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DRM First Person Shooters (Games) Games

Punkbuster Service Goes Down, Hundreds of Online Game Servers Affected 74

MojoKid writes "PunkBuster, the anti-cheating service implemented in hundreds of online games, is down. As of the time of writing, the official PunkBuster website is up and down, after having been completely down for the past couple of hours. On Twitter, there are numerous reports of gamers who've been unable to play online in the most popular PunkBuster-backed title of the moment, Battlefield 3. EA has gone as far as to post an interim fix. Applying the fix is a simple matter of extracting an archive and then overwriting a couple of files inside of your Battlefield 3 install folder. While EA has little power over PunkBuster's ability to get things 100% functional again, this issue does highlight the fact that third-party solutions are not always the way to go."
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Punkbuster Service Goes Down, Hundreds of Online Game Servers Affected

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  • It's like Christmas!
    • Oh don't be afraid, those good fellas won't take advantage of the situation.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Oh don't be afraid, those good fellas won't take advantage of the situation.

        Yes, I'm a "hacker". According to PunkBuster, I'm a no-good, low-down, filthy little cheater. Why? Because I have the nerve, the sheer gall, if you will, to have both a hex editor AND a macro/scripting application on my machine!

        Look, I'm all about taking measures to counter cheating in game with random players, because it IS a problem. And if you're playing a client-to-client game there's really not much alternative other than only playing with people you trust. But using such systems when it's a server-cli

        • Your whine is very old and has been discussed to death regarding script banning. Likely you are just trolling but I'll give you the benefit of ignorance to a point.

          You didn't get busted for JUST having a hex editor and a macro/scripting application. So stop the bull. You got nailed for one a of several things. I have no idea what one exactly but for example: In some games scripting certain game actions is considered cheating by the game company. They want those actions done by the player and not some script

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:39PM (#42888323)

    The "interim fix" link points to an unofficial site, and the download link on that site points to a file hosted on dropbox...

  • I haven't had that horrible piece of software on my PC in years... Valve's VAC is far superior with less resource usage. Yes, I am a Valve fanboy and yes I am a talented TSQL developer in a fortune 300 company looking for a job with them ;)

  • by Jack9 ( 11421 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:42PM (#42888371)

    Almost everything in EA is third party. From matchmaking, to stats recording, to software clients, to servers. The fact you CAN fix an integral part of the game being down, speaks to why third party integration is preferred, not why it should be avoided. Thanks for the update anyway Mojokid.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    punkbuster does not stop anyone from cheating. except the totally clueless.

    their service is a joke.

    the games that use it are just trying to save money by looking like they're doing something about cheaters... but not.

    • Re:lol (Score:5, Insightful)

      by archen ( 447353 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:53PM (#42888507)

      punkbuster does not stop anyone from cheating.

      It seems to be stopping everyone from cheating at the moment.

    • Agreed, punkbuster is an snake oil sales man. I'm usually against closed source software, and for essential tasks, I'm 100% against it. For non essential stuff like videogames it's somewhat okay. You can't make a game secure without end-to-end encryption.

      You can get close enough by offucating the network protocol and periodically chaning it. You don't even need the source code for game itself to be closed, you just need encrypted, or really offuscated application code to hide an authentication key and that'

  • Also, there are reports of pasty-faced nerds emerging from the basements of the homes of respectable older couples, looking dazed by the sunlight.

    • I've been living under a rock.. what year is it? 2003?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:46PM (#42888417)

    It was worthless in the quake 3 days, and it sure as hell hasn't gotten any better today.. It did little other than lag the clients/servers and kick/ban players spuriously.

    • I wonder, how does this PoC protect itself from being fooled by a punkbusterbusting rootkit?
      • With any luck, people who go to suspicious sites that "have software you can install that defeats Punkbuster!" will get what they deserve.

        And I say that as a dad who had to reinstall the OS several times due to kids installing gameplay "helpers" their "friends" recommended. One picked dollars off a money tree for some online Tamogotchi-like pet game. It worked as a cheat, just came with a little, unspecified bonus feature.

        • by Anti Cheat ( 1749344 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @08:58PM (#42890599)

          Sorry Requiem18th but you have no idea what you are talking about. You only think you know how PB worked. Hate to tell you but your blacklist idea was only a very tiny part.

            Impy the Impiuos Imp You are right. But it was far worse than you could ever imagine with cheat rootkits

          I used to be involved in this area for over 15 yrs. One thing that is very common in cheating are cheats sold/subscribed to over the internet. Having over the years examined these pay cheats, that claim to get around PunkBuster (PB), I have a few insights to share. Many times eventually PB would nail them, counter to claims on the websites. Usually when the numbers using the cheat make it worthwhile for PB to go after.

          But here is the very serious side these cheats most don't know.
          It's no surprise in finding out the cheats are rootkits, but the surprise are the extra payloads they carry or will carry when they get updated in time. The thieves that write the cheats don't stop at stealing the fun out of the game. Several of the bigger sellers in the past were also serious criminals. It was very common for them to hijack your comp to be used in their private botnets or to rent out. The other common theft were your logins and passwords. Many parent were surprised to find their credit cards, banking info was compromised, but worst was identity theft. These cheat criminals often stole directly from the sucker, but more often would just sell your info to others. One German cheat writer thought he was really smart. Once the client (usually a kid) stopped subscribing to his cheat, that was when he loaded up the nasty payloads. He made more money of this theft method than the cheat subscriptions he sold. All those past customers were the gift that just kept on giving.

          As for Punkbuster as a product. Once it matured as a product it did a decent job at catching cheats for a long time (I haven't followed this stuff recently). One thing for sure. Valve's VAC was the worst product by far. Valve would only catch a tiny portion of the cheats as compared to PB and VAC very rarely ever caught private cheats. VAC also had the worst error rate of false detection. Sorry to vac fans but those were the stats.
          I don't do this work in the game industry anymore, but I don't think things have changed much in the last few years.

    • Link/proof? Are you saying it didn't block cheaters? You say it spuriously blocked people (assuming they were not cheaters, I guess?)
      I played tons of FPS games for years, and found I got kicked far more by annoyed humans ("you're using an aimbot, cheater!" >disconnect (I wasn't)) than ever by punkbuster. If it wasn't working, I'd love to see info on this.

  • by Krojack ( 575051 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:55PM (#42888521)

    EA files DMCA lawsuits against thousands for modifying their game files to get around cheat protection...

  • by Seeteufel ( 1736784 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @05:56PM (#42888537) Homepage
    Does it affect Enemy Territory? Meine Leben!!!
  • EA had published a link to a forum post about redirecting you DNS queries to Google's servers; and I'd assumed that there was DNS change that needed to propagate and never looked any further.

    As for PunkBuster, either it sucks or the vendors suck. I've been an avid FPS player for maybe 10 years, and I've never seen a game so shamelessly hacked. I don't know what kind of statistical analysis they're employing, but some guys cheat like they don't give a crap. People, including admins snipi

    • by Anonymous Coward
      To be fair, in BF3 if you add slugs and a scope to your shotgun it does make a pretty good sniper rifle without hacks.
    • You know, you can actually snipe with the shotguns.

      4x optics + slugs.

    • by dave562 ( 969951 )

      10-1 is not that unheard of. I went 13-2 last night on MoH:W and that is using the same engine as BF3. It really all comes down to latency. When I have the connection to myself, I do well. When my fiance is playing WoW on the other computer, I find myself doing less well. That has been my experience since the early days of online gaming. I was one of the best Q3 players in the world for a while when the game first came out. A little bit of it was skill, a lot of it was the 384k DSL line and 10ms ping

      • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

        It really all comes down to latency.

        This is why, when I play CS:S, I only play on one server. It is located in the same city as me, and I usually have the lowest ping on the server. That, and it usually always populated and the people on it are actually fun to play with/against.

      • I'm not talking about that guy with the fluke round or short run or someone in a vehicle. Heck I've had 50ish-3 rounds in AA. Last night I was on Metro and a guy was 110ish and 8. Even if you get a perfect sniping spot, you're not going to get that good a run just because of the random guy breaking through the lines and nailing you.

  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @06:15PM (#42888773)

    Seems to me that if you don't agree with how the EA model works, then don't buy their games. Otherwise, you're just subsidizing the exact thing you hate.

  • Punkbuster is worthless. I broke my own rule and bought Medal of Honor Warfighter for the PC. This is after I went strictly PS3 for FPS games due to the hackers on the PC. Despite having Punkbuster, the game was completely overrun with hackers. Day 1 of the release there were already aimbots and wallhacks galore. The only thing that Punkbuster seems to do is guarantee a revenue stream for the coders who have to obfuscate the cheats from time to time to counteract the new Punkbuster signatures.

    • Then dave562 you didn't stick around for the big bust. When Medal of Honor was released the cheats being used were from the pre-released copy of the game that still worked on the released version. Yes the cheating was bad then.
      However PB was there but it wasn't not turned on yet and wasn't turned on until after the first game patch.
      The situation of the game being released without PB being turned on, was a contractual thing between the company and EvenBalance. Once PB was turned on, it had an immediate impa

      • by dave562 ( 969951 )

        I have been playing it more lately. I decided to go back and finish the Single Player campaign. Once that was done, I checked out multiplayer to see if it got any better. It is better. I am not sure how much of that has to do with Punkbuster, versus how much of it has to do with the hackers getting bored and playing another game. I have only seen two instances of aimbots in the last couple of weeks.

  • by AAWood ( 918613 ) <aawood&gmail,com> on Thursday February 14, 2013 @03:13AM (#42893063)

    Back in the day, my friends and I were really in to Battlefield 2. As time went on though, I found I just couldn't play; we'd spend 20 minutes trying to find a server with enough slots, and after I joined I'd only be there a few minutes before Punkbuster crashes and I get booted from the game. And I'm being precise there; Punkbuster wasn't identifying me as doing anything wrong (because I wasn't), it would just constantly crash out. We tried a few servers not using punkbuster, and everything was fine. I tried looking for solutions online, uninstalling and reinstalling etc, no go.

    It got to the point where we'd meet up time and again to try and play, spend a few hours "playing" BF2, and I'd get maybe half an hour of actual gameplay. We moved onto BF2142; even worse. Updates and patches exacerbated things. Everyone else preferred BF2 and moved back to it. It was now essentially unplayable. When everyone else moved to BF3, I didn't follow.

    Just my experience I know, but a damn bad one.

  • Do absolutely nothing to block/prevent the use of programs that intercept and modify calls to DirectX instead of modifying RAM or game files.

    The end result: There are always some who will get away with cheating even after numerous complaints.

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury