Symantec Discovers 8 Minecraft Apps Building a Botnet | News & Opinion

Up to 2.6 million Android devices have been infected by these eight malicious apps discovered on Google Play.

Minecraft Pocket Edition Sockbot Maaaalware Apps

Security company Symantec recently discovered a set of eight Android apps available in the Google Play store that have been quietly building a botnet as well as generating ad revenue for the creators.

The Android malware being used is detected as Android.Sockbot. The set of eight apps all present themselves as allowing the modification of characters in Minecraft: Pocket Edition. Clearly that’s a popular thing to do as Symantec believes up to 2.6 million Android devices have downloaded and been infected with the Sockbot malware. Users in the US, Brazil, Germany, Russia, and the Ukraine were all targeted.

Once installed, the apps proceed to connect to a command and control server in the background. Once connected, a server sends a predefined list of ads and associated metadata and starts requesting ads from a ad server. The app can’t display any ads, but the requesting is thought to generate revenue for the malware distributors.

At the same time the device is added to a botnet, which means it could be called upon in future to carry out specific tasks including distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS). For the device owner who installed one of these apps, they will have no idea this is going on and that the smartphone in their pocket is helping to carry out an attack of some kind or generate revenue for a third party. The only tell is likely to be greatly reduced battery life and phone performance.

All eight apps have been traced back to one developer account called FunBaster. The apps avoided detection for malicious activity in a number of ways including code obfuscation, key strings encryption, and signing each app with a different developer key.

Symantec contacted Google on October 6 with details of the eight apps and Google has since removed all of them from the store. That may stop further infections, but doesn’t really help the up to 2.6 million already infected devices.

Symantec Concludes Just Eight Google Play ‘Minecraft’ Apps May Have Added Millions to Botnets

Photo: AP

In a blog post on Wednesday, Symantec security researchers wrote they had discovered at least eight Google Play Store apps that functioned as fronts for a “new and highly prevalent type of Android malware” called Android.Sockbot. The apps in question presented themselves as skins for player characters in popular app Minecraft: Pocket Edition and boasted “an install base ranging from 600,000 to 2.6 million devices.”

According to Symantec, the apps in question did actually perform as intended, allowing Minecraft players to waltz around as various characters (like an “assassin”). But they also connected to a command & control server that bombarded the compromised Android devices with requests to connect via the Socket Secure (SOCKS) protocol to ad servers. However, Symantec wrote there is no functionality in the apps to actually display advertising, suggesting those servers could have been directing compromised devices to participate in a variety of malicious activities:

This highly flexible proxy topology could easily be extended to take advantage of a number of network-based vulnerabilities, and could potentially span security boundaries. In addition to enabling arbitrary network attacks, the large footprint of this infection could also be leveraged to mount a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

Symantec wrote that the developer account behind all eight apps, FunBaster, had apparently encrypted parts of the code to thwart “base-level forms of detection.” Google Play has since removed the apps from the store.

As Ars Technica noted, the incident is yet more evidence Google Play is “chronically unable to detect untrustworthy apps before allowing them into its official app bazaar.” In just one other example in August, Google Play expelled at least three faux messaging apps it discovered were “capable of covertly taking photos, recording audio, retrieving call logs, and more.”

In June, CNET noted bogus apps were quickly becoming an industry-wide problem, including on Apple’s App Store and third-party networks. Many of the scammers appeared to be taking advantage of lax vetting procedures for newly added apps; one titled “Mobile protection: Clean & Security VPN” rose to the top 10 grossing productivity apps in the Apple store before it was revealed to be charging users some $99.99 a week.

In general, it might be a good idea to think about whether you really need that slightly sketchy-looking app from a mysterious developer before you load it onto a device that contains most of your personal information.

[Symantec/Ars Technica]

New Xbox One S bundles include Rocket League, Minecraft, and Halo

We’re still in the midst of October, but the holiday shopping season will soon be here, and Microsoft has gotten an early jump on things for those planning on buying an Xbox One this year. The company has announced four new console bundles that include a popular game and its DLC or other digital content, along with a white 500GB Xbox One S and a wireless controller.

The first is the Xbox One S Minecraft Complete Adventure Bundle, which is priced at $279 in the US and comes with a digital copy of Minecraft and the Minecraft Explorer’s pack, which includes DLC like the Chinese Mythology Mashup, Natural Texture Pack, Battle and Beasts Skin Pack, and Campfire Tales Skin Pack. Also featured in this bundle is a download code for the full game of Minecraft: Story Mode Season 1, 3 months of Xbox Live Gold, and a 1 month Xbox Game Pass subscription, which is Xbox’s new game-streaming service.

Next up is the Xbox One S Rocket League Blast-Off Bundle, which sadly won’t be available to gamers in the US. This package includes the massively popular rocket-powered-car-soccer game Rocket League, along with 3 months of Xbox Live Gold, and a 1 month Xbox Game Pass. The bundle is priced at 229 pounds in the UK, and 270 euros in European markets.

Those picking up an Xbox One just to dive into the Halo series will want to check out the Xbox One S Ultimate Halo Bundle, which will be exclusive to Walmart in the US, for a price of $279. This comes with digital copies of Halo 5: Guardians and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, with the later collecting the first four Halo games. A 1 month Xbox Game Pass and 14-day trial of Xbox Live Gold are also included.

Lastly is the Xbox One S Starter Bundle, also priced at $279. While this package doesn’t include a specific full game, it lets gamers sample a wide variety of titles available on the Xbox platform with a 3 month Xbox Game Pass and 3 months of Xbox Live Gold.

SOURCE Xbox Wire

Xbox chief says Sony won’t allow cross-platform Minecraft, probably never will

The release last month of the Better Together update for Minecraft brought together Minecraft players on most of the game’s many platforms: the Xbox One, Windows 10, mobile, and VR versions of the game now all use the same engine and can all play together without borders. Servers and content will be accessible from any Better Together platform. Microsoft has also announced that this version of the game will be coming to the Nintendo Switch, and it, too, will be able to join in the cross-platform play.

But one major platform is being left behind: PlayStation 4. Minecraft players on the PlayStation 4 will only be able to play with other PlayStation 4 users. Not because of any technical constraint, but because Sony won’t allow it.

Speaking to Gamespot, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said Sony regards platform lock-in as a way of driving sales and “that reason [for blocking cross-platform play] is not going away.” Spencer doesn’t hold out much hope for things changing, either: “I’m never going to call anything a lost cause, but I think some of the fundamental reasons and certain scenarios—they’re not really going away.”

In June, Sony execs insisted that the company has no “profound philosophical stance” against cross-platform play, and it has permitted play between the PC and PlayStation 4. But cross-console play is clearly a sticking point. While Microsoft isn’t the first developer to cite Sony’s refusal to allow cross-platform play—Rocket League developer Psyonix and Gwent developer CD Projekt have both blamed Sony for the limitation—this is the first time the company has itself fallen foul of Sony’s restrictions. Moreover, Spencer’s comments make clear that Sony’s desire to create lock-in appears to be its overwhelming concern.

If one game could make Sony reconsider, the sheer size and popularity of Minecraft means that it’s surely the one. Better Together is a substantial update, and one can well imagine that it won’t be long before Minecraft players start to expect—and even demand—the ability to play on the same servers regardless of whether they’re using their consoles, their phones, or even their PCs. For now, however, Sony appears content to deny the users of its platform access to the larger Minecraft universe.

Xbox One S Minecraft Limited Edition Bundle Review

Last year, a friend recommended that I spend some quality time with Minecraft to get my mind off of the constant Trump news cycle and onto something marginally more productive. As a lifelong gamer, I gave it a shot — and was completely underwhelmed by the complicated controls that maneuvered my avatar across the screen on my iPhone and laptop. Regardless of how many times I tried to change the controller settings to something easier to process, I was quite certain that the wildly popular block-building game, while visually appealing and a great way to waste time, was not for me. That is, until I discovered the altogether different experience that comes with playing the game on a console, and not on a web-connected device.

tl;dr: The limited-edition Minecraft Xbox One S made a Minecraft believer out of me — and it’s a console that has the potential to turn even the most video-game-averse individual into a diehard fan. But let’s take it one step at a time.

What is Minecraft and why do people love it so much?

“Minecraft is a game about placing blocks and going on adventures,” or so the official one-liner for the game reads. But Minecraft is, in far more broad terms, the most appealing gateway to STEM that a group of Swedish coders could have ever possibly imagined when they first released it in 2009. In a 2016 profile, The New York Times referred to those early preteen denizens of Minecraft as “The Minecraft Generation,” describing in great detail how young people were using tech savvy and coding knowledge in order to “win” at Minecraft. Yes, the game is fundamentally a quest to mine resources with which to ensure your survival — shelter and protection are required to fight the baddies that come at you in the night — but there’s a far more complicated level of know-how that’s required in order to truly best play the game. Redstone, the Minecraft equivalent of electricity, can be mined easily by anyone — but it takes a certain kind of savvy to manhandle the engineering that’s required to make it work. It’s that quest for making the best, the most elaborate, the most intricate that really creates a Minecraft-lover out of your average gamer — and to say that it’s addictive once you’ve figured it out would be a dramatic understatement.

What is so different about playing the game on a console versus on a phone, tablet, or computer?

There are two main reasons that the experience is so different. One is that it’s much, much easier to play the game on a standard controller than it is to use your keyboard or fingers, and having some distance between your eyes and the screen is always a big plus. The second — and more important — reason is that it moves the game away from a solo experience and toward something you can play with friends, partners, or family. Sure, you could always play in co-op mode over your various devices, but having a split-screen game while you’re sitting next to someone is so much more fun (and challenging!).

How exactly does playing with someone else work?

Depending on how competitive you are, you can either work in tandem — collecting resources, building up a town or village or city — or compete for the better house with the more advanced technology. Either way, it’s easy to explore a map with someone else when you’re playing in the console version, though it’s highly recommended that you both have wireless controllers to make sure that you’re not tied down to the console!

What are the visual differences between the Minecraft Limited Edition Xbox One S and the regular Xbox One?

Behold the true beauty that is the Minecraft console (and its matching Creeper-themed controller):

Can the Minecraft console play other games, too?

This might be my favorite part of the limited-edition console and what makes it so accessible. In addition to having a 1 TB hard drive, the Xbox One S itself comes with a free month of Xbox Game Pass and a 14-day trial of Xbox Live Gold. In other words: you’ve got several weeks to experiment with all of the games you’ve heard your friends talk about on your own, without any upfront commitment to actually buying the game in full. And it’s not just recent titles, either — you can explore the wide range of options here. Suffice it to say that after years of resisting certain games on the basis that I didn’t want to throw down the money on something I might not use, having a month to give all of those games test runs has resulted in my having quite a few new favorite games that aren’t even remotely Minecraft-related.

Can I play Minecraft with friends who don’t have an Xbox but play on PE or PS4?

Thanks to the recent Better Together update, now you can play cross-platform with most other types of devices, aside from the Nintendo Switch (the update hasn’t rolled out to it yet, sadly, though it is in the works!).

What else does the console do?

Just as with any other Xbox console, the Minecraft edition can play all your favorite apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Spotify — making the console more than just a way to play games, but to access all of your favorite media all in one place.

What sold you on being a Minecraft fan?

On a (very) personal level, having a low-commitment, low-violence game like Minecraft to play with my significant other has been a welcome addition to my household. It’s also worth noting that as someone who has always been more of a Nintendo-and-Playstation gal, the price point and ability to test other games has meant that we’ve got a whole host of games to play as we head into the Winter months — something I’ve never really had the opportunity to experiment with, and couldn’t be more excited about. It really is the console I’ve been waiting for Microsoft to come out with – and after decades of resisting the Halo-and-Borderlands-induced madness, it’s made an Xbox fan out of me.

So how can I get my hands on one?

The Xbox One S Minecraft Limited Edition Bundle retails at $399 and hits stores on Oct. 3. But don’t wait to pick one up — limited edition does in fact mean that there’s a finite number of consoles being produced, so they’re likely to sell out sooner rather than later.

Microsoft and Sony are collaborating to make the PS4 and Xbox One compatible for ‘Minecraft’

If you own a PlayStation 4 game that’s also on the Xbox One, like
“Overwatch” for instance, there’s no way to play it with your
friends across platforms. The game is more or less identical on
each console, and it’s an online multiplayer game.
You should be able to play it with whoever, on
whatever platform they’re playing it on, but you can’t.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Yes, and it’s always been
that way.” And you’d be right! But just because it’s always been
that way doesn’t make it logical. Microsoft is
attempting to change that standard by making the massively
popular “Minecraft” playable with friends across platforms.

minecraft nintendo switch
“Minecraft” got a major update on Wednesday known as
the “Better Together” update. It unifies all platforms of
“Minecraft,” with the exception of Nintendo Switch (coming this
winter) and PlayStation 4.


And Microsoft is succeeding, sort of. With its “Better Together”
announced earlier this year
and now live, “Minecraft” can be
played with friends who are on mobile devices, Xbox One, PC, and
even VR headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR and Facebook’s Oculus

Notably, two major platforms are missing from that list: Nintendo
Switch and PlayStation 4. 

Incredibly, “Minecraft” on Nintendo Switch will actually be added
to this list “by the end of the year,” Microsoft’s “Minecraft”
lead Matt Booty told us in an interview this week. PlayStation 4
is less certain, but Microsoft is actually working with Sony on
making it happen.

“Sony is a good partner, and they are working with us on this,”
Booty said.

That’s a pretty major change from what we heard earlier this

“You should probably ask them,” Xbox leader Phil Spencer
said in an interview with Business Insider in June
, when
asked about why the PlayStation 4 version doesn’t work with other
platforms. He added, “I don’t mean that to be snippy. We’ve shown
our intent on what we want to go do. And I’d love for ‘Minecraft’
players to get to play ‘Minecraft.'” 


It sounds like, since June, Microsoft and Sony are discussing
making that happen.

“I know that Sony has taken some heat in the press, and they are
working with us on this,” Booty said. “I feel good that we’re
gonna work this out. If we all take the angle that we should do
what’s best for players, that guiding principle will lead us
to the right decision and we’ll work it out.”

Of course, just because “Minecraft” is able to play nice across
platforms doesn’t mean that, say, “Overwatch” is going to
suddenly work across platforms. Booty sees “Minecraft” as helping
to build a foundation for future collaboration.

“The way these things work is that somebody always has to go
first,” he said. “It helps to work out the specifics with a
particular game and figure that out.”

In this case, “Minecraft” is being used as the first attempt to
bridge Xbox One and PlayStation 4 players. In a few years, you
could be playing games like “Call of Duty” or “Battlefield” with
your friends on whatever platform they’re playing the game

In the meantime, Microsoft and Sony are at least working on that
functionality. The major hurdle of two competing companies simply
getting together and discussing how to make such a thing work has
already been overcome. Now, it’s just a measure of working out

Xbox vs PlaystationChristian Petersen/Getty

“Those consoles need to understand how to respect each other’s
settings,” Booty said. “It’s just a matter of figuring out
how to make that work. We want to be really careful that we don’t
just open this and get into a situation, particularly with
‘Minecraft,’ where we’re not respecting all the parental

There’s no word on when cross-play between Xbox One and
PlayStation 4 is coming to “Minecraft” — there isn’t even a
guarantee that it’s going to happen — but Booty’s openness about
the process and his passion for making it happen provide some

“We think that ‘Minecraft’ — given its deeply cross-platform
nature and the wide range of devices where it’s played
— is a great opportunity to figure this out. We’re probably gonna
hit some roadblocks along the way, but if we stick to what’s good
for the player, hopefully we can fix the platform challenges.”

“Hopefully” is right.

Minecraft: New Nintendo 3DS Edition Hands-on Preview – Hands-on Preview

A hands-on look at the blockiest version of the blockiest game on block street.

Among the surprises during yesterday’s Nintendo Direct was an announcement, and release, of Minecraft for New Nintendo 3DS. This is a big deal for a couple of reasons, and simultaneously not a big deal for a couple of reasons. Make sense? Let’s break it down.

Minecraft on New Nintendo 3DS (remember, this is exclusive to the “New” 3DS and 2DS systems) marks something of a world takeover for Minecraft in so much as this is the last platform the game needed to be on to be playable on basically any possible gaming device one could have. Never before, in my life, has a game permeated platforms like Minecraft has. This game is available on every console, handheld, and mobile device available. 3DS was the last holdout, and now here we are.

It’s hard to tell exactly what kind of gamer will be excited about this announcement. Most kids are already playing Minecraft on any other number of devices, including but not limited to Nintendo Switch and Wii U. However, there are almost certainly going to be kids who don’t have dedicated tablets or phones, and who don’t have most gaming consoles either. Getting a New Nintendo 2DS XL for $150 and a copy of Minecraft for $30 is probably the most economical way to get into the game.

The big question here is, how well does the game run? I’ve put a few hours into it so far, and honestly it’s not that bad. The footage shown off during the Nintendo Direct did not look particularly great, but when you see the game running on your handheld, despite the low resolution, it feels immediately like Minecraft. Personally, I’m kind of stunned at how well the game runs on the handheld, considering the low resolution of the screen and the limited horsepower of the gameplay.

Some digging by more ambitious folks than I have shown that the game runs at a mostly steady framerate of around 20 fps, with occasional drops. That’s not great, but once again; considering the hardware, it’s not bad. In addition, the game houses larger worlds than even the Wii U version of the game. Nintendo’s least loved system allows for worlds of up to 864×864, whereas the 3DS game supports up to 2016×2016. For comparison, the Switch version of the game goes as high as 3072×3072.

The game controls well on 3DS, although your mileage with the C-Stick nub may vary. I found it a bit difficult at first, but adjusted quickly to using dual analog controls on my New 2DS XL. One benefit of playing on the dual-screened handheld is that your map is on display at all times, making it easier to keep your bearings and explore with a bit lessened risk.

The touch screen works well for inventory management and crafting (which was more than you could say for the Wii U game) but there’s no drag-and-drop functionality. Instead, you select an item, and select another cell, and the items will swap locations. Using the D-Pad is the most comfortable way to use the inventory as a result.

There is no multiplayer support yet, although it is thought to be coming in a future update.

If you have any questions about the functionality of Minecraft on New Nintendo 3DS, leave a comment below, or hit me up on twitter at @NWR_DrewMG or @Nintendo_NWR.

Argos website crashes after Minecraft XBox One drops in price from £300 to £89.99 and thousands of gamers try to snap them up

HUNDREDS of bargain hunters tried to snap up a new  Xbox games console for £89.99 after a glitch on  Argos’s website.
The pre-order Minecraft Xbox One S 1TB should cost £300.

 Hundreds of bargain hunters crashed the Argos website after it accidentally listed a Minecraft Xbox One S at £89.99 rather than £300

PA:Press Association

Hundreds of bargain hunters crashed the Argos website after it accidentally listed a Minecraft Xbox One S at £89.99 rather than £300
Xbox One S Minecraft Limited Edition crashes Argos website after price

The store’s site crashed  for several hours after marketing agency PTM Media flagged up the price on its Facebook page “Extreme Deals, Bargains, Discounts”.

It understood that several hundred bargain hunters were able to order the console today for the heavily discounted price – before the deluge of traffic caused it to crash.

PTM Media director Daniel Dalley said: “We posted the offer on our Facebook page – which has more than 60,000 followers – and we know that thousands of people clicked on it.

“We estimate around 200 to 300 people may have actually managed to buy one for this price.

“By the time I had got into the office this morning I decided to try to redeem the offer myself, but when I tried to get on the Argos website it was completely offline.”

Daniel said these errors are known as “retailer glitches” and are often caused by employees incorrectly entering prices.

He said: “We see this quite often with lots of online retailers.

“Some will honour the deal, others won’t. It all depends on each particular websites terms and conditions.

“But some people may have got themselves a bargain this morning.”

 The gamers were hoping to grab a bargain special edition Mincraft Xbox One


The gamers were hoping to grab a bargain special edition Mincraft Xbox One

Argos store confirmed on twitter its website was down due to a pricing glitch.

Yesterday the retailer confirmed all wrongly priced orders will be cancelled and apologised to customers “inconvenienced by the technical error”.

The website’s, terms and conditions state under point “4.3 a” what the website does when it comes to pricing errors.

It reads: “If we discover an error in the price of goods ordered or reserved, we will inform you as soon as possible (e.g. prior to the goods being dispatched or in store prior to the collection of good).

“We will provide you with the option of reconfirming your order at the correct price or cancelling it. If we are unable to contact you we will treat the order as cancelled.

“If you choose to cancel and have already paid for the goods, you will receive a full refund.”

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10 ways to play games wrong – from Minecraft prisons to baby-making factories

Grand Theft Auto 5

We’ve all played games in weird ways. Surely everyone has tried to be a law-abiding citizen in Grand Theft Auto, obeying traffic signs as they drive around its crime-ridden cities. Perhaps you used the mod in The Witcher 3 that turns every fight into a game of Gwent. (That one’s not for me – I had no time for Gwent, though I did play it like a well-armed tourist.) Or maybe you’ve tried to force yourself to play an RPG like Skyrim without stealing other people’s stuff – a task that’s actually harder than Dark Souls dipped in adamantium. 

For another example, here’s Yeoman’s Sky – an account of how one man went on a quest to never leave his home planet in No Man’s Sky. 

My point is that we all try to bend the rules from time to time. We all push against how videogame designers intend their creations to be played. I mean, look at the speedrunning community – they’re living proof that humans just won’t conform. With that in mind, I searched the internet and reached out to community managers about some of the strangest ways games are played. Here are ten of the best. 

The Sims 4 – 100 baby challenge

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 Loads of people play The Sims 4 in bizarre ways. We’ve all bricked up every door and window and let our Sims burn to death inside, right? Right? Anyone? Ok then.

Some players have set themselves a challenge that’s not about ending life, but rather, creating it. The 100 baby challenge in The Sims 4 is a hot new trend in which players challenge themselves to fire out 100 sprogs. 

 Not only do they have to progenate that many infants, they also have to follow a set of strict rules: each baby must have a different father; the matriarch can’t have a job; ageing must be on; and you’re not allowed to kill off your kids to make room for more. There’s a massive Google Doc laying out the full rules if you fancy woohooing your sims to death. 

GTA Online – stunt scene

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There’s only one law some players are concerned with breaking in GTA: the law of gravity. For many, GTA Online is an extreme stunts sandbox, an urban motocross arena, or a base jumper’s paradise. 

For me, a multi-storey car park in Los Santos is a vantage point for my sniper rifle. But for the GTA Online stunt community, it’s just another opportunity to thread the needle in freefall, pulling their parachutes at the last second before setting down on the road. I’ll probably run them over when they land, but they made it. 

Some people even play GTA – a game where you can trip over your own feet – as parkour athletes, legging it across Los Santos and darting across rooftops. Inevitably, they will tumble and fall, but that just makes it all the funnier. A cursory search on YouTube will reveal scores of freerunning videos and parkour fail compilations. To be fair, who didn’t spend the first hour of GTA 5 hurling their character at a wall? That splat. 

Dark Souls – Onebros

Dark Souls

At the start of Dark Souls you get the chance to choose a class. Do you want to be a gleaming knight with a sword and shield? Perhaps you’d rather try your hand at a bow (don’t). For some, the choice is clear: they want to complete the game using the Pyromancer, because he’s the only class that starts at Soul Level One.

These masochists then play through the entire game this way, never levelling up. Dedicated Onebros don’t summon in help from other online players, either. The only way they can get stronger is by reinforcing their weapon – which itself is restricted by their stats – and by using their pyromancy glove to harness fire and set their enemies alight. This trick isn’t quite as effective against Quelaag, however, because of the whole ‘she’s fireproof’ thing.

To complete a Onebro run you need to master the parry. A well-timed one will send enemies reeling, letting you perform a critical hit in the gap. Because of your low health, mistiming a parry will mean death. Git gud (as the kids say) and you’ll be able to parry your way to the end credits, perhaps battering all the bosses with a tiny lump of wood. If you fancy your chances, get some tips from the Onebro subreddit.

Battlefield – Zombies

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Zombies are overdone in videogames, but we still keep playing games that feature the decomposing teeth-gnashers. That’s because they’re the perfect videogame enemy: they’re dumb and can only attack you when they’re close, making them perfect fodder for people who enjoy popping heads like meaty melons.

In fact, we love zombies so much that we even put them in games that didn’t originally have them in. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is getting a zombies mode, following the success of Twitch-led community games where one squad faces off against hordes of players equipped with melee weapons. 

A similar craze swept through the Battlefield community, too. There are countless custom games in DICE’s shooter where one small team, using the Support class, takes aim at a full team of Medics acting as the zombies. In the mode, the Medic class players use defibrillators to take down the opposing team when they get in close. It’s a hectic, unintended way to experience the destructive squad shooter. 

GTA Online – RPers

It’s GTA again! Did you know that some people play GTA Online like it’s Second Life? There’s a dedicated community of GTA Online role-players who play the game completely in character, in servers with other players who are doing the same. In it, they live by strict rules – players can even end up serving time if they’re caught committing crimes. 

In jail, they just stand around for hours until their time is served. If you watch the Twitch stream above (from 2:22), you can see some of the RPers in action – one group is out for revenge on another player, Surfer Dude, who snitched on them after a previous altercation.

They kidnap him, steal his phone, and lure him to a meat warehouse. Despite his pleas, they knife him in the stomach and douse him in petrol before setting his body on fire. It’s dark as hell, but the daft voices the players use for their characters means you’ll have to laugh at the absurdity of it. It’s strangely compulsive to watch. 

Need For Speed – Car Meets

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We all have that one friend who has a photo of their car as their Facebook profile picture. Well, the Need for Speed community has a version of that – groups of car enthusiasts who meet up and show off their virtual rides to like-minded petrolheads. 

The fact they don’t have legs or a physical avatar to explore with doesn’t bother them at all. They pull up into a car park, like a nerdy, limbless Vin Diesel, and admire each other’s handiwork.

They even make stylish sizzle reels for their meets, showing off their rides as they reflect the street lights, Frostbite-engine rain beading down their hoods. 

Titanfall 2 – The Gauntlet

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A lot has been said about Effect and Cause, Titanfall 2’s most inventive and exciting mission. The game’s community has got worked up by something else entirely, though: the tutorial. Before you get into the action in Respawn’s incredible shooter, you’re plonked into a VR training simulator called the Gauntlet. For some, this is the real game.

People have been fighting over the top spot on the Gauntlet leaderboard since launch, and the fastest time currently clocks in just shy of 20 seconds. 

Being the fastest isn’t enough for some, however. There are even players who run the Gauntlet backwards, with one of the most impressive of those clocking in at 34 seconds. 

Dishonored – Coin Collectors

Being an immersive sim about stealthy assassinations, Dishonored shares some DNA with the Thief series. It helps that you can go through people’s drawers, hunt down combinations for their safes, and steal things from the pockets of unaware guards.

Stealing and hoarding coins is the entire game for some. It’s clear that players will track down any old collectible, so there were always going to be people who wanted all Dishonored’s bonecharms and whalebone runes. That wasn’t enough for one group, however – they wanted all the coins. They want to hoover them all up like supernatural, murderous magpies. 

Dishonored’s currency is useful for upgrades, but players were never meant to get every single one. Even so, one group of players actually got in contact with developers Arkane because they were missing a single coin from the first game and assumed it was a glitch. It turned out the coin was just near a random rock on the coast. Liquid assets… No? Sorry.

Skyrim – Pacifist run 

You spend a lot of time in Skyrim whacking enemies with swords or hurling fireballs at them until they keel over and die. One player didn’t see this as enough of a challenge, so they set themselves a bunch of rules and readied themselves for a pacifist run.

In it, they’re allowed to hurt enemies, but killing them by direct methods is a no-no. Fus Ro Dah-ing them off a cliff is fine – it’s the fall that kills them, duh. Placing traps is also okay, since it’s their carelessness that does the work there. Using followers to do your dirty deeds is against the rules, however. 

These guidelines meant they had to get creative – especially in questlines like the mage’s guild where stealth and invisibility can only get you so far. You can see their exploits in the diary over on the Skyrim subreddit. 

Minecraft – prison servers

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Prison servers turn the Minecraft experience into an unforgiving MMO where you have to slowly grind through the ranks for resources. Starting with a pick and some low-level gear, you have to really work to make progress, slowly building up your belongings, and selling off any gems you collect to rank up so you can more quickly work your way through layers of stone. 

Just like in an MMO, the first few ranks fly by, but the later ranks can take hours or even days to progress through. It’s Minecraft, but stripped back to its most brutal elements. 

Beneath all this, players can make faster progress by donating real-world money to the server host, bypassing some of the grind with what is essentially a microtransaction. I’d rather build a massive dong, personally.