Dev Letter: Anti-Cheat 2023 1H Review

As we near the latter half of 2023, we've seen some significant changes within PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS since the unveiling of our 2023 Roadmap. Among the various topics that have garnered your inquiries, there's one that particularly stands out: What steps are we taking to address cheating?

In today's Anti-Cheat Dev Letter, we embark on a retrospective journey through the first half of 2023 and offer a glimpse into our future plans. We'll delve into the Anti-Cheat initiatives undertaken since our previous Anti-Cheat Dev Letter in December 2021 and give you a sneak peek at our plans for the remainder of 2023.

2021 ~ 2023 Understanding Metrics and Current Status

Our Anti-Cheat Team analyzes various internal metrics to track the state of illegal software. Today, we'll focus on the most important one, the "Percentage of Suspected Cheaters," to explain the current state of Anti-Cheat.

As outlined in our December 2021 Dev Letter, we've reduced the percentage of suspected cheaters by around 47% since the second half of 2021. This was achieved by deploying our proprietary Anti-Cheat system, Zakynthos, and making enhancements to our hardware ban system.

However, from October 2022, the situation deteriorated as it showed a resurgence in the percentage of suspected cheaters due to several challenges, including an uptick in the circumvention of hardware bans. In response, we have embarked on two missions: to fortify our countermeasures and to prevent cheaters from re-entering the game. As a result, since June 2023, we have observed metrics aligning with or surpassing previous benchmarks.

While the current percentage of suspected cheaters represents an improvement relative to the past, our work is far from complete. Our commitment is to ensure that the impact of our Anti-Cheat measures is palpable to our players, and we pledge to share our progress in a detailed and transparent manner.

Today, we'd like to share some of the vital Anti-Cheat activities undertaken in the first half of 2023 and outline the additional work planned for the latter half of the year to ensure a fair gaming environment.

Anti-Cheat Activities in '23. 1H

First, we will share the major Anti-Cheat activities carried out in the first half of 2023.

Enhancing Countermeasures against Cheating

To improve player experience concerning illegal software, we primarily focused on bolstering our cheater detection capabilities. We've directed considerable efforts toward refining our proprietary Anti-Cheat solution, Zakynthos, with the incorporation of new features aimed at swifter and more accurate cheater detection. Consequently, in the first half of this year, we successfully pinpointed and banned approximately 1.7 million accounts—a 39% increase compared to last year's timeframe.

Furthermore, we've fortified the security of our game client. We identified vulnerabilities within our existing game engine that made it easier for illegal software developers to access and analyze our data. In April and July, we implemented enhancements to cover these vulnerabilities, and we remain committed to further raising the bar for illegal software development.

Preventing the Re-Entry of Cheaters

We've also made several enhancements to address hardware ban circumvention, which began to increase in the latter half of 2022. As a result, hardware bans increased by approximately 28% compared to the first half of 2022. We believe that these enhancements, combined with the improvements to our detection capabilities mentioned earlier, have worked together to deter cheaters from re-entering the game, reducing the percentage of suspected cheaters.

Furthermore, as previously mentioned in our Dev Letter: Tackling the Supply of Accounts Used for Cheating, we've observed some positive changes, including a reduced supply of accounts used for cheating. This positive shift has been achieved through our strengthened response to Survival Mastery Level abuse. While we continue to bolster our actions against Survival Mastery Level abuse, we also plan on utilizing our hijacked account detection model to address accounts used by cheaters in Ranked.

Plans for '23. 2H

While we have made notable strides in reducing the number of suspected cheaters compared to prior years, we acknowledge that there is always room for improvement. We understand that some players still may not feel a significant decrease in cheaters. To combat this, our Anti-Cheat Team will continue to implement the measures taken in the first half of the year to reinforce our response further and deter the re-entry of cheaters. Moreover, we remain steadfast in our commitment to address additional challenges, which we will outline below.

Enhancing Detection Capabilities and Preventing the Re-Entry

We will continue enhancing Zakynthos to expedite the detection of illegal software usage. Two key additions are currently in the works to strengthen its detection capabilities. 

In addition, we are dedicated to training and enhancing the Survival Mastery Level abuse detection model, which we introduced in our previous Dev Letter. We also plan to develop a model for determining whether an account has been hijacked. We have already completed the initial development of a highly accurate account hijacking detection model and intend to refine its precision to apply it to various Anti-Cheat measures.

Continuing to Improve False Ban Issues

We are aware of the fact that many players have consistently shared their feedback regarding the issue of innocent players facing temporary bans during investigations.

While we've been working on refining the various ban-triggering conditions, we acknowledge that we have yet to reach the level of detail you've asked for. Therefore, we've gone beyond simply tweaking these conditions and implemented comprehensive improvements to enhance ban accuracy. These improvements focus on reducing the chances of innocent players being erroneously banned by refining the characteristics that distinguish cheaters from legitimate players. We've initiated these improvements since August and will continue refining them.

Reinforcing the Authentication Process for Ranked

Besides the mentioned Anti-Cheat measures, we are also exploring systemic approaches to deter cheaters from re-entering the game. For instance, we are working on enhancing mobile authentication for Ranked and plan to implement it in November. We will share more information on this in upcoming Dev Letters.

By expanding our monitoring scope, we are also gearing up for a more robust response to the issue of players with abnormal records listed at the top of Ranked leaderboards. Moreover, we will persist in efforts to thwart the incorporation of illegal software features that exploit vulnerabilities in game design.

Concluding Today's Anti-Cheat Dev Letter

Although we have outlined several Anti-Cheat initiatives In today's Dev Letter, we acknowledge that further efforts are necessary to ensure a fair gaming environment. Our Anti-Cheat Team will remain steadfast in fighting against illegal software, and we promise to do our best to make players feel the impact of our actions. We pledge to keep you informed about our Anti-Cheat updates and genuinely value your feedback.

We kindly request your continued support and trust, and we look forward to sharing more in the next Dev Letter.