Cheatin’ Cheaters!

Running a competition with your online game can really motivate your audience to play, but sadly we don't all play by the rules. . .

Posted by Leanne on 02.10.19

Cheaters, tricksters, swindlers, frauds or charlatans.

Whatever you want to call them, they exist in abundance.

Sadly, cheating is a common plight of any competition. From steroids in Sochi to rigging retweets, there will always be unscrupulous so-and-so’s that are willing to cheat the system in order to win.

To us here at Peek & Poke, cheaters aren’t all that scary.

Annoying? Heck yes. But not show-stopping.  Like dipping into a bag of Revels and coming up with a mouthful of coffee-flavoured ick, cheaters are a potential nasty surprise in an otherwise enjoyable and rewarding experience. The good news is, they can be identified and dealt with easily enough when you know what to look for.

We appreciate though that if you’re embarking on your first branded game experience, it might sound a little off-putting.

So, to help put your mind at ease, here’s some information on how to spot a swindler and what you can do to reduce your chances of being hoodwinked.

The usual suspects

To help you spy a cheat we’ve compiled a couple of profiles of the usual suspects you can potentially happen across in online games.

The Top Spot Hog

This cheat frequents competitions where the prize is awarded to the player with the highest score on the leaderboard. They’ll find a way to doctor their score to nab that highly-contested top spot from genuine players.

Things to watch:

  • Astronomically high scores
  • Scores that stick out a little too far from the pack

The Spaminator

Enemy numero uno of the free prize draw, the Spaminator will flood the leaderboard with multiple entries. Sometimes they are sophisticated and enlist the help of bots. Sometimes they do this manually under many different names. The MO of the Spaminator is to get as many entries in the game as possible to increase the chances of having their entry picked.

Things to watch:

  • The same name or variations of the same name coming up numerous times.
  • A surge of entries over a certain period of time, even in the more unsociable hours of the night.
  • Suspect email addresses.

How can you protect yourself against cheaters?

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the truth is that there is no way to make it impossible for people to cheat at online games. You can make it difficult, but there will always be some industrious scammer willing to rise to the challenge to finding a short cut to a good prize.

So, what can you do?

1. Free Prize Draw vs. Top Spot placement

The easiest way for people to cheat is to doctor a fake top-spot entry. Make it a little harder by having a free prize draw. This will have the added benefit of making your competition more accessible to genuine players of all skill levels. You may still encounter Spaminators, but they can be combated with the next point.

2. Protect yourself with some iron-clad terms and conditions

We’d suggest something along the lines of: [Your Company Name] reserves the right to disqualify any entries that we have reason to believe are bulk entry, third-party or in any way considered fraudulent. Want to take it a step further? Stipulate that entrants will need to supply a copy of photo ID to ensure they are who they say they are.

3. Don’t let them know that you know, ya know?

Once you’ve identified a cheater, it can be very tempting to remove them there and then. Why should they audaciously dominate your leaderboard and put off other legitimate players? But it’s this audacity we need to keep in mind. Cheaters by their very nature are brave, cheeky and enjoy a challenge. Letting them know that you’re on to them is like throwing down the gauntlet and can lead to ever more inventive means of cheating – some we may not be able to track.

4. Let us know

Suspect that a cheat might be lurking in your leaderboard? Get in touch. We could already be aware of it, but it’s always best to have more hands-on deck in the battle to thwart the tricksters!

Bottom line – cheating happens. But this shouldn’t stop you from running a branded game campaign that will offer you the opportunity to garner genuine positive and lasting connections with your target audience.

If you want to talk to us more about cheaters or about games in general then get in touch!

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