Over the past couple of weeks, Infinity Ward has banned over 70,000 accounts globally for cheating in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone. Now, mounting evidence suggests that many players may be caught up and getting unfairly suspended from the game.
Across Reddit, Activision’s support forum, and even in our own email inbox, CoD players are complaining that they’ve been unjustly banned. There even seems to be a Discord server dedicated to the problem.
Most have been met with permanent ban notifications, while others have noticed signs that they are shadowbanned. None have received any suggested recourse from customer support.
— Vincent Pacleb (@Vinsanity1217) April 26, 2020
For months now, the player base has been demanding that IW crack down upon the rampant hacking across Modern Warfare and its free counterpart, Warzone. Action was necessary and catching innocent players in this wave of bans is most certainly the lesser of two evils.
But some sort of appeal process, or even just communication that the system is being ironed out, would go a long way toward satisfying seemingly innocent players who have poured hours and dollars into this game.
As it stands, when you go through Activision’s official customer service page to address a banned account, you are met with a dead end: “Temporary and permanent suspensions from all game modes are final and are not subject to review.”
This past week, IW revealed some details about their new anti-cheat system – specifying increased emphasis on player reports and backend security enforcement. With one Reddit thread noting 47 different forum posts related to unjust bans, and another receiving over 500 upvotes and 400 comments after using video evidence to dispute their suspension, it is obvious that some innocent players are suffering and desperate to find a solution.
There are a few reasonable explanations for damning false positives. For reports, cross-play lends a situation where PC players can easily think console aim assist is a hack while console players can believe PC flick shots are too. As for the backend technology, it appears that otherwise innocuous background programs and VPN usage may be triggering automatic bans (with the former already being investigated by ITWire’s Nick Ross).
With players sharing video evidence and unimpressive statistics as evidence, something seems fishy. It’s even just concerning that the shadow ban thread on Activision’s forums has 500-plus responses (more than any other thread).
In one particular example, ‘MozzieWipeout’ shares the clip above, in which he hits suspicious flick shots with the RAM-7. That could easily prompt a report for aim hacks, but as shown in the full video – he also regularly misses shots.
While everyone is thrilled that cheaters are bearing the hammer of justice, nobody wants innocent players to be collateral damage.
As evidence grows, Activision will need to adapt its stance and begin either accepting ban appeals or rework its anti-cheat system.