Daily Reaction: Console vs. PC – The Problems With Cross Play and Cheating (Part 1)

With the recent news about Rocket League having to look into players cheating on the PC (edit: and consoles), the Daily Reaction crew kicks off their two-part special that looks into the differences between the two ecosystems. Today, we discuss how gamers across both platforms take different approaches to cheating, modding and what it means for our ability to coincide.

Dan: One of the main things that this is sure to spark up, is the “which is better” question. To be honest, I think they both have their ups and down, like anything in this world. Having been a PC gamer for many years, as well as having owned just about every major console since the Atari, I have had a decent level of experience on both sides of the fence.

When it comes to PC gaming, the best aspect of it, to me, is also its biggest problem. The ability to easily apply mods to a game can add a great amount to an experience, one that you just cannot normally find on the console scene. Looking at a game like The Elder Scrolls Online, there are a number of slight modifications that have made life a bit easier for gamers playing on PC. Simple things like being able to add a mini-map on screen, and even be able to see your damage output can have drastic effects on someone’s experience.

But, not only does this ability to modify become a great asset, it also leaves a number of games to be open to being abused. Looking at a community like Counter-Strike, you can see just how important anti-cheat software becomes a necessity due to how rampant “hackers” were/are abusing the system. While it has been a few years since I have been involved in that scene, and I can’t say if things have changed, it was absolutely a legitimate issue only a few years ago.

Having even played around with some of the cheats just to learn more about them, you wouldn’t believe how accessible modders have made them to use. With little more than an installation, PC games have been able to add aimbots, look through walls and all sorts of tricks that make the experience terrible for those around them. But, on the console scene, the ability to install files becomes a significantly more complicated matter, and one only the most dedicated would even try to figure out.

Cheating in console games is far from impossible, but the most common one is usually what is referred to as a lag switch. A device that is able to adjust packet flow across someone’s connection so that they can get an unfair advantage. But, looking at this style of “hacking”, it is also something that could be more attributed to network cheating than something tied to consoles, as it bypasses the hardware and can also be used on PCs.

This of course is raises the issues that fall between having two cultures collide in a single environment. Many gamers clamor for the ability to get cross-play between different platforms, but in general fail to comprehend the number of issues that occur when letting those with an open environment interact with those with a more controlled and level one. Does this mean that one is better than the other? I don’t think so, as one of the best aspects of gaming comes from its ability to let every gamer find something that suits them.

CS wallhack

Chandler: Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A (contrary to popular belief, ‘Start’ is not actually a part of the Konami Contra Code. It was pressed after the code input to start the game). Cheats have been around for ages. Gamers are constantly looking for the next way to exploit, shortcut, or just generally enact God Mode. It’s always struck me as a bit ironic when cheats like the Mario warp pipe are used to skip large portions of the game. Isn’t the point of playing the game, to… you know… play it? If you just want to skip it, then why play at all?

In addition to cheat codes, consoles have been home to modification devices like the Gameshark that simulated PC mods by giving the console a means to run modified versions of the software. Consoles have been ever evolving to counter security threats, especially as we see a rise in social experiences and digital content. This security has basically done away with the ability for the general console player to mod or cheat outside of what the developer has programmed. As Dan said, it is still possible, just not nearly as easily accomplished as on the PC market where mods are rampant for just about every game.

While mods and cheats for games like Fallout 4which will be coming to consoles — may be innocent and allow players to further explore and craft their experience in Bethesda’s world, we’re talking about single player games and contained experiences. Once you step into a social environment online, whether cooperatively or competitively, those custom experiences can’t be invited to the party.

The recent Rocket League video again leaves me a bit stunned. Part of the joy of competition is winning in the face of the possibility of losing. Setting yourself a severe handicap by allowing the ball to fly around the arena as if it is possessed is not only completely unfair to your competition, it gives a complete lack of authenticity or sense of pride to the victory, at least to me personally. There are people out there that get their jollies from some pretty weird things, so maybe having the unfair advantage is giving someone quite the high, but like using codes to skip massive portions of the game, if there’s no challenge leading up to your win, what’s the point.

So your kill/death ratio is 50 kills to zero deaths? That’s not hard to do if you can’t die. Your Rocket League win/loss ratio is 100%? Not terribly impressive when you change the game mechanics to work in your favor. As a console player, I rarely see these kinds of issues, with the exception of the lagswitching that Dan mentioned. But as we see increasingly common cross-platform play between PCs and consoles, it’s hard not to feel a little cheated as the PC players dominate not through skill, but through exploiting the platform that they are playing on.

Who takes the victory in round one? PC offers flexibility. You can toy with the settings and create a custom experience. Sometimes that custom experience comes at the detriment of other players, but that could be considered the cost of entry. On the other hand, consoles like to keep it a fair fight by giving players an even playing field and filling the security holes that can allow unfair matches to occur, letting skill be the true determining factor in the outcome of the game — barring lagswitches. Once you cross these two worlds however, it creates an interesting dynamic between two very different schools of thought, which is something we’ll see crop up more as cross play becomes more common.

What are you thoughts on the Consoles vs. PC market? What do you think is the solution to solving the cheating issues that arise with cross play? Let us know in the comments below, email us at [email protected] or enter a Twitter cheat @Foolsjoker and @Finchstrife.

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