Within a now-famous Overwatch video, a Korean player is banned mid-match as a result of his shameless hacking. He’s streaming himself as Widowmaker, effortlessly flinging himself across the map and landing perfect headshots in-air. A Hanzo approaches, and in just a minute, he’s gone. Widowmaker’s crosshairs, that had been feet away from him, rubberband to his head.
A few momemts in, he’s locked out of your game. Someone reported his cheating. But it’s no issue – he just navigates straight back to the Battle.net web site to make another account.
Cheating around the Asian Overwatch server is endemic and widespread. Around the Battle.net forums and Reddit, complaints about hacking South Korean players’ too-accurate headshots, immediate gun-downs and also DDOS attacks against winners in competitive mode are widespread.
Just today, 22,865 Korean hackers were banned from Overwatch. Between January 26th and 31st alone, 3,095 accounts were suspended. Harry, the Korean Blizzard representative who reported the ban wave on Battle.net, proudly gives the numbers, but doesn’t explain steps Blizzard takes to definitively stomp out Overwatch hacking in South Korea. For months, Korean fans have begged Blizzard to quit playing whack-a-mole and address the basis in their servers’ endemic hacking problem.
Based upon my conversations with Korean players, it would appear that hacking culture Korea is inexorably guaranteed to the over 25,000 “PC bangs” where Koreans spend time, slam energy drinks and grind on Overwatch Cheating. They’re like North America’s now-antiquated ’90s LAN cafes where patrons pay a tiny $US1.00 ($1)/hour fee to experience on the top-notch computers. At PC bangs, cheaters often download aimbot software with impunity. Recently, “nuking” has grown to be widespread. It’s a practice where people hack into enemy control systems to modify maps or freeze them at spawn.
Since Overwatch’s release last May, Thomas Lytwynchuk has frequented PC bangs to try out the video game. In Korea, Overwatch will be the second most-played title in PC Bangs, second merely to League of Legends. At the cafe, he grinded for months in Competitive mode to achieve Platinum rank, where he says he’s come upon a great deal of hackers. Recently, while defending about the Anubis map, he turned a corner and within a nanosecond, was pummelled by McCree’s rapidfire, just a little faster than human impulses permit.
“I checked the deathcam replay, and sure as hell, he’s hacking,” Lytwynchuk explained. “His crosshair instantly locked onto me, and also as I’m jumping and crouch-spamming away from the corner, the crosshair perfectly follows my head.” Later, that same player switched to Widowmaker, whose crosshairs, in his words, “would literally flick on your head then perfectly track it, even through walls.”
Lytwynchuk reported the participant, but doesn’t think it made a difference. In Korea, it’s easy to play Overwatch by using an infinite quantity of Battle.net accounts so long as you’re inside an unmonitored PC Bang. That’s because Blizzard has a cope with Korean PC bangs that enables patrons to enjoy a meagre $US.80 ($1)-$US1.50 ($2) each hour gain access to this game. They don’t have to buy it themselves. They can only make a brand new account every time they play. The cafes pay Blizzard a subscription fee in exchange.
“If you had to pay for $US40 ($52) for a copy of Overwatch every time you hacked and got banned, as with the West, nobody would practice it,” Lytwynchuk explained. “Until you got a great deal of spare alteration to throw around.”
Players don’t even need to attach their private data to the accounts. They are going to use VPNs to help make North American accounts with burner emails. For home computers in South Korea, Blizzard requires a form of strong identity verification to perform Overwatch. That’s what empowers Cinderella’s Law, which prevents kids under 16 from gaming after midnight, to learn gamers’ ages. So essentially, in a number of PC Bangs, anything goes.
“It is ruining the video game for people and its particular endemic in Korea due to the free-to-play model,” Lytwynchuk explained. “The fact that you can hack and play games with the friends for $US1.50 ($2) an hour or so without having repercussions is what’s bringing out the worst in people.” PC bang owners, I’m told, don’t have a great deal of an incentive to report hackers, since the cabability to hack is an important draw to play there. Employees’ pay is low and monitoring every user would require a surveillance panopticon.
Daniel Na, who may be operating out of Seoul, mostly plays Overwatch in your own home, but estimates that he’s encountered hacking 50 times around the Asian server. He’s ranked at Diamond and states that, at higher levels, it’s more widespread. “Usually the hackers’ IGNs [in-game names] are famous enough that whenever a game starts, both teams just accept to tie the match if there is an aimbot inside the room,” he explained. He described it as being a “manner system,” so nobody wins or loses when there’s a hacker.
Once I asked Na why a lot of PC bang attendees enjoy hacking, he told me that “I think it is actually all brought through the competitiveness that Korean culture has on the whole, specifically for younger generations in gaming.” He added, “Breaking the guidelines might be viewed as fun while you are residing in a world the place you also have to listen to your folks and enjoy life in tight studying-schedules since elementary school.”
If 22,865 Korean Overwatch hackers were banned today, it’s very easy to picture how toxic their server could possibly get. Korea-based players I spoke with said they absolutely despise hackers. They decimate any probability of fun and fair play.
That’s why, in the very early morning, you might see Korean players on your own North American server – they don’t want to manage hackers. English-speaking players have widely complained regarding this, because they can’t contact their Korean teammates. Some have even called for Blizzard to ban Korean IPs from your North American server.
Korean players are constantly posting their pleas to Reddit and Battle.net, with one, “BLIZZARD DISREGARDS KOREANS OPINION,” garnering over 17,000 upvotes. Relief is needed, but Blizzard’s licence agreement with PC bangs may tie up their hands. Mass account bans may look effective, but to cite one response from today’s news, “And 22,865 new PC bang accounts were made.”