Cheating in video games was paying them big, police dismantled the world’s largest network – Ouest-France evening edition

By Nicolas HASSON-FAURÉ

The Chinese police arrested ten people, suspected of having developed software allowing video game players to cheat. It is “the largest network of its kind in the world,” according to investigators. These illegal activities would have brought in around 64 million euros to the suspects.

(Map: Ouest-France)

The sports cars with shiny bodywork are lined up next to each other. These luxurious cars were seized by Chinese police in Kunshan, a city in the east of the country. They belong to ten people who have just been arrested as part of an investigation into a large cheating network in the world of video games.

They are suspected of having developed and then sold software allowing players to win online games in an unfair manner. A low-key activity, but completely illegal and very lucrative. In all, the suspects arrested in China would have pocketed the equivalent of some 64 million euros by putting these computer programs on the market, reports the BBC, the British radio and television, Tuesday, March 30, 2021.

These sums led the local police to qualify the network which has just been dismantled as ” most important [du genre] in the world “.

170 € per month to be able to cheat

Chinese authorities have delivered very little information on how they escalated to the suspects, who had also accumulated the equivalent of € 39 million in miscellaneous assets. However, they indicate that they have collaborated with Tencent, one of the Chinese digital and video game giants.

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These luxurious cars, belonging to those suspected of being at the head of the network, were seized by Chinese police. (Photo: Peace Elite / Weibo)

No details have emerged on how these programs work and allow cheating. Investigators nonetheless indicated that they were offered in the form of a subscription, as for a video on demand or online music service.

Some “clients” paid around € 8 per day, and others up to € 170 per month to be able to benefit from these cheats and hope to win games more easily in very popular games.

But why invest such sums of money just to be able to cheat in video games? The explanation is to be found in the development of online gaming competitions, underlines the BBC. Electronic sport or “e-sport” is booming, and can sometimes bring in a lot of money …

120 people already arrested in 2018

The problem takes on a particular resonance in China, where these activities are very developed, explained Daniel Ahmad, an analyst at the specialized firm Niko Partners, in 2018, to the Bloomberg press agency.

He underlines another element: in the country, the market for video games operating on the model of pay-to-win, which could be translated as “pay to win”, is very important. These are programs funded by small purchases aimed at unlocking features or game modes.

These transactions also give advantages to the players who make them, they allow them to become more competitive. They can, for example, buy equipment for the virtual characters they control on screen… with real money.

These are often small sums but which, put together, bring very large returns to specialized companies.

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The people suspected of being at the head of this network have developed software allowing video game players to cheat. (Illustrative photo: Kacper Pempel / Reuters)

By buying software that allows cheating, you no longer need to pay video game publishers to unlock certain features or obtain benefits. This of course represents a significant shortfall for specialized companies.

Already in 2018, Chinese police arrested 120 people suspected of having developed such programs, Bloomberg already reported. Some of the suspects faced heavy prison terms, sometimes several years long.

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