket either—a bit like bringing a gun to a knife fight, you might say.
It's far enough beyond the pale that Ubisoft decided to crack down on it with Mousetrap (opens in new tab). The technology—the first of its kind, as far as we know—is designed to detect players using these setups and then (this is the really good part) instead of banning them, apply high levels of input latency to the spoofer's controls.
"In short, it will be harder to aim and shoot with your operator when the penalty is active," Ubisoft said. "The lag will start low and build up over several games if the use of MnK is still detected."
Clever and devious. I like it.
Get more intel on the MouseTrap feature coming to consoles this April in Operation Commanding Force. We are excited to improve the fairness of Siege, with a special focus on our high rank environment! Learn more here: https://t.co/n0Wun2lrLT pic.twitter.com/KPXEZGzWoJMarch 6, 2023
The plan was to roll out the system sometime in April, during Siege's Year 8 Season 1.2 update, but users in the Xim community forums (opens in new tab) are reporting that their devices are already being detected. There's some question as to whether the input lag is being applied, or if it's only displaying the detection warning as a heads-up that the hammer is coming. Either way, Xim Apex users are getting nervous, and Xim itself is working to find ways to spoof the anti-spoof, including through the implementation of new privacy options.
"What you play, who you game with, and with what devices you use to game is your business," Xim said. "Towards that end, we'd like to introduce a new feature called Privacy Game Settings. The first game we are supporting with this new method is Rainbow Six Siege."
The Mousetrap UI was switched off a few hours after it was unexpectedly activated, after which a Ubisoft rep confirmed in a statement sent to PC Gamer that the warning message—but not the full Mousetrap functionality or input lag penalties—had been turned on accidentally. But Xim is taking advantage of the activation as an opportunity to prepare for the future.
"Thanks for testing things out today everyone and reporting your findings," a Xim rep said in the forum thread. "We learned a lot in this short time. Please do continue to use our new Privacy Settings and provide feedback there so we can refine the process."
So it seems that at this stage at least, Xim isn't ready to throw in the towel on its technology, which could point toward a new technological arms race between Ubisoft and manufacturers of assist devices it doesn't care for. I've reached out to Ubisoft for comment and will update if I receive a reply.