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Comparative Study of Anti-cheat Methods in Video Games

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Title: Comparative Study of Anti-cheat Methods in Video Games
Author(s): Lehtonen, Samuli Johannes
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Tietojenkäsittelytieteen osasto
Discipline: Networking and Service
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2020
Online gaming is more popular than ever and many video game companies are reliant on the cash flow generated by online games. If a video game company wants its game to be successful, the game has to be resilient against cheating, the presence of which can ruin an otherwise successful game. Cheating in a video game can bankrupt an entire company as the non-cheating players leave the game because of unscrupulous individuals using cheats to gain an unfair advantage. Cheating can also involve criminal activity where maliciously acquired in-game items are traded against real money online. Commercial cheat programs are sold on online black markets and are available even to players who have no deep technical knowledge. The widespread availability and easy accessibility of cheats compounds the issue. This thesis will categorize different anti-cheat techniques and give a brief history of anti-cheat starting from the early 1980s. The history section describes how the fight against online cheating began and how it has evolved over the years. This thesis will compare different anti-cheat methods, both on the client-side and server-side, and draw conclusions about their viability. It will also look at scenarios where different anti-cheat methods are combined to create more powerful systems. All the anti-cheat methods will be evaluated based on five different criteria on a scale of 1 to 4, with one being the lowest score and four the highest. The thesis will use a custom-built client-server game as an example to illustrate many of the anti-cheat techniques. Requirements of different types of games, such as first-person shooters and strategy games, will also be considered when reviewing the anti-cheat techniques. Lastly, the thesis will look into the future of anti-cheat and introduce video game streaming and the use of machine learning as possible new solutions to tackle cheating. The conclusion will summarize the advantages and disadvantages of different methods and show which techniques are preferable based on the analysis.

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