Rockstar Fortifies GTA Against Cheats
Los Santos is a battlefield, but not in the literal sense. Sure, there are droves of heavily armed players merrily blowing each other up and wreaking all sorts of havoc, but there is always that one player who just doesn’t die. And this brings us to the battlefield that we’re looking at today. The battle against the GTA cheats.
Rockstar has been at this since GTA V originally launched some years ago, but back then this endeavour was a tad simpler. Rockstar just added a few hidden stats tracking a few things that could indicate foul play, as well as having rudimentary cheat-detection and a player report system in place to weed out the malcontents. However, as time progressed, the hackers grew in number, invading GTA Online servers en masse. Considering the massive player base Rockstar has to keep happy, and the not-at-all insignificant reputation they have on the line, it should be no surprise that hackers quickly became the number one priority.
Rockstar implemented a new form of punishment for cheating in GTA Online and also to a lesser degree some GTA 5 PC cheats. Instead of getting booted from the game outright and having GTA Online privileges revoked entirely, “banned” players were segregated into cheater-only lobbies, where they got a taste of their own medicine, having to deal with the same crap they put their fellow players through back before they were caught. In addition to this, Rockstar began to ramp up the cheat-detection with additional hidden stats and better software. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough, and the cheaters persevered.
When the PC version of GTA V, which is arguably the definitive edition of the game, launched, a whole new realm of danger opened up in the form of mods. Rockstar’s stance on modding was ‘as long as it is restricted to single-player, go for it’, and GTA V developed a budding modding community swiftly. However, some people exploited the opportunity modding provided and created mods to give them an unfair edge over the competition in GTA Online. Rockstar kept adding stats, updating their detection methods, and tightening the net. However, the cheaters, hackers and modders still managed to get through.
When Rockstar’s cheat-detection became extremely vigilant, hackers found an unorthodox way around punishment. They didn’t intend to avoid detection, rather they shifted the blame. When the cheater wished to gain additional money, kill instantly or become invincible, instead of applying these traits to their own characters, they affected others. Either other players began uncontrollably spawning money, their weapons became ineffective against the cheater or they spontaneously lost health. In these cases, the cheat-detector sensed an anomaly with the victims. One such victim was once erroneously placed in a cheater-lobby, and then the timer bugged out. If the victim wouldn’t have turned to modding himself, he’d be stuck in undeserved punishment indefinitely. Online modding was entirely out of hand
This meant war. Gone is the Rockstar who locked cheaters together in a hilariously ironic free-prison. Gone is the Rockstar who, when players smuggled an overpowered single-player-only vehicle into GTA Online rigged all of the cars to explode on contact instead of plugging the hole.
Enter the new Rockstar. The Rockstar we should never have seen. The online modders became so confident and roguish that it could not be tolerated. In patch 1.27, Rockstar applied extreme measures. The patch brought more than just the first part of the Ill-Gotten Gains DLC pack. 1.27 broke mods globally, meaning legitimate single-player mods were also malfunctioning. Rockstar justified this extreme measure by stating that while they had no issue with single-player modding, they will not sacrifice the safety of GTA Online for it. The patch reworked how scripts in the game’s code interacted with the game engine, thus it altered the basic method by with all GTA V mods operated. Eventually the modders behind the original modding tools created a workaround to restore legitimate modding, but naturally the hackers jumped on this too.
If players though 1.27 as extreme, they were in for a shocker. With 1.28, Rockstar dropped the nuke. They implemented an anti-modding measure so extreme that it outright broke the game. They had the game’s code filled up with gibberish to force modders to manually sift through massive amounts of text to figure out what goes where, and each time a mod was run, it had to go through this process. However, a side effect of this was that the scripts of the game itself, even if it was unmodded, had to do this as well, causing single digit framerates even on the strongest of PCs.
Eventually this was “fixed”, but it goes to show how far Rockstar is willing to go to clean up the streets of GTA Online.