In Russia’s first such legal case, Andrey Kirsanov has been accused of selling thousands of cheats for ‘World of Tanks’ and ‘World of Warships’, causing an estimated $9m in damages. He could face up to five years in prison.
Kirsanov’s case was initially set to be tried in Moscow, however the court made the decision to transfer the trial to his home city of Ekaterinburg. This case sets the first precedent of a game cheat creator being criminally tried in Russia. He is being charged for the ‘creation and distribution of harmful computer programs’ as per Russia’s Criminal Code, after he allegedly sold thousands of hacks over the course of several years.
Charges were initially filed against Kirsanov back in Spring 2021, at which time he initially confessed his guilt. However, since the trial started he has denied any wrongdoing. Now the court will familiarize themselves with the evidence and hear the testimonies and depositions of witnesses and victims. If found guilty, Kirsanov could be forced to pay off any damages as well as face up to five years in prison.
The Belarusian game company Wargaming – the creator and owners of ‘World of Tanks’ and ‘World of Warships’ – has been declared the injured party in this case, and they claim the thousands of cheats allegedly produced and sold by Kirsanov have caused an estimated 670 million rubles (around $9 million) in damages, as many frustrated players abandoned the game upon encountering cheaters.
Kirsanov allegedly created several programs, ranging from basic auto-aim scripts to fully autonomous bots. The aim hacks allowed players to automatically lock on to targets and maintain 100% accuracy and always hit critical parts of the enemy, while the bots could play the entire game without requiring any input from the user. This allowed cheaters to ‘farm’ the game for in-game currency and experience by simply launching it and keeping it running in the background while doing other things.
Hackers have long been an issue within the gaming industry, and cheating in competitive online games has especially grown in recent years and proven to be a substantial source of income for cheat creators. As a result, many games have become overrun with cheaters while developers struggle to keep up with anti-cheat measures.
Considering an exodus of players due to rampant cheating can result in millions of dollars in damages, developers and studios have started asking governments to take legal action against those who cheat in online games as well as those who create and sell the cheats. Hack creators in countries like China and South Korea have reportedly faced sentences ranging from several months to 15 years and now Russia might become the latest to join the fight against online cheating.