Epic Games Suing Stream Snipers for Cheating at Fortnite Battle Royale

fortniteThere is an interesting situation in the video game world in that a company called Epic Games is suing players of their game, Fortnite Battle Royale, for cheating. What’s that you say, video games and the law colliding? Have I died and fallen into the noodly appendages of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? It’s time for a Happy Dance and a blog.

A website called Twitch.tv allows players of video games to stream their efforts for a live audience. One of my favorite streamers, Sacriel, plays the game in question. It is what is called a Survival game with cooperative elements. This means one player or a team of players roam the world finding weapons and battling other players or teams of players.

A player like Sacriel joins a particular instance of the game. This lasts until there is only one player or team left on that particular instance, at which point another game begins. Cheaters watch the most popular streamers and join the same game, this is called Stream Sniping. The cheaters then attempt to defeat the streamer and often use against the rules code supplements to make themselves virtually invulnerable. This is the cheating aspect of the situation. Epic Games bans such cheaters when they spot them but the Stream Snipers generally create a new account fairly quickly. In this case one of the people being sued created at least nine other accounts after being banned.

In the legal system, in order to sue someone successfully you generally have to prove damages. So, you might well ask, how is cheating damaging Epic Games? It’s just a few players being killed and they can just start up another game, right? Not to my way of thinking although we will have to wait until the courts weigh in on the matter.

One of the interesting realities of people using platforms like Twitch.tv to stream games is the revenue thus generated. When an engaging and technically skilled player like Sacriel plays a game like Fortnite Battle Royal, the game gets enormous promotion. When gamers see Sacriel enjoying himself immensely they too want to play the game and make the purchase. They even get an opportunity to test their skills against such streamers which is a big selling point. There is quite clearly direct correlation to game sales and popular streamers.

When Stream Snipers become prevalent, top streamers like Sacriel simply get fed up and quit the game. There isn’t much point in playing whenever you start a new game an invincible opponent arrives and kills you. It’s not fun for the streamer and it is not enjoyable for the audience to watch. Therefore, the streamer stops playing which, in turn, directly affects game sales.

As a Libertarian I’m also quite happy with the way this has played out. Epic Games attempted to simply ban such cheaters but when they were unable to effectively implement this tactic they were forced into legal remedies. I always appreciate trying to solve the problem without resorting to legal or law enforcement agencies, but there comes a time when reason is not an effective tool.

I think Epic Games has a case and I’m quite interested to see how this all plays out in court. I’m not of the opinion the Stream Snipers should be put in prison but hit her or his wallet and I think you have effectively curtailed the practice, and that’s a good thing.

Tom Liberman

25 thoughts on “Epic Games Suing Stream Snipers for Cheating at Fortnite Battle Royale

    • Thanks for the comment, Alex.

      If people didn’t have a weakness to high speed projectiles then bullets wouldn’t hurt. Your argument is that it’s perfectly acceptable to steal from people because they didn’t have enough security. It’s classic rationalization to justify your own wrongdoing.

      Tom

      • To least half the players, all the others seem invincible even with no cheats.
        To every one else, the pro streamers are invincible. I could never win against one. What pisses me off is the fact there are pro players, making a living at the game, picking on the rest of us, ruining our games, while they make a living at it. There beyond good. How the hell is that fair play for the rest of us? For noobs, a cheat program only gives him a fighting chance against the pro players.
        If they sue any one, they should sue the pro players for making money on the game, ruining every one elses games. I have spent over $1500 to get better. 1080 grafix card, 1ms high frame rate monitor, half a dozen mice and controllers. WHen normal players suck, and they see the pro’s playing flawlessly it seems un obtainable. Regular players quit because they can never be that good, and if all you do is die, the game is no fun.

        • Hi, David. Thank you for the comment.

          Your argument appears to be that people who are really good at something ruin it for the people who aren’t as good. I hope when I put it in those terms you can see the absurdity. People in life who get very good at things deserve rewards for their effort.

          I’m certainly not opposed to servers with skill ratings so that regular players have a chance for victory. That would be up to game developers and demand.

          Tom

      • I don’t see how watching another person’s stream is considered “stealing” it’s a streaming platform, it’s literally out there so that people can watch them play. If they didn’t want stream snipers, then just don’t stream. It just doesn’t seem right to sue a what I assume is a child, for watching a publicly available and advertised stream, and get information based off that. And why sue them? It’s not like the streamers lose anything from stream snipers. They’re not paid to win, they’re paid to play. Just for having their streams open, they get donations regularly, and sometimes getting stream sniped can even get you on big youtube channels in one of their “cool fortnite moments” videos, giving you even more exposure. So long story short, I don’t feel like there is much of a point in suing children over this, it seems like a complete waste of time, and just get your company (epic games in this case) more hate and backlash from their fan base.

        • Thank you for the comment, Jaden B.

          There is nothing wrong with “watching another person’s stream” which is how you characterize stream snipers in your opening statement. You, of course, know this is a lie. Stream sniping is watching another person, determining their location, getting to a point they are heading, setting up an ambush, and eliminating them from the game via this information. Now, you could argue there is nothing wrong with this either, but you chose not to do so and that puts your entire opinion to question. You also choose not to address the problem of using illegal code to gain an even more unfair advantage. I assume this was also intentional.

          That being said, your original point has merit. Is it worthwhile for Epic to file lawsuits against people for Stream Sniping and using illegal code? The age of the person doing so is unimportant to me so your appeal to clemency because the perpetrators may be children falls on deaf ears. This is a question Epic can answer, not you, not me. We are not in a position to judge how much Stream Sniping costs the company. In the original case Epic simply asked the person to stop before eventually resorting to lawsuits when such requests were ignored and multiple accounts were created to circumvent bans.

          To use your words, long story short, it’s Epic’s decision to make.

          Also, I would recommend making truthful statements and include those facts that don’t support your opinion to give it a fair airing. It will make people look at your underlying arguments with greater respect.

          Thanks again for taking the time to comment,

          Tom

    • Hi, Jonathan.

      Thank you for the comment, and yes. They did settle. It was confidential so I don’t know for how much. The usual non-disclosures were in effect. At least that’s the last I read of it.

      Tom

  1. This proves that the game is having vulnerabilities and should be resolved quickly. I have seen that online streamers are being cheated in this way. Joining the live stream should be stopped or some security patches must be developed.

    • You certainly can’t go anywhere without someone turning things political when they are not. Yes, I’m talking to you. Grab a life.

      Tom

  2. Its dumb tho because when a streamer gets killed if the person dances the streamer automatically assumes that he got stream sniped. I know for a fact if I killed ninja and didnt know he was in my game I would dance but then I will be named a stream sniper which I am not.

    • I agree accusing someone of stream sniping without evidence is wrong but in this case not only was their stream sniping going on but also illegal use of aiming code which is the bigger issue.

  3. Pingback: Fortnite Pits Pros against Casual Players in Enormous Mismatches - Tom Liberman

    • I’m not certain how they handle the situation. I would imagine it’s somewhat of a case by case situation but Fortnite is so popular they can probably do as they please with little worry.

      Tom

  4. It is intriguing to read this article in the current climate where a twitch streamer, killed by another player, calls them a stream sniper and then announces on stream that they’ll use whatever leverage they have with the company to get that random person banned.
    The player in question here is Ninja and the company Epic Games.

      • So it’s okay if a streamer gets help from his chat for instance “hey you missed a weapon” or “there was a guy hiding in that bush back there”. Chat is always calling things out like this to the streamer but stream sniping is bannable? What a joke! If they’re live streaming their gaming sessions then it’s open game for stream snipers imo. If this is a bannable offense then so should getting help durning live stream from chat, right?

        • Thank you for the comment, Anon12333387.

          The root problem with your argument is that Epic gets to decide who to ban. Management currently seems to be of the opinion that top streamers are essentially Sales People for their game. If a top Streamer is repeatedly killed by Stream Snipers and gets frustrated and quits playing, revenue suffers. It’s Epic’s decision to make, not yours. It’s their game, not yours. If you don’t like it, you can certainly stop playing. You don’t get to tell Epic how to run their game. They decide who to ban, fairly or unfairly.

          Your point that Streamers have an advantage over non-streamers has merit. That is the way those in charge at Epic, right or wrong, want it.

          Thanks again for the comment,

          Tom

  5. What bothers me by this is that a company is taking legal action against actions that are not only not illegal, are perfectly normal. What is happening here is that Epic Games wants to penalize watching a film and playing a video game simultaneously. While yes you can pull out the official requirements for a lawsuit and how it must cause damages and then claim these are damages, however that’s almost a hyperbole.

    First of all, they are not formally employed by the company. If they were formal gamers streaming for Fortnite direct revenue, then I could see validity. But as it stands, these are people completely independent from the company (No affiliation) so while you can make an effort to draw lines between all these cause and effects, the gamers broadcast their game time with intent for people to watch. I disagree with Epic even banning for sniping. I think it’s a perfectly valid scenario due to streamers broadcasting their game publicly, so anyone from the public is a valid viewer and isn’t constrained to what activities he may or may not due while he is viewing. However bringing it to lawsuits? That’s just absurd and I foresee the courts shutting it right down. Not only is it affront to what should just be a freedom (Not allowed to watch a video and play a video game at the same time?), it would set dangerous precedents. The courts just wouldn’t accept this case. Epic is free to ban them, which I still think is wrong, however that’s within their clear right as it is their property and can choose who can play and not play (So long as it’s done indiscriminately in regards to federal discrimination laws) but to say someone sat in their basement and played a round of fortnite while watching someone publicly broadcast their own game and now must pay monetary damages to a company that the afflicted party has no official affiliation with?

    Absurd.

  6. Epic Games is opening up a very dangerous door here. Since Epic games does take money for many transactions, anybody who they sue, can in turn attempt a counter suit. If your logic behind their reason to sue, is that top players will stop playing, and make the game undesirable for other players. Now following your sound logic, Epic may get themselves in trouble, if they show preferable treatment to any players, I feel an astute lawyer may argue that since my client spent money on your game, and brought skins, weapons, lives etc etc, he is now entitled to various protections under the laws. it could also be argued that Epic put out the game, and if somebody enters a code or two, it is Epic’s own fault for putting the product out there. Think of it this way the national speed limit is 55 or 65 mphs, yet most automobiles are built to go well over that. If a car owner breaks the law, and speeds, the car manufacture would never sue, and or ban the user. So Epic really doesn’t have a right to sue the user, who bought their product, and does not use it as intended. Imagine a world where companies could sue people for using their products the wrong way. Hit somebody with your bike because of misuse, you’re sued! Have somebody over, hurt them with anything you’re sued. it would be utter chaos.

    • Thank you for the comment, John.

      Your analogy is essentially an attempt to twist the argument into something it is not. It’s quite simple. One word: Damages. If you can prove damages, you generally win the lawsuit. If you can’t, you don’t. If a player can prove damages as you suggest, they are entitled to reparations.

      “It could also be argued that Epic put out the game, and if somebody enters a code or two, it is Epic’s own fault for putting the product out there.” This is utter nonsense. If you modify a product you purchased in a fashion that has been determined to be illegal, you’re guilty, not the manufacturer of the product. For example; you remove the muffler and your car is now extremely noisy. Ford is to blame?

      If a manufacturer wants to show preference to a client, that’s their choice. It happens all the time. People get all sorts of free stuff and preferential treatment becaues they provide a service for a company. Streamers, movie stars, athletes, politicians.

      But again, it’s all about damages.

      Thanks again for the comment,

      Tom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.