Regarding the massive Marketing for the upcoming Battlefield 3, we have been curious about topics, that aren't talked and tweeted about. Questions about Game Developing and Anticheat Measures. Thanks to Mikael Kalms, programmer at DICE Sweden, who gave us some insights. Unfortunately he was not allowed to talk about the interesting stuff, but even that might fuel some speculations.
I was discussing with some others, why we do not get dedicated serverfiles for the games anymore. Many believe, that this is just a way to have control over the content that players are playing and by that way promoting own DLC. By having control over the content, people will not stick to third party content like Mods and by that way they either play what the developers are selling or are then more motivated to buy the next game, since the old one is getting boring. Others say, that this is just another way to make money, since Ranked Server Providers would have to pay for getting the RSP Status. My theory is, that Developers do not give out public serverfiles anymore, because they are used for developing serverhacks like crashing servers, commanderhacks etc., to create cracked servers and to corrupt the rankingsystem. Would you please explain, what the thoughts behind the decision to deny public serverfiles have been, what influence the integrity of the ranking had on this and how cheating might affected this decision? Is it safe to say, that Ranking and Cheaters are the reasons why actual games do not get any public serverfiles anymore?
: No comment.
In the whole process of developing a game, how much resources do anticheat measures get? Seeing, that titles like Crysis 2 do not even have an Anticheattool like VAC or PB makes you wonder, if the troubles, that Cheaters are causing are even on the agenda. Is it something that is in mind, when designing and developing a game?
Cheating is discussed seriously when designing the game and its network protocol. If the design is flaky, then cheating will flourish, and it will be much more difficult to combat it after release. The second part of anti-cheat, the 'service' aspect, is more of a cat and mouse game... and there is a basic problem here: many games are today sold as a single product (so the company gets money on day 1) but anti-cheat is a service (so the company pays for it every month). Because of this, it is not always obvious to people in charge at the companies that it really is worth it to continue paying for the anti-cheat service. It's easier to argue the merits of doing anti-cheat work for a subscription service.
Do you have any numbers on how much monetary losses DICE and EA or the whole gaming industry do have due to cheating? Since paying Evenbalance for using PB, having someone that has to clean up the rankings from cheated stats, having coders working on fixes to prevent exploits and losing customers who do not buy a game or quit it, when they see to many cheaters in it - all costs money in the end - is that something that is analyzed and could be summed up?
I can't present any $$$ figures, sorry. However, there are clearly costs associated with handling the effects of cheating; both the time required by the developers, customer support, and the loss of future sales. Also, it can tarnish the brand name. Some people try to argue that games companies like the current status quo of cheating + anti-cheating because they make money off of cheaters buying new CD-keys as their existing keys get banned. I strongly doubt that the money gained from those CD-key sales outweigh the money spent on salaries and lost income due to the game having a tarnished reputation.
Anticheat Communitys, Leagues and creators of Machinimas have been asking for a feature like the Battlerecorder to record ingame demos. What is the status on this? Can we expect that in the upcoming Battlefield 3?
Thanks for your time Mikael!
Now the Question remains, why DICE would not explain their decision regarding public serverfiles. Even though it would have been easy to pick up my additional theory and to blame security reasons, the decision to give no answer at all on this might fuel the speculations, that the reasons behind wouldn't be popular within the community. So having in Mind, that even Lead Designer Alan Kertz stated, that "Everything dies faster now, even the 90 games. Because there's a new game every 6 months that's worth playing."
) it might really be more a decision made with sales in mind? Seeing, that EA wants to challenge the CoD Series, it would make sense to have control over the content and give more incentives to buy DLC or the following title, but in the end, it is only speculations...