By: Damien Majewski

Last month, two large gaming companies Bungie, the developer of Destiny 2, and Ubisoft, the developer of Rainbow Six Siege, filed a lawsuit against Ring-1 for developing and selling cheats for various games.[1]  The companies allege Ring-1, “has caused, and is continuing to cause, massive and irreparable harm to Plaintiffs and their business interests.”[2]  As a result of Ring-1, the companies are pursuing, “damages, injunctive relief, and equitable relief under anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 1201 [Circumvention of copyright protection systems], the United States Copyright Act, the Lanham Trademark Act, and the laws of the State of California.”[3]

Companies have only recently started targeting cheaters in online games, but this is not a new trend as previously their focus was on the distribution of game modification devices.[4] Dating back to 1999, in Sony v. Gamemasters, Sony brought a civil suit against GameMasters for violation of their trademark and copyright infringement for selling counterfeit accessories for their console, the PlayStation.[5]  More recently in 2017, Epic Games sued multiple individuals, including a fourteen-year-old, for using hacks obtained from a public website.[6]  Companies are able to sue players who violate their copyright and licenses due to the inclusion of legally binding agreements in video games.[7]  When starting up a new game for the first time, many companies now include an end-user license agreement or terms and conditions which require acceptance to play the game. Within the agreement are various terms and conditions the user must follow if they wish to continue playing the game, with some provisions preventing the modification or reproduction of code used in the game.[8]  These agreements can be very long, have varying terms between different games,[9] and are non-negotiable, all for the ability to be able to play a game the user purchased. Companies are more willing to sue individuals to set an example, even if that person is a child.[10] 

With the rise of esports and increasing prize pools for gaming competitions[11], the incentive to cheat is higher than ever.  Especially in the time of COVID-19, many tournaments are hosted online, allowing players to use their own hardware which may be modified or include some type of cheat to gain an advantage.[12]  Suspicions of cheating arise when players perform well in online tournaments and significantly worse in person.[13]  Developers only have so many solutions to the cheating epidemic. Some temporary solutions are banning accounts or banning individual hardware.[14] The problem with these is the ability for offenders create more accounts or fake their hardware identification number.[15] Legal action is a last resort as it is costly and time consuming. 

Unfortunately, cheating in video games is a large issue that cannot be avoided. Companies are enforcing the terms of their end-user license agreement as a method of deterring cheating in their game. As more companies are successful in court, more suits will follow to rid video games of cheaters and create a fun and fair experience for all players.


[1] Zack Zwiezen, Ubisoft And Bungie Suing Popular Cheat Seller, Kotaku (July 31, 2021, 12:30 PM), https://kotaku.com/ubisoft-and-bungie-suing-popular-cheat-seller-ring-1-1847400740.

[2]Complaint at 27:5-6; Bungie, Inc., Ubisoft Entertainment, and Ubisoft, Inc., v. Andrew Thorpe; Jonathan Agueda; Wesam Mohammed, Aahmad Mohammed; No. 3:21-cv- 5677 (N.D. Cal. 2021).

[3] Id. at 3:5-15.

[4]Sony Computer Entm’t Am., Inc. v. GameMasters, No. C 99-02743 TEH, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21719, at *2.

[5] Id.

[6] Video-game company sues cheating players who spoil it for everybody, South China Morning Post (Nov. 30, 2017, 1:17 PM), https://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2122239/video-game-company-sues-cheating-players-who-spoil.

[7] Emery P. Dalesio, That’s cheating! Video-game companies suing crooked players, APNEWS (Nov. 29, 2017), https://apnews.com/article/307a70681c2542f6a3c68244ff9a2bc0.

[8] End User License Agreement, Sega (June 21, 2021), https://www.sega.com/EULA.

[9]See generally, Legal PC Game EULA, Electronic Arts (2021), https://www.ea.com/en-ca/legal-pc-game-eula.

[10] Supra note 6.

[11] Field Level Media, Newzoo: Esports industry revenues expected to surpass $1B in 2021, Reuters (Mar. 9, 2021, 8:49 PM), https://www.reuters.com/article/esports-business-esports-growth/newzoo-esports-industry-revenue-expected-to-surpass-1b-in-2021-idUSFLM4K2cJ7.

[12] See Suryadeepto Sengupta, Hardware cheats are slowly becoming the next phase for the hacking industry, Sportsskeeda (July 6, 2021), https://www.sportskeeda.com/esports/hardware-cheats-slowly-becoming-next-phase-hacking-industry.

[13] Graham Ashton, Cheating in Esports – How Is It Done, and How Is It Dealt With?, The Esports Observer (May 27, 2019), https://archive.esportsobserver.com/cheating-in-esports/.

[14] Tom Warren, The World’s Biggest PC Games Are Fighting A New Surge of Cheaters and Hackers, The Verge (May 6, 2020, 7:13 AM), https://www.theverge.com/2020/5/6/21246229/pc-gaming-cheating-aimbots-wallhacks-hacking-tools-developer-response-problem.

[15] Id.

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