Cheat Devs Are Ready for Modern Warfare 2

Motherboard spoke to one cheat developer who says they created cheats for the game on the first day of the beta. They're now primed for the game's full release.
Modern Warfare 2 cheating
Image: Phantom Overlay

The PC beta for Modern Warfare 2 was only online for just over a weekend, but cheat developers quickly managed to create wallhacks anyway, according to videos created by multiple cheat developers.

The news highlights the constant cat and mouse game between cheat developers and the companies that make competitive video games, and shows that Modern Warfare 2 will be no different. Warzone, the massively popular free-to-play battle royale game built on top of Call of Duty’s mainline games, was notoriously overrun by cheaters before publisher Activision and the development studios working on the game introduced a new anti-cheat mechanism called Ricochet.

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“I started developing a MW2 beta cheat right away. I was done the same day, the first day of the beta. My users got access once the cheat was complete & tested,” Zebleer, the pseudonymous administrator of Phantom Overlay, a cheat provider that has a long history of selling cheats for Warzone, told Motherboard in an email.  

Do you know anything else about cheat developer for Modern Warfare 2? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

On Friday in its Telegram channel Phantom Overlay posted a video that appeared to show a player in the Modern Warfare 2 beta being able to view their opponents through walls and other obstacles, a feature commonly known in the cheating world as extra-sensory perception, or ESP. It is also commonly called "wallhacking."

In another Telegram announcement posted the same day, Phantom Overlay said they had added “aim prediction” and “health bars,” and fixed a bug where teammates and dead players were appearing on ESP. In another post, Phantom Overlay claimed that its software is undetected by Modern Warfare 2, meaning that it can allegedly function without the game automatically banning a player for using the software.

Phantom Overlay published another video on Saturday which also showed their alleged ESP product in action.

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Zebleer told Motherboard that they will likely have to make some small updates and tweaks to their cheating system when the full game releases. Cheats developed during the beta have a good chance of working on the retail release of the game, though. A person who works in the games industry and has knowledge of anti-cheat systems told Motherboard that  “While the game engine has certainly evolved, the similarities are such that porting cheats to the new game is trivial.” The person asked to remain anonymous as they were not allowed to speak to the press.

Zebleer said that the Ricochet anti-cheat system was active during the Modern Warfare 2 beta, but added that “Ricochet will eventually detect many of the cheats that have currently never been detected.” They said they have worked hard to make their system undetectable by Ricochet.

“I will do my best to stay undetected by Ricochet, but I do not expect a detection will never happen. Once a detection occurs, I will have to figure out what was detected & remake that portion of the cheat to restore undetected status. I am ready to do that whenever it is needed,” Zebleer said.

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EngineOwning, another cheat developer, published a video to their Twitter account over the weekend appearing to show their own product in action, although it didn’t seem to be ready for the beta.

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“Our MW2 cheat is now done and we’re currently in close testing,” the tweet read. “This means our cheat will be ready when the game launches, with all the features you’d expect.”

The Anti-Cheat Police Department, a researcher who has tracked the cheating ecosystem and who reports offending players, claimed in their own tweet that “Ricochet has this shitty cheat detected they are just a scam operation at this point.”

In January Motherboard reported that Activision took the unusual step of suing and unmasking alleged workers for EngineOwning.

Activision did not respond to a request for comment on cheat developers offering products during the Modern Warfare 2 beta.

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai contributed reporting.

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