An update on TrueAchievements' Cheat Policy

By Rich Stone,
We recently proposed some small changes to the TrueAchievements Cheat Policy (the rules that govern what we allow and do not allow regarding unlocking achievements in games). We have taken on board all of the community feedback, and have settled on an updated policy that we believe is both clear, fair and enforceable.

Here is the key part of the updated Cheat Policy, the part that defines cheating:

How do you define cheating?

All profiles on site must comply with the following rules:
Things we do not allow:
  • Using profile editors, trainers, or similar software to unlock achievements.
  • Using a save from a different profile (typically referred to as gamesaving).
  • Using a save from a different version or platform (e.g. from Steam to Windows Store) outside of supported game mechanics.
  • Profile swapping, also known as the Second Profile Glitch (SPG), which is the practice of transferring a save or game statistics from one profile to another.
  • Editing or manipulating game files to unlock achievements, alter achievement requirements, or to unlock options disabled by developers.
  • Manually adding or editing files in mod-enabled games to unlock achievements or alter achievement requirements.
  • Launching a game with command line arguments (or using software to do it for you) for the purpose of unlocking achievements, altering achievement requirements, or to unlock options disabled by developers.

Clarification of changes

The bullet points in bold above regarding mods and command line arguments are the main updates to the policy. The mod rule was already covered by the section on file manipulation, but given the number of questions we have received on that topic, we've decided to make it explicit in the policy.

Please note that this change does not affect the in-game mod store in games such as Surviving Mars, as no manual file manipulation is required to install these mods — all of the mod functionality is built into the game engine itself.

Games such as Minecraft that have worlds that you can download in-game are also unaffected.

There are, however, a handful of Xbox games on Windows that have a way to enable mods. There are third-party sites that host mod files for these titles that automatically unlock achievements. Downloading these files and using them to unlock achievements is not allowed under the policy and will be considered cheating.

Timeframe for implementation

These rules are effective immediately, but they are not retroactive. If you have used these banned methods prior to today, you do not have to be worried about them being flagged up on your account.

What happens if I use the banned methods after today?

Please read the "How do investigations work" section of the Cheat Policy for more information.

Further discussion

I want to make it clear that we are all aware that these rule adjustments will not please everyone. Some achievement hunters believe that boosting sessions or the use of turbo controllers should be outlawed, and at the other end of the spectrum, there are others that believe that anything is fair game, including game-saving and editing files. We have to place our line in the sand somewhere, and wherever we place that line, we know there will be some dissenting voices. I can assure you that everything we do is done with the best interests of the TrueAchievements community in mind. At the same time, I would like us to maintain the original strapline and concept of the site: Just how good are you?

Another comment we see regularly is "If Microsoft allow it, TA should allow it." Firstly, we are not Microsoft — I originally created the TrueAchievement score system because I wanted to have a different, and hopefully better, take on Gamerscore. As an independent website, it's up to us how we define 'cheating' on TrueAchievements.

Secondly, Microsoft has existing rules around achievement unlocking that would also prevent some of the things that we are banning, but sadly those policies are not currently being enforced. There are thousands of Gamertags on Xbox Live that have broken many of Xbox's rules around achievement unlocking but have not been banned from the service — our leaderboards would be overrun with these tags if we did not have an Investigations Team working hard to remove them from TA. We have different standards, and we have a great team that enforces those standards.

If you have any questions about the cheat policy, please post them in the Investigations Questions Forum
Rich Stone
Written by Rich Stone
Yo! Rich here - I was the one that created TrueAchievements back in 2008 as I felt the Xbox Gamerscore system could be improved. The site has evolved massively since then and it's now the biggest and best Xbox community on the planet! Racing games and open world shooters are my thing, but I'll give most genres a go. Except RPGs - those things are evil.