The ongoing PUBG Mobile Project: Ban Pan, a totally on-brand campaign against hackers, cheaters, and the tools they use to make the lives of legitimate players a living hell, claimed 10,000 whacks on unsuspecting accounts this week. It’s the latest blow in a nearly year-long attempt to curb the game’s rampant hacking problem.
In the past, PUBG Mobile bans were announced virtually every other week, with the developers even announcing bans alongside its 400 million download milestone last year. Long lists of banned players and their account IDs were regularly shared to places like Reddit by the game’s development team in a bid to reassure players that action was being taken.
The video game equivalent of your local newspaper’s weekly column on the towns accused and convicted hasn’t been as prevalent in recent months. But ahead of the game’s upcoming Fall Split competition, the developers issues the below statement, claiming to have put an end to a powerful exploit and issuing 10-year bans to the thousands of accounts that were retroactively found to have used the cheat against players.
“Through player feedback, we have recently discovered a new cheat that one-shot kills players then inverts their screen momentarily. The official team immediately went into action and tracked players who have used this cheat. Over 10,000 players have been issued a 10-year ban from the Operations team for harming the gaming environment. Our team will not show restraint to those who undermine the fair gaming environment and use cheats of this type.”
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New seasons, skins, and microtransactions make their way into the game virtually every day. Because of that and the prevalence of hackers, players across its social media channels visibly assume the entire development studio is laser-focused on monetization over the preservation of the quality of gameplay.
These semi-regular banning waves seemingly attempt to change perceptions, but shortly after Project: Ban Pan was put to work, one player streamed themselves hacking their way through multiple matches: even going to so far as to personally post the stream to numerous popular social spaces in an effort to prove a point. Even with all the account’s identifying information clearly on show, the stream went on unabated for over five hours without consequence, putting claims of the anti-cheat campaign’s 24/7 manual vetting process to severe scrutiny.
Since then, the Death Replay feature has been added to the game, giving players the opportunity to see their final moments from the perspective of their killer. The idea was billed as a way for players to easily identify potential hackers, though even now, there’s no way to use, save, or export the footage as potential evidence when reporting a player. When we asked the game’s communication team how exactly the feature was meant to help players get cheaters banned, we were promised a response that never arrived.
Even with this seemingly decent result, questions still remain. The PUBG Mobile team didn’t really disclose the type of cheat that was identified and dealt with. What does it mean to get “one-shot” by it, and what does having the victim’s screen inverted as they die matter, anyway? It probably won’t put a dent in your odds of having a chicken dinner ripped from your hands by a cheater. After all, an account ban doesn’t mean much for a free game. But some can rest easier tonight knowing Tencent is doing more than nothing.
Disclaimer: Fanbyte is owned by Tencent, which also runs Tencent Games, developer and publisher of PUBG Mobile. Tencent also subsidizes much of Fanbyte’s PUBG Mobile coverage by covering freelancer budget costs. Those covering PUBG Mobile for the site have no contact with Tencent, however, and are given complete creative control to write whatever they wish.