Free-To-Play Shooter Shuts Down For Good Due To Cheaters

Developer Yager Development has announced that its free-to-play multiplayer shooter The Cycle: Frontier will go offline forever on September 27. The developer gave a few reasons for the shutdown, including an interesting one: Cheaters ruined the experience for everyone involved.

On June 29, Yager took to the game’s Steam page to deliver the saddening news. Alongside specifying that the project was no longer “financially viable” despite the team’s best efforts, Yager also said cheaters were equally to blame.

Why is The Cycle: Frontier shutting down?

“The general behavior with online games after a good launch is a couple of nice weeks, then a dwindling interest, until stabilization after a few months,” Yager wrote. “During perhaps one of the most important periods of a live game, we faced many challenges. One of them and perhaps the most crucial one was the increasing number of cheaters shortly after The Cycle: Frontier went live. Although we had tools and measurements in place, we quickly realized we needed to improve our anti-cheat efforts to be able to ensure a fair game experience for all players. By the time we got additional partners onboard for our anti-cheat efforts and could focus again on gameplay and performance improvements for The Cycle: Frontier, [plenty of folks] had already been affected and as a result we saw a significant decrease in our player base.”

Developed by the team behind the beloved third-person shooter Spec Ops: The Line, The Cycle: Frontier is a survival multiplayer shooter that pits players against other players against the environment (PvPvE). As a Prospector, your job is to embark on missions on the alien planet Fortuna III to collect loot and gather resources in an attempt to escape with your spoils before monsters maul you to death. The premise sounds kinda neat, an amalgam of Borderlands and Escape From Tarkov with some squad-based gameplay a la Apex Legends, too. Unfortunately, all that will soon be irrelevant with the game going offline in a couple of months. Even players were disappointed, as a cursory glance at The Cycle: Frontier’s “mixed” score on Steam shows fans decrying how it was a fun time that benefitted from various improvements, but ultimately couldn’t escape the hackers hellbent on killing folks almost instantly.

Kotaku reached out to Yager Development for comment.

What’s next for The Cycle: Frontier? According to the official website, Epic Games players won’t be able to install the game anymore while Steam players can. Either way, everyone who owns The Cycle: Frontier can still access it until September 27. Refunds will reportedly be automatically processed before the game goes offline, while the official communication channels (Discord, Twitter, etc.) will stop posting new content updates. Meanwhile, Yager will take the experience it has gathered and shift to “new projects” it hasn’t revealed yet.

This news means The Cycle: Frontier will soon join the over 40 games that already were killed this year due to dwindling player bases, lack of money and resources, and expiring licenses, among other reasons. The Cycle: Frontier’s unceremonious shuttering follows a growing trend: Games cost time and money to make and upkeep, and sometimes developers run out of both. From a preservation standpoint, and for the dedicated player base, however, the decision to shut down the extraction shooter in September sucks.


Call Of Duty Now Makes Cheaters See Fake Enemies

Developers Infinity Ward and Raven Software have introduced new anti-cheat tech that’ll troll Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0 hackers in a hilarious way: introducing hallucinations that only cheaters can see.

Activision has worked on curbing hackers in the past through its proprietary Call of Duty anti-cheat system Ricochet, implementing software that thwarts cheaters by snatching their guns, making legit players invisible, and banning them outright. This new mitigation tactic for the twin shooters, called hallucinations, is yet another way to detect and yeet cheaters to create a fairer game.

Hallucinations will out Call of Duty cheaters

Team Ricochet took to the official Call of Duty website on June 29 to share a progress report now that season four in both games is underway. In the post, Team Ricochet revealed the new mitigation tactic is meant to clock cheaters, explaining that hallucinations will place decoy characters in the game that look like real players but are merely a clone to essentially out a cheater.

Two Modern Warfare 2 soldiers stand side-by-side in front of the barrel of the player's pistol.

One of these is not like the other.
Image: Activision

“These false characters are undetectable by legitimate players, and they can’t impact a legitimate player’s aim, progression, end of match stats, or overall gameplay experience, but serve to disorient cheaters in a variety of ways,” Team Ricochet said. “Hallucinations can be deployed both as a method of mitigation for verified cheaters or, in secret, as a detection for suspicious players.”

Hallucinations also generate the same kinds of information that cheaters often have access to, revealing unique data to make them appear like legitimate players. These fakes can also be hidden and positioned anywhere relative to a cheater, meaning if the team suspects you of cheating, they can place a hallucination in your vicinity. If you interact with it, well then, you’ll have been caught in 4K. And because there’s no real discernible difference between the real and the fake, it’ll be nigh impossible to tell if (and when) you’re interacting with a hallucination. Team Ricochet said this is another way of ejecting bad actors from Call of Duty games, one of many the team is constantly working on.

A Modern Warfare 2 player stares at a red-outlined player from behind a wall.

Looks sussy.
Image: Activision

“[Hallucinations are] a first but foundational step in one of many efforts to combat what the community refers to as ‘non-rage’ hackers,” Team Ricochet said. “These are cheaters using prohibited tools for additional in-game information, giving them an unfair advantage against other players. Using these tools is against our Security and Enforcement Policy and will result in account bans.”

Kotaku reached out to publisher Activision for comment.

Team Ricochet is also shelving a mitigation tactic called quicksand, which froze or slowed cheaters’ in-game movement speed to make them sitting ducks, because it impacted the experience too much for normal players. Maybe if cheaters just, IDK, stopped cheating, then we could have nice things. Until then, cheaters will be battling against figments of their imaginations.


Destiny 2 ‘Assault’ By Cheaters Is Ending, Bungie Lawsuit Says

Guardians parade in the streets of the Last City.

Image: Bungie

A new Destiny 2 cheat maker is ruining its competitive multiplayer, and Bungie is banking on its string of recent legal victories to crush it. The Sony-owned studio filed a lawsuit against the group behind the Ring-1 software as it claims the days of players “feeling free to engage in a wholesale assault” on the sci-fi shooter MMO are over.

Bungie has targeted up to 50 defendants in Washington District Court who it alleges are involved in copyright infringement, DMCA violations, and civil conspiracy, according to the lawsuit first reported on by TorrenFreak. The studio claims that Ring-1 uses an exploit in the Windows and Intel processor framework to turn off hardware protections and remain undetected as it feeds false data back to Destiny 2‘s servers.

As a result, players who pay $59 to $119 a month for the services get access to a bunch of different tools that given them unfair advantages like an “Aimbot” that boosts targetting and “Character ESP” which reveals every hidden part of a map. There’s also the dreaded “Misc” cheat which, as Bungie describes it, “includes a ‘ONE POSITION KILL’ hack that allows a player to kill everyone, player and NPC, from a single position.”

It’s the latest in a string of cases Bungie has brought against cheat sellers as it tries to crackdown on a growing industry-wide scourge. While many game companies from Activision to Riot Games have pursued technical solutions to detect, block, and ban cheaters, the Destiny 2 maker has added aggressive court battles to its arsenal. And so far the results speak for themselves. Bungie won $4 million against AimJunkies in February, and $12 million against a seller at VeteranCheats in April.

“The days of Destiny 2 cheaters being free to engage in a wholesale assault on the Destiny 2 game and its community without fear of consequences are over,” Bungie wrote in its latest lawsuit, which it hopes will benefit from those previous victories. In the meantime, however, Destiny 2‘s PVP content still face an uphill battle. In addition to not infrequent cheating on PC, modes like Crucible and Gambit have been short on new content and major overhauls. The legal precedents Bungie establishes could still help it in its broader fight, especially with new online multiplayers coming like the exraction shooter Marathon.


FPS Crushing Steam Charts Already Ruined By Cheaters, AI

The Finals is a forthcoming free-to-play first-person shooter from new studio Embark, set in a fictional game show’s death arena. Its open beta—which you can sign up for now through November 5 on Steam, PS5, or Xbox Series X/S—promises confetti colors and similarly striking flames and explosions. It looks exciting, and its playtest reviews seem promising, but some early players are finding its ugly dust bunnies: a bunch of cheaters and stiff AI-generated voice acting.

The cheaters will presumably be easier for Embark to take care of; The Finals doesn’t have a release date yet, so there’s time to patch holes. But there are (if you listen to the subreddit) so many cheaters plaguing the open beta.

The FPS currently stands at number five on Steam’s Top 100 played games chart, peaking at nearly a quarter of a million concurrent players. Even with this huge audience, some players say the cheaters stand out and destroy gameplay.


“Today I’ve run into up to 3 obviously hacking players in each match, sometimes for several matches in a row,” one Reddit user said in a post about cheaters. “It’s a flood, and I worry it’s rapidly going to get worse.”

“We’re actively working on improving the situation,” Embark wrote in The Finals’ Discord on October 30. “Accounts that are cheating are not going undetected despite cheat vendors’ assurances. We have the necessary information, and we’re taking action on it.”

The developer encouraged players to continue to report instances of cheating, and noted that players who have been “running unauthorized third-party software, scripts, vulnerable drivers, or badware” might now be blocked or suspended from the game.

Embark is less likely to align with its fans’ interests in terms of AI, though. In a July episode of its podcast, Embark said that “with a few exceptions” for grunts and breaths, The Finals uses AI text-to-speech voice acting.

“The reason that we go this route,” audio director Andreas Almström said, “is that AI text-to-speech is finally extremely powerful. It gets us far enough in terms of quality and allows us to be extremely reactive to new ideas.”

Players and voice actors alike, however, find it “unnatural,” one Reddit post said. “With how polished the rest of the game is, could they not have spent a bit of money hiring some voice actors?”

“I hope they take player feedback into consideration and just cast someone,” voice actor Gianni Matragrano wrote on Twitter. With no set release date, like with The Finals’ cheating, Embark has a chance to turn things around, or not.

There’s hope: in a statement provided to IGN on October 31, Embark said that “making games without actors isn’t an end goal.”

“In the instances we use [text-to-speech] in The Finals, it’s always based on real voices,” a spokesperson said. “In the open beta, it is based on a mix of professional voice actors and temporary voices from Embark employees.”

Update 10/31/2023 10:15 a.m. ET: Included Embark’s public statement on A.I.

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