May 28, 2023

Enlarge / You think I’m using an external cheat device? Then why is this shot going to miss so badly?


After nearly six years of managing the Destiny 2 player base, developer Bungie has had plenty of experience trying to stop cheaters who use software tools to try to gain an unfair advantage in the online shooter. Now, though, the company is expanding its anti-cheating policies to target certain uses of third-party peripherals that it says have been “entering their villain arc” among the player base.

Bungie’s latest “This Week at Bungie” post specifically calls out “programmable controllers” and “keyboard and mouse adapters” that players can use to “execute simple scripts or trick the game into giving you extra aim assist.” While Bungie doesn’t mention any of these devices by name, the description seems to encompass “passthrough” hardware from companies like the ConsoleTuner or Crosus, which can modify or amend player inputs from generic USB controls.

As we’ve reported previously, some cheat makers have used these tools as part of an intricate external computer-vision-assisted toolchain that detects enemy targets before automatically and instantly sending the appropriate input command to aim and fire at them (Bungie also calls out the “advanced macros” and “automation via artificial intelligence” that make these cheats work). These external cheats can evade some standard anti-cheat software-detection tools since all of the processing and illicit input comes from a completely separate device from the one running the game itself.

An accessibility balancing act

Banning the use of these third-party peripherals outright would seem like a simple way to stop this cheating method. But an outright ban could cause problems for the many players who rely on these passthrough devices as their only means of playing the game at all. These players can use such devices to plug a specially designed accessibility controller into their console of choice, for instance, or to activate macros that convert the simple button presses they’re capable of into more complex in-game actions.

Because of this, Bungie’s new policy takes pains to distinguish “the use of external accessibility aids that enable an experience the game designers intended” from “people who abuse these tools specifically to gain an advantage over other players.” Accessibility aids can still be used in situations “where a player could not play otherwise,” Bungie says, but not simply “to mitigate challenges all players face, such as reducing recoil or increasing aim assist.”

Bungie hints that it will be watching play patterns to detect players who “abuse these tools [to] rise in PvP ranks at a rate far beyond what is expected for a player improving through typical play.” The policy will also apply to certain PvE settings where players race for “World First” prestige, for instance, and could result in warnings, restrictions, and bans for violations.

“This has been a matter of extended conversations both internally and in the community, and we want to strike the right balance between Bungie’s goal of simultaneously enabling everyone to enjoy our games and protecting our community,” Bungie writes.

Bungie’s move here comes weeks after Activision announced a new system of “third-party hardware device detection” that had been put in place for Warzone 2‘s Ricochet anti-cheat system. There, players first receive “a warning about the improper use of these devices” before being subject to more serious consequences, Activision writes.

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