EA Sports WRC: Anticheat Plans Have Players Concerned

EA-Sports-WRC-Anticheat.jpg
Image: EA Sports / Codemasters
Ever since its launch, EA Sports WRC faced a number of problems that the development team proceeded to fix for the most part. The latest plan to add anticheat software to the PC version has players highly concerned, however.

EA Sports WRC marked the debut of EA Sports and Codemasters tackling an officially licensed WRC title. Its launch was not without complications, with some players experiencing severe performance issues, which numerous patches have aimed to rectify.

One of the most anticipated features was added in VR compatibility with the most recent bigger patch to version 1.8. Meanwhile, other players are still waiting for triple screen support - but instead, the headline for the upcoming 1.9 update belongs to the PC-only EA Anticheat.

On the surface, measures to prevent players from cheating in online modes are a good addition, especially considering the blatant corner cutting that is possible in some stages. This leads to leaderboard times that are not representative - or fair to anyone who runs the stages as intended.


EA Anticheat: "Kernel-level Anti-cheat Solution"​

EA Anticheat does not seem to address this, however. Instead, the software is introduced to prevent cheating software from doing its thing. "Protecting the competitive integrity of our leaderboards is integral to providing a fun, fair and authentic rally experience for everyone" states an explanation post on the EA website.

The issue is not the intention, however, but rather the execution. EA Anticheat is a "kernel-mode anti-cheat and anti-tamper solution", as the explanation post continues. Very simply put, this means that the software operates at a very deep level of a PC system to prevent cheat engines from doing the same. Players are not fond of this idea, as it could introduce safety and stability issues on their systems.

EA addresses these concerns in its explanations, stating that "player privacy is a top concern of our Game Security & Anti-Cheat team". The software is developed in-house, but also with input of "independent, 3rd party security and privacy assessors to validate EA anticheat does not degrade the security posture of your PC and to ensure strict data privacy boundaries."

Of course, this will not erase doubts in the minds of each and every player. And there is no way around EA Anticheat if they want to keep playing EA Sports WRC. It is possible to remove the software manually, but "if you uninstall EA anticheat, any games that require EA anticheat protection will not be playable until EA anticheat is installed."


EA Anticheat In EA Sports WRC: No Launch Date Yet​

According to EA, Anticheat will only be active once EA Sports WRC is launched, and will close once the player quits the game. Coupled with the software only accessing "what it needs to for anti-cheat purposes" and the focus on privacy and security, according to EA, Anticheat should not be a problem for players on paper.

Yet, the reaction in the EA Forums and on platforms like Reddit is not exactly favorable, as there is no option not to use Anticheat when playing WRC - even in offline modes. The system is already in EA Sports FC 24, and it has caused issues with the popular football/soccer game both in its 2023 and 2024 editions, according to Reddit users.

For rally fans running Linux, the implementation of Anticheat could also mean that they will not be able to play EA Sports WRC at all anymore - which has happened with the likes of Battlefield V or the aforementioned EA Sports FC 24. Additionally, the Steam Deck version will also be affected, as Valve's powerful handheld console runs a Linux-based OS.

However, it has to be said that EA Sports WRC is not officially supported for Linux.

Other parts of the v1.9 update have not been announced yet. A release date is not known either, but the update could land relatively soon, considering the month-and-a-half gap between versions 1.6 and 1.8, the latter being released in late April.

What do you make of the EA Anticheat plans for EA Sports WRC? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

Thank you very much for this article and highlighting the issues we are facing. I am not against stopping cheated times, I am strongly against such an intrusive low-level kernel anti-cheat software that will have access to basically anything without my consent. I bought the game without it and would not have bought it from the outside if it shipped with it. Plus, Linux and Steamdeck users won't be able to play any longer, which is a shame as it will make an ultra niche community even smaller for absolutely no reason. EA have also not commented or clarified whether people using mods (liveries) would be banned/considered cheating.
 
Adding this sort of stuff retroactively should be grounds for refunds no matter hours played especially if the game has been bought as a release (ie not early access). I don't really know why consumer authorities cannot do their job anymore nowadays.

Fortunately, you can mostly go by developer (EA) to know which games to avoid.
 
Premium
This does not seem to be addressing the corner-cutting / lap times issues; that can be fixed with in-game track limits (like every other sim with leaderboards).
How many other sims with online / leaderbaords have kernel-level anti-cheat? Oh wait, none.
A kernel-level solution is only needed to prevent either cheat software (not really a thing in sims?), or pirated copies of the game. In other words it's not for the benefit of players, but EA's bottom line.

EA are famous for this - they don't care about gamers, they care about shareholders / C-staff remuneration.
They publish a few decent games, but they're a bunch of a-holes as a company, and that's not likely to change - players have been moaning about their antics for years, but we still keep buying stuff from them so they're not going to suddenly become nice.

If, like me, you grew up in the era before the Internet, when games were bought and owned, then the current games-as-a-service model can seem really sucky. You don't own your software, the publisher can change it at any time without warning (like this), or it could simply stop working (e.g. PC2 leader boards / online).

And there's nothing we as gamers can really do about it.

Except moan on online forums like this :)
 
Premium
Definitely for the benefit of EA's purposes and not the end user.

Steam should be a bit more proactive in removing titles when scumbag tricks like this are pulled.
 
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Premium
Reading this article made me think if the introduction of this anti-cheat software is a test to see if it's ready for the F1 2024 release.

EA definitely does not need me to defend them, but stating that there is no cheating in simracing is being a bit naive. There are a lot of ways you can cheat, and as soon as you end up competing for lots of cash in esports, you can bet that people will cheat if they can get away with it. So I see the need for protection and unfortunately kernel-level protection is probably the best way to do that right now, as invasive as it is.

Is it perfect? Hell no. If you really want to cheat in simracing, there are ways to do that without having to run anything on the computer you are using the run the game. Just look at a real car as the perfect example. Systems like ABS or traction control are created by manipulating the inputs to the vehicle based on certain measurable outputs. You can do something similar in simracing. If you "measure" for example the wheelspin, something you can do by for example comparing engine RPM to speed (both of which are displayed on the screen, so you can grab them using a camera) you can use this to modulate the throttle to eliminate wheelspin and create a form of traction control.

Fixing this way of cheating is very hard. It would require game developers to limit the input devices that you can use with a game to just a few "certified" ones for example and really you need to control the whole setup that people have. Not really practical and for that reason I think the best way to protect against cheating is to only do on-site competitions where you do control everything. That does not scale too well though.

So is kernel-level anti-cheat a good compromise? It probably is to make global online competitions a bit better, but if you are a simracer, competing with friends in smaller communities then I don't think such software is necessary and then it becomes just another thing to install that you really don't need. Imagine playing 5 different sims, all with their own kernel-level protection being installed? Would those trip over each other? Chances are they would. There is no easy solution for everything though.
 
Premium
Friendly reminder that iRacing also has a kernel level anticheat system.

And it hasn't stopped cheating.

Luckily they have paired it with a ugly game engine that runs poorly, a terrible interface, and an anti-customer pricing model.

so yeah, iracing is a great counter point for the nay-sayers.

In there defence though, No one has managed to stop cheating, No matter how deep they embed their code Perhaps they should learn from their failures.

God damn I'm on a negative roll tonight.
 
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And it hasn't stopped cheating.

Luckily they have paired it with a ugly game engine that runs poorly, a terrible interface, and an anti-customer pricing model.

so yeah, iracing is a great counter point for the nay-sayers.

In there defence though, No one has managed to stop cheating, No matter how deep they embed their code Perhaps they should learn from their failures.

God damn I'm on a negative roll tonight.
I don't think my post makes a point, a counterpoint, proves or disproves a thing actually. It's just a data bit.
 
Friendly reminder that iRacing also has a kernel level anticheat system.
Not anymore - from 1st of May it's only using Epic Online Services as anticheat, which is not installing any kernel-level backdoors

Now iRacing can be played on Linux as well :p
 
As with DRM solutions, this is only going to stop the amateurs. On certain forums I've seen people discussing how they're using $1000 PCIe development boards to cheat in first-person shooter games. The PCIe device has full access to the host PC's memory, so it grabs the enemy coordinates and send them via the board's USB port to an external PC running software that displays enemy positions on a secondary monitor. This can of course also be used to create the virtual ABS and TC @Marcel Offermans mentioned above.

This is one of the few positives with playing on console - cheating is usually much harder.
 
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Info for EA Codemasters - these programs should not cause EA WRC to crash:
- Prismatik (unofficial) 64bit
-SIM Dashboard Server
-Discord
-SteelSeries GG
-MSI Center
-AIDA64
:sneaky:
 
But you're not allowed to use logic here, we're gAmErS so we must blindly circlejerk against EA.
But seriously though people make a big stink about this but this is surprisingly common, literally any game running Easy Anti-Cheat or BattlEye is running kernal-level anti-cheat.
And 99% run windows and other big percentage has an intel cpu, lol
 
One does the harm, and another bears the blame! I think "ban the accounts" is the answer.
 
Cheating is openly being done for a sim title already but that does not have an anti-cheat which it should've had.

No matter how small the cheat or the advantage you gain, cheating is cheating. If this is what EA Sports WRC needs to prevent people from cheating, then the community has already failed in preventing these people from joining their communities and events.
 

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