In November 2020, Respawn banned 419 top-ranked Apex Legends players for taking advantage of a glitch to beat up low-ranked players. The swing of the banhammer pleased players who were tired of being abused, but it doesn't appear to have been much of a long-term deterrent: Respawn security analyst Conor Ford revealed on Twitter earlier this week that more than 700 accounts ranked from Gold to Predator had been banned over the weekend.
"700+ accounts used for cheating in ranked (Gold-Pred) have been permanently banned since last Thursday," Ford tweeted. "This does not, and will not, include any accounts that used an infinite heat shield exploit. Love you all."
700+ accounts used for cheating in ranked (Gold-Pred) have been permanently banned since last Thurdasy. This does not, and will not, include any accounts that used an infinite heat shield exploit. Love you all ♥️🔨March 16, 2021
In an email, Ford said that a little more than 180 of the banned accounts were among the top two Apex Legends ranks—Diamond and Predator—while the remainder were either Gold or Platinum. Infinite heat shield exploiters were excluded because "using an exploit like that isn't grounds for a permanent ban," he said, although he added that "heavy abusers" will be given temporary suspensions for their antics.
It may sound like a relatively small ban wave compared to, say, the massive swings of the Call of Duty: Warzone banhammer, but Ford clarified that across all game modes and regions, Respawn typically bans around 100,000 Apex players per month and is approaching two million bans in total.
"Some are banned before they [enter a match]. Some just hop onto a hacked account and rage hack in a pub and are instantly detected," he said. "The ranked series will see less cheaters generally, especially in higher ranks, as they require larger amounts of time put in while going undetected to make it to that level. A substantial amount are also caught in Bronze to Gold."
Respawn is having good success keeping cheating from getting out of hand, Ford said, although new cheats continue to pop up, such as one that enables a player to empty his entire magazine in a single shot—"This one's on our radar.” The bulk of what Respawn sees is "the same old stuff," though, with different measures being taken to keep them from being detected. Apparently, Ford even maintains a list of repeat offenders that he pays extra attention to.
"I have a list of my habitual cheaters that I track daily and monitor but for the most part it's random people trying out some hacks and trying to boost their stats," he said. "Or make a name for themselves with their 'skill' (usually an aimbot) and try to get big on Twitch."
(Twitch takes a dim view of that sort of thing too: It recently suspended a pair of Call of Duty: Warzone streamers for using an aimbot and wallhacks.)
Ford hopes to one day reach a point where cheating is "very rare" in Apex Legends, but acknowledged that it's not likely to ever go away completely. "There is a large market and economy for cheat makers and many players want cheats for any game they play in," he said. "That's just the way some people want to game and that's what I've learned since taking on this position."
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