Escape from Tarkov’s cheating problem

Escape from Tarkov has always been a highly competitive multiplayer game, which means that cheats have always been prevalent. But the infamous The Wiggle That Killed Tarkov video, by the creator g0at, revealed that in 125 games, 60% contained cheaters.

Pretty shocking – considering it means that if you go into a raid in Escape from Tarkov, you are more likely than not to encounter at least one cheater. And 60% was also only the percentage that g0at could prove by using the wiggle method, there is a chance that the number could be higher. g0at’s video at the time of writing has reached 2.5 million views, with Pestily and General Sam (two of the biggest Escape from Tarkov creators) both commenting on the video showing their support.

This has shaken the Escape from Tarkov community more than any other discovery of cheating, but is Escape from Tarkov now dead? Or can it recover?

2020 Reddit response

This is not the first cheating scandal that Escape from Tarkov has been through. Back in 2020, Battlestate Games responded on Reddit to many complaints of cheating in the game, claiming to have introduced many countermeasures and banned 10,000 cheaters before the 12.6 update.

Real-money trading (RMT) also known as Gold Farming has also been a problem with Escape from Tarkov, which is where players will use real currency to buy vast amounts of the in-game currency. This, therefore, breaks the game, as it will undermine the reward system and economy of the game. The Flea Market also relies heavily on a balanced in-game economy, so RMT will throw this off entirely.

However, BSG’s response was rather ham-fisted and resulted in them banning a huge number of players, even those not using RMT or any cheats. The exchange of items between players, even though stated to not be a bannable offence, was causing many players to receive a ban from just gifting their friends items mid-raid.

g0at’s video

The wild banning of players seemed to cool off and Escape from Tarkov appeared to return to normal. Despite there still being knowledge of cheaters existing, the support of the game was strong, particularly leading up to the Streets of Tarkov map release.

However, with the release of The Wiggle That Killed Tarkov video, the serious amount of cheating in the game was brought to light.

What is the ‘wiggle’?

In Escape from Tarkov, pressing Q and E will make the player lean left and right, which allows you to lean around corners to fire. Pressing them quickly in succession will make the player appear to wiggle their body.

In the video, g0at was using a cheat to see players through walls, and knew that other players were using it too. He would wiggle at them repeatedly from behind buildings and walls, knowing they could see him, and in many cases, the players would wiggle back, confirming they could see him.

Escape from Tarkov HUD with cheating software
g0at demonstrating the cheat which allows x-ray vision and a minimap

g0at also demonstrates how the minimap is a giveaway, and how players immediately lock on to his position, despite being behind several opaque structures.

While this was not a revelation that cheating was happening in Tarkov, it was a revelation as to how bad it was, and someone had actually gone to the effort of producing some data to demonstrate how common it is. The fact that it could be proven in 60% of games is a shocking statistic, as the real number is most likely higher, and means that more raids have cheaters in them than don’t.

Is it hard to ban cheaters?

Banning cheaters in video games is harder than it seems. Essentially this is because detecting cheat software is incredibly hard, and companies would need access to the players’ hard drives in order to actually confirm whether cheats are being used.

Most online multiplayer games that have a cheating problem will rely on a reporting system to then ascertain whether cheats are being used, which is course is then at the company’s discretion. However, being too harsh with this opens up the possibility of innocent players getting banned, harming the reputation of the game and company.

HUD of Escape from Tarkov with cheats installed
Banning cheaters is not a straightforward process

Is Escape from Tarkov dead?

Escape from Tarkov is not completely dead, but it has definitely suffered a huge blow to the player base, and there is a lot of scepticism about the game now. Many Tarkov content creators such as Pestily are still active, but the interest in the game has definitely lulled.

Future updates may change this. Battlestate Games have vowed to ban all cheaters they can find, even posting spreadsheets naming and shaming the cheaters. But the issue is that they have not figured out a way to stop cheating in the game, only to ban and punish cheaters.

Escape from Tarkov is still running, but has been stung heavily by g0at’s video demonstrating so clearly the number of cheaters in the game, and BSG’s unfortunate lack of control.

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[…] also might need to deal with a bunch of hackers too in its current state. Good luck mastering this […]

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