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The PUBG hack problem is bigger than China

Published: 22:51, 05 January 2018
A bug in PUBG showing a character's eyeballs and mouth
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Blaming the recent surge in PUBG hacking on Chinese players is incredibly convenient for everyone not playing out of China. A second glance shows that battle royale cheaters will only get more numerous until Bluehole get their act togeter.

Bluehole and the aptly named PUBG Corporation keep shouting about how they are keenly aware of and looking into the hacker situation from atop the mountain of money, fame and money they have accumulated over the past year. It is the developer's and publisher's responsibility to take care of these matters. Money has changed hands and part of the deal is that players receive a game they find interesting while Bluehole makes sure they have a good time.

Bluehole PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

The next time a hacker snatches your chicken dinner away seconds before you sink your teeth into it, keep in mind that the hacker has no obligation to play fair, but Bluehole has an obligation to make sure you experience isn't ruined by someone else's idea of a fun.

A lot of the moaning surrounding PUBG's hacker problem found a target when the game was released in China. A similar thing often happens when an EU server for insert PvP game here gets merged with a Russian one, or basically every time there is a massive influx of players from a specific region. This is an easy thing to assume since the migration of new players from a specific region often coincides with an increased occurrence of 500m shotgun headshots. Causality is often hard to prove since reliable data is near impossible to get a hold of, but just blaming it on those pesky Chinese makes the odds of someone stumbling over a solution less likely.

If you think the problem might take care of itself once you rip China out of the equation, then i have some bad news for you.

Google has registered a serious rise in interest for search terms like "PUBG hack", "PUBG cheat" or "PUBG esp". Google doesn't publish data on China, and probably doesn't have any to begin with. Even if they do, it's locked away in a safe somewhere labelled corporate espionage.

You can go out yourself if you want, but what we found was that in spite of all the talk of Russian hackers in the past year, Russians still prefer the term cheater. The top western countries regarding their interest in doing nasty things in PUBG over the past month are Norway, Australia and Germany, while Vietnam, South Korea and Thailand can easily be considered their Asian counterparts.

GoogleTrends Google trends graph showing PUBG related data PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - Talk of the town

In all fairness, some of this data may be based on searching done by people who feel that they have been on the receiving end of a hack as well, but we know of very few people whose first reaction to getting unfairly owned for the first time is rushing online to see how it was done. Even assuming that every single one of them finds exactly what they were looking for, that doesn't change the situation or solve the problem in the slightest, and all you have is another customer on your hands who is now armed with the knowledge needed to ruin someone's quiet time after a hard day's work. Players can't fix this, only Bluehole can. But do they even want to?

Snooping around the more disreputable corners of gaming's claim on the internet will quickly reveal that it is quite easy to get if you know what you are doing, and a ban is tied to your account, not your machine. In a bizarre twist of events, getting banned from PUBG can be easily remedied by simply purchasing a new copy for a new account, and after that second purchase, you can be sure that the hacker will know what got him sacked in the first place and be better prepared to dodge Mjölnir at the first sign of trouble. 

Bluehole PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Bluehole will soon have Tencent breathing down their necks, if this isn't the case already. Communist China has decided that there is no need for Steam to have a social component, and will most likely come up with an alternative service for the markers under its control. There is no company other than Tencent currently capable of providing that service on the scale necessary for China, and the megacorporation has a way of getting along with the notoriously corrupt government. PUBG's explosive success is partially to blame for breaking Steam in China, but Bluehole will definitely be the first to feel the impact of whatever the Party has in store.

The problem of Chinese hackers will go away in due time, and when that happens a lot of people will be scratching their heads as to why cheating is still an issue. As with most things, PUBG's hacker problem resists simplification, but that won't stop a lot of people from looking for a scapegoat.

Bluehole Two players looking at each other with their scoped rifles in PUBG. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - Scoped and ready

If it weren't for China, PUBG wouldn't be where it is today. What Bluehole have to do now is direct the river of money flowing out of China through their back yard in some direction that serves to improve customer satisfaction on a global scale. Should Bluehole realise that players are holding someone else responsible for the developer's or publisher's failings, then they will conclude that they got away with it, and the only thing that will improve is the bottom line. You don't need ESP to figure out what this ultimately means for players.

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