Back in July 2016, Blizzard proudly reported over 15 million players worldwide with 500 million hours already been registered on its global servers. A runaway success, Overwatch continues to go strong across the globe and while the masters of online multiplayer gaming, Blizzard made a game that was enjoyable and easily acceptable beyond global borders and boundaries, it has recently landed itself in a bit of soup thanks to a new breed of players, more appropriately cheats who engage in the black arts of ‘nuking’.
As with any massive community based online game, the potential to exploit new updates, patches and releases is ever present. Blizzard only recently realized the phenomenon of nuking thanks to several official and unofficial message boards for Overwatch where players described a game behavior that eventually came to be called – ‘nuking’.
What Is Nuking
Imagine playing a match and suddenly you realize all your controls are lagging, you simply cannot do anything and it feels like your connection has either slowed to a halt or the server is facing an overload of requests. First few times, it is understandable as this happens periodically in almost all online gaming titles with servers suddenly getting overloaded with requests or your own internet connection bottoming out. However, when it happens too often and then you notice the frequency is directly proportional to the presence of specific player profiles – you know it isn’t natural. That is how nuking was discovered in overwatch.
In the practice of nuking, you bombard the opposing team’s IP with large number of packets. This basically brings the victim’s game down to a crawl allowing you to exploit the game and notch up kills and points while the victim team desperately tries to get back control over their match. With regards to the mechanism of Nuking, it is pretty close to DDoS attacks conducted on websites. In fact, if you look at the anatomy of nuking, it is practically the same thing except you are targeting specific user IPs rather than server IPs.
Why Does Nuking Suck
The problem with nuking is that it is difficult to report since your entire game has now crippled to a slow crawl. Those who notice the hack and are certain of it cannot report in-game because their system is now unplayable for the match. While almost all previous hacks were easy to report, nuking is difficult to report.
Other Dangerous Hacks
Aimbots is yet another dangerous hack but it is not limited to only Overwatch. Any multiplayer shoot’em up title suffers from this hack. Aimbots are automated scripts designed for Overwatch that help a player get kills quicker because they are automated and not user controlled. The fact is that while Aimbots exist, majority of complaints against users using aimbots boils down to sore losers who just cannot handle getting outplayed. Nevertheless, this hack is continuously being dealt with and it is much easier to tackle than Nuking because, it is easier to investigate such instances and more importantly, victims can instantly report the abuse to the game mod.
The Nuking Ban
After repeated complaints on various forums and discussion boards, Blizzard took the drastic step to ban over 10,000 players from South Korean servers who engaged in the black arts of nuking. Henceforth, Blizzard has also promised to keep a watch on the practice of nuking and ban any player or account that participates in this act.
According to Blizzard, the need for a pleasant gaming experience is key to ensuring longevity of Overwatch and thus increasing its player base. However, practices such as nuking and aimbot are detriments to their objectives as they turn away new and intermediate players as it is always impossible to compete against gaming cheats.
The Impact of the Ban
Some proponents of the ban suggest that it is impractical to impose such bans especially in a South Korea because it does not address the root of the problem. In South Korea majority of gamers do not invest into games. Instead they hop over to PC bangs, which are basically internet cafes where a customer can pay $1 per hour and enjoy any online game. PC bangs use special versions of Battle.net such that all Blizzard games are almost free to play.
Unfortunately, this method of gaming in Korea is the reason why a ban on profiles involved in nuking will not work. A banned player can simply create a new account and start playing from the beginning. He or she can then continue to practice the nuking hack until his account is once more banned. In fact, it is widely believed that several PC bangs in South Korea actually encourage their customers to engage more in the dark arts of nuking by pre-installing cheating clients on their systems!
Reddit user, TISRobins311 suggests that nearly 10% of all Overwatch Grandmasters use nuking and other hacks to maintain their position. While this is more of an educated guess, it isn’t hard to imagine this being true. With the numerous loopholes the ban presents, why would someone not indulge in this activity along with aimbots, especially if they happen to have access to PC bangs?
The good news for now though is that nuking as a practice hasn’t yet spread beyond South Korea but the popularity of this hack makes it only a matter of time before it does cross borders.
If You Are Nuked
If you are ever nuked in a match, stop trying to press the report button. Instead, immediately take down the name of all opposing players and then try to press the report button. Once you get back control of your game, immediately open a ticket to Blizzard and mention the match, opponent names and exact time that you experienced nuking.
Fact is, the ban is only a temporary solution from Blizzard to help control the outrage on forums and discussion boards worldwide. It is really only a matter of time before they come up with a permanent solution that prevents nuking. But, until then it is best to stay aware of what Nuking and Aimbot is, how you can help Blizzard and what to do if it happens to you.