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A Gamer’s Guide To Not Getting Hacked

If you play video games, you are an ideal target to get wrecked by hackers.

Sure, you’re tech savvy—you know what a hard drive is and have seen an HDMI cable or two in your day. Still, there are some unassailable, totally exploitable truths about gamers: They are very online. They log in to a lot of stuff. They have some money. They want to be better than other gamers. And they like to use the password “Dragon.”

This post originally appeared 5/1/18.

In 2018, hackers broke into thousands of Fortnite players’ accounts and siphoned hundreds of dollars at a time. How? Those players had used their username and password combinations somewhere else on the world wide web. And somehow, they got leaked. Now, they’re begging for big refunds and scurrying to protect themselves from further financial harm. It was a preventable disaster. And we’re here to teach you how to prevent it.

Here some some tips on how to stay safe while gaming.

What matters when it comes to security?

Everything matters. That sucks to hear, I know. Security is like a balloon. If there’s even one hole, it’s not a balloon anymore. When it comes to your gaming apps, if you have unique passwords on your Blizzard and Epic Games accounts, but not on your five favorite gaming forums’ accounts—and if you use those same passwords on PayPal, e-mail or Facebook—then you’re vulnerable to hacking.

Password leaks happen all the time on all sorts of sites. Hackers can input your niche Everquest forum password into, say, your banking site if you use the same password for both. And then you get screwed. It’s that simple.

Think about everything you have an account for. Your PlayStation Network account, your Microsoft account, your Battle.Net account, your Steam account, your Reddit account… when you add it up, that’s a lot of stuff! And each of these accounts contains at least a little personal information, whether it’s your first and last name or your credit card number.

It can seem really intimidating to stay vigilant about so many accounts, but with good habits in place, keeping everything in check can become second nature.

Where do I start?

Start with your passwords. We all know “Password123” is easy to guess. But so is “Dragon.” “StarWars,” “monkey” and “football” are extremely common for the same reason—turns out a lot of people like popular stuff. It’s also likely that your unique, fun password you’ve kept since the fourth grade—“Pikachu,” maybe—is just as easy to figure out.

You need to have crazy passwords for everything. According to our sister site Lifehacker, passwords that are long and include numbers, capital letters and symbols are great. Don’t use common phrases or words. BiRdSaNdBeEs_123 isn’t as great a password as bVWx633HVN7Z.a!=.

Changing your passwords is totally tedious, but on the back end of a security breach, extremely worth it. Spend a few days recording which websites and apps you use regularly. Likely, it includes some combination of Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Discord and Amazon. For gamers, that list might include, Steam or Xbox Live. Write all of it down. Then…..

Download a password manager

You simply cannot remember 20 very strong passwords. If you can, your passwords probably aren’t strong. You need a password manager. And a lot of password managers can even help you come up with secure passwords.

Since browser-based password managers like the one in Opera have been hacked before, I recommend downloading a password manager onto your phone. I use LastPass. Other people like 1Password. That way, you’ll only have to remember the password to your password manager (or you can just use your fingerprint).

Enable two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is a fancy way of saying, “the app asks you to verify yourself.” All it means is that, when you log in to something, you’ll receive a text message or an e-mail with an additional code. You can also get a special app that generates this code on your phone. No one will be able to log into your account unless they enter that code into the client.

Opting in to two-factor authentication can mean the difference between someone else logging into your MMORPG account and stealing all your hard-earned gold and, well, that not happening. Getting a two-factor authentication code when you’re not trying to log into something is also a great way to know someone’s trying to hack you!

Lots of gaming apps let you enable two-factor authentication. Here’s a list from plus links to instructions on how to enable it:

If you just scrolled through this and wondered, “Where’s League of Legends?” or some other service not listed, then I have some advice for you: E-mail them! Make sure they know you want this security feature. Basic two-factor is something worth demanding.

Opt out

Here’s a fun fact: Random Call of Duty players you add as friends on your PlayStation might be able to see your first and last name! Maybe that’s cool with you. Maybe it’s not. Either way, you should know whether you’re leaking personal information you don’t want leaked.

Your PlayStation, Xbox, Steam account, etc. all have privacy settings. The Switch has very limited customization options here, but that’s because Nintendo’s online service doesn’t show friends your real name, anyway. You should familiarize yourself with the privacy and security settings for all your gaming accounts and modulate them to your liking. The PlayStation Network’s settings, for example, ask whether you’d like people on your friends list to see your real name. Microsoft blocks Xbox users’ real names by default, although there was once a bug that temporarily revealed people’s names. Now on Steam, you can even hide how few hours you’ve actually played of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

Recognize Phishing

Wow, free Fortnite V-Bucks! Booyah! All I need to do is enter my social security number into the website!

Nothing cool is free in online gaming. Even if all your passwords are perfect and you have two-factor enabled on everything, that won’t stop you from falling for hackers’ tricks.

Any sites or people offering free video game skins, currency, etc. are shady, and especially if a stranger messages links to you through an online game. If you receive an e-mail from a strange address telling you that your Elder Scrolls Online account has been compromised, and that you need to give them your username and password, type that address into Google to make sure it’s legit.

Sometimes, hackers will copy the look and feel of sites you frequent to make their scam see legitimate. If a website starts with http:// and not https://, that can be a red flag. If the website is, and not, that’s a big red flag.If the website is asking you to download something before proceeding, and that something is not Adobe Flash Player, Google what it is before just automatically downloading it. Most computers these days come with decent antivirus software that will let you know whether you’re downloading insidious malware, but it doesn’t hurt to double up. Here are some good options.

Don’t put your personal information out there

A decade ago, your parents probably warned you about the “strangers” and “dangerous people” haunting AOL chatrooms. Maybe they said that telling MMO buddies your first name could mean inviting some 50-year-old mouthbreather to stand outside your window all night. We’ve been on the internet long enough to know that, for the most part, people who play games online are not going to stalk you because you told them what city you live in. That said, it’s hard to vet how safe online friends are. And it’s easy to leverage even the tiniest bits of personal information against someone.

Somtetimes, even just knowing your mom’s maiden name can be the key to your goods. Other times, someone can impersonate you to your cell phone provider’s customer service rep using your birthday and the last four digits of your social security number. It might not even take that much. People voluntarily overshare on Twitter and Facebook all the time.

If you are playing video games online—or streaming yourself playing video games—here’s a handy list of topics to avoid to protect yourself from potential harm:

  • Your full name
  • The full names of the people closest to you
  • Your exact birthday
  • Your address or a picture of your home
  • Your phone number
  • Your social security number
  • Any banking information
  • Where embarrassing photos of you live
  • Physical places you frequent (i.e. schools, restaurants, stores)

Any combination of this information can spell out exactly who you are, where you live and how to find you. You will need to rely on your own judgment when it comes to trusting strangers. Suffice to say, there isn’t any reason to give out any of the above information to anyone you’re gaming with. (Bonus: You can get a gaming-specific VPN—or, a private network that masks where you are—to really protect yourself from getting tracked.)

Don’t do anything stupid, stupid

One time in 2008, I tried to pirate a copy of Spore and got a virus that bricked my computer instead. Did I deserve to have my $600 laptop destroyed? Probably not. But did I have it coming? Definitely.

Listen, if you’re trolling darkweb marketplaces for high-ranked League of Legends accounts, you’re inherently putting your security at risk. Games’ Terms of Service exist to protect developers, yes, but also, to protect gamers. If you’re doing something that flagrantly breaks a game’s Terms of Service, like purchasing in-game currency or installing cheat software, you could be giving an opening to hackers.

The sad, solemn truth is that it is impossible to account for everything. It really is. Good hacks happen to good, vigilant people. However, with these tips, you can exercise a little more control over the chaos that is the internet.


Why Akuma Should Be In Resident Evil 2 Remake

The highly-anticipated Resident Evil 2 remake’s release draws near and I couldn’t be any more excited. I’m a huge fan of the 1998 original–alongside many lovely coworkers at GameSpot–and have countless fond memories playing it during my formative years. But amidst these memories were hours spent speculating upon the validity of a popular gaming hoax; the ability to play as Akuma in Resident Evil 2. That’s right, the Akuma (or Gouki, if you’re a Capcom purist)–the infamous top knotted practitioner of the Ansatsuken fighting style and well-known beaded necklace aficionado from Street Fighter. Though it began as a joke back in 1998, I’m crossing my fingers that Capcom puts Akuma in the upcoming remake. It’s a longshot, but the iconic fighter’s addition could prove a humorous and unexpected way to experience the horrors of Raccoon City.

“[Akuma’s] main weapon is a fireball, done just like holding the Action button and firing” — EGM2

The popular Akuma hoax was birthed into the Resident Evil 2 community thanks to the work of the now defunct Electronic Gaming Monthly spin-off magazine, EGM2. The publication’s April issue “Trick of the Month” column stated that Akuma could be unlocked by typing “AKUMA” instead of “GUEST” on a laboratory computer located at the end of the game, allowing a new save file to be made where you could play him. However, to actually get this to work, EGM2 claimed you needed to first beat both Resident Evil 2 scenarios six times in a row with an A-rank, and do it only using the handgun combat knife. Akuma could then be unlocked on the seventh run after inputting the login name across both scenarios. This was clearly an April Fool’s joke, but readers quickly spread word of the false unlockable. None of this was unfeasible, as both The 4th Survivor and Tofu modes demanded similar unlock requirements.

“Remember that ‘Unused’ Cryo tank? Well, at the start Akuma will bust out of it!” — EGM2

Looking back at the low-resolution screenshots from EGM2, it’s not surprising that many were fooled by this joke. A polygonal Akuma exploring RPD and launching Shakunetsu Hadokens at zombies looked as authentic any other screenshots in the magazine. As a child, I only heard about this myth via word-of-mouth during a vague encounter that only seems to escape my memory the more I think about it. Regardless, the myth worked its way into the community to the point where many were convinced of its existence. Though, I do admit that by the time I built up the courage to play Resident Evil 2, the hoax had already been debunked. However, an uncertainty around the myth remained–if anything a nostalgic yearning for it to somehow be true.

This wasn’t the first time EGM fooled people, either. In fact, the magazine did something similar in a previous April Fool’s joke with Street Fighter II with the infamous Sheng Long hoax. Many were lead to believe that the game had an unlockable character named Sheng Long, who was framed as the martial arts master of Ryu and Ken. The joke’s status grew over the years, gaining international fame. Capcom acknowledged its existence several times and eventually added the character to Street Fighter IV in the form of Gouken as a response to fans.

Imagine performing a Raging Demon on Mr. X as Akuma. It would be ridiculous.
Imagine performing a Raging Demon on Mr. X as Akuma. It would be ridiculous.
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Like EGM’s Sheng Long, the Akuma hoax is a peculiar piece of gaming history that continues to captivate in its execution and overall endurance. Its alluring promise is a fantasy that I hold steadfast in wanting to come true in the Resident Evil 2 remake. Imagine being able to send enemies across a room with a well-placed fierce punch or performing a Raging Demon on a Licker. Of course, let’s not forget about spamming hadokens at the undead. And if we’re remaining faithful to EGM2’s vision, you’ll have free rein to be merry and explore environments without worrying about locked doors. You might call it a pipedream, but given Capcom’s track record with previous Resident Evils, I could easily see a playable Akuma becoming a reality.

Case in point: Wesker mode in Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster. This bonus mode made Rebecca’s and Billy’s terrifying zombie-infested journey into a silly romp, allowing you to use Wesker’s super-human speed and destructive arsenal to wipe out the undead with ease. The ability to instantly overpower your enemies supplied a satisfying release, especially after spending hours desperately managing resources to survive. Akuma could easily bring all the joyous highs of Wesker mode into Resident Evil 2 remake, while also being a fun, loving nod to the hoax that captivated readers back in the day.

I'm still shocked at how well Akuma was inserted into Tekken 7's story. I envision a similar scenario playing out in Resident Evil 2 where Akuma just happens to walk onto the scene as if he's always been there.
I’m still shocked at how well Akuma was inserted into Tekken 7’s story. I envision a similar scenario playing out in Resident Evil 2 where Akuma just happens to walk onto the scene as if he’s always been there.

Capcom certainly isn’t shy towards allowing Akuma to be in ridiculous situations and crossovers. He recently jumped franchises by appearing in Tekken 7, somehow managing to be naturally incorporated into that franchise’s lore. In addition, Akuma once appeared in Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter as Cyber-Akuma, a cyborg version of himself with a sweet robot arm that was brainwashed by X-Men baddie Apocalypse.

Despite all this talk, I admit that Capcom adding Akuma into the remake is still unrealistic. Compared to Sheng Long, the Akuma hoax had more impact in North America than in other regions, so I’m sure it would be bizarre for European and Japanese players, who would see Akuma’s inclusion as a random choice. I already feel lucky that Capcom is taking a chance on a Resident Evil 2 remake in the first place. But I know that whoever Capcom chooses to be the star of the game’s Wesker mode-like equivalent, if anyone at all, my heart will always be longing for Akuma and the promise EGM2 cleverly fooled me into believing all those years ago.


Mortal Kombat 11 Beta Dates Confirmed, But You’ll Need To Pre-Order

Those eager to get their hands on Mortal Kombat 11 who weren’t fortunate enough to attend the January reveal event are in luck. We already knew a pre-release beta was on the way, and now we know exactly when it’s set to begin.

As part of the avalanche of MK11 news, NetherRealm Studios announced that the beta will begin on March 28. We don’t know how long it will last, but it unfortunately won’t be available on all platforms: Only PS4 and Xbox One owners will be able to participate. That leaves out both PC and Nintendo Switch players, although the full game is scheduled to hit all four of these platforms on April 23.

This beta won’t be available to everyone on PS4 and Xbox One either, though. In order to get in, you’ll need to pre-order Mortal Kombat 11. As an added incentive, you’ll be able to play as Shao Kahn in the full game if you pre-order. He’s one of eight confirmed playable characters so far, alongside Geras, who’s a completely new fighter for the series.

Pre-ordering may not be quite so simple, as there are multiple versions of the game set to be available. The most premium of the bunch is the newly revealed Kollector’s edition, which comes with the Kombat Pack DLC, Scorpion mask bust, steel case, magnet coin, and authenticity plate.

The reveal event also brought with it word on Ronda Rousey’s role and gave us a look at new gameplay and fatalities. Another livestream dedicated to the game is coming later in January.


Mortal Kombat 11 – Official Behind-The-Scenes Look

Source: WB Games Youtube

Bethesda lawsuit alleging Westworld game was Fallout Shelter ‘ripoff’ resolved (update)

Bethesda Softworks, Behavior Interactive and Warner Bros. Entertainment have resolved a lawsuit over the creation of a Westworld base-building mobile game that Bethesda alleged had been a ripoff of its Fallout Shelter game.

Bethesda called the resolution “amicable” in a very brief statement but none of the terms were disclosed. On Dec. 12, a notice was filed in federal court that both sides had resolved the dispute and were to bear their own costs and attorney’s fees. Bethesda Softworks dismissed its claims with prejudice, meaning the same claims can’t be brought again.

In June 2018, Bethesda brought the lawsuit and alleged that Behaviour Interactive had used copyrighted code from Fallout Shelter, which it had developed in partnership with Bethesda and launched in 2015.

Bethesda alleged that a bug present in an early version of Fallout Shelter was also in Westworld, tipping Behaviour’s hand. Warner Bros., the Westworld rights holder and the mobile game’s publisher, said Behaviour assured it no code from Fallout Shelter was used in the game and disputed all claims against the game.

Westworld, which is free to play, remains available for download on both the iOS App Store and the Google Play store for Android devices.

Update, Jan. 17, 2019: The Twitter account for the Westworld mobile game announced on Tuesday, Jan. 15, that the game had been removed from the iOS App Store and Google Play store effective immediately, and that it will be officially closed on April 16, 2019. In-app purchases have likewise been deactivated, and any users with in-game currency left over must spend it by the closure date.


There’s A Power Rangers Fighting Game Coming In April

Coming in April from nWay, the developer and publisher of mobile fighter Power Rangers Legacy Wars, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid pits rangers and villains old and new against each other in battles across PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch and eventually PC.

nWay’s teamed up with Hasbro and Lionsgate to tap 25 years of Power Rangers history for Battle for the Grid. According to the official announcement, the fighting game eschews complicated controls in favor a more simplified system, stating “the depth is knowing when to strike, not how.” Sounds like a variation on a mobile fighter to me.

The game will launch in April for the Switch, Xbox One and PS4, with cross-platform play enabled across all three platforms and a PC version coming at a future date. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid will cost $19.99, with a special collectors edition with extra skins running $39.99.


Mortal Kombat 11 – Scorpion vs Baraka Gameplay (With Ed Boon Commentary)

Scorpion and Baraka showcase some new moves and absolute brutal final blows.

Everything We Learned At Today’s Mortal Kombat 11 Reveal 

It’s got advanced character customization options, some new fight mechanics. time travel and an MMA fighter as Sonya Blade, but so far, Mortal Kombat 11 looks like more Mortal Kombat with the gore dialed up a notch.

Great fountains of blood punctuated our first look at NetherRealm Studios’ latest in action. Mortal Kombat is known for how its fighters open up to each other as they battle, and the first gameplay trailer’s got plenty of that. Heads, hearts, brains and other bits pop out, accompanied by strands of glistening viscera and waterfalls of crimson goo.

I am not normally squeamish in the face of Mortal Kombat’s exposed body parts and such, but something about this latest round had my stomach doing cartwheels.

In case you can’t get enough of this stuff, here’s the fatality trailer, which is so squelchy.

Visitors to the special reveal event, which include Kotaku’s own Nathan Grayson, will get hands-on time with seven new and returning kombatants. Mainstays Sonya Blade, Baraka, Sub-Zero, Raiden and Scorpion are joined by returning MK9 DLC fighter Skarlet, as well as a brand-new character named Geras, who seems pretty bad-ass.

Taking a cue from NetherRealm’s Injustice 2, players will be able to load up their Mortal Kombat 11 characters with different weapons, skins, costume pieces, intros and more.

Mechanics-wise, we were given a look at a couple of new features in the game. In the bottom corners of the screen, players now have two meters: one for offensive moves and one for defensive. Like the super moves in Injustice 2, players will build meter to unleash gory Fatal Blows. They generally aren’t fatal, but should be—Sonya’s involves shooting her opponent through the head. Also, players who perform a Perfect Block will break out of an attack directly into a combo, which sounds fancy.

Other than those few features, nothing much else was discussed, aside from a glimpse at the new game’s story. Picking up after Mortal Kombat 9, the story prologue trailer shows a more brutal version of Raiden removing Shinook’s head. Then, a mysterious new character named Kronika appears. She apparently will use her time manipulation powers to pit Mortal Kombatants against different versions of themselves—young, old, customized, et cetera.

Mortal Kombat 11 launches a worldwide on April 21, with a multiplayer beta kicking off on March 28. We should have more on the game after Nathan has gotten his dirty little paws on it later today.


New Mortal Kombat 11 Trailer Reveals First Details About The Game’s Story

NetherRealm Studios has released our first look at the story in Mortal Kombat 11. The prologue to the game’s story plays out in a trailer revealed at NetherRealm’s January reveal event, which sees Raiden interacting with Shinnok after the events of Mortal Kombat X and also introduces a brand-new character.

In the prologue, Raiden is wearing Shinnok’s amulet as he tortures the captured Elder God. Shinnok arrogantly reminds Raiden that an Elder God can’t be killed, so the Earthrealm defender simply cuts off his victim’s head while reminding it that there are fates worse than death. The prologue ends with Shinnok’s still-living head being approached by Kronika, the first female boss character in the franchise’s history and who we first saw during the Game Awards 2018.

During the reveal event, NetherRealm also revealed gameplay moments of several characters, including Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonya, Skarlet, Raiden, and Geras–the latter of which is a brand-new addition to the franchise. Geras also got a reveal trailer at the end of the event that showcased his incredible time-bending abilities in action, both summoning artifacts from other periods, transporting himself to his past position to avoid enemy attacks, and also freezing an opponent’s time to land some devastating combos.

In addition to again being able to change between different character variations, in Mortal Kombat 11, you’ll be able to customize fighters. Options include a fighter’s costume, intros, victories, abilities, and AI behavior. Mortal Kombat 11 also adds Fatal Blow attacks for each fighter, which act as special, powerful attacks–similar to Fatalities–that can be pulled off in an effort to change the tide of a battle. The one meter devoted to offense, defense, and supers in past Mortal Kombat games has been separated into three different meters for this eleventh entry.

Mortal Kombat 11 is scheduled to release April 23 for Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Switch.


Ronda Rousey Is In Mortal Kombat 11 As Sonya Blade

Mortal Kombat 11 will feature a surprising guest star. During the game’s big reveal livestream, developer NetherRealm announced that athlete and current WWE Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey will be supplying the voice for series staple Sonya Blade.

Rumors that Rousey would be voicing Sonya in the upcoming fighting game were circulating prior to the reveal. Rousey herself further fueled the speculation by sharing a picture of an invitation she received for the reveal event on Instagram.

“Sonya Blade was the first kick-ass girl that I saw come onto the scene, and I’ve always admired her and admittedly kind of emulated her in my own way,” Rousey said during the stream. Rousey shares more of her thoughts on voicing the character in the trailer above. You can also see some gameplay footage of Sonya in action below.

Sonya is one of several veteran Mortal Kombat characters who were confirmed during the reveal event; we also got our first look at Liu Kang, Baraka, Sub-Zero, and Skarlet, who was originally one of the DLC characters released for Mortal Kombat 9. NetherRealm also revealed a brand-new character, Geras, who has time-control abilities.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Mortal Kombat game without an absurd amount of gore, and we got to see some of the inventive and gruesome ways the characters will dismember each other in Mortal Kombat 11’s first gameplay trailer. NetherRealm also showed off some of the game’s brutal new fatalities.

Mortal Kombat 11 launches on April 23. The game is coming to PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. Those who pre-order it will receive Shao Kahn as a bonus character. Ahead of the game’s launch, NetherRealm will hold a beta for PS4 and Xbox One on March 28.