Gaming’s “Silk Road”
The Silk Road was a website that allowed vendors to sell whatever they wanted. Items included shirts, services, stickers, illegal drugs, hit men, and at one point, weapons. It grew to be one of the more popular websites (probably the most popular website) no one has ever heard of.
The site has been replicated several times and has been taken down by the feds at least once. It has been put back up and branded as The Silk Road 2.0 with a login image taunting the authorities. Even Yelp-like websites that allow buyers to rate their dealers have spawned because of this site. The Silk Road and websites like it present a new issue regarding the internet and its capabilities of being used as a black market.
Gamers, to my knowledge of course, do not have anything this serious available to them. I cannot name a single game related site where visitors can order illegal drugs nor do I know of any gaming companies that have been busted due to selling contraband or illegal services. There are no serious repercussions to cheating in a game, and no where do we have to hide the fact that gamers call each other derogatory terms on a daily basis over childish frustrations. I am not comparing the gaming world to the Silk Road at all; what I am saying is that similar to the Silk Road we have a market that many gamers would consider to be our own online black market. It is a place where the hackers roam and quite unlike the Silk Road they operate legally and out in the open.
Cheating has existed nearly as long as games have. Whether it be chess or Mario Kart, someone has probably cheated while playing. When we are discussing hacking here, we will be talking about cheating in a game. While gamers generally refer to “hacking” has an online cheat, hacking a game is not limited to this. Whether online or offline, hacking typically happens when players run third-party software or commands in conjunction with the game. Hacking can do anything from altering a certain player’s score to allowing their playable avatar super human abilities.
“Well what about the hackers?” is something frequently asked by console players when presented with PC online games. Hacking runs rampant on free PC games and no one will deny this. However, we are at a point where we cannot say that consoles are a safe haven for players looking to get away from hackers – they do allow more security than the PC does, but anyone claiming that they go completely unaffected is a liar and should be neutered.
I have heard many things regarding hacks from a variety of gamers. Typically they are perceived to be used in free games, discovered by PunkBuster, and non-existent on consoles. The game hacker’s world goes much further than the stereotypical “Hey this program is free to download let’s go kill some people and be annoying”. Hacks affect all platforms including mobile operating systems, consoles, handhelds, and the PC.
There are many free places gamers can go to if they want to hack a game. Community-driven free forums like MultiPlayer Game Hacking exist that allow players to download free trainers and hacks. Users come to forums like this for everything from unlocking all of the trophies in LittleBigPlanet to tips on jail-breaking their systems to use aimbots. Of course that is just the console side of the forums. On the PC side there are hacks for everything from games like Day Z (a free-roaming-shooter-survival-zombie-game) to Realm of the Mad God (a pixelated-action-adventure-rpg-MMO). If you need it and can get it for free it is probably here.
All of the files submitted here are submitted by the community for approval. They are then scanned by the moderators for viruses and malware. Let’s see what this website offers for recent popular multiplayer titles. Upon visiting the Battlefield 4 page, visitors can gain access to hacks including “No Spread”, a “Wall Hack”, and a “Remove Motion/Suppression Blur” hack. Any out of date hacks are clearly marked by the moderators with an [Outdated] tag. On the Call of Duty: Ghosts forum it’s no different. Visitors can download trainers and hacks just as easily here as they can on the other forums.
For those not in the know, “trainers” are small programs that can be downloaded to allow users the ability to activate cheats without typing them in while in game. “Hacks” are the actual cheats. Hacks include things like “Aimbots”, “Wall Hacks”, “Effect Removers”, “No Spread”, and “Item Unlocks”. All of that is available here on a free forum; for you legit players that get angered when anyone even mentions the word “hack” the only good news is that most of the posts become outdated rather quickly. This website will even teach you how to program these hacks if you would like to learn.
Free hacks also run rampant on more casual platforms like iOS, Android, and surprisingly, Facebook. Websites like Hacksforgamers offer cheats for games like King’s Bounty: Legions, Rail Racing, and Cut the Rope 2. Want to add stamina to your character, give a boost of speed to your car, or just want some help cutting that rope? They claim that it is all available here – virus free and all. It really is as simple as downloading a small file.
While these are great tools, free hacks are generally hacks that get thwarted rather quickly. So far I have not included the hacks that are for sale – and let's not forget that there are hacks available for a subscription. Yes, hacks are for sale and there is an extensive market for them. Returning to our free example: there are many outdated Battlefield 4 hacks found over at MultiPlayer Game Hacking. There were people asking how to address their ban issues and several inexperienced coders asking for assistance with their hacks.
Staying with our Battlefield 4 example, websites like IlikeCheats claim that their hacks are recent and players do not risk as much regarding bans for using their hacks. Sites like these sell a product; their product includes things like an aimbot that claims to be undetectable by cheat detection systems including PunkBuster or Fair Fight. If these claims are true any player using hacks would be untraceable by automated systems, and with a bit of practice hackers may be able to go without arousing suspicion among other players.
There is a huge list of hacks available on sites like this. Even titles still in their Alpha stage like Rust have cheats available to those that would pay for them. In the example of Rust, customers would be able to see all loot, weapons, players, animals, and more using the full ESP hack provided. The company also offers a speed hack allowing players to run across the map with no issues.
Battlefield and Rust not your thing? Head on over to the Call of Duty: Ghosts section where there is a hack available that will allow customers to “choose any rank, prestige to any level, unlock all weapons, perks, characters and more” as long as they have their hack installed. Their hack even includes things like aim correction, PING correction, ability to change enemy colors, and human aim to list just a few. Sites like this must be paradise for people that want to cheat in their games.
All of these hacks are available for around twenty dollars a month and there are plenty of sites just like this one. These companies will update your game hacks for you as game companies find ways to ban players or disable your hacks. Some companies I came across even offered money-back guarantees in case customers are not satisfied with their purchases. They even offer a user reviews section and remind customers to check the reviews section before making a purchase.
As someone that does not use game hacks it is a bit distressing that someone would go through such lengths just to cheat at a game, and even more shocking that these cheats are available for terrible and “casual” titles. While I am just a bit shocked I cannot help but feel a sense of respect for the people that make these hacks. These are people that have to stay ahead of the game developers in order to keep their customers satisfied, and if the user reviews are in any way accurate they are doing an amazing job at it.
I do not support cheating in video games myself but I feel amazed at how expansive – and tight – the world of game hacking is. These are bright individuals that must be sharp to develop these hacks and must stay even sharper to keep them active if they intend to offer them as products to consumers. I am rather conflicted; while online games are never my focus I do play them from time to time. I realize hackers can be undoubtedly frustrating in an online game. However, I remain fascinated with how deep these communities are and in awe that they are able to successfully sell cheats that remain undetected.
That said, I will be sure to let anyone using these cheats know exactly how many people their mother has slept with if I run into them while playing Battlefield 4.