Intentionally using glitches in games has existed long before PVP and online multiplayer. It goes all the way back to the beginning of gaming, regardless of where you define that point. And people using loopholes to get their way goes back hundreds if not thousands of years. People have always exploited the faults/mistakes of others in order to get what they want. That’s human nature. If you see $100 on the street, you’re going to pick it up. No questions asked, 99/100 people will pick up that bill and the hundredth person will only not pick it up because they are worried they will get in trouble for doing so. So, at least to me, it makes perfect sense with even the most basic understanding of normal human behavior that players would take advantage of exploits in a game. But what we’ve been seeing with the continued growth of always online games with PVP elements and MMORPGs such as Destiny and The Division is more and more available exploits and developers blaming players for using them.

First let’s address where exploits come from. There are a number of different ways that exploits appear in games. In a non-hacking scenario, this is always the fault of the developer. I will say right now, without debate, that if you hack into the code of a game and alter it to increase your performance or profit during play, then you are cheating. It’s not up for discussion. It’s not a gray area. Altering the way a game operates is not ok and that’s not what this piece is about. When I say exploits or glitches, I’m talking about coding errors made by the developers that allow players to do things that were not necessarily intended for players to do when the game/content was released. So something like PC hackers who get unlimited bullets in COD should be considered cheating. On the other hand, using a grenade to knock Atheon off the platform in Destiny should be considered using an exploit. Exploits exist because games are often rushed and not given enough testing time in house to find all the bugs. Many games also happen to be quite large and finding every bug with limited manpower is nearly impossible. It also has to be addressed that many companies cut costs by not hiring enough testers to actually comb through their game properly. You see this more with MMORPGs than makes sense because many developers have decided to let players act as free testers who will inevitably post glitches on YouTube which can then be patched out later. But at the end of the day, exploits can only exist when developers leave errors in the code of their games. It is in no way the fault of players that exploits exist.

Hacking a game is not OK.

Hacking a game is not OK.

Since it’s unquestionably the fault of developers for the existence of exploits, we have to have a discussion about whether or not it’s ok to use them. This issue has a lot of competing factors involved in the debate. On one hand, you have the developers who would argue that using exploits is wrong because it’s not the way they intended the game to be played and thus anything outside of that very narrow minded spectrum of use is considered wrong. As a content creator/writer, I understand this argument. But at the same time, I don’t agree with it because of all the things that shouldn’t be considered wrong to do in games that developers often remove via patches, just because they don’t like people doing. Crafting in The Division (TD) is a great example.

Because Ubisoft failed to create a system of fair drop rates for better gear, basically all day one players were forced to turn to heavy amounts of crafting to improve their performance. This is not debatable. It is fact that if you were playing TD before the most recent update and had reached level 30 and Dark Zone level 50, then you were absolutely crafting to improve your performance. Crafting is a part of the game. Crafting is completely acceptable to do in game. Crafting had/has no limits to how much you are allowed to do it. Yet Ubisoft decided that they didn’t want people crafting their way to the top.

The truth is that it is almost impossible to actually get what you really want in TD. The system works based on the concept of settling for the best you can find with no hope of the RNG, which is used for both drops and crafting, ever really giving you your ideal build. At best, you can get close, and many players had gotten close to what was their ideal best build pre-update. So then Ubisoft decided that they would make crafting even less fair and useful than it already wasn’t. They exponentially increased the price of crafting but in no way improved the quality of your crafts. This was done in order to force players to farm more. And no, that’s not my opinion on the situation. If you read the patch note clarification post released by Ubisoft, they clearly say they don’t want players crafting in place of farming in their ideal gameplay scenario.

According to Ubisoft, this guy is doing it wrong.

According to Ubisoft, this guy is doing it wrong.

Exploits and glitches aside, who are they to tell us, people who paid for their product, how to play or enjoy the game? Who says that players have to farm their way to the top? Technically you have to farm for crafting materials, but you understand the difference in the two scenarios. Some people genuinely like crafting, just like some people like stealing from other players and some just like killing NPCs for item drops. There’s no right way to play/enjoy the game, everyone has a preference. For a developer to dictate to a player how they want them to play the game is overstepping their bounds. I happen to not subscribe to the belief that the developer is God, but I know many people do. But everyone must admit that it was at least kind of scummy to tell players who had put so much time and effort into crafting the best build that they had been playing the game incorrectly. It’s for reasons like this that I can’t agree with the statement that the developer knows best how to play their game and that we should all enjoy games the way they tell us to.

If you can agree that there’s more than one way to enjoy a game, then you have to at least be open to the idea that maybe glitches and exploits, when reasonable, aren’t the end of the world in a game, PVP or otherwise. Certainly some glitches are not acceptable. Invincibility in a PVP scenario is not ok, but in a PVE scenario, I think it’s fine. If two people are supposed to be battling each other, it’s not really fair if one of them literally can’t lose. But if a player is playing against the computer and enjoys being untouchable, why is that anyone else’s problem? We’ve had developer sanctioned cheats in single player games for decades. Mortal Kombat, Assassin’s Creed, and NFL Blitz are just a few examples from different console generations. If people have fun with it, there’s no issue. Some people don’t have the time required to properly play a game without exploits, so why not just let them do it? They paid for the game just like everyone else and they didn’t hack into the game to change it. It is no one’s business or problem if they use exploits to efficiently beat the PC.

SONY DSC

Some people are going to say that exploits in a scenario like TD isn’t ok because it throws off the balance. Now that argument would make sense if a number of other issues weren’t present. First, the game is not and was never balanced. And honestly, no MMOs truly are. But that’s because the word balance isn’t clearly defined in a gameplay scenario. Balance is supposed to mean everyone can win based on skill. But when you have to take into account RNG gear availability, team members, server errors, and uncontrollable factors such as NPCs running into the middle of your PVP fire fight, you can’t really say the game is balanced or could ever be balanced. In fact, the game was originally marketed as being a real life scenario and every ethnic minority or immigrant will tell you that real life is not balanced. That argument also ignores the fact that any person can use exploits. Or at least should be able to when developers aren’t using Draconian systems of punishment, like perma-bans. If everyone can use an exploit then it’s not really a balance issue. Although obviously not all players use them.

Not everyone enjoys games because they are hard. Some people play games for other reasons. I know plenty of people who only like to play TD for the PVP. Because of the update they were forced to play the incursion to stay competitive because they needed the new gear sets which are only readily found from completing the incursions. That means every player who doesn’t want to play the incursion but wants to keep playing in the DZ either has to waste their time farming a gameplay scenario they don’t have any interest in, or they can just save time and cheese it. That’s why using PVE exploits shouldn’t be considered a problem. Players shouldn’t have to waste hours on end trying to farm a mission they don’t like, takes forever, and is unbalanced, just so they can maybe get gear they actually need to continue to enjoy the game. If anything, more developers should intentionally add backdoors to their games for players in scenarios like the one described.

imbalance

One thing that’s really important that we don’t question enough is why these RNG and raid scenarios exist in these sorts of games. These games rely on players continuing to play them. Developers know that they only work if they can keep you hooked long enough to buy the next expansion. That’s the reason these games never end. It’s the reason the end game always ends up being nothing more than a PVP farm fest. They aren’t looking to give you an ending, they’re looking to keep you playing indefinitely. Giving you what you’ve earned will make players peak too quickly. If you got the items you actually wanted every time you completed a task you would run out of things to do before the next expansion even got a name.

There’s not really that much to do in any of these games. You can beat TD’s campaign in less than 20 hours when you don’t include farming. And once you’ve beaten all the missions you resort to trying to improve yourself for PVP and inevitable expansions that Ubisoft hopes you buy if you bought the standard edition or has promised you in the case of players like me who bought the gold edition. So they have to create long winded, one off missions in the hopes of keeping you playing as long as possible. Same reason these sorts of games always add daily missions and weekly challenges. It keeps you coming back until they can fleece you for another expansion. But if you peaked too early many people would just stop playing and then not end up picking it back up for the expansion. The entire system relies on keeping the game in the tray for as long as possible, and it works. Sadly though, too many of us fall for it time after time. We bought Destiny, complained, and then knowingly bought The Division. I am just as guilty as the next pigeon.

I take issue with raids in games. I know not everyone does, but I do and it’s for the simple fact that raids aren’t fun. Developers don’t think like gamers anymore. A lot of them talk like they do, but most of them think like businessmen or workhorses. They create these raids to be difficult and time consuming. Games are meant to be fun. People take enjoyment from different genres and different aspects of games but at the end of the day, a game is supposed to be enjoyable, raids never are.

Of course, there are things about raids that people may enjoy. Finishing one for the first time is satisfying for instance. Getting loot, when it’s what you actually wanted is very fulfilling. But actually playing raids in games like Destiny and The Division just aren’t much fun. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a person say they liked any of the raids in any of those games. Raids rarely come from where the original release content comes from. They aren’t balanced properly. They ask too much of not just players, but groups of players, and even when you do complete them, more often than not you don’t get what you actually wanted. As many times as I completed the Vault of Glass, to this day, I have never acquired Atheon’s Epilogue, which happens to be the only gun in the game I actually wanted but never got. Although I did get the Gjallarhorn, which was kind of like finding a unicorn riding a gryphon.

gjallarhorn

You spend literally hours on a raid sometimes. Especially that first time, trying to coordinate a group of players who may or may not even have headsets, in an attempt to get a piece of gear that you legitimately need to progress forward in the game. Raids typically require you to suffer through them multiple times in order to reap the full benefits. Just hope you don’t run into connection issues or lag, not to mention your team cooperating. And since the developers don’t want you maxing out too quickly, they will limit you to only being able to get the best rewards from the raid once a week. Meaning that you have to try to coordinate the same or a similarly skilled team again and again in hopes of a day that honestly may never come because of RNG drops. Is it any wonder why people cheese raids? I think it makes less sense not to cheese them. Especially after you’ve already beaten it the right way at least once.

TD’s first raid, Falcon Lost, takes about 40 – 120 minutes to complete the right way, assuming you don’t get stuck somewhere like the boss fight, for an eternity. From what I’ve read, completing it with one of the several available glitches in that coding mess of a mission, takes about 90 minutes. That’s not even a real cheese at that point. If the glitch takes longer to do than the right way and people are still using the glitch, that should tell you something about how much people don’t enjoy that particular raid. One comment I read on an article about Ubisoft cracking down on Falcon Lost glitch users was very telling about the entire raid situation.

A fancy word for "raids" which is a fancy word for long, unenjoyable missions.

A fancy word for “raids” which is a fancy word for long, unenjoyable missions.

“I have beaten the raid both the right way and by cheesing it. I had more fun just talking to my friends for 90 minutes shooting my sticky bomb over and over again than I did when properly playing the raid.”

That should never be the case. Atheon took about 5 minutes to cheese depending on how good you were at doing it. Players would literally rather sit for an hour and a half in a stationary position firing and waiting to recharge a skill then actually play the game knowing they can legitimately beat the raid in less time. If you don’t see a problem with that then I assume you work for Ubisoft, and their response was to not even fix or improve the raid. They’ve yet to even announce a means of patching out those glitches, which I personally don’t think they should. But they are now threatening to punish players for using glitches to cheese the raid. That means we’re in situation where the developer knows they’ve screwed up. They know they coded the raid badly. They know the raid isn’t fun because again, playing it the “wrong” way takes longer than playing it properly. They also know that a large percentage if not a majority of players have no issue with people using glitches to obtain better gear because so many people are supposedly doing it.

The Division sales

Screenshot taken 4/24/2016.

According to VG Chartz, The Division has sold just under 5M units cross platform. Falcon Lost was released April 12th 2016. This is one of several Falcon Lost cheese videos, which was released the day after the incursion dropped and has 295,000 views. At the time of this writing, there are 23,000 videos listed in the YouTube search results for “the division falcon lost easy.” Take into account that several other searches net different results showing videos with the same type of content. Now we can’t assume that the total number of views for all these videos is equal to 5M without actually counting and even if we could, we can’t assume that means all players have used glitches to complete the raid. But we can easily assume that many players have done it at least once.

At the time of this writing, the first page of search results (20/23,000 videos) has a total listed number of views equaling about 770K. Of course, there will be repeat viewers and again we can’t assume all players used the glitch just because they watched the video. But I don’t believe it’s ridiculous to say that at least 1M players or just over 20% of all current owners of TD, have cheesed Falcon Lost with glitches at least once. Do you realize how much 20% of users is for an MMO? That many people don’t like playing the raid. Ubisoft should be worrying a lot more about making new expansions that people enjoy and a lot less about punishing players for actions that one in every five players is basically fine with doing. If anything, they should be apologizing to us for creating such a problematic scenario. And to add insult to injury they have the nerve to tell players that the reason they can punish them is because using glitches breaks the game’s “Code of Conduct.”

I’ve heard a lot of players say that the Code of Conduct thing isn’t fair because it’s not clearly stated on front page of the game. I disagree with this argument simply because when you start all games today you have to agree to terms. And while this particular Code of Conduct isn’t listed in the terms, which you should always read before agreeing to something, it does state off handedly that you have to adhere to the Code of Conduct, which can be found online. In this case, Ubisoft dropped the ball and hadn’t actually clearly posted the Code of Conduct anywhere, even online, until the high number of Falcon Lost “cheaters” became apparent.

Technically though, I think the fine print should be more accessible online before you actually buy a game so you can opt out of purchasing a product beforehand. It’s not like anyone is actually going to opt out of playing the game after they’ve already dropped $60 and opened the packaging. But I don’t agree with Ubisoft’s Code of Conduct argument because this specific game is built on the idea of breaking the Code of Conduct. The Division is literally a game that encourages you to stab other players in the back. It’s a game where you are harassed constantly by rogues, often making it nearly impossible to progress forward in the game. Your progress and hard work can easily be stolen from you, making the effort you put in a waste of time. Ubisoft arguing that people in The Division aren’t playing “honorably” by using glitches, and thus should be punished, is kind of like Donald Trump calling his supporters racists. That’s the system of conduct that was created and it should be no surprise that people feel like it’s ok to play that way. Especially in a gameplay scenario that is required to progress and not enjoyable for a large percentage of players.

If the system is corrupt, it is really cheating?

If the system is corrupt, is it really cheating?

Personally, I think this is a real problem. Developers creating bad content and then punishing players for working their way around it without altering the game in any way. That shows such a lack of responsibility on the part of Ubisoft that it leaves me unsure if I even want to continue buying their games, of which I have several. If developers want to patch glitches out of their games that people don’t have a problem with, that’s fine. It’s their game and that’s their choice. But punishing players for taking advantage of their short comings as a studio shouldn’t be considered an acceptable practice. That just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And before they worry about people using exploits, they should take the time to fix the various game breaking glitches that were already present long before they released Falcon Lost. I personally have compiled a sizable folder of pictures and clips of glitches happening to me during play, both in and out of combat. Developers need to stop hating on the players and start fixing their own games.

About The Author

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I'm a hardcore gamer writing a ton of content, but not currently getting paid for it. Trying to change that. Check out my gaming blog at IGN. I also write reviews for Brash Games and have an all gaming YT channel. Please like and subscribe. Follow me on twitter for great gaming tweets.

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