An anonymous reader shares a report from Wired: In January, all seven of the most-watched YouTube Gaming channels weren’t run by happy gamers livestreaming the game du jour. They were instead recorded, autoplaying videos advertising videogame cheats and hacks, sometimes attached to sketchy, credential-vacuuming websites, according to one analytics firm. The trend has continued into this month, with five of the top seven most-watched YouTube Gaming channels last weekend advertising cheats. Take one example: As of this article’s writing, a video featuring a cracking teenage boy’s voice promoting an unconvincing “money glitch” in Grand Theft Auto 5 boasts 11,000 concurrent viewers. “So basically it’s about glitching Rockstar’s online servers and makes them send out whatever amount of money,” says the voice. The video encourages Grand Theft Auto 5 players to visit a website called “Perfect Glitches,” type in their gamer tag and the amount of in-game money they want — up to $9,999,999,999 a day — and hit “generate.” But, ho — the user must first prove that they are human by filling in their personal information on two other websites. […] After you fill in your personal information — anything from your address to your credit card number — these types of sites will often turn around and sell it. Other times, sites that promise cheats or in-game money will download malware onto your computer.
While several YouTube Gaming cheat channels have disappeared since January, a couple of long-time users remain and many more keep cropping up. One particularly psychedelic channel features a 3-D cat in a Russian hat advertising free in-game money, against a background of gaudy Russian text and a scrolling chat box. Stitch from Lilo and Stitch dances on the top left corner. With 10,000 live concurrent viewers as of this article’s writing, the video buoys the whole category for a somewhat niche shooter game called Standoff 2. It’s unlikely that the bulk of those eyebrow-raising view numbers are real humans watching this stuff. Instead, scammers drive bot traffic to them to push the videos to the top of YouTube Gaming directories, where they can get the most exposure for the longest period of time — a better position from which to dupe unlucky viewers.
“The prevalence of these game-cheating YouTube Gaming channels with what appears to be huge numbers of bots complicates the narrative of the so-called ‘platform wars’ between Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Mixer, and Facebook Gaming,” reports Wired in closing. “While Twitch’s livestream directory might have a couple pirated sports streams or sketchy gambling streams, its top ranks aren’t nearly as dominated by ads for cheats.”
“If a chunk of YouTube Gaming’s hours watched is due to this sort of behavior, then it may be a little longer until Twitch is knocked off its throne.”
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