Guilty Gear Strive, Arc System Works’ popular 2D anime fighter, is still dealing with some hacking issues that are so bad, a recent tournament had to get canceled and its prize pool refunded.
Earlier this year, Kotaku reported on Guilty Gear Strive hackers exploiting a resurfaced fatal flaw centered around something known as the “R-Code.” This code houses various in-game player data, such as handles and win-lose records, and hackers were able to manipulate this data to do all sorts of frustrating shenanigans. This included not just changing a player’s name but also sending in-game chat messages without a player’s consent and causing memory leak issues that essentially made Strive unplayable. Largely impacting big content creators who play the game on Twitch, the problem has now persisted for months, and has gotten so bad that a community-run tournament was canceled due to how unbearable things have become.
Kelly “SQ” Chapdelaine, who placed seventh in May’s Combo Breaker tournament, posted a video on X (formerly Twitter) illuminating the issues.
As demonstrated by the above clip, SQ’s game crashed a couple of times during an August 14 livestream. SQ later clarified that she had been hacked “about five times” that day. The community has taken to referring to the source of the trouble as “Hackerman,” though nobody knows just who or what Hackerman is. All they know is that it seems someone, or some group, has been hijacking Strive by exploiting the game’s R-Code, causing online matches to slow to a crawl or outright freeze entirely. The only recourse, it seems, is to hard-reset the game, but nothing guarantees that “Hackerman” won’t strike again.
Competitive player Kizzie Kay also posted a video of their experiences with these hacks, while Claire “Umisho” Harrison, a breakout Strive competitor who placed fourth in the game’s EVO 2023 tournament, begged developer Arc System Works on August 13 to “stop pretending” like the exploit doesn’t exist.
“Please anyone with a soul I’m begging you, this shit is embarrassing, people literally cannot stream your game,” Umisho said in a follow-up post, tagging Arc System Works in the process. “Hell people can’t even play off-stream sometimes and you still refuse to admit there is a real problem here.”
What Umisho is alluding to here is an April 14 X post from the official Japanese Guilty Gear account. Producer Ken Miyauchi not only apologized for the issues, but also said that the team is actively working to resolve them. At the same time, though, Miyauchi claimed that Hackerman doesn’t exist.
“We have currently identified the cause of a large impact on the issues with the network mode and are actively working together with related parties on improvements to address the problem,” Miyauchi said at the time. “We have received many inquiries regarding certain network problems believed to be caused by malicious hacking. However, from our current investigation, we have determined there is a huge likelihood of an unrelated, not human-induced cause behind these problems. We are currently carefully investigating the situation.”
Well, it seems the investigation has yet to yield actionable results as a recent tournament had to cancel its final set of matches due to hacks interfering with play.
New Head FGC is a smaller, community-run tournament centered around Guilty Gear Strive and Street Fighter 6. The group recently partnered with another small organization named Shut Up And Fight for the Double Trouble tournament, a 2v2 online Strive competition that kicked off in early August. Things were going fine until August 13, when New Head FGC posted on X that there were “lingering issues” with regard to hacking that started to affect casual play. The tournament’s founder Valore later confirmed to Kotaku in DMs that the event had to be canceled because of these ongoing problems.
“We had a 2v2 team tournament [on August 12] that saw record-breaking numbers in attendance for a team tournament in Guilty Gear, with entries from some of the most talented players in the world,” Valore said. “Some of those [players] were still in the U.S. from EVO 2023. It was extremely exciting to have worldwide talent allowed to play under our regional restrictions. However, right before top eight we had to cancel the event due to hacking.”
Valore explained that New Head FGC attempted to reschedule the top eight bracket for August 13. The group even tried continuing off-stream so that whoever or whatever Hackerman is couldn’t target the event, but it didn’t matter. Hackerman struck again, leading to the tournament’s cancellation.
“The game crashes and server instability for our players were so unbearable that it was impossible to complete a tournament,” Valore said. “The prize money had to be refunded to the donors, and it was a total mess to handle.”
Valore was quick to point out that, again, these hacking issues seem to mostly plague folks with clout: community figures, large streamers, competitive players—the kinds of people that sustain Strive’s popularity and proliferation. As the founder of a Strive tournament, he told Kotaku that he, too, was running into Hackerman. It’s gotten so bad that he’s taking a break from playing the game until the August 24 patch, though he doubts it’ll address the problems.
“If this hacking continues, the fan engagement of the game is going to decrease dramatically,” Valore said. “Players are used to competing multiple times a week, with various tournaments that pop up online every single day. This won’t affect casual players much, but where the true game retention lies are with enthusiasts, and those are the individuals suffering most from this.”
Kotaku reached out to Arc System Works for comment.
Arc System Works’ senior esports manager Francisco “Junior” Ferreira posted on X on August 13 that the team deeply apologizes for the persistent issues. They clarified that the producer has been notified and asked the community to provide as much evidence of the situation as possible so that the team can recreate the environment internally to get to the bottom of what’s happening.
“I fully understand that transparency is key regarding this entire process so please trust me (as you have in the past) with bridging the gap between you all and our dev team,” Ferreira wrote. “I expect to get more information from the team throughout the week, but I want to also share that currently most all of our dev staff are on holiday. This holiday is expected to end come Thursday, in which case I hope to share more meaningful updates with you on progress and next steps towards resolving this issue.”
Ferreira hasn’t posted on social media since this update was delivered. They also have yet to respond to Kotaku’s request for comment on the situation.
All of this comes just about one week before Guilty Gear Strive’s third season starts. On August 24, the game will get new DLC characters—the flashy and sexy pirate swordsman Johnny, alongside three other unnamed fighters—and introduce new mechanics and stages that are sure to be exciting for the 2.5 million players the game has reached. Valore just hopes it’ll all be playable for everyone, especially for people who dedicate their time to Strive competitions.
“I’m certain the staff at Arc System Works is doing their best to account for the issues; however, we’ve been putting up with this ‘hackerman’ for over a year,” Valore said. “We just want to play our favorite game. We at New Head FGC just want to run events, be creative, and allow the community to have fun and engage with the game. If we can’t play online, then Strive is doomed. It is an absolutely horrible feeling as a Tourney Organizer to cancel the largest event you ever put on, for reasons outside of your control. Thank you for all your efforts Arc System Works. The community is just praying for a swift fix.”