Ban rush: how Blizzard tackle cheats in StarCraft II

StarCraft II does bans like it does everything else: in waves.

Blizzard aren’t really interested in catching StarCraft II cheats – not really. Ultimately, they’d rather deter them, stop them from even trying – so that nobody has to have their match ruined before the banhammer comes down.

Consider this post, then, the Blizzard equivalent of a ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ sticker – and learn something about the anti-cheat measures in one of the best PC strategy games in the process.

“Blizzard Entertainment has always taken active measures to combat cheating in our games, and that’s of particular importance for a highly competitive game like StarCraft II,” say the developers.

Punishment is severe: StarCraft players found using hacks or modifications of any sort can be permanently banned from Battle.net.

“Working with our community to ensure a fair and level playing field is important to Blizzard,” write Blizzard. “As players ourselves, we investigate all reports of cheating as thoroughly as possible and take action when appropriate.”

Blizzard rely on players using the in-game reporting system, found by clicking on an offending opponent’s name in the Score Screen. Links to relevant replays have proven especially useful in the past to determine whether reports are motivated by misunderstanding, malice or legitimate cheating, and can be sent to [email protected]

“Our hacks team is constantly monitoring these in-game reports,” explain Blizzard, “and will launch investigations on players who draw a lot of attention.”

But the most exciting tool Blizzard employ are their “software detection methods”, made glamorous and mysterious by the fact that the company won’t talk about them.

“We can say that players caught cheating in this way are generally banned in waves,” say the developers. “This is done so as to not tip off program developers regarding our detection methods, as well as to maximize the return on our detection efforts.”

Blizzard believe that these methods have helped maintain a “healthy competitive environment” for StarCraft. Is that what you’ve found in your trips up and down the ladder?

And while we’re on the subject: every wondered what it’s like to cheat at Titanfall?