Today’s Asahi Newspaper had an interesting article about the use of cheat tools in popular games like Puzzle & Dragons or Pokemon GO and how some people are being arrested over it. Because the paper only allows you to read the full article if you’re a registered member, I can’t translate it in full, but what follows below is a summary with the most relevant parts directly translated.
Using Cheat Tools in Pokemon GO is a Crime?
(original article by Aya Amano)
“Arrests have been made concerning cheat tools (CT) in the online game Puzzle & Dragons, which is popular both in and outside the country. ” The article then explains to Japanese readers that cheat tools are as “tools that allow you trick [the game],” and goes on to say, “They appeared immediately in the popular Pokemon GO. What’s the problem?”
“On June 15th, Kanagawa Prefecture’s police arrested a suspected Hiroshima City third-year college student (21) on grounds of copyright violation, because he was the creator of a CT. In addition, four men were arrested and indicted, and are suspected on the grounds of fraudulent obstruction of business, due to interfering with the business of a game maker from overusing CT.”
There’s also a brief info graphic near the beginning of the article that explains about some other people who have been prosecuted for similar crimes. According to it, in June of 2014, three minors were indicted by Kanagawa Prefecture police for using cheat tools under a law that is something like “interference of the calculation of a loss in digital profits” (excuse me, I’m not fluent in legalese). In November of 2015, Nara Prefecture police arrested a high school student for selling a smart phone with cheat tools loaded on it in an internet auction, under the grounds that it was a violation of copyright.
The article goes on to explain that Puzzle and Dragons has been downloaded over 42 million times and gives a brief explanation of what it is and how popular it has been. It ends the paragraph explaining, “It might be free, but if you buy items that are around 120 yen give or take, you can more quickly become stronger.”
The article continues: “‘Can anybody be prosecuted just by using it?’ When the incidents were reported, anxiety and doubt swirled all over the Internet. If you use the same CT that the suspect used, which anybody can, you can easily become invincible and it’s said that over 400,000 people have downloaded it.” It goes on to explain that there about how easily cheat tools can be found on the internet and how people upload videos explaining how to use and download them.
The next paragraph is about the the perspective of one of the companies: “To maker Gung Ho Online Entertainment, the damages are serious. Not only do they lose the chance for people to pay when players cheat, but it leads to players leaving the game because those who compete in the rankings feel it’s unfair. They say that until now, they’ve built all sorts of fixes and taken approaches to stop it, but it’s a back and forth with the cheat makers who take pride in sharpening up their skills and the technology of their cheats.
“Because it’s a problem inside of games, it’s hard for police department’s cyber patrol units to find it. It’s necessary to step carefully when prosecuting it; in the case this time with the Kanagawa Prefecture police, the arrest was made because it was suspected it was a violation of copyright law to develop and distribute a program that can circumvent the maker’s defense program. In addition, in order to stop the overuse of CT, they’ve gone on to start prosecuting users as well.”
Next the article swerves in the topic of how cheats are being used in other games, such Pokemon GO and Monster Strike (which is a popular Japanese mobile game that sort of combines monster battling with pinball). The information will be familiar to many who know of Pokemon GO, with people using false GPS information to trick the tracker. In Monster Strike’s case, the article quotes a Nexon PR representative as saying, “It takes time to track down a new kind of inappropriate use of the game and it’s hard to immediately respond to it.”
Then the article mentions something that has been seen a lot in recent article about Pokemon GO: how in places like Twitter people have been advertising their services to essentially cheat and play these games for you, making money that way.
The writer ends with this thought: “The scary thing about CT is that you can be tried for a crime even if you’re just using it on a whim,” then quotes both Naoto Narita, a 24-year-old employee of CypherTec, who is credited as being knowledgeable about game security, saying that it’s important that parents look over their children so they don’t get these cheats while not knowing that they’re a crime, and an official from the Kanagawa police who says, “There’s a possibility you can be tried for a crime by using a cheat just one time. Absolutely do not do it.”
This news reminds me of stories earlier in the century of people being arrested for using game screenshots on their web pages without permission. I haven’t heard of that happening in a long time though.