Modern Warfare 3 Isn't the Only Game to Brutalize Cheaters in Hilarious Ways
Don’t look down.
Cheaters have something new to fear in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and it’s not just the dull pang of guilt at their misbegotten wins. As Activision announced in a pre-launch blog post, Modern Warfare 3 will have a rather direct method of keeping cheaters from ruining other players’ games — a system evocatively named Splat!
As Activision details in its announcement, Splat — well, it makes cheaters go splat!
“With Splat, if a cheater is discovered, we may randomly, and for fun, disable their parachute sending them careening into the ground after they deploy,” Activision says.
The resulting splat cuts cheaters’ games short to keep them from impacting the results, while making it extremely obvious that they’ve been caught. Activision says it will only be used in provable cases of cheating, and can’t be automatically triggered by player reports.
And if a cheater is discovered mid-match rather than joining a new game after they’ve already been identified, “Splat can also adjust player velocity, which transforms a bunny hop into a 10,000-foot drop, taking them out instantly,” Activision says.
Splat is just one of several anti-cheat tools in Modern Warfare 3, and it’s by far the most visible. Other mitigations are more subtle; hampering players’ performance in ways that don’t involve being smooshed like a bug on a windshield, so that developers can learn more about the cheats being used.
But they’re also not as fun.
While Splat may be one of the most entertaining anti-cheat systems out there, it’s not the first time developers have used a potentially game-ruining situation to put cheaters on blast. Ricochet, Activision’s overall anti-cheat program for Call of Duty, also had fun with cheaters with Modern Warfare 2’s Hallucinations system. With Hallucinations activated, cheaters would see fake players in their games, tricking them into shooting as ghosts, while the rest of the game goes on uninterrupted.
When Rockstar found that GTA Online players were using an exploit to bring an overpowered car from single-player into multiplayer lobbies, the developer didn’t just patch the exploit out. Instead, Rockstar made the car immediately explode when players entered, as would-be cheaters shared on Reddit. A legitimate version of the car has since been added to the online mode.
One common but always funny way developers troll cheaters is to simply let them keep playing the game — but only in specialized lobbies that they stuff exclusively with other cheaters. Titanfall 2, Max Payne 3, Call of Duty: Warzone, and others have all pulled that particular trick to let cheaters aimbot at each other to their heart’s content without ruining legitimate players’ good time.
Guild Wars 2 took a particularly brutal approach to curb one particularly egregious cheater. In 2015, the player of a character called DarkSide was caught using a bunch of exploits in PvP battles. So many players reported DarkSide to ArenaNet mods that the developer took over manual control of the character, had him hurl himself off of a cliff, then deleted him before banning the account.
Maybe the most famous example of creative punishment doesn’t come from a competitive game and isn’t strictly about cheating, but look, it would just feel wrong not to mention it. In Second Life, players who were caught griefing (that is, ruining things for other players either through hacks or just being a jerk) were sent to the cornfield, which is exactly what it sounds like. An area totally cut off from the rest of the game, the cornfield contained a TV playing the 1940 film Boy in Court, an incredibly slow-moving tractor, and of course, rows upon rows of corn.
The thing is, cheating is going to exist in any multiplayer game, especially ones as fiercely competitive as Modern Warfare 3. In a game explicitly about combat, players are naturally going to get agressive, internalizing the warlike mindset espoused by the game to win at any costs. Add streaming and social media to the mix, where one of the best ways to chase clout is sharing clips of yourself dominating other players, and it’s kind of a wonder that cheating isn’t even more rampant.
There are absolutely times when anti-cheat software goes too far, falsely flagging benign mods as cheats, but when cheaters are identified, at least systems like Splat can turn them into a rousing spectacle for everyone else.