Guild Wars 2 devs installed spyware on players’ computers


Guild Wars 2 has reportedly been using spyware to catch cheaters. A Reddit thread suggests developers Arena used the software to find players ahead of a ban wave that hit over the weekend.

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On Saturday, April 14, ArenaNet released a statement saying that they had “suspended 1,583 accounts for a period of six months.” The vast majority of accounts were suspended because the developer “detected that the accounts were running Guild Wars 2 at the same time” as a selection of five cheating or botting programs.

In an interview with Motherboard, the author of the Reddit thread linked above, Fabian Wosar, says that ArenaNet had installed spyware on players’ computers in order to detect the software. Having reverse-engineered the game’s updates, Wosar says that a patch to the game on March 6 included software “that submitted hashes of all processes running on your system to their servers.” As well as the obvious privacy issues that poses, the method compromises system performance, and, according to Wosar, is not likely to be particularly accurate.

Wosar claims that while he uses botting programs in other games, the lack of any particular grind for loot or XP in Guild Wars 2 meant that he “never really saw the need to bot.” He claims that the spyware did not find out whether he was using the programs to cheat in this specific game, just that the processes were running at the same time as Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet don’t necessarily corroborate this claim, but they do say that accounts were suspended “because we detected that the accounts were running Guild Wars 2 at the same time as one or more […] programs over a significant number of hours during a multi-week period earlier this year.” The company acknowledge that some of the programs they flagged do have “other, more benign uses.”

Wosar claims the spyware was introduced on March 6 and was patched out on March 27, meaning you were only banned if you used the five programs ArenaNet mention during that timeframe. He says that “the method they are using is unfit for the purpose of cheat detection.”

We’ve reached out to ArenaNet’s parent company, NCSoft, for comment.