Adjustments to TA Cheater Status

By Rich Stone, 6 years ago
Hello TA community,

A little over a month ago we asked for your feedback about how we treat cheaters (and what we call cheaters) on TA. You can read that post and the responses here: Important Message From The Investigations Manager

For those afraid by the length of this post, here's the TL;DR:

Anyone on TA who has even a single cheated game on their card, whether it be their fault (game saving) or not (hacked lobbies), will now be removed from all TA Leaderboards and TA Ratio calculations.

This is as close to "zero tolerance" as the investigations team will ever get.

However (just like it has always been) these gamers will be allowed to keep their account on TA. From now on though, in the least severe cases, the investigations team may allow the user continue to have their card scanned for achievement tracking only.

With the number of people on TA it was clear that it would be very difficult (if not impossible) to come to a consensus among the entire community. The responses ran the entire spectrum from “Zero Tolerance!” to “Who Cares?”.

There still seems to be a lot of confusion from people that don’t understand that some people removed from the TA scanners have done nothing wrong. People who have had their account stolen sometimes also get the scanner boot. The reason we have to do that is because we can’t verify that the account was actually hacked while stolen (or that it was ever stolen in the first place). The same issues happen with games that have hackable lobbies. It’s nearly impossible to judge intent when these issues arise. It’s not entirely fair that people are punished for something they had no control over. While it is true that your account is your responsibility, that’s something we prefer to allow Microsoft to deal with.

We needed to find a balance between protecting site ratios, while still maintaining some level of humanity in the investigation process. Take for example - we can all agree that there are a lot of hackers playing this game. Some people pay Microsoft Points to get 10th prestige (plus other achievements), while others might stumble upon an XP lobby and they don’t realize that going to the dashboard will prevent them from saving the extra XP. There are also people who claim they just unlock all of the achievements when joining a zombie lobby with no effort of their own. It’s impossible for the investigations team to verify if you cheated these achievements on purpose or if you just got extremely unlucky.

Previously the team has taken the stance that it doesn’t really matter - cheated achievements (whether on purpose or accident) affect ratios and they do their best to remove these achievements from the system. Remember that the team doesn't judge the gamer, only the achievements on the card. This means that sometimes smart cheaters go free, while innocent people take a fall.

So after reading all of the community feedback, we think we have a new system in place to balance the fairness of investigations. We had previous talked about removing games from a TA card and while the idea had some pretty good support, it has been shelved for now. So instead we’ve built upon the GamerScore only tracking idea and expanded it. Going forward there will be four levels of access to TrueAchievements.

You can review these levels of access on the Cheat Policy page.

Keep in mind that the Investigations Team is simply trying to maintain the ratios on the site. Each person on the team has their own personal feelings on cheaters. Some of them have less tolerance for people who have made mistakes than others. However as a team they are just trying to protect the ratios, nothing more, nothing less. They aren’t out to embarrass gamers or make them feel bad. They have no vendettas and have even had to remove friends from the scanners in the past. These new levels of access will allow the site to remove anyone from the ratio calculations while not having to oust them completely from the community. This still gives us the ability to completely shut down an account that is clearly cheating for the sake of cheating.

We know this change won’t fit everyone’s idea of a perfect system (especially those that want zero tolerance) however it’s still a lot better than what we have right now. Currently people who have one very obviously cheated game get to stay on the scanners, while someone who had their account stolen might be removed for only 3 or 4 odd achievements crossing only 2 games. It’s pretty obviously that the old system was far from perfect.

Two more quick things to mention:

Previous Investigations: If you have previously had your tracking on TA suspended. You may contact the Investigations Manager ( PM Investigations Manager ) to see if you can qualify for either Non-Stat or GS Only tracking. There are a couple things you should include in your message:

#1. You should include any games that you admit have been cheated (either on purpose, or from things like stolen accounts or hacked lobbies). You should include games that were cheated even if they were not in your original report.

#2. You should include what level of tracking you would find acceptable. “Non-Stat” and/or “GS Only”. This doesn’t mean that you get to pick where you are placed. The team will vote based on what is on your card. However they would like to know before setting you to GS Only if you are just going to turn around and ask to close your account on TA if set to that level.

Uncaught Cheaters: It’s probably silly to ask people to turn themselves in, but we're going to ask anyway. The process of handling reports is a pretty lengthy and even if only 20 people were to opt in to this the team would still save quite a few hours. Of course you’ll need a reason to rat yourself out. In exchange for making the process easier for us (by you opting in to turning yourself in) we’ll give extra leeway during just the first two weeks of these new accounts. Once this time period has ended, anyone reported will not be given the same level of leeway. So if you gamesaved a few games back in 2006 when you first got your Xbox, now is the time to come clean. It may mean the difference between having TA tracking or not. You can contact the IM via the link above; include the same information that is asked for there.

That’s it! Thanks for taking the time to read this. We're excited that moving forward we’ll be able to better protect the TA Ratios but not have to resort to constantly out-casting every TA member who has even the slightest of oddities on their card.

And, please remember the key point:

Anyone on TA who has even a single cheated game on their card, whether it be their fault (game saving) or not (hacked lobbies), will now be removed from all TA Leaderboards and TA Ratio calculations.

UPDATE: To the people who are worried about World at War hacked lobbies:

The investigations team originally requested that I add a way to remove a single game from a gamer. I thought this going to be an awful lot of work for something that was going to be very rarely used.

However, given the number of people in this thread who are claiming to have accidentally walked into a hacked WaW lobby which resulted in them popping a couple of WaW achievements, I will start work on this code.

In the mean time, anyone whose only cheated achievements are those couple of WaW ones will not have any action taken against them.
Rich Stone
Written by Rich Stone
Creator of TrueAchievements, TrueTrophies and TrueSteamAchievements. Writes site news and still finds time for the odd game here and there. Loves Racing games and Shooters, yet to be convinced that any RPG is worth the time investment!