Cheating in video games has been around for almost as long as the games themselves, and it’s a controversial topic in the world of gaming, especially with the rise of Esports that has brought money alongside pride into the equation.
Is it right or wrong? Many say there’s nothing wrong with the odd cheat code, and others say when playing competitive games, it’s wrong to have an unfair advantage, just like in real life sporting events.
Cheat codes were first put in place by developers for testing purposes, like the infamous Konami Code for the 1985 arcade game Gradius. During testing, Kazuhisa Hashimoto created the code because he found it too difficult to play through - so he built a cheat code that would provide a full set of power ups and accidently left the code in when the game was released.
It wasn’t long before a whole industry emerged around the idea of cheating at video games, with magazines, forums and TV shows listing cheats for consoles and computer systems. Notoriously, the Game Genie cartridge released for the Super-NES that enabled players to cheat resulted in a legal battle with Nintendo. In the courtroom, cheating won and nowadays people all over the world head to the internet to find cheats for their favourite games without a moment's thought.
But, we’re not here for a history of cheats in gaming, or to settle whether it’s good, bad or ugly to bend the rules. We’re here because we wanted to find out where in the world gamers like to cheat the most. And the results are in!
By analysing Google search volume data, we were able to find out how many people were looking for things like ‘cheat codes’, ‘cheats’ and cheat codes for specific games, in every country around the world, along with every state in the US.
We then adjusted the search volumes to account for each country’s population to create an index score to make sure we were comparing like for like, and our research shows the top five countries that cheat the most at gaming are: Russia, Italy, Israel, Japan and Sweden.
Almost half the countries in the top 50 are in Europe - Italy, Sweden, Romania, Portugal and Denmark all make the top 10, and in total, 20 European countries appear in the top 50. So be wary if playing against one of these countries online, and your opponent seems a little overpowered. The United Kingdom ranked as the 16th most notorious cheaters - so not the worst when it comes to bending the rules, but definitely not squeaky clean.
Hopping across the Atlantic to North America, the US falls just outside of the top 10, in 11th position. Canada comes in in 18th, Guatemala’s 23rd and the Dominic Republic is in 24th. In total, ten North American countries make the top 50.
Asia appears seven times (counting Russia and Turkey, as they span across both Asia and Europe). After Israel and Japan in the top 10, Singapore’s in 25th, Sri Lanka is in 38th and just inside the top 50, the United Arab Emirates ranks in 49th position.
Similar to North America, ten South American countries make the top 50 – Brazil in 9th and Argentina in 13th both make the top 20, followed by Chile in 27th and Uruguay in 28th.
According to the study, gamers in Texas are more likely to cheat than any other US state, and California, Nevada, Georgia and New Mexico make up the rest of the top five.
When looking at the specific index scores of each US state – although none are as high as Russia’s or Italy’s in the worldwide list – Texas’ score of 2.6 is roughly around the same level as Portugal, which made it to 7th place in the global analysis. So there is definitely still a lot of cheating taking place in Texas.
California’s score would be equivalent to Denmark’s worldwide score in 10th, and New York comes in roughly the same as Argentina’s score of 1.92, in 13th position. In short, US gamers definitely use a cheat code or two, especially in the sunny states of Texas, California and Nevada.
We also looked into how results change when we hone in on specific games. From the cute surroundings of Animal Crossing to the crime-ridden streets of Grand Theft Auto, where cheats the most at some of the most popular games ever? We researched just over 50 of them to find out.
Interestingly, Iceland features a whopping 18 times – being found out to cheat the most for a huge mix of games, such as Assassin's Creed, Crysis and Super Mario, all the way to the likes of LEGO Star Wars.
Malta clocks up eight appearances on the cheaters list, for games including the classic Resident Evil and Tomb Raider franchises, along with Borderlands and Crash Bandicoot.
Turkey, Germany and Ireland all have three mentions, while the UK appears twice, coming in as the biggest cheaters at Animal Crossing and LEGO Marvel Superheroes.
Whether you use cheats or not, and whether you’re more Mortal Kombat than Minecraft, everyone agrees there’s nothing worse than a dodgy connection when you’re trying to play a game., Ifyour broadband isn’t up to scratch, compare broadband deals to get a faster or more reliable connection.
Search volume data was compiled through Google AdWords over the past 12 months (April 2020 – March 2021).
Search volume for the following terms was calculated in every country around the world and in every US state: cheats, cheat codes. Added to this, the search volume for game specific cheat codes were calculated by collating searches for: (game) cheats, (game) cheat codes.
The games incorporated into the analysis were: Mario Kart, Pokémon, Call of Duty, NBA 2K20, Mafia, Fallout 4, Fortnite, Skyrim, Assassin's Creed, Battlefield, Bioshock, Crysis, Doom, LEGO Star Wars, Metal Gear Solid, NBA 2K21, Need For Speed, No Man’s Sky, Red Dead Redemption, Rocket League, Spider-Man, Starcraft, Super Mario, The Last of Us, Uncharted, Warcraft, Final Fantasy, Mortal Kombat, Little Big Planet, RDR2, Sonic The Hedgehog, Ghost of Tsushima, Borderlands, Crash Bandicoot, Far Cry, Resident Evil, Spyro, Tekken, The Witcher, Tomb Raider, Sims, Fable, Forza, Skate 3, Tony Hawks, Gran Turismo, Death Stranding, Game, Ark , Minecraft , Grand Theft Auto , Animal Crossing, and LEGO Marvel Superheroes.
For countries where English wasn’t the first language, Google translate was used to get native translations of: cheats, cheat codes, and (game) cheats, (game) cheat codes. In countries where search volume wasn’t present in the native language, search volume for the key terms in English was taken.