Inside a now-famous Overwatch video, a Korean player is banned mid-match as a consequence of his shameless hacking. He’s streaming himself as Widowmaker, effortlessly flinging himself over 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 far from him, rubberband to his head.
A few minutes in, he’s locked from the game. Someone reported his cheating. But it’s no issue – he just navigates back to the Battle.net website to make another account.
Cheating about the Asian Overwatch server is endemic and widespread. In the Battle.net forums and Reddit, complaints about hacking South Korean players’ too-accurate headshots, immediate gun-downs and even 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 affords 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 avoid playing whack-a-mole and address the main of the servers’ endemic hacking problem.
Based upon my conversations with Korean players, it seems that hacking culture Korea is inexorably sure to the over 25,000 “PC bangs” where Koreans chill, slam energy drinks and grind on Infiltration. They’re like North America’s now-antiquated ’90s LAN cafes where patrons pay a tiny $US1.00 ($1)/hour fee to experience ahead-notch computers. At PC bangs, cheaters often download aimbot software with impunity. Recently, “nuking” has become widespread. It’s a practice where people hack into enemy control systems to improve maps or freeze them at spawn.
Since Overwatch’s release last May, Thomas Lytwynchuk has frequented PC bangs to perform the overall game. In Korea, Overwatch is the second most-played title in PC Bangs, second simply to League of Legends. In the cafe, he grinded for months in Competitive mode to reach 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, a little bit faster than human impulses permit.
“I checked the deathcam replay, and sure as hell, he’s hacking,” Lytwynchuk told me. “His crosshair instantly locked onto me, so that 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 to your head then perfectly track it, even through walls.”
Lytwynchuk reported the gamer, but doesn’t think it created a difference. In Korea, it’s possible to play Overwatch upon an infinite quantity of Battle.net accounts provided that you’re within an unmonitored PC Bang. That’s because Blizzard features a cope with Korean PC bangs that permits patrons to pay a meagre $US.80 ($1)-$US1.50 ($2) an hour to get into the game. They don’t must purchase it themselves. They may only make a fresh account each time they play. The cafes pay Blizzard a subscription fee in exchange.
“If you had to spend $US40 ($52) for a copy of Overwatch whenever you hacked and got banned, like in the West, nobody would do it,” Lytwynchuk explained to me. “Until you got a lot of spare alteration to throw around.”
Players don’t even have to attach their personal data to such accounts. They will likely use VPNs to make North American accounts with burner emails. For home computers in South Korea, Blizzard requires a type of strong identity verification to experience Overwatch. That’s what empowers Cinderella’s Law, which prevents kids under 16 from gaming after midnight, to find out gamers’ ages. So essentially, in a number of PC Bangs, anything goes.
“It is actually ruining this game for people as well as its endemic in Korea due to free-to-play model,” Lytwynchuk informed me. “The fact that you can hack and play games along with your friends for $US1.50 ($2) an hour without having repercussions is what’s bringing out the worst in people.” PC bang owners, I’m told, don’t have a lot of a reason to report hackers, since the opportunity to hack is a huge draw to perform there. Employees’ pay is low and monitoring every user would need a surveillance panopticon.
Daniel Na, that is situated in Seoul, mostly plays Overwatch in your house, but estimates that he’s encountered hacking 50 times in 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 when a game starts, both teams just say yes to tie the match if you have an aimbot within the room,” he told me. He described it a “manner system,” so nobody wins or loses when there’s a hacker.
After I asked Na why countless PC bang attendees enjoy hacking, he informed me that “I really believe it really is all brought from the competitiveness that Korean culture has in general, specifically for younger generations in gaming.” He added, “Breaking the principles may be regarded as fun when you are located in a world in which you usually have to listen to your parents and live life in tight studying-schedules since elementary school.”
If 22,865 Korean Overwatch hackers were banned today, it’s simple to picture how toxic their server could possibly get. Korea-based players I spoke with said they absolutely despise hackers. They decimate any potential for fun and fair play.
That’s why, in the very morning hours, you could possibly see Korean players on your North American server – they don’t want to deal with hackers. English-speaking players have widely complained relating to this, given that they can’t get in touch with their Korean teammates. Some have even called for Blizzard to ban Korean IPs through the 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 essential, 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.”