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Apex Legends ‘piggy-backers’ face temp bans, Respawn says

Some say they’re playing honestly, fear they might get punished

Apex Legends - Pathfinder uses its grapple Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

A community manager for Apex Legends yesterday identified a new behavior that can get you a temporary ban: Piggy-backing, which is basically hanging around a squad of good players, doing nothing, and still collecting XP to level up. It’s sparked a debate of how Apex Legends rewards XP in the first place.

First, here’s what piggy-backing is: “When a player drafts off other players in the squad to carry them to a good position and level up faster but doesn’t actually participate in the match [meaning they never collect a weapon, fire a shot, don’t deal any damage, etc.]”

Respawn’s community manager said the studio has examined telemetry from Apex Legends matches and determined that they’ll issue temporary bans “for players that exhibit piggy-backing behavior,” with permanent bans possible for extreme cases. As it relates to squadmates, piggy-backing seems to be something that goes on with or without others’ help, so it’s not like they can be identified or sanctioned as a booster or other cheat assister would.

Some players were quick to say Respawn falls well short of other solutions that would either discourage piggy backing, or even make it functionally impossible. For example, piggy-backers now put on notice will figure out some minimum level of participation to avoid a ban. “Matches will still be ruined, and you might have a chance to falsely temp ban players,” said one.

They reasoned that players need to be able to report teammates for this sort of behavior. Others went further and said that Apex Legends’ XP schedule rewards piggy-backing, which is why people do it.

Some suggested that reducing the XP given for surviving while increasing the XP awarded for a kill would be a good first step. Another player concurred, saying they get “three times as many points for the ineffectual, spray-and-pray damage I deliver than the critical couple revives that keep our team with two good guns blazing.”

A third noted that surviving for nine seconds rewards more XP than a revive. However, others disagreed with reducing XP for survival, as surviving is the whole point of a battle royale and players should feel an incentive to play for the win rather than charge headlong into a firefight, depending on revival specialists nearby.

Another player said they play honestly, but are so unskilled that their survival strategy is tantamount to piggy-backing under the terms described. “I suck at aiming so my only chance is to run around and survive, pot shotting guys so that other squads kill them for me,” they wrote. “This is literally the only way I have won — hey at least I’m not cheating, I just can’t aim and know it.”

And still others say this kind of cheating isn’t something they’ve seen in their matches, or at least had it meaningfully affect them. More common and blatant forms of cheating are still problems, and a report function could be abused by players who are angry or upset at others on their team.

In any case, if all you do is land and go to ground, you’ll be on Respawn’s radar, whether there’s an automated system flagging you or a human analyzing the behavior. The rest of the post deals with other issues that have been pointed out (hit registration, very slowed play/performance at the start of a match) that are being worked on and addressed in forthcoming patches.