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The real reason Valorant is offering hackers $100,000

Riot Games is offering $100,000 to any hackers who can crack their software, but for a good reason. The efforts of ethical hackers could actually end up making Valorant a much more enjoyable experience in the long run. 

Gamers were somewhat riled up last week by Vanguard, the anti-cheat software in Riot Games' new tactical shooter, Valorant. It was discovered that Vanguard runs at all times, starting up whenever the user's computer is booted up. This wasn't a setting that could be toggled on or off, either. In fact, Valorant will not run at all unless Vanguard is installed and active.

This was done to ensure that no hackers could find workarounds in the game. As explained by Riot Games' anti-cheat lead lead, Paul Chamberlain (who posted to Reddit under the handle "RiotArkem"), many cheaters get away with their exploits by starting up whatever cheat programs they have prior to booting a game. Vanguard is specifically designed to catch that nonsense before it happens.

Still, players were more than a little concerned that Vanguard could be used to monitor their activity or send personal information to Riot Games. Chamberlain assured gamers this was not the case, but now we have a bit more information regarding the controversial anti-cheat software and how Riot intends on improving it in the future.

In a conversation with IGN, Paul Chamberlain explained Vanguard further. According to Chamberlain, "Vanguard has made it easier for us to fight cheats in two ways: first, the protection mechanisms in Vanguard make it more difficult and time consuming to create cheats."

"Second, Vanguard was designed in a way that lets us respond quickly to emerging threats," continued Chamberlain, "we don't need to wait for a game update to update our anti-cheat systems, so we can roll out new protections and detections as soon as they're ready."

This is actually a great concept. Rather than waiting for a patch or for a large number of people to encounter a specific problem until it's addressed, Vanguard will theoretically allow Riot Games to make fixes on the fly. The company can catch problems and exploits on the ground floor. 

The reason this has been done, apparently, is so that Valorant can be improved at regular intervals. As Chamberlain said, "We've built Vanguard to be an ever-improving platform, rather than a once off product, so from here Vanguard is going to continue to improve."

Even with those lofty goals, Vanguard wasn't immune to exploits. The problem was that Riot wasn't anticipating just how quickly hackers would figure out how to mess with Valorant. In fact, there was barely a gap between the game's beta launch and the intervention of hackers.

"To be honest I was caught off guard by how much interest there's been in the game and how quickly cheat developers turned their attention to us," Chamberlain explained. "My estimate before launch was that we'd see our first real cheats within the first 2 weeks of the beta; it turns out I was optimistic and instead we only had a few days of quiet before we had to be working at full steam ahead."

So there you have it. Yes, Vanguard is always running while your computer is on, but it never actively scans your personal information or sends any personal data back to Riot Games. It is strictly built to recognize cheat programs and exploits and ping Riot Games in such an event.

That being said, Riot Games knows that no anti-cheat software is foolproof, no matter how strong and impervious it may seem. To that end, Riot Games is offering a $100,000 reward to any enterprising hackers who can find loopholes in the Vanguard system for Riot to patch up.

This is not a new concept, believe it or not. For years, major companies like Tesla have offered large sums to ethical hackers who can find gaps in their security systems. This helps these companies to ensure that no one tampers with their product in any harmful ways. For instance, Tesla hires hackers to strengthen their smart cars, cutting back on the possibility that someone could cause an accident by hacking a vehicle while it's in use.

Hopefully these tactics will work out for Riot Games and Valorant in the long run. There's a lot of excitement for this game, even as it's still in beta. Noted Twitch streamer Pokimane called Valorant a potential "Overwatch killer." Hackers can ruin even the most enjoyable gaming experiences, so Riot will likely want the game to be as hack-proof as possible in order to live up to gamers' lofty expectations.