USA Today schrijft dat de groeimarkt van online gaming wordt bedreigd door een stijging van het aantal valsspelers, die de lol van sportievere gamers bederven. Het valsspelen varieert van het gebruiken van hacks, cheats en scripts, tot het kapen van gebruikersnamen en wachtwoorden. Met patches en updates probeert men online games te vrijwaren van cheaters, wat een continue strijd is. Microsoft en Sony vrezen dat als die trend niet wordt gekeerd dat een nog in de kinderschoenen staande veelbelovende vorm van entertainment schade wordt berokkend. International Data Corporation verwacht dat in 2005 tien miljoen huishoudens met online gaming bereikt kunnen worden. Ondertussen wordt er gedacht en gewerkt aan verschillende manieren om het online cheaten tegen te werken:
Broadband-only Xbox Live, which expects to offer 14 multiplayer games and have 100,000 subscribers by year's end, uses a secure network to keep out cheaters, said Cameron Ferroni, Xbox product manager. "The number one thing we worked really hard to prevent is anyone from running code that we haven't authorized," he said. "You can't just go in like you can in a PC." Sony, meanwhile, is banking on its experience with EverQuest, a PC-only online world with nearly a half-million dragon-slaying and treasure-seeking players. Key to foiling cheaters is a responsive community like the one in EverQuest, which has been quick to alert Sony to new hacks, cheats and exploits, Sony spokesman Scott McDaniel said.
Beyond network security, Microsoft touts a reputation system that, like eBay, lets players rate their peers. Those who don't play by the rules will find it hard to locate online partners, Ferroni said. "It creates its own social upward spiral, which is a really cool thing," he said. Fostering a sense of community may be key to derailing cheaters, given that the anonymous nature of online games often is what entices people to cheat in the first place, said Peter Crabb, associate professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. "The player is - and feels that he or she is - alone and is not under surveillance by other players or the game hosts," Crabb said. After Ray's experience with Team Fortress cheaters, he founded a company called Even Balance, where he developed Punkbuster, anti-cheat software for PC games. "When you run into cheaters, you're saying 'Those little punks!' The idea was to detect cheaters and report them so that they would not be able to play on the server," Ray said. Punkbuster appears to be working. Gamers sign up to play on cheat-proof servers, and players who don't use Punkbuster can't join, Ray said.