One of the first questions a lot of people ask about video game hacks is whether or not they are legal to use, own, create or sell. So this is a general article on the legality of game hacking software that will hold true for most jurisdictions and countries. However, cases are always judged on an individual basis using judicial discretion on the part of the judge and any judge can make different decision at any time.
Also keep in mind that there is no such thing as international law, as it consists of many different treaties and contracts and the law that would enforce regulations concerning the use of game hacks would be a countries individual law / jurisdiction that varies depending where you live . South Korea is the only country we know of that has made laws specific to game hacking and has officially outlawed the distribution of game hacks .
Are Game Hacks Legal?
Generally speaking and speaking for most countries and jurisdictions the answer is no, game hacking is generally 100%legal, IF one is only using game hacks that are solely modifying data on the game client (the device you own), one is not making a profit / gaining monetarily from the activity and one is not selling the software or in-game things gained by using the software to potentially unfairly compete with the developer in any way.
So while personal use of game hacks is legal in all cases, only excluding hacks that manipulate or damage the game servers (which are extremely rare), the same is not true for the sale of hacks, bots, cheats and mods. – But even in the case of selling game hacks, a case has to be brought before a judge and the judge has to decide that the game hack provider is in fact unfairly competing with the game provider. In the case of ‘Bossland v. Blizzard’ concerning the sale of game bots, it took the German courts many, many years and many court cases to make a final decision . – So even here the answer is not a straight forward ‘no’ as cases have to be judged on an individual basis.
However, while a case against a private person using game hacks that manipulate their own gaming device for personal use only will certainly be thrown out and laughed at by the judge, the same most likely will not be true for a case against a game hack seller / provider.
Are Aimbots legal?
Yes, aimbots only manipulate code on your game client, do not affect the server in any way and are therefore 100% legal to use for personal use in most jurisdictions. However, of all the client-side game hacks it is the most problematic legally speaking as an argument can be made that it has the potential of ruining other players game experience if used on a large scale and used without respect for other players which can be argued, depending on the game, to cause financial damages. However, the burden of proof is with the accusing party in such a case and proving this against individual using aimbot software to hack a game for fun is impossible, unless the player base of the game is 3 people. So for all practical purposes aimbots are legal for personal use. However, the same is potentially not true for the sale of aimbots.
Are Wallhacks legal?
Yes, wallhacks only manipulate code on your game client, do not affect the server in any way and are therefore 100% legal to use for personal use in most jurisdictions. – As opposed to aimbots, it is a lot more difficult to argue that they affect the player experience of other players, even if used on a large scale, making is near impossible to build a case against an individual cheater. So for all practical purposes wallhacks are legal for personal use. However, the same is potentially not true for the sale of wallhacks / ESP / VAC cheats.
Are Game Mods Legal?
Yes, game mods, such as mod APK or modded IPA files only manipulate code on your game client, do not affect the server in any way and are therefore 100% legal to use for personal use in most jurisdictions. – The use of mods is in essence the exact same as the use of general game hacks and the same legal standards apply here. As long as no harm is being done to other players of the game server, you are absolutely fine. So for all practical purposes game mods are legal for personal use. However, the same is potentially not true for the sale of mods and making money from private servers that some mods connect to.
Is the use of Game Bots legal?
Yes, game farming bots only read memory on your client and generate user input, do not affect the server in any way and are therefore 100% legal to use for personal use in most jurisdictions. – Bots are not even manipulating any data on the game client, but they can and are used to unfairly compete with game developers quite often in gold selling operations and those have the potential to be unfair competition. However, as long as you make no money, you are going to be fine. So for all practical purposes bots are legal for personal use. However, the same is potentially not true, at least in Germany, for the sale of bots and farming software as witnessed in ‘Bossland v. Blizzard’ .
Is DDoS to create Lag or take down Game Severs legal
`No absolutely not, DDoS or ‘Denial of Service’ attacks to cause lag or take down game servers are highly illegal and are causing financial damage to game developers that can very easily be proven. Any tool that is used to take down game servers or instances must be avoided at all costs. Again, any tool that directly manipulates game servers must be avoided and is most likely illegal. – Winning a game is not worth being sued for or going to prison for. If you are worried about using such a tool by accident, then be assured that any legitimate website with the least bit of integrity will not allow downloads that do thing kind of thing.
Still worried about the legality of Game Hacking?
Not everything that contains the word ‘hack’ is evil and illegal. But the word ‘hacking’ has become somewhat of an emotional trigger for fear, magic, illegal, russian ect. – The media has been using the word in this context an lot and no one can blame you for the associations but let us consider the context: ‘Hacking’ is the same as ‘modding’ and ‘cheating’ in the context of gaming and if using these words instead to describe your activity alleviates some of the emotional distress, then you should try doing that.
If you are harming nobody, are using a tool many other people use, then you are in the clear and 100% legal and do not need to worry, even if what you are doing can be described with a word that triggers some bad emotions.
Keep in mind that I am not a lawyer. So everything I say should be taken with a grain of salt. However, I have been working in the game hacking industry for over a decade and am pretty confident in my legal understanding of the subject. Never have I seen an individual player successfully prosecuted for using any kind of hack, aimbot, wallhack, bot or other cheating tool that manipulates the game-client only. People that get successfully prosecuted are attacking servers, such as is the case in DDoS attacks to create lag or downtime, which are highly illegal, or similar actions.
If you want to be 100% sure, consult with a lawyer that is versed in the laws concerning ‘game hacking’ in your country if there are any. If there are no laws specifically concerning ‘game hacking’, then this general guide will most likely apply to your jurisdiction as well.
When trying to learn about the limits of legality in game hacking, the plays to watch companies that are very aggressively defending their copyrights, such as Epic Games and Blizzard as they are constantly pushing the boundaries when it comes to fighting cheaters and setting precedents.
Sources / References