"It's a continual arms race": Devs release report on state of VALORANT anti-cheat

VALORANT developers released their Fall 2021 anti-cheat update on Monday, discussing the state of VALORANT's anti-cheat in Episode 3, their overall philosophy to tackling cheating, and plans for the future in Episode 4. 


"Our biggest projects during VALORANT Episode 3 (so far) came from maintaining competitive integrity, both on ladder and esports, and staying ahead of the curve in the “arms race” of cheat versus anti-cheat," explained Matt "K3o" Paoletti, Senior Anti-Cheat Analyst on VALORANT. "Combating cheating is not a “set it and forget it” solution like an advanced anti-cheat or some sentient AI - it’s a continual arms race. "


Here is everything you need to know about the state of VALORANT's Anti-Cheat systems.


The state of VALORANT's Anti-Cheat in Act lll Episode 3

K3o started off the report by commenting on the success of their  Episode 2 90-day penalty for "bussing," which applies when a non-cheater repeatedly queues with a cheater to boost their rank in competitive modes. VCT Game Changers player Slaze was recently suspended for this very act, though she continued to deny any wrongdoing.


As far as Episode 3, at a professional level, the VCT saw no major instances of cheating according to the report. So at a pro-level, there are high levels of competitive integrity even for online qualifiers that have less oversight than in-person events. This is great news for VALORANT esports fans since it means that the results that happened were untainted by cheaters.


At a ladder level, the challenge of dealing with cheating has been far greater.


K3o explained, "the global popularity of VALORANT has created a global market for these nefarious actors, and we make sure to respond accordingly. Certain regions saw spikes in report rates, but through additional investigation and intelligence efforts, as well as continual improvements to Vanguard, we’ve been able to negate these spikes and keep competitive integrity globally strong."


K3o reported that there has been an increase in hardware cheats that use external appliances to cheat rather than software on the device itself. He also reported that cheat developers are increasingly using machine learning algorithms to combat detection.


Luckily, according to K3o, they are keeping up with these developments. 


"Our team has been able to stay a few steps ahead in the battle and routinely ban cheats across a wide variety of providers and methods of execution," K3o stated proudly. "Despite what developers may say, the words “artificial intelligence” do not make a cheat undetectable. Not only that, we’re tackling unique forms of cheating outside of the typical aimbots, such as cheats that look to tamper with the game engine and assets."


Due to their efforts combating cheating, report rates are at record lows in VALORANT. 


K3o said, "we’ve invested a great deal of time, both through operational and technical advancements, to make sure that cheating is at a sustainably low level, and most importantly, that cheating is never a viable way to long term competitive success in VALORANT."


Whats next for VALORANT anti-cheat enforcement?

K3o left us with a glimpse into what is next for VALORANT anti-cheat heading into Act lll Episode 4. 


Most notably, he cited "utilizing security upgrades in operating systems that enable us to better identify and prevent cheaters." While this statement is a little bit vague, he is likely referring to VALORANT's plan to use Windows 11 TPM to perma-ban cheater hardware, something that they are already doing for some PCs according to a report from PC Gamer in September.


He also cited their intention to improve account security, in order to prevent lost accounts and prevent the "growing trend" of cheaters buying high-level accounts so they can cheat against high-level players.


The positive report from Riot Games regarding VALORANT cheating comes amid chaos for other games like Warzone, CS:GO, Apex Legends, all of whom have been struggling to contain the rampant cheating problem plaguing the FPS genre in recent months and years. Most recently, Warzone's anti-cheat RICOCHET was leaked to hackers before the system was even released. Based on today's report, VALORANT is having a much better time containing cheaters than these other titles.

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