Bungie Deals with Halo 2 Cheating

Bungie taking counter measures to deal with recent cheaters on XboxLive with Halo 2.

The following was posted by Frankie at bungie.net:

Well, let’s preface this answer by explaining that we hate cheaters and have a duty to respond to cheating and exploits on Halo 2. We ARE doing everything in our power to investigate, alleviate and remove the problems, but they are many and varied.

Cheating, by its nature is the act and responsibility of a group or individual. We can’t do anything from a technical standpoint that stops people being jerks. That’s not an attempt to dilute our responsibility – it’s a fact. Cheating is caused by cheaters, not by bugs. That’s why nobody uses pepper spray in a Ping Pong tournament, even though it would fit nicely in those short shorts. The problem with a video game of Halo’s scale – we’ve sold 6.3 million copies – is that the number of jerks playing rises proportionally.

We’ve seen all kinds of cheats and griefers. From simple team killing, abusive language, racism – people playing loud music or screaming continually through their headsets – to sophisticated, planned network exploitation. No matter what we do in the immediate and long term future, people will still find ways to be asses. The cheating will in all likelihood decrease with the lifespan of the product, as cheaters become bored, or move onto their next “project.” In the interim though, we see it as an irritating and serious problem that we are addressing.

Right now, we have a team of people working on technical fixes. Those are being investigated and tested – some will work, some will be out of our control (ISPs, hardware exploits and other elements may be out of our reach) but we are endeavoring right now to identify good ways to prevent cheating and adjust systems to penalize those who do cheat.

We realize that some cheating is caused by software glitches – flags passing through geometry etc., and of course those are our responsibility entirely. We can’t even really blame people for abusing that type of minor glitch, but we’re also looking into those. The reason we’re not giving details is that we don’t want casual users repeating the cheats, and we don’t want to promise fixes for things that might later turn out to be impossible to fix. Hence the delicate language in this answer.

What have we done so far? A lot. Certainly on the technical side we’re making progress and politically, we’ve been banning Xbox Live accounts regularly when we find clear evidence of cheating (and the evidence is hard to refute since we track very detailed information about the game and network experience) and we ban offensive Gamertags, abusive players and other miscreants all the time. It just takes time. If you ARE cheating, quit it now, firstly because we’re politely and respectfully asking you to do so, and secondly because it’s very often a terms of use violation, and one we can act upon by banning you, banning your credit card, etc.

No surprise, as in every online game, we knew there were going to be abuses from the start, which is one of the reasons for such detailed custom game support and we knew this process was going to be an evolutionary one. We’re working very hard.

Sigh. So, there you have it, a long-winded answer with few real details, for reasons we’ve tried our best to explain.