Mediatonic Should Have Kept Cheater Island
Contributed by DJMMT
Some months back, the official Fall Guys Twitter account posted a thread about “Cheater Island”. The thread is very interesting and you should take the time to read the whole thing, but the short version is that the game, on PC, has suffered a massive amount of hackers. In order to combat this, Mediatonic created an exclusive server where people who, based on their metrics to find cheaters, were guilty of hacking got sent to play exclusively with other cheaters. The kicker was that this was never officially announced so cheaters were playing with other cheaters with no idea that it was all intentional. Sadly, the developers eventually killed off this server and turned to straight banning people. In my opinion, that was the wrong move.
My reasons for supporting the existence of Cheater Island are a combination of scientific and observational. That is to say, I believe such a space carries immense value for people viewing the activity within the cheat server rather than as a participant. I don’t condone cheating in games in any way. I’m still on the fence about performance mods and haven’t personally used them myself, save for the aforementioned instances of speeding up xp generation, which I think should be a default feature in RPGs today anyway. But I’m also not so naïve as to think cheating in games will ever cease to exist. There will always be people who don’t want to put in the time or effort to be actually good at something and in a competitive space that’s even more true because the skill threshold is much higher than in single player spaces. Even for something as inconsequential as currency that can only be used for cosmetics, there will always be people actively trying to cheat in games. Yet we never seem to take advantage of this fact as a general industry/community.
There is a wealth of information and entertainment that could have been gleaned from a Fall Guys cheat server, assuming it continued to remain an open secret. For starters, it would be very entertaining to watch. If Mediatonic had mounted a camera in the Cheater Island games and streamed it continuously, I believe thousands to even millions of people would have watched it. Just seeing the few clips that were posted of entire groups of cheaters all playing at the same time was both interesting and entertaining.
It’s extremely rare that the larger public gets to see cheaters in action. The fact is that for all the cheaters in Fall Guys, most people only saw cheaters on an infrequent basis and only usually one at a time. Seeing cheaters compete against each other is almost unheard of in video games. Fall Guys also happens to be a game where watching cheaters is actually interesting. No one really cares to watch cheaters in shooters because the cheats are fairly unimaginative and the gameplay itself isn’t super dynamic from a viewing standpoint. Cheats always amount to auto-aim, invincibility, unlimited bullets, and a few other choice buffs in FPS games. One of the things about cheats in those games is that they’re not very noticeable to someone who isn’t familiar with the games and they don’t look all that interesting even when you’re aware of them. Watching a bunch of people cheat against each other in COD or CSGO would be extremely boring and fairly pointless. You wouldn’t learn much of anything from it. But a game like Fall Guys is actually interesting to watch because of how much variation the gameplay has from player to player even when people aren’t cheating.
Watching cheaters adapt to each other over time would not only be hilarious but extremely educational for both the public and developers. And not just the developers of Fall Guys. You would be able to see the thought process of cheaters as they continuously improve their methods of cheating in order to compete with other cheaters. As games changed and evolved, such as the recent patch of updates and additional game additions, cheaters would then have to alter their cheat strategies as well. Mediatonic could even secretly alter the Cheater Island versions of games to make things harder for cheaters. They could have basically created their own rats in a maze scenario that the world would be able to watch via Twitch. And they wouldn’t even have to manage the stream. They could just leave it running and people could go in and out at their leisure to watch whatever cheaters were currently around. It would be like The Truman Show for gamers.
In general I’m completely against cheating. I’m fine with players being banned permanently for cheating in games. And I’m well aware of the fact that if you let cheaters play together in their own space that you are in a way condoning the behavior. I don’t think games in general should make it official policy to let cheaters do what they want in a private space. That encourages bad behavior and makes cheaters feel justified or even encouraged to continue their nefarious practices. But I do believe there was actual value to the Fall Guys cheat server existing. At least for a longer period than it did. But again, this value only really exists in a world where Mediatonic makes it possible for the public to view what is happening within the server. If it was simply about giving cheaters a space to exist then I would say ban them without remorse and move on.
What do you think of the idea of developers creating private spaces for cheaters? Should this be done or should they be banned outright? Is it OK for developers to stream these cheat servers to the public? Is it OK for devs to make revenue for streaming this sort of content? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.