Whether you’ve ever tried downloading a cracked game to save some cash or simply tried to save yourself the hassle of grinding out in game credits, a lot of gamers have been drawn to the dark side (and no, I don’t mean The Horde…)
Cracks, hacks and bots have been around as long as gaming itself. Long before publishers got wise and tried to implement serial keys, optical drive checks or DRM, cracked versions of popular games were easily found on torrent and file-sharing sites.
While the gaming industry may have caught up, with the likes of server side authentication that is commonplace among MMORPG’s, hackers too have evolved; diversifying into in-game currencies and rewards.
If you’ve ever spent some time playing epic games like Eve Online, World of Warcraft or Diablo 3, you’ll know that it can take a lot of time to progress your character, unlock abilities and equipment or save up enough credits to buy something worthwhile.
This is where malware writers can take advantage of eager gamers; especially as Free to Play (F2P) games are more popular than ever, reducing demand for full illegal copies.
This week AVG’s Viruslab Research Group announced that 90% of game hacks contain malware.
AVG conducted a quick search on popular file sharing sites for a Diablo 3 hack, and there were no shortage of gold hacks, item generators or files claiming to be cracked versions of the game.
AVG downloaded a handful of these hacks and not only were they ineffective but actually contained malware designed to steal your gaming account details and potentially your banking details along with them.
The fact that third party “cheats” for games contain malware might not come as a surprise to many, but as gaming grows in popularity, the time/money saving shortcuts that hacks offer gamers will only becoming more appealing.
The truth is that many people don’t have the time to commit to games to unlock the best rewards, but that doesn’t mean they should fall prey to scammers.
Here are some tips to staying safe as a gamer and how to make the most of the time you have to enjoy yourself.
Most games now have their own purchasable currency alongside earnable in game currency (League of Legends’ Riot Points) so if you’re desperate to get your hands on an item but don’t want to wait to earn the points required, you can at least cut corners safely.
A lot of people might be against spending real money on virtual rewards but it’s important to remember that a lot of the biggest games out there (League of Legends, DotA 2, Planetside 2, World of Tanks) are all F2P meaning that developers rely on in game purchases to keep the servers up and the game running.
When you consider that more traditional multiplayer games have a monthly subscription cost just to play (Eve, World of Warcraft, Rift) paying a few bucks for an item doesn’t seem so bad
So you might not want to splash your cash on video game rewards, fair enough. Not all games treat in game rewards in the same way. Some can be described as Pay To Win (unlocking better equipment with real cash), but others (like DotA 2) make all abilities and characters available to all players from day one.
Purchasable upgrades are purely aesthetic, allowing players to customise how their character looks. This gives you the feeling that from the word ‘Go’ you’re on a level playing field with veteran players.
Take a look at a few games that might suit your needs and how much time you’re willing to invest.
Much like online banking or other e-commerce sites, there are malware writers out there looking to scam gamers with phishing emails or legitimate looking websites.
Especially if you plan on making in-game purchases you should treat your gaming account like any sensitive online account. Never share your password, make your purchases using within the game itself so that you can be sure that you’re dealing with the right people and consider getting an authenticator if your game supports one.