In the 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 over the map and landing perfect headshots in-air. A Hanzo approaches, and in a moment, he’s gone. Widowmaker’s crosshairs, that were feet away from him, rubberband to his head.
A short while in, he’s locked from the game. Someone reported his cheating. But it’s no issue – he just navigates to the Battle.net web site to make another account.
Cheating in the Asian Overwatch server is endemic and widespread. On the Battle.net forums and Reddit, complaints about hacking South Korean players’ too-accurate headshots, immediate gun-downs as well as 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 has taken to definitively stomp out Overwatch hacking in South Korea. For months, Korean fans have begged Blizzard to prevent playing whack-a-mole and address the basis of the servers’ endemic hacking problem.
Based on my conversations with Korean players, it would appear that hacking culture Korea is inexorably sure to the over 25,000 “PC bangs” where Koreans chill, slam energy drinks and grind on Overwatch New . They’re like North America’s now-antiquated ’90s LAN cafes where patrons pay a small $US1.00 ($1)/hour fee to try out on top-notch computers. At PC bangs, cheaters often download aimbot software with impunity. Recently, “nuking” is now 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 play the game. In Korea, Overwatch will be the second most-played title in PC Bangs, second merely to League of Legends. With the cafe, he grinded for months in Competitive mode to achieve Platinum rank, where he says he’s encounter a great deal of hackers. Recently, while defending about the Anubis map, he turned a corner and inside 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 told me. “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 the words, “would literally flick onto your head then perfectly track it, even through walls.”
Lytwynchuk reported the ball player, but doesn’t think it produced a difference. In Korea, it’s easy to play Overwatch on an infinite amount of Battle.net accounts as long as you’re within an unmonitored PC Bang. That’s because Blizzard features a handle Korean PC bangs that allows patrons to invest a meagre $US.80 ($1)-$US1.50 ($2) hourly to access this game. They don’t ought to buy it themselves. They could simply make a new account each time they play. The cafes pay Blizzard a subscription fee in exchange.
“Should you have had to pay for $US40 ($52) for the copy of Overwatch whenever you hacked and got banned, as in the West, nobody would practice it,” Lytwynchuk explained to me. “Except if you got plenty of spare switch to throw around.”
Players don’t even need to attach their personal information to these accounts. They will use VPNs to create 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 understand gamers’ ages. So essentially, in a number of PC Bangs, anything goes.
“It is ruining the overall game for folks along with its endemic in Korea because of the free-to-play model,” Lytwynchuk told me. “The fact that you can hack and play games together with your friends for $US1.50 ($2) one hour without having repercussions is what’s bringing out the worst in people.” PC bang owners, I’m told, don’t have most of a reason to report hackers, since the cabability to hack is a major draw to try out there. Employees’ pay is low and monitoring every user would require a surveillance panopticon.
Daniel Na, who 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 says that, at higher levels, it’s more widespread. “Normally the hackers’ IGNs [in-game names] are famous enough that anytime a game starts, both teams just accept to tie the match if you have an aimbot in the room,” he explained to me. He described it as being 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 told me that “I think it really is all brought from your competitiveness that Korean culture has generally, specifically for younger generations in gaming.” He added, “Breaking the guidelines can be regarded as fun when you are residing in a world where you usually have to listen for your folks and live life in tight studying-schedules since elementary school.”
If 22,865 Korean Overwatch hackers were banned today, it’s an easy task to picture how toxic their server could get. Korea-based players I spoke with said they absolutely despise hackers. They decimate any potential for fun and fair play.
That’s why, inside the very early morning, you might see Korean players on the North American server – they don’t want to manage hackers. English-speaking players have widely complained relating to this, since they can’t communicate 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.”