Update: Today's apparent "leak" of Call of Duty's new kernel-level anti-cheat was reportedly seen as an inevitability by Activision, and a relatively harmless one at that.
First reported by Vice and later confirmed by Activision, a release-ready version of Call of Duty's Ricochet anti-cheat was sent out to some users early for testing. This helps the developers identify any bugs early and fix them to ensure a stable and reliable software at launch. The system now appears to be in the hands of cheat makers, but Activision reportedly knew full well this would happen and isn't overly worried about it.
"[The public test] will help the people that would in any case be able to bypass that first version. The less advanced cheaters are screwed either way as they don’t have the skills to come fight in the kernel," one source at Vice said, referring to the kernel-level driver key to Ricochet's robust defense against cheaters.
Following the publication of this report, Activision took to twitter and confirmed that the Ricochet system is indeed in "controlled testing," explaining that the developers are "testing the hell out of [Ricochet]" before it goes on your PC.
Update from #TeamRicochet:▶️ RICOCHET Anti-Cheat™ is in controlled live testing. Before putting it on your PC, we’re testing the hell out of it▶️ Testing includes providing a pre-release version of the driver to select 3rd parties▶️ Readying server-side upgrades for launchOctober 15, 2021
The pros of public testing seem to outweigh the con that is giving cheaters a little bit more time to understand the software and potentially find a workaround.
"They obviously don't want the cheat community to get early access to the driver but it's almost always going to happen if you do any sort of test with the public," said Paul Chamberlain, who led development on Riot's anti-cheat system Vanguard. "So as long as they weren't testing with a non-release ready version (for example a non-obfuscated version or a version with debug symbols available) the only impact is that the cheat devs get a small head start. Running a public test is likely to be more valuable to Activision than the extra secrecy."
We reached out to Activision and the company pointed us to the above tweet for clarification.
The new Call of Duty anti-cheat software appears to have leaked, granting cheat makers wishing to circumvent the program a notable advantage just a day after it was announced.
On Twitter, user AntiCheatPD, who attempts to gather information in an attempt to disrupt cheat makers, posted a link to a forum in which one user appears to have shared the drivers for the new Call of Duty Ricochet anti-cheat system. The leak has been corroborated by ModernWarzone, which claims that the information has spread beyond private groups and into public forums.
If the leak is legitimate, it'll give cheat makers a significant advantage in attempting to get around the new software, as they'll have a better idea of how the system works. That's likely to spell bad news for Call of Duty: Vanguard and Warzone players, as well as Activision itself. While the leak definitely hasn't rendered the system obsolete - Ricochet is intended to evolve over time, and is only one of the multiple tools at the developers' disposal - it's an unfortunate headstart for those who don't want to play fair.
Ricochet, which Activision unveiled earlier this week, is a 'kernel-level' anti-cheat system, which means it requires access to a wider array of files to monitor for cheats. That level of access has made kernel-level anti-cheat a little unpopular, but Ricochet will only be active while Call of Duty is open, and it's worth noting that a number of major multiplayer titles, from Valorant to Fall Guys, use similar security software.