Stadia: The Ultimate Anti-Cheat
Updated: Sep 15
In an industry that is rife with cheaters on PC's and consoles alike, Stadia solves the problem without lifting a finger.
Games and people who attempt to cheat at them sure seem inseparable. From kids who move a checker on the board when their opponent steps away to the oh-so-simple screen cheating in the glory days of split-screen multiplayer, it seems you really can't have one without the other. Perhaps even further simplifying the equation is the notion that as long as there are rules, there will exist those who wish to bend (or break) them.
"Put a cheater behind a cloud version of their game of choice, and suddenly there's a major hitch in their giddy-up: their hacks are completely useless."
Fast forward to the era of online gaming, and the problem has seemingly become a dark raincloud over what should be a fair and challenging test of skill against others all around the world. How bad, you might ask? Back in March of this year, police in China busted the world's biggest gaming cheat manufacturer, seizing over $45 million in assets - just a fraction of their revenue. Purchasable hacks don't come with a small price tag, with users often paying monthly or even daily for access to the latest cutting-edge "aimbots" for their games of choice.
Just a casual lineup of luxury sportscars. Yeah, the cheat industry is apparently pretty lucrative.
That's not to say that developers aren't successfully combating it, but game cheaters seem to be comparable to the Marvel universe's HYDRA: cut off one head, and two more grow in its place. Since launch, Call Of Duty: Warzone has banned over half a million cheaters and counting, and as anybody who has ever been randomly one-shot from across the map while hiding in some foliage will tell you, it sure feels like the problem only gets worse over time. Don't think you're immune on console, either - affordable hardware accessories can turn anybody's controller into an auto-aiming machine instantly.
Enter Google Stadia. In the emerging market of cloud gaming, there are many contenders, but most are simply offering an alternative way to play games on PC and console. But on any cloud gaming service, if you put a cheater behind a cloud version of their game of choice, suddenly there's a major hitch in their giddy-up: their hacks are completely useless. Now take that philosophy and create an entire platform around it, where there's no client-side data to manipulate into winning every game. An ecosphere of gaming that, while capable of crossplay, allows its users to stay in the cloud bubble and guarantee their opponents - and teammates - are all playing on fair and equal footing.
The Stadia sandbox in the newly launched NYC Google store isn't just sleek - it's the bane of cheaters to boot!
When Rainbow Six: Siege launched on Stadia late last month, players on the platform like myself were excited to have a chance to play a competitive shooter with PC players, a feature that currently is only available on a limited number of games. What very few saw coming was that the Siege community would find a very clever use for the Stadia version - eliminating the possibility of cheaters.
Siege pro player TheGodlyNoob, who has amassed over 300,000 followers on Twitch alone, sent out a tweet that certainly turned some heads towards a platform that is all too underappreciated:
TheGodlyNoob wasn't alone, either, as content creator Sua also joined in with a similar take:
Before seeing these tweets, I had never even considered the anti-cheat applications of Stadia (or comparable services like Amazon Luna, though the number of multiplayer games offered is severely limited as of writing this), but this was an eye-opener. In an online gaming landscape that is plagued by cheaters, could a self-contained cloud gaming platform like Stadia be the solution? Perhaps not entirely, as softer advantages like scripting or boosting could still come into play. But when major players in the Rainbow Six community are touting Stadia as the great equalizer of their favorite game, people listen - and when PC players realize that Stadia and Siege are one website visit away, this could easily become an increasingly popular way to enjoy a truly even battlefield in the cloud.
Hear more about my thoughts on Stadia as an anti-cheat method in our latest podcast episode: