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GTA Online's war on "unfair" money hacks: how Rockstar's protecting innocent users

Developer wants "to keep the gameplay environment as fair as possible"

It's been almost 24 hours since the end of GTA Online's anti-cheat maintenance period, and controversy continues to rage over Rockstar's crackdown on the hackers. The studio maintains that a fairer game is a better game, but some object that walling out exploits runs somewhat contrary to GTA's criminal ethos. Upstanding users also worry that they'll be penalised for receiving vast quantities of unsolicited "counterfeit" cash.

The studio has now explained this week's measures in more depth over on the Rockstar Support page. "We have received complaints over the past few weeks about cheaters gifting large amounts of GTA$ to others, setting bounty rewards outside game limits, or otherwise attempting to tamper with the GTA Online economy," begins a Q&A.

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"We have deployed several hotfixes to prevent this type of activity, and will be adding further cheat protection in future Title Updates as well. Players who willingly cheated to create this illegitimate influx of in-game currency will be separated out from the rest of the population.

"If you were the unwilling recipient of an impossibly large amount of GTA$, you do not need to worry about disciplinary action against your account. However, please be aware that we will be making community-wide automatic adjustments to players' account balances to remove the modded money."

The developer is using a mix of automated alerts and manual inspection to catch the hackers. "To keep the gameplay environment as fair as possible for legitimate players, we routinely do sweeps to separate out cheaters and modders, and to reverse any illegitimate transactions. These sweeps are based on in-game automated detection, examination of suspicious gameplay statistics, and also manually-reviewed evidence submitted by the Community."

Taken receipt of a mysterious fortune? Paranoid about bans? Don't be. Providing they haven't consciously engaged in any economy-breaking activities, players needn't worry. "We are able to tell the difference, automatically through gameplay data, between the cheaters and the players who received this money innocently. Players who were willingly cheating are notified about any action taken against their account. If you were not cheating, you do not need to do anything further."

In terms of how counterfeit cash is removed, Rockstar has taken or will take it from your bank account in the first instance, then from any inactive character wallets, and finally from the wallet of your active character. The studio is aware that some players may have spent the funds on items already - you'll be able to keep those items, but your balance may now be lower post-maintenance than it was before the funds arrived.

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Rockstar has also gifted players cash where appropriate so that they still have enough to play with. "For accounts that would have been left with little or no GTA$ after correction, we added sufficient funds to continue playing and enjoying GTA Online, taking into account whether a player intentionally created and distributed modded GTA$ versus or received modded money innocently."

Needless to say, any in-game dollars bought with real-world money haven't been removed.

Rockstar is unable to remove funds from an account on request, but would like you to keep an eye out for suspect activity. "If you have any information about methods people are still using to try to ruin the GTA Online experience for others, please submit concrete proof (video tutorials, guides, links to mod files, etc.) to GTAOnlineBanhammer@rockstargames.com and we will investigate."

Thoughts on all this?

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