Tarkov devs issue update on 'cheating bastards' and 'other related scum of the earth', but players ain't buying it

A view from Escape from Tarkov's new map.
(Image credit: battlestate games)

Battlestate Games' Escape from Tarkov remains in early access, hugely popular, and plagued by the same old community complaints it's had since its initial release in 2017. One persistent strain of the latter has always been cheaters, which are bad enough in a fire-and-forget shooter like Warzone but incredibly frustrating to come across in an experience where accumulated loot and gear are a fundamental part of the game.

Every so often Battlestate goes public about a banwave, but it's never too long before the complaints start popping up again. These reached a fever pitch recently after the recent wipe, with a widespread feeling that the problem was worse than ever. Now Battlestate COO Nikita Buyanov has addressed the community in a manner that could be described as blunt.

In a post titled "Hackers, cheaters and other related scum of the earth" Buyanov continues on in that vein though, as we'll see, not everyone's impressed. "Every time for a long time, unfortunately, one way or another, a problem with cheaters pops up," writes Buyanov, "And people immediately start blaming us for not caring. They begin to bury the game."

Buyanov says the studio is "sensitive" to such criticism, which is quite amusing in the context of Tarkov being one of the most bleak and brutal games out there, and says rather than writing an essay he'll make the following points:

  • We have always been concerned about this problem and the work to catch cheaters is always going on. They usually come in waves.
  • Right now we ban several thousand cheaters a day and usually most of them are blocked after playing a little.
  • Battleye anti-cheat continues to improve, as well as cheats. It's an eternal race to see who can get past each other's defenses the fastest. In the last week alone, the Battleye has been updated 4 times.
  • We continue to improve our own additional cheater detection tools. We will have an update soon and start working on a new hacker detection methods to automate it and improve the overall quality and speed of cheater detection and banning.
  • The reporting system is also being improved by adding a notification if the one you reported has received a ban. Please keep reporting suspicious players!

"Your worries and indignations are 100% clear to us", writes Buyanov. "And always have been. Report all these bastards, we will make the game cleaner together."

The bad language and tone of defiance may well get the blood pumping, but it wasn't long before members of the Tarkov community began pointing out that, er, we've been here before. Buyanov's response was more florid than usual but, in terms of the substantive points being made, these are re-worded versions of what Battlestate Games has been saying for four years.

Hackers, cheaters and other related scum of the earth from r/EscapefromTarkov

"Here's some thoughts from a player who has over 6k hours and 3+ years of time in this game," writesHllHvnd in the most-upvoted and awarded response to Buyanov. "There is a pattern with these kinds of posts."

The player goes on to detail their own experiences with reporting, and cast doubt on the estimate that "several thousand cheaters a day" are being banned. "I see the same players in a lot of my raids," writes HllHvnd,"I see the same cheaters occasionally in raids after days. 30 seconds of research on google can show that cheaters have been cheating undetected for 4-5 wipes, and potentially even longer with private cheats."

The post goes on to detail some of the most-requested security features for Tarkov that Battlestate has yet to implement. Two-factor authentication, a post-raid replay functionality, a manual system for checking potential cheaters' actions. "Actions speak louder than words BSG," ends HllHvnd. "Do your part, the ball is in your court now."

Battlestate's anti-cheat detection software Battleye comes in for special criticism, with many having little faith in its efficacy despite the developer's claims. "Fun fact," claims Animalm4st3r, "you cannot play Valorant while having Tarkov cheats on your PC. Valorant's anticheat detects them if they are not running and refuses to start the game thinking they are for Valorant."

For as long as I've been playing Tarkov, cheaters have been a running theme. That's not unusual in and of itself, because every competitive game has problems with cheaters, but it is notable how formulaic Battlestate's responses to any new controversy are. They amount to more-or-less the same reassurances, the same promise that the studio takes it seriously, the same request to report cheaters. It's a repeating pattern that's left some of Tarkov's biggest fans extremely unconvinced, even if calling the cheaters "bastards" this time spiced it up a bit.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."