Windows 10 Now Integrates Its Own Cheat-Detection Capabilities

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Cheating is a problem in virtually every online game. While it takes different forms depending on the title in question, I’ve seen farm bots in World of Warcraft and League of Legends and encountered everyone’s favorite: People who use cheats in FPS games to shoot through walls, fire perfect shots from across the map, and/or one-shot everyone in sight with a perfect headshot. Many companies periodically smash these players with a banhammer, but it’s a constant fight between those who want to cheat and those who want to stop them. Now, Microsoft is getting into the fray with its own cheat-detection options, debuted as part of the Fall Creators Update.

Here’s how this new system, dubbed TruePlay, functionally works. Developers are allowed to enroll in the system and designate a game process as a protected process. This “mitigates a class of common attacks.” Additionally, Windows monitors gaming sessions for “behaviors and manipulations that are common in cheating scenarios.” This data is collected and alerts are generated only when cheating appears to be occurring.

Microsoft notes that “To ensure and protect customer privacy while preventing false positives, these data are only shared with developers after processing has determined that cheating is likely to have occurred.”

Microsoft notes that this option is only available to games within the Windows Store and that TruePlay is not a “block on launch” feature. According to MS, “customers who have not opted into TruePlay’s game monitoring are still able to launch protected games. Developers can then make decisions around which experiences are allowed from within their games. Whatever the decision, use the provided APIs to indicate to the system whether active game monitoring is required.”

TruePlay

Customers can choose to turn TruePlay on and off and MS collects and shares no data if the TruePlay service is not enabled. Games may not run from this state, or they may run with a reduced functionality. For example, a developer might choose to allow the single-player campaign to run whether TruePlay is enabled or not, but require it for multiplayer gaming.

Microsoft is clearly thinking about user privacy, and the official page for TruePlay lists how the company protects user privacy at every level, but I’m also concerned that TruePlay could be used to prevent game modding. This will depend on the type of modding in question, but certain mods — including the truly excellent Long War mod for XCOM — require modification of the underlying executable. Other games inject upgraded textures by monitoring the game executable. It’s not clear that either type of modification would be permitted under TruePlay, and developers don’t always remain employed after a game launch and might not be able to change the way the system works after the fact.

I’m generally in favor of any solution that helps game developers crack down on multiplayer cheating, because it only takes one cheater to ruin a match. While it’s not automatically impossible to kill a cheater, it often takes a sustained group attack from multiple angles. Of course, while you’re dealing with them, you’re probably losing nodes, being pushed across the map, or running out of time. It’s a problem that needs a solution, but I hope it doesn’t impact game modding or creativity.

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