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18/10/21Game Updates

VALORANT Anti-cheat: Fall 2021 Update

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Hello, it’s Matt “K3o” Paoletti here again on behalf of the VALORANT Anti-Cheat team, this time with an update on anti-cheat in Episode 3.

Our biggest projects during VALORANT Episode 3 (so far) came from maintaining competitive integrity, both on ladder and esports, and staying ahead of the curve in the “arms race” of cheat versus anti-cheat.

But first, a quick review on where we left off on Episode 2.

EPISODE 2 REPORT

90-day penalty for “bussing”

As long-term cheating became increasingly unviable, cheaters created disruption in the competitive ecosystem in new ways. Boosters deliberately queued with cheaters, while cheating, in order to get “bussed” to the higher ranks. This was addressed throughout the year by automated actions. We focused on accuracy above all for these actioning waves, and we want to increase their cadence in the future (more on that below).

Now on to Episode 3 happenings...

ESPORTS (VALORANT CHAMPIONS TOUR)

Only good news here, VCT went really well. During our first major international LANs in Reykjavík and Berlin, we were able to see the high level of play from our online events be realized as an even more competitive offline experience. As always, we routinely review our pro players—starting as early as the open qualifiers—as well as maintain a secure and protected live environment.

COMPETITIVE INTEGRITY

Thanks to ongoing detection systems in place and, in part, to a previous rollout of meta-game system updates to VALORANT’s ranked, the number of report rates for cheating are trending downward, and are at the lowest they’ve ever been.

Still, the team is combating increased cheating efforts, as cheaters and cheat developers continue to attempt to implement new techniques. The global popularity of VALORANT has created a global market for these nefarious actors, and we make sure to respond accordingly. Certain regions saw spikes in report rates, but through additional investigation and intelligence efforts, as well as continual improvements to Vanguard, we’ve been able to negate these spikes and keep competitive integrity globally strong.

STATE OF CHEATING TODAY

Combating cheating is not a “set it and forget it” solution like an advanced anti-cheat or some sentient AI - it’s a continual arms race. We could write a thesis on this whole subject (maybe a video would be more entertaining?), but we’ll sum it up briefly.

There’s been an increased popularity in hardware cheats. These are cheats that depend on an external piece of hardware to run functionally, intended to try to bypass both protections and detections implemented by the team. Cheat developers have also instituted other novel ideas, such as machine learning algorithms.

Our team has been able to stay a few steps ahead in the battle and routinely ban cheats across a wide variety of providers and methods of execution. Despite what developers may say, the words “artificial intelligence” do not make a cheat undetectable. Not only that, we’re tackling unique forms of cheating outside of the typical aimbots, such as cheats that look to tamper with the game engine and assets.

As of today, report rates are at an all-time low.

Yes, there are still cheaters in VALORANT, and they will, in some manner, always exist. However, we’ve invested a great deal of time, both through operational and technical advancements, to make sure that cheating is at a sustainably low level, and most importantly, that cheating is never a viable way to long term competitive success in VALORANT. We have to strike the balance between keeping games as safe as possible, while also ensuring that the arms race with cheaters is at a pace we’re always ahead in.

As a very important aside - your reports also help us close the gaps in our investigative coverage, and help us discover new threats. Keep those coming, and if you have the time, use the report comments to give specifics - we do read them!

ACT III AND EPISODE 4

What are we doing next? Little surprise here, but we’ll continue to iterate on the best version of Vanguard with an emphasis on keeping cheaters out of the ecosystem for good. This includes us benefiting from the newest advancements in cybersecurity as a whole, most noticeably, utilizing security upgrades in operating systems that enable us to better identify and prevent cheaters.

Additional improvements in the Riot ecosystem are also going to help us ensure the integrity of our games. Account security improvements will not only reduce the player pain of a stolen account, but it’ll help us to fight a growing trend of cheaters who look to buy high level accounts, as they want to grief the top level players that they’re pretending to be.

There’s also fighting other forms of game integrity abuse, where cheats may be indirectly used to gain an unfair advantage. During Episode 2, we saw cheaters boosting other players by duoing with them, knowing that their account would get banned but the boostee would keep the ill-gotten gains. We’ve created automated measures to take actions on the boosted account, and we’re still committing to those.

Third party tools is our main focus, but we have spent time in other forms of game integrity violation like boosting through account sharing and wintrading, and we will continue to explore where we can create the most impact in maintaining VALORANT as the most competitive tactical shooter in the world.

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