Cheaters Flock Back to 'Call of Duty: Warzone,' Get Immediately Banned Again

Just two weeks after banning 20,000 suspected cheaters, the makers of the popular online game game banned several more players who tried to use the new version of a popular cheat software.
October 16, 2020, 4:23pm
People gather in front of a 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare' logo

Last month, Motherboard reported that Activision banned around 20,000 players from Call of Duty: Warzone after the company detected they were using a popular cheat called EngineOwning. 

This week, players flocked back to cheat thinking it was safe to use undetected again, but were swiftly met with another wave of bans. 

Earlier this week, the makers of Engine Owning updated the code for their product, and put the cheat on sale, according to a person who’s been tracking Engine Owning’s development. The makers have labeled the Warzone cheat, which used to cost a few dollars per month, as detected since the wave of bans last month. But several people in Discord channels and in the cheat's official forum said the makers were testing the cheat and it appeared to be working again. 

"The thing with cheats is not whether they're going to ban you or not, it's when"

Then Activision pushed a large (around 13 gigabytes) patch to Warzone. And with it, the company swept away a bunch of cheaters, again. Activision declined to comment but confirmed it banned a new wave of players this week.

On Wednesday, a person who identifies himself as a Staff Member and Moderator of the popular Engine Owning cheat said in a message posted in the cheat's forum: "I've been banned too, and a lot of people. Seems that the cheat got detected again."

Do you develop cheats for games or reverse engineer anti-cheat software? Or do you work on anti-cheat software? We’d love to hear from you. You can contact Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai securely on Signal at +1 917 257 1382, OTR chat at lorenzofb@jabber.ccc.de, or email lorenzofb@vice.com

"just a heads up, i ran [Engine Owning] for 1 day after it was allowed to be used again. After 1 day of using [Engine Owning], once the update happened, my account is now perma banned," warned a customer on the same day. 

"Has it been detected again?" asked a user who is presumably thinking of becoming a subscriber of the cheat in a forum thread created Thursday.

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Another user, who was labeled as a "customer" in the forum, wrote that they had "just made two new accounts both got banned."

"I just renewed my [Call of Duty Modern Warfare] aimbot subscription, I made a brand new account with battle.net linked with phone number and the first time I try to search it throws my searching ping to 350ms?" an Engine Owning user wrote. "I've been using the aimbot on various accounts for 2 months, I know right now it says the program is back to being undetectable?"

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A screenshot of two players talking about the Engine Owning cheat in a Discord Channel. (Image: VICE/Motherboard)

Activision has developed a detection for the Engine Owning cheat for Warzone, so every time someone tries to use it, they get flagged and eventually banned, according to sources with knowledge of the company's anti-cheat efforts. 

"The thing with cheats is not whether they're going to ban you or not, it's when," said one of the sources, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not allowed to speak to the press.  

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A screenshot of the Engine Owning website. (Image: VICE/Motherboard)

Millions of people all over the world play Warzone, a free to play first-person shooter that allows gamers using any platform—PC, PS4, Xbox—to play against each other. Because it's free to play, cheaters have the advantage that they can just cycle through accounts when they get banned. 

To slow this evasion technique down, Activision started requiring cellphone numbers as a security measure in May. By doing that, Activision not only forced regular users to up their security and protect their accounts better, but also slowed down the thriving market for hacked accounts

Cheat makers like Engine Owning charge customers with a subscription, with the promise that they will give constant support. In other words, they are guaranteeing that the product, the cheat, will go undetected for at least a month or two. As many players found out this week, that guarantee is looking more and more like an empty promise. 

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