Cheating in video games is nothing new. It wasn't so long ago that Warzone was rife with players using aimbots and wall hacks. Then Ricochet arrived and the lobbies cleaned up, everyone could just enjoy the game again.
Now a similar situation is happening with the Formula 1 game, and it's something that has been brewing for years. F1 cheats have been around for a while now, but mostly in the background. There would be a few viral videos of people producing crazy lap times with the hacks installed. But now it is much more sophisticated, taking a toll on the F1 community.
F1 cheats are available for anyone to buy online and are ultra-sophisticated and hard to detect.
The cheats can be fine-tuned to produce just small degrees of improvement in grip level. It can alter how fast your ERS battery drains, or even disable game rules for you so you can cut corners!
This is why it often takes those who truly know what is possible in the game like esports pros to actually detect a cheater if they are actively trying to hide it.
Cheating accusations have been flying around the F1 community, sometimes with zero substance, but sometimes they have been spot on.
There is a huge amount of distrust in the league racing community especially, as players just cannot be sure there isn't someone on the grid who is cheating.
Displeasure at the state of F1 22's online racing has been bubbling for a while now, but the recent case of a cheater in PSGL's 11th tier of PC racing has caused it to boil over.
Even two-time F1 Esports champion Jarno Opmeer took time away from Race Of Champions in Sweden to weigh in about the issue facing the Formula 1 online community.
It's awful to see such a passionate and vibrant community that has been thriving for years now get undermined so consistently and seemingly more frequently.
What can be done about it?
There is little leagues can do themselves to prevent cheaters from entering.
Entry criteria for leagues like PSGL are based on time trial results and race times based on a single strategy. They can't check everyone's PC for cheats and there is nothing saying that drivers must stream their POVs, which is how many cheaters end up being outed.
Instead, it falls entirely on the shoulders of Codemasters and EA to prevent cheating on their platform.
Much like Call of Duty, the situation in F1 has seen massive names in the space highlight the issue and call on the developers to do better.
This level of fraudulent racing is sure to have taken Codemasters by surprise, and anti-cheats are no easy thing to implement.
With their forum closing shop in February 2023, there isn't even a clear way for players to inundate Codies demanding a solution. It leaves racers with little option but to vent on social media channels in the hope an embattled admin passes the fury on.
Given the number of ways F1 Cheats has created to carve out an unfair advantage, it is going to take some serious time and investment from Codemasters to get on top of. That may not be something Codemasters has though.
With annual F1 games asking a huge amount from them and resources also pouring into the upcoming WRC game there won't be a lot of space for Codemasters to create a reliable and effective anti-cheat.
But it is something they cannot and should not overlook any longer. With the core player base up in arms and the most visible content creators now on board, it's time for Codemasters to step up and provide assurances to the community that an anti-cheat is on the way, even if it isn't close.