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EA expanding EA Anti-Cheat - bad news for Steam Deck / Linux

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EA (Electronic Arts) are continuing to expand their home-grown EA Anti-Cheat, with an announcement that Battlefield 2042 is also moving over to it.

This isn't actually something entirely new though, as it was given a Deep Dive back in 2022 and released with Fifa 23 that same year, and it's also in the newly released EA SPORTS FC 24. Battlefield is definitely not the first game to get it but it's a growing issue.

Part of the problem is that it doesn't work on Linux / Steam Deck, with it being blocked by EA. It's a kernel-mode anti-cheat and anti-tamper solution, which as we've seen from other anti-cheats is particularly problematic for Linux / Steam Deck. And it's likely EA will continue to use it with new games, and potentially get other older games updated to use it too. So if they got Respawn to switch over to it, this would kill Apex Legends on Linux / Steam Deck too.

Fifa 23 and EA SPORTS FC 24 are rated Unsupported on Linux / Steam Deck due to it, and while Battlefield 2042 previously used Easy Anti-Cheat, they never bothered to hook up support for that on Linux anyway (even though EAC supports Linux), so it's just going to continue to be Unsupported.

We can only hope that Valve are keeping an eye on the situation and speak to EA to eventually get support for it on Linux / Steam Deck with Proton.

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F.Ultra Sep 30, 2023
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Quoting: kaktuspalme
Quoting: MayeulCYes it should be done on the server. Client side anti cheat will always be possible.

I think that wouldn't work. E.g. for timing-related cheating any network jitter - e.g. cause by your flatmate streaming a movie - would cause lots of false positives.

network jitter can be compensated for and it's the server that already makes all the decisions so this have to be handled already today in order for the games to even work. It also means that implementing it at the server side will be problematic, meanwhile implementing it at the client side is impossible.
ElectricPrism Sep 30, 2023
They call it "anti-cheat" -- but what it really is -- EMBRACE, EXTEND, EXTINGUISH ... namely their competitors.
poiuz Sep 30, 2023
Quoting: ElectricPrismThey call it "anti-cheat" -- but what it really is -- EMBRACE, EXTEND, EXTINGUISH ... namely their competitors.
How does their anti-cheat embrace anything from any competitors?
MercifulBoss Sep 30, 2023
I hate the people saying "Who cares about FIFA/overpriced overmade game" etc. Its not about that you fools - it doesn't matter if you don't like the game due to some deluded conception of privacy or whatever. Its about extending support to as many games as possible even if you don't play them. The more games that can be played on linux the more support there will be in the future - its a snowball effect.

With that out of the way - this is very bad news as there seems to be no way to extend support of kernel anticheats to linux and more games will embrace them as valorant has shown how effective they can be at preventing cheaters.
MayeulC Sep 30, 2023
Quoting: 1xokThe kernel based AC will or have already lead to external image recognition. Extract video signal, process it and feed the result back via Bluetooth/USB. For example mouse corrections.

Chess services, where cheating is obviously done on external systems, rely 100% on AI for recognition.

In the future, in EA games, you may not even notice that you are playing against cheaters. Maybe that is already the case. Without an objective evaluation system, it's hard to say. Thus, EA and co. must also rely on AI and statistical methods here. The question is whether kernel-based systems are still useful at all. They have side effects. I would not install something like that on a Windows system. I'd rather read a book instead.

Heh, I don't really want to go into the details again about how to do it, but in addition to server side anti cheat, I'd say it's OK to let players get a little help, like if games included aim assist.
It just means better players in the lobby as long as it isn't game-breaking, and can be useful for matchmaking (for instance you are matched against someone stronger, but get a health and aim assist boost or something, and they get bragging rights/more XP/etc). So many non-invasive ways to address the problem, but as @kaktuspalme said, the crux may be that it's relatively easy to create an "anti cheat" system like this that works across many different games, while other approaches require specific consideration. And secondly, multiplayer games taking this issue seriously probably implement some kind of "defense in depth" strategy, using every tool at their disposal.

Quoting: PirolisiLol, when there is a discussion about anti cheats there are always the usual dudes talking about server sided anti cheats.... You simply don't know what you are talking about

There's more to what I suggest than server side AC. While I am certainly not an expert at multiplayer game development, are you? Would you mind pointing out the thing that I may have missed?
Of course, it is hard to prevent every kind of cheat (wallhack, auto aim, etc) short of server-side rendering, a lot can be done, and it's almost trivial to check for cheats that would alter game mechanics. While, of course, all of that make the server side more complex to develop.

Last edited by MayeulC on 30 September 2023 at 5:54 pm UTC
yndoendo Sep 30, 2023
EA as been dead to me after Battlefield: Bad Company 2. They hold a lot of sports licensing contacts that keep people purchasing from them. I don't buy into it. Saves me money, headaches, and reduces my profanity output.

Sports keeps others coming and prevents competition. Would love for those sport industries to say, "Hey lets try another company every 2 or 3 games, this would really push for better EA contracts and or lead to a better product." That would eat away at EA and also start eating away at non sport licensed content contracts too.

Discontinuation of multiplayer server support in older games, like Battlefield: Bad Company 2, would be where one could get more legislator sympathy. It is more presentable and understandable then they are installing a root kit that makes my computer unsafe. Legislators have abetter understand of consumer rights then technology, they are just dumb with issues that are technological. Youth in politics would be a solution to both those problems.
hellenkiller Sep 30, 2023
More proof EA is absolutely incompetent. Your anti-piracy software stops more NON pirates than pirates. This is why piracy continues. I now torrent all new software and only purchase AFTER I am confident the devs don't screw things up like this. If you don't give me DRM free software, I'll make it myself and you won't get paid.
Eike Oct 2, 2023
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Quoting: MercifulBossI hate the people saying "Who cares about FIFA/overpriced overmade game" etc. Its not about that you fools - it doesn't matter if you don't like the game due to some deluded conception of privacy or whatever.

Stopped reading here. I propose not to devalue other people's ideas (or the people themselves) - especially if it's not really what you want to talk about.
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