Tencent helps Chinese authorities arrest 120 ‘PUBG’ cheat developers

"PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" promotional photo. (Facebook/ playbattlegrounds)

Chinese technology giant Tencent, which handles the distribution of the massive multiplayer game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (PUBG) in China, has started a large-scale, state-assisted crackdown on cheat software makers, leading to the arrest of over 120 people.

With the company’s help, Chinese authorities have managed to find and bust underground rings that operate bots and distribute cheat software that plague the popular online game. Officials have opened at least 30 cases against the alleged cheat makers.

These cheat makers develop illegal assistive software that provides unfair advantages to players who use them. These vary from aimbots, which automatically targets opponents, to wall hacks, which gives players the ability to see other players through walls.

In-game cheating has been so prevalent in the game that leaderboards are being used by the illegal software manufacturers as a form of advertising for their products, using their contact information as their player names.

“PUBG” is a popular target for large-scale cheat software developers due to its massive popularity. Since releasing as an early access version on PC platform Steam in March, “PUBG” has become one of the biggest games of the year. The game has since released its official version for PC and has expanded to the Xbox One console in a console-exclusive deal with Microsoft.

China, being the world’s largest video game market is home to a large chunk of “PUBG’s” player base. The game has an installation base of 27.6 million, with 10 million coming from China, while eight million coming from the United States.

The game’s developer has also acknowledged that majority of the illegal cheat software are being developed and distributed in China. Since the title launched in China, the game has issued over 1.5 million bans due to cheating.

Last year, Tencent unsuccessfully attempted to acquire “PUBG’s” developer, Bluehole Studios, but ended up securing the rights to distribute the battle royale game in the country.