South Korean authorities arrest 13 suspects in Overwatch cheating investigation
Blizzard isn’t messing around anymore when it comes to cheaters, especially in South Korea, where cheating in games can be a criminal offense. Dot Esports reports 13 individuals have been arrested by Seoul’s National Policy Agency cyber crime department under suspicion of hacking and match-fixing in Overwatch. The announcement was posted on Blizzard’s Korean forums and translated by Unikrn:
Blizzard had requested a through investigation to the Seoul National Police Agency Cyber Security Department regarding the domestic illegal program developers in the black market that include hacking and match-fixing. The investigation has lasted 1 year from January 2017 to December 2017. After a long period of examination a total of 13 suspects have been sent to the public prosecutor’s office under allegations of violating the Game Industry Promotion Law and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) protection Law.
The Game Industry Promotion Law, and an amendment implemented in June 2017, enables punishments up to and including 2 years in prison and a maximum fine of $18,000. The law covers a variety of gaming-related crimes such as hacks, private servers, and boosting. This also isn’t the first time South Korean authorities have arrested someone for Overwatch cheats; in April 2017, a Korean teenager was arrested after allegedly earning $100,000 from distributing an Overwatch aimbot.
Though jail time for cheating in a video game might seem extreme, the law is intended to protect the sanctity and viability of the gaming industry in South Korea, including South Korea’s booming esports scene. Effectively, it’s a digital equivalent of policies outlawing performance-enhancing drugs or similar activities detrimental to competitive sports. For a healthy competitive scene to thrive, hacks that could alter a competition’s outcome — or boosting to falsify someone’s qualifications outright — can’t go unpunished.
In the case of a game such as Overwatch, preventing such activities at all levels of gameplay is important. If a game has been overwhelmed with cheating, its community isn’t going to continue playing the game. And if the game has no players, it has no competitive scene by default. Considering Blizzard’s involvement in esports — particularly with the Overwatch League — it’s no surprise they’re taking this issue seriously.
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