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This cheat software hacks the game to show you the health, name and bounding box of your allies and enemies, which in turn helps you aim. (Picture: Pilaobantezhe/Taobao)

Buying hacks to cheat in Apex Legends is easy in China

Some cheating tools for the hit battle royale game cost up to US$450

Video gaming
This article originally appeared on ABACUS

How do you know Apex Legends is hot? Because you can find people selling cheats for the hit battle royale game everywhere in China.

Do a quick search on some of the country’s biggest e-commerce sites and you will find countless merchants blatantly selling cheating software. Auto-aiming, zero recoil for weapons, seeing through obstacles -- it’s all there.

This cheat software hacks the game to show you the health, name and bounding box of your allies and enemies, which in turn helps you aim. (Picture: Pilaobantezhe/Taobao)
And the price tags? Anywhere from less than US$1 to as much as US$450.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Respawn's popular new game -- which hit  25 million players in just a week -- is attracting players who want to cheat. In fact, the company just announced that it has already banned 16,000 players for cheating in the first ten days after launch.

How Fortnite and PUBG made battle royale the hottest trend in gaming

But that didn’t stop Chinese merchants from selling cheating software online. If you search for “ Apex Legends assistance” on Taobao (keywords like cheat and hacks are banned) there are at least 50 different merchants selling these products, with some of them having conducted more than a hundred transactions already.

(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba -- which also owns Taobao.)

And that’s just tip of the iceberg. Many merchants only use Taobao as an advertising platform, and will actually direct users to much less conspicuous and non-mainstream platforms where the actual transactions take place.

An alleged cheater, spotted by Chinese players. (Picture: DDDmouren/Bilibili)

Another place where you can find cheating software? QQ, China’s second largest messaging app. Similar to how Facebook has groups to join, QQ has groups where this software is being passed around.

And they’re also not hard to find. I looked using the same term, “Apex Legends assistance”, and found dozens of them. And they’re massive, with many having close to 2,000 members.

On the left: Merchants selling cheats via QQ groups, with close to 2000 members. On the right: merchants selling cheats on Taobao.
If you’re shocked by this, well, you shouldn’t be. Chinese gamers have a long-lasting love affair with buying cheating software. Don’t believe me? PUBG’s creator once cited a study estimating that the majority of cheaters in the game were in China.

PUBG, the battle royale pioneer

Most of the software was actually developed in China. Again, with PUBG, there were a few cases where Chinese hackers were actually arrested for creating these programs.
You see those green dots? That’s the location of enemies -- locations you’re not supposed to know. (Picture: QQ)
Still, Chinese players aren’t the only ones using cheats. One guy on Twitch blatantly broadcasted himself playing Apex Legends while using cheats.
The streamer, by the name of Mengiez, was seen shooting at enemies with the help of a bounding box. Mengiez managed to fire with incredible accuracy, missing just a few long-range shots because of the terrain. Unsurprisingly, he was quickly banned from Twitch.
It remains to be seen what Respawn will do to further curb cheating in Apex Legends. But it’s worth noting that Respawn has been creative in the past. With its previous hit, Titanfall, Respawn didn’t outright ban cheaters from playing the game. Instead, it permanently ostracized them from the main community, only matching cheaters with other cheaters in what the company called " the Wimbledon of aimbot contests”.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.