It was recently revealed that, following an update, the anti-cheating client created by the E-Sports Entertainment Association (ESEA) will always remain on as a background program on your computer. A representative for ESEA announced this in an update on Monday, stating that “like an anti-virus, the ESEA Client is now always running (unless you uninstall and restart)”. The ESEA client serves as the leagues main matchmaking tool, but is more well-known as a method of protecting games and servers from cheaters. While no responses are given on the site, the Counter Strike: Global Offensive Reddit was quick to respond with their displeasure over the new change. Other users claimed they did not receive those details when they updated, but rather were only told to restart:
Having just performed the update, I noticed there is no dialogue box or notification about the client now being run full-time, but there is one about having to restart…
Much of the criticism stems from a 2013 controversy in which an employee of ESEA used the anti-cheating software to access personal information of users, in order to mine Bitcoin using their information. This breach was conducted through malware. ESEA executives attempted to reconcile the inappropriate use of the software by offering free subscriptions, adding the mined coins to their Season 14 prize pool, and donated an amount equal to the BitCoins mined to the American Cancer Association. The company was also taken to court over the scandal, wracking up a $1 million fine. However, ESEA was only required to pay roughly a third of that fine, with the remainder hanging in a “probation” period, assuming there are no other breaches on the league’s end in the next 10 years. The official docket of the court case states that the probationary portion of the fine will be permanently suspended granted the ESEA follows two statutes:
a. Settling Defendants comply with the restraints and conditions set forth in this Consent Judgment; and
b. Settling Defendants do not engage in any acts or practices in violation of the CFA and CROA.
This is not the first time a company has been met with cynicism when deciding to keep their software running at all times. Most famously, Microsoft attempted to backpedal on online DRM after their announcement that the XBox One would stay on at all times was met with near universal contempt. With the added problems of ESEA’s history with internal security breaches, and while they are currently on probation because of the Bitcoin scandal, users are skeptical.
“lpkane”, known as the owner of ESEA, responded to allegations on the sites forums, telling users that “no one is forcing you to play here” and “nothing more will be said, and if that bothers you you should not give me money”. This is coming only a few weeks after it was announced that ESEA would be teaming up with the E-Sports League (ESL) for a major Counter Strike: Global Offensive league. lpkane did not respond to inquiries on the matter.
Update: It was pointed out that the description of the Xbox One “always on” aspect was inaccurate, and it has been changed to better reflect the actual changes made.