June 9, 2016
'The Division' Perma-Banning Cheaters On First Offense Going Forward

Cheating has been an issue The Division has struggled with since the game first hit beta on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Ubisoft Massive threw down the gauntlet Thursday and declared those caught cheating in the online shooter will be permanently banned going forward.

Ubisoft was criticized when The Division launched for keeping some character and game information stored locally on user's PC or console. This led to some noticeable hacks during The Division beta that bled over into the official release and impacted Dark Zone players. The developer has improved server side detection of hacks since launch, but it has also set up a game of whack-a-mole, where Ubisoft closes one exploit and another appears.

To dissuade The Division players from cheating, the developer began issuing suspensions and permanent bans. Ubisoft took action against over 30,000 accounts caught during an "intensive campaign" last month. This include over 3,800 permanent bans. That apparently has not been enough, as cheaters are still infecting the Dark Zone and has resulted in more severe measures from Ubisoft.

The Division (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
[Image via Ubisoft]"Following this campaign of suspensions and bans, it also became clear that while huge progress has been made in terms of cheat detection, our 14 days suspension on first offense policy has not been dissuasive enough. Judging from your feedback, and based on what we witnessed when cheaters came back to the game, we have now decided to push our policy one step further: we will now start applying permanent bans on first offense when players are caught using cheat engines and we will communicate clearly when new ban waves are taking place," the developer announced.
"We are committed to constantly improve your experience in the game, and this begins with ensuring a positive and fair environment free of noxious players willingly violating the rules. We will take all steps necessary to track down cheaters and make sure they cannot spoil your enjoyment of the game."
Permanently banning players on their first offense is a measure a growing number of online games have begun to take. Blizzard instituted the same policy with Overwatch and banned thousands of players not long after the game's launch (via IGN). Another Ubisoft title, Rainbow Six: Siege, also changed its stance towards cheaters this week and is also permanently banning players for their first offense for cheating or hacking.

Now the question is whether these action will help bring players back to The Division. The combination of cheaters in the Dark Zone combined with a disappointing reception to the first two free DLC drops featuring Incursion Zones.

Ubisoft now looks forward to the paid DLC releases to renew interest in The Division. Season Pass owners received the June exclusive content drop Thursday with two new weapon skins and a collection of crafting materials.

Beyond that, the Underground expansion is planned to be released sometime this month, with more details likely being revealed next week at E3. The developer's description of the add-on thus far states players will be able to explore the "uncharted underworld of New York City" through an endless maze of tunnels and subways.

The Underground expansion will be followed by the Survival expansion this summer, which will "challenge players to survive as long as possible by gathering essential supplies in a very hostile environment.

The Last Stand expansion is the final planned DLC for The Division. Details on it are short, but Ubisoft promises a new threat for players to defend New York City against.

What do you think of Ubisoft Massive's decision to permanently ban cheaters on the first offense? Sound off in the comments below.

[Image via Ubisoft]