Call of Duty: Warzone publisher sues popular cheat developer

Three soldiers holding weapons as they walk through a dirt path as smoke fills the air

Activision, the publisher of popular battle royale Call of Duty: Warzone, has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a popular cheat software site, EngineOwning. The lawsuit alleges that the cheats sold by EngineOwning have caused “irreparable damage” to Call of Duty and Activision’s reputation, and asks the court to issue an immediate and permanent injunction against the site, preventing it from operating in the United States.

The suit, filed January 4 in US District Court in California, alleges that EngineOwning develops, sells, distributes, markets, and supports “malicious cheats” that include aimbots, triggerbots, and wallhacks, as well as software that claims to make the cheat software undetectable by Activision’s anti-cheat technology.

Activision’s suit points out that EngineOwning sells cheats for a range of its games, including several Call of Duty titles like Warzone, Black Ops III, and Modern Warfare III. The site is currently developing similar cheats for Overwatch, which falls under Activision Blizzard’s umbrella, and the site itself offers cheat ‘services’ for non-Activision games such as Battlefield V, Halo Infinite, and Splitgate.

In addition to an order from the court barring EngineOwning from operating in the US, the suit also seeks financial compensation – Activision’s suit seeks all proceeds from the sale of cheats for Activision’s games, punitive damages for one count of unfair competition, and money to cover all related attorney’s fees.

That could amount to a substantial sum, as Activision claims the cheat maker’s software has been used in “thousands” of breaches of its terms of use violations by users, and has required Activision to divert significant company resources to developing new cheat detection methods and manually banning users. “By Activision’s estimation, such damage may amount to millions of dollars,” the suit reads.

For its part, EngineOwning has yet to make any public statements about the lawsuit. Its most recent tweet features a video of cheat software running in Overwatch.

Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit filed in July by the state of California (since expanded for QA and customer service contractors) alleging years of discrimination and harassment. Since then, CEO Bobby Kotick has called the company’s initial response “tone deaf”, employees have staged a walkout, Blizzard president J Allen Brack has left, and the ABK Workers Alliance has demanded change at the company. The lawsuit is ongoing; follow the latest developments here.

In September, an agency of the US federal government opened an investigation into Activision Blizzard’s response to sexual misconduct and discrimination complaints from its employees, as part of which Kotick has reportedly been subpoenaed. The company is also facing a separate unfair labour practice suit alleging “worker intimidation and union busting” filed by a workers’ union, also in September. In another, separate development, Activision Blizzard reached an agreement with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “to settle claims and to further strengthen policies and programs to prevent harassment and discrimination”. In a subsequent letter to employees, the company has announced an end to forced arbitration, a $250 million initiative to improve diversity, and a major pay cut for Kotick.

A new report published this November now alleges Bobby Kotick knew about and suppressed reports of sexual misconduct. Kotick has responded with an official statement saying the Wall Street Journal’s article “paints an inaccurate and misleading view of our company, of me personally, and my leadership.” In reply, Activision Blizzard’s board of directors declared it “remains confident” in Kotick’s leadership.

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