On Tuesday, Fortnite publisher Epic Games filed civil complaints against two alleged associates of the website Addicted Cheats who apparently used the site’s aimbotting services to kill Twitch streamers live on camera.
For $5 to $15 monthly subscriptions, Addicted Cheats’ botting services aid players in tracking, aiming at and killing enemies in PvP games. To architect cheats for Fortnite’s new battle royale mode, which now boasts over ten million players, the cheat-makers would have to reverse-engineer and modify the game’s source code. In a civil complaint, Epic Games argues that making and using that altered, game-breaking code is against Fortnite’s End User License Agreement and the Copyright Act.
“In using cheat software to modify the game’s code in this way,” the complaints read, “Defendant and other cheaters who use the cheat create unauthorized derivative works based on Fortnite in violation of the Copyright Act.”
According to the complaints, both defendants seem to offer technical support for AddictedCheats.com and, with cheats the site provides, monitor streams and intentionally prevent streamers from winning. This practice, which is known as “stream sniping,” has been a semi-frequent and much-derided fad among the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds community—a game that Fortnite’s new battle royale mode expressly took some cues from. While Battlegrounds explicitly forbids cheating and stream-sniping in its rules of conduct, Fortnite’s only explicitly forbids cheating. One defendant had been banned from playing Fortnite nine times. In response, he allegedly registered several other accounts with different names to continue playing Fortnite and stream-sniping. According to the complaint, when asked why he stream-snipes, the defendant said, “Because its [sic] fun to rage and see streamers cry about how loaded they are and then get them stomped anyways.”
When Epic Games altered Fortnite’s code to prevent further cheating, the second defendant allegedly found a work-around with, adding, “Now method is exposed . . . Epic Eat my ass.” Over Discord chat, both defendants declined to comment. Over Addicted Cheats’ Discord channel, an affiliate said that they’re not offering refunds to Fortnite cheaters who purchased their services.
When reached for comment, Epic games said, “When cheaters use aimbots or other cheat technologies to gain an unfair advantage, they ruin games for people who are playing fairly. We take cheating seriously, and we’ll pursue all available options to make sure our games are fun, fair, and competitive for players.”
In putting out a battle royale game reminiscent of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, publisher Epic Games seemed to have attracted one aspect of the Battlegrounds community it probably didn’t want.