PUBG is taking bans very seriously

by Ben Kirby
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I’m still a PUBG guy, it’ll not change. As much as I love the battle royale genre and other games that exist in space, PUBG remains the king to me.

Sure, it’s seeing some community pushback on their monetisation and some of the game changes as of late. But largely, it’s better for all the development and growth it’s seen. Certainly, it’s more stable, and thus, more fun.

PUBG has a cheater problem, though and the community is really quite sick of it.

So I’ve been really impressed at the recent (late?!) transparency on the PUBG banning process. Weekly updates on the accounts banned, why they were banned and some seriously impressive figures.

Who on earth knew that so many people needed to cheat in a game, let alone just PUBG?

Why cheat?

I understand that in all sports and scenes, people want to win. But why the hell do people feel the need to hack a game to win? Like, what’s the end game here?

Winning a chicken dinner in PUBG legitimately is a great feeling. Survival is the aim of the game.

Why cheat? Wall hacks, auto-aim etc. Like, what does that bring to someone? If you’re not actually playing the game, how is it fun?

I’ll never understand it, and it’s seemingly rife in PUBG.

If anyone can explain why people cheat in games, like what it actually gives them? I’d be really interested to hear it.

PUBG stats

Ok, so two weeks of banning stats are as follows:

PUBG Account Bans from July 3rd to 9th
PUBG Account Bans from July 3rd to 9th
PUBG Account Bans from July 10th to 16th
PUBG Account Bans from July 10th to 16th

The stance from PUBG Corp:

Every week, the PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS Anti-Cheat Team identifies and imposes permanent bans on an average of 60,000 to a maximum of about 100,000 accounts involved in the use, distribution, or sale of illegal software. Despite the significant number of bans, players continue to encounter cheaters. You might have wondered why progress seems slow, considering the large number of accounts banned each week.

We have also recognized that a more comprehensive approach was necessary to address this issue effectively. Rather than solely relying on permanent bans, we realized the need for a fundamental solution involving the analysis and tracking of accounts utilizing illegal software. Given the severe impact of cheating on ranked matches, our focus today will be on discussing the accounts that are deliberately supplied for the purpose of cheating in ranked.

The supply routes for the accounts used for cheating in ranked

In ranked matches, there exist various types of accounts that utilize illegal software. However, the majority of these accounts can be classified into two primary categories: 1. Hijacked accounts and 2. Accounts that exploit the Survival Mastery Level system.

Let’s begin by examining hijacked accounts. Through the analysis of data pertaining to permanently banned players from 2022 onwards, it has been observed that approximately 85% of the accounts permanently banned within the ranked player base were created prior to PUBG’s transition to a free-to-play model in January 2022. This does not mean that accounts that had been consistently using illegal software since before 2022 have only now been detected. It rather implies that it is highly probable that cheaters obtained other players’ accounts and started using illegal software on those acquired accounts.

Moving on, there are accounts that exploit the Survival Mastery Level system. Alongside the sale of illegal software, certain illicit vendors have established so-called ‘workshops’ where players can gain Mastery Level experience points through repetitive actions facilitated by macros. These vendors offer newly created accounts that have achieved the required level 80 to partake in ranked matches. Alternatively, if a hijacked account is at a lower level, they sell it once it reaches level 80.

Having analyzed these two categories, it has become evident that addressing the supply routes of these accounts used for cheating is crucial in establishing a fair gaming environment.

PUBG - Monthly Band for Survival Mastery Abuse

Progress on countermeasures

To begin with, let’s discuss our countermeasures to address Survival Mastery Level abuse. Previously, our approach primarily focused on specific patterns of abuse exhibited by players. This involved monitoring abnormal behaviour, reviewing community reports, and analyzing the characteristics and patterns of abuse to establish ban criteria. However, we encountered two issues with this approach. Firstly, there was a possibility of overlooking new forms of abuse until they were reported and confirmed. Secondly, the low accuracy of abuse detection made it difficult to apply strong measures such as permanent bans.

To enhance our countermeasures, the PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS Anti-Cheat Team initiated the development of a machine learning model that could learn the characteristics and patterns of Mastery Level abuse. Utilizing this model, we have expanded and refined the criteria for detecting disruptive players throughout May and June of this year. As a result, we have observed several positive changes.

The number of bans issued against disruptive accounts has increased by over threefold compared to the period before the introduction of this model. Furthermore, the internal monitoring process for suspected disruptive players/accounts has shown continuous improvement, and the number of monitored account vendors has decreased. We have also observed an increase in the prices of these accounts.

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