Watch Dogs 2 causes concern with it's Anti-Cheat system

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Published by FileTrekker 1 year ago , last updated 6 months ago

There's no question that Watch Dogs 2 is a much better title than it's predecessor, but despite it's success so far, it's not entirely free of controversy - the game's anti-cheating system, which is causing a headache for both modders and privacy advocates.

EDIT: It has become apparent since the publishing of this article that the Watch Dogs implimentation of EasyAntiCheat does not use the screenshot feature - the only game that takes advantage of this feature currently is Counter Strike, and only when used in competative tournaments.

Modding isn't possible as it stands, and that's due to the EasyAntiCheat system that is built into the game. It continually checksums the game in active memory against the original file's checksum, meaning that any modified file will be detected and be replaced automatically by the original. This makes it very difficult to mod, even in the single player mode.

Such harsh practices often don't sit will with the modding community - one famous example that comes to mind is the Sonic 2 HD fan-game project, which used such harsh DRM and file-modification protection that the project ended, due to the fierceness of the community backlash.

More seriously though is the potential privacy concerns that are quite astonishing. According to the game's terms of service, the EasyAntiCheat system will take screenshots of your game on a continuous basis - and get this - upload these screenshots to a public server that anyone can view. I know the first argument that is going to be made here is that if there's nothing to hide, why should you care? But who's to say this tool isn't capable of taking screenshots of private steam chats, notification toasts, or other miscellaneous on-screen information, in addition to the game itself?

The terms of service itself even specifically states this possibility;

If any personal or harmful information is captured into a screenshot, the user is fully responsible for the incident and any consequences it may result in.

How it's the player's fault that a game has captured private information and uploaded it to a public server is anybody's guess, but this is truly terrifying in my honest opinion. Given the theme of Watch Dogs, I can't help but find this all somewhat ironic.

We'll be fair to Watch Dogs and say that EasyAntiCheat is not unique to this game - however, until now, it's mostly been the preserve of major e-sports, which require regulation. Why this is required for a game like this, I don't really know.

Do you feel comfortable with these anti-cheat measures, or is it a step too far? Let us know in the comments below.

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