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Blizzard bans thousands of Korean Overwatch hackers

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Taking a hard line on a huge, long-running problem

Blizzard Entertainment

More than 20,000 Overwatch players have been banned in South Korea, a representative for Blizzard Entertainment announced on the game’s forum. The reason for the bans is “unauthorized use of third-party programs,” otherwise known as illegal hacks.

This has been an ongoing issue for Korean players, who have repeatedly reported cheaters in the past to no avail. In South Korea’s popular internet cafes, or “PC bangs,” it’s common for Overwatch players who just want a fair fight to find themselves on the other end of a DDoS attack, among other hacks used by competitors. Since the computers in these public locations completely refresh after a reboot, it’s easy for players to come in, install a hacking program and escape unscathed; they can then return the next day and repeat the process.

A recent report on Kotaku details the hacking epidemic, which has run rampant in South Korean PC bangs since the game’s launch. It’s become especially bad in recent months, however, as noted repeatedly on places like Reddit.

Blizzard’s South Korean outpost has been criticized for not taking enough action to curtail cheaters in the country. (We’ve also reached out to Blizzard for comment about the issue in the past and received none.) A translation of the Battle.net announcement of the bans indicates that the company is listening to feedback.

“Creating and delivering a pleasant game environment for the majority of good players is of paramount importance to us and we are committed to taking all the steps we can take to create, distribute and use our programs,” writes Harry, a member of the Korean Blizzard team. “We are also aware of the fact that our programs are circulated through various communities, and we will prepare countermeasures.

“We also listen carefully to specific opinions (account, IP, etc.) and feedback from diverse communities, and we are conducting research based on your feedback,” the post continues. “We are also discussing various ways with our head office to solve fundamental problems.”

How the company plans to do this remains unclear, considering the nature of playing Overwatch in PC bangs. Banning players by the thousands is a big start, however.