Recently, Chris posted a comment on our blog that I started responding too, but realized that it probably deserved it’s own post. The topic: cheating.
We take cheating seriously and have a bunch of anti-cheat prevention already in our system. In the first 2 weeks that the game was out, there was a bug in the game that allowed people to get 80, 90, or more “words” by knowing how to force the bug at a very specific time. We quickly patched both our server and phone app to close this attack. Since then, we haven’t had any cheaters exploiting phone app bugs. In fact, if you look at our web leaderboards, you will see that our top player in the last 30 days (by number of words is foubs at 75). Foubs is a phenominal player and has been with us for almost a month, having clocked in many dozens of sessions and many hundreds of games. The other thing: foubs is a highly consistent player. When he or she plays, they consistently get high scores and high word counts. It’s part of the draw to come back and show the world how smart you are.
How do they do that?!? It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? It’s sad to admit, but some people are just better at things than others. Some people are fast runners, some people make beautiful works of art, some people invent great new things, and some people are just plain amazing at spotting words in a 4×4 grid and racing their finger around.
“Cheaters!” you say. Nope! That’s not the cheater’s profile. Cheaters “game” a system for some benefit. In the case of Wordament… what’s the benefit? To get your name on the top of the leaderboard. Great, then if you really wanted to cheat to get to the top, then you’d do it once… clock in your best score for the month, and then not come back. Or, you’d come back at play at your typical level. A great player comes back often and plays consistently every time. And, frankly, if foubs or any other player comes in here, uses a solver every time, and finds reading a word list and fingering it into the screen as “fun”—then more power to them. But, the reality is: cheating isn’t fun over time. Cheating is fun for getting attention, and then you stop.
Now, on to solvers. Solvers can’t really be “stopped.” They are an analog attack (you do it without us being able to know). So, what we look for in our server stats are things that make it evident that you are “one-off cheating” vs. “consistent over time.” In a few cases, we’ve knocked people out of the leaderboards because their leaderboard score was completely unrealistic compared to their average playing ability. We don’t like to do that, but when you are hundreds of points above everyone else and you’ve never done that before… it’s a bit suspect. And, we reserve the right to keep our gaming arena fair and fun for everybody.
While on the topic of cheating and solvers, one of my friends built a Wordament solver and tried using it. Two things were evident: the first was that their score was too high relative to their number of words found (because you don’t need many long words to get a really high score). But, in reality, nobody finds all the 6, 7, and 8 letter words without a big blend of 3 and 4 letter words. This is a clear giveaway. The second thing we see is that cheaters using solvers “wait a while” before they get their first word. Why? Because they are busy punching the letters into a solver!
So, know that we are watching for cheaters. Know that we don’t appreciate cheaters and want a fun place for everyone to play. Also, know that our best players have the right to be recognized as the best. Players like Briff05, butterqueen, breezywendy, hedish, nghi1129, robopuppycc, coffeyc1, WordsWithBryan, Cj KwikDraw, Hooraybeers, and foubs are in all the time, highly consistent… and better than the rest of us (especially me)!
Does it disappoint you to hear that people are better than you? There’s a cure for that: practice! So, get in there and play more! Also, know that we love having players here at every skill level. We tried to make the game fun for everyone, and possible to grow and get better over time.
– Black Snapper