Allowing all apps kernel-level privileges is one hell of a super move.
Recently, Capcom dropped a much-anticipated update to Street Fighter V for PC and PlayStation 4. This version of the beloved fighting game includes a bunch of cool new things: the return of Street Fighter III fan favorite character Urien, additional stats for fighter profiles, new environmental KOs for each stage, and a new versus CPU mode.
Unfortunately, as PC players discovered this morning, this update also came with what was essentially a PC rootkit.
What exactly does that mean? Well, as The Register explains in detail, it gives any piece of software running on your PC kernel-level privileges. In other words, any piece of malware could use that to wreak havoc on your system as long as it can tell the vulnerability is there.
According to Capcom, this was implemented to prevent "cheating and illicitly gaining in-game currency." Unfortunately, this particular anti-cheat measure seems poorly designed, to say the least.
Capcom quickly said that it plans to roll back the need for this particular bit of extremely intrusive anti-cheat software, and it did today. But the fact that it existed in the first place has made the Street Fighter V community livid—and its anger extends far beyond just having a rootkit put on their PCs without their knowledge. It's the latest of numerous other grievances, much of which have to do with the way Street Fighter V deals with extra content.
While the base game comes with a bunch of characters and a few game modes, much of the additional content for Street Fighter V—costumes, extra characters—has to be unlocked by paying for DLC or spending a currency called "Fight Money" you earn in-game. For those not looking to pay more beyond their initial investment in the game, Fight Money is the way to go—but earning enough of it to get what you want can be a true grind. In addition, some content can only be accessed by performing specific feats in-game: character color schemes are unlocked by playing Survival Mode with each individual character, and you need to rack up a certain number of wins in a row before you can use those colors. It's incredibly hard to do: even seasoned Street Fighter veterans have had problems with the 50-win streak required for the last few colors.
In frustration, players turned to a widely circulated hack for Fight Money and color unlocks that exploited proxies and Capcom's ludicrously weak server security. While Capcom patched that up a while ago, the recent bit of ill-conceived anti-cheat seems to be geared at any future attempts at exploits. Rather than heeding complaints that the Fight Money grind is too tough or the Survival Mode color unlocks are ludicrously difficult, they're saying git gud or pay up, bucko.
The other really icky thing about this is that Capcom's attempt to stop hackers seems to reach beyond your garden-variety paywall cheaters and into the territory of locking out mod hobbyists and other people who have developed tools to help competitive players practice, such as hitbox viewer applications. While some modders have enabled features like early unlocking of DLC characters and stages and easier survival mode, many players are harmlessly modding for fun (like putting in Overwatch character models) or using tools to help analyze their play to improve on a competitive level. It feels like if you're not playing with SFV the way Capcom wants you to, they're going to do their best to stop you. And that's a terrible message to be sending.
But even with this latest misstep, Capcom's dominance in the world of fighting games doesn't seem to be in much danger at the moment—hell, there's going to be a big SFV tournament in New York next weekend. How much longer even the most fervent competitors will put up with these shenanigans before dropping SF5 for another fighting game, however, is yet to be seen.