Free-to-play games are hugely successful (in 2020, PUBG mobile reportedly earned $2.8 billion in China alone), but that success attracts unscrupulous developers who make their own small fortunes by helping players cheat.
If you ever wanted a peek into such an operation before it imploded, Motherboard’s function on the rise and fall of an infamous cheating ring for PUBG mobile which authorities to call? chicken leg is worth reading. It includes a rare account of “Catfish,” the software engineer who claims to be behind the $77 million business — and who eventually decided to end it.
Catfish became interested in making cheats for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) on PC after dealing with cheaters himself, Motherboard‘s Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai writes. When the PUBG Corporation released the mobile version of the game, Catfish made a cheat for it which he and his business partner eventually sold. The cheat was very popular – “it sold thousands of copies in a few days,” Catfish said Motherboard – but also started a “cat-and-mouse game”. PUBG Corporation would patch the game; Catfish and his partner would tweak the cheats so that players could still see through walls or aim perfectly.
The group — actually called Sharpshooter and then Cheat Ninja, but referred to by police as Chicken Drumstick — would grow into a business that authorities say made tens of millions of dollars, although in China, the sale of these types of cheats is hacking a crime. Tencent, which partly owns PUBG, eventually reported Cheat Ninja to authorities in 2020, leading to an investigation and the arrest of the group’s lead sellers.
Catfish went into hiding earlier this year and finally decided to shut down the multi-tiered, international cheating operation he had built up over years. The reason why is worth reading Motherboard’s function Find out.