Last week, Embark Studios shadow-dropped The Finals, releasing the game with a sudden announcement at The Game Awards. It skyrocketed on every platform, with the destructive, free-to-play shooter amassing hundreds of thousands of players in hours as the news spread. It was a throwback to the game’s beta phase, which attracted a whopping 7.5 million players, shattering the expectations of Embark Studios, the all-new company founded by ex-Battlefield developers.
However, if there’s one point of contention around The Finals, it’s that cheaters are still plaguing the game. This was an issue during the beta and Embark Studios has done little to combat it since the game was released on Friday, December 8. Reportedly, the bulk of these cheaters are appearing from China – or at least, the names of those cheating are being written in Chinese. This is a common theme in competitive gaming, and in other titles, many accounts suspected of cheating bear Chinese names.
Is It A False Flag Trend?
It’s not exactly easy to verify whether these waves of cheaters are legitimately Chinese. It could be a ‘meme’ trend of sorts, with cheaters in any country using a Chinese name to either disguise themselves or to poke fun at the suspicion that ‘most cheaters’ are from China. It’s a similar issue in Call of Duty, Overwatch, Battlefield, and Escape From Tarkov, for example.
For The Finals, it’s a situation that has grave implications. Even if it’s a free-to-play shooter, nobody wants to invest time and effort in the game to be bombarded by malicious operators running cheats and hacks. It’s miserable and it’ll quickly push the player base away from the game if it isn’t properly addressed.
If there’s one fix that the community is calling for, it’s to region-lock China, putting the country in a ringfenced group. Of course, that won’t stop players from using VPN services to break through that ringfence, but it’s better than nothing. If at that point the rate of those found to be cheating in other countries doesn’t drop, then we can say relatively safely that Chinese gamers aren’t the problem.
But of course, as stressed, it could be a false flag trend.
Is The Finals Successful?
The Finals enjoyed a hugely successful release, climbing to 242,399 peak players on Sunday afternoon on Steam alone. It ranked high on the Steam charts, pushing above the likes of Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone, GTA V, and Baldur’s Gate 3. That’s not bad for a free-to-play game that only passed through its beta phase a matter of weeks ago.
There’s a dense roadmap in the works for The Finals, and as an inherently competitive game, it boasts solid esports potential. It could surface as a real contender in the space in the coming months, but for now, Embark Studios has to deal with the core issues that are plaguing users the world over.