PlayStation has blocked hardware cheating device Cronus Zen, others may follow


Enlarge / Who doesn’t want less recoil? Unless, that is, you’re someone competing against the person getting this benefit with a $100 “emulation” device.

Cronus

The Cronus Zen describes itself as a hardware tool for “universal controller compatibility,” letting you plug in a third-party controller, an Xbox controller into a PlayStation, or even your keyboard and mouse into a console. But you can also use its scripting engine to “amplify your game” and set up “GamePacks” to do things like reduce recoil animations in games like Call of Duty. And that is where Cronus seems to have gotten into trouble.

As first noted by the Call of Duty news channel CharlieIntel, the latest update to the PlayStation 5’s system (24.01-08.60.00) software blocks the Cronus from connecting. The update is “NOT mandatory,” Cronus claims in a notice on its website, so Zen players can hold off and keep playing. Still, there is “currently no timetable on a fix … it could be 24 (hours), 24 days, 24 months, we won’t know until we’ve dug into it.” There is, for now, a “Remote Play Workaround” for those already too far updated.

Ars attempted to reach Cronus for comment and reached out to Sony as well and will update this post with any new information.

The Cronus Zen, which costs $100 or more and is available on Amazon and at GameStop, among other outlets, does claim to offer accessibility and third-party compatibility options for players. But what has caught gamers’ attention, and Sony’s, is the wealth of GamePacks available for various games. Some single-player games, like Hogwarts Legacy and Cyberpunk 2077, are represented, but it’s the offerings for Call of Duty, Battlefield, Destiny 2, and other online multiplayer games that likely drew Sony’s ire.

Just a peek at the Apex Legends GamePack page suggests Zen mods “inspired by” the game, with options for “Aim Assist,” “Anti-Recoil Strength,” and “Fire Mods,” the latter of which can make you “harder to hit” and ping teammates when you are firing. Call of Duty: WarZone 3 mods include “Silent Aim. Insanely strong and not visible Aim Assist MOD!” The Zen was also capable of powering other cheat tools with emulated input, like AI-assisted aim assist.

Console manufacturers, already having more locked-down software than PCs, have taken up the cause of eliminating cheating at the hardware level. Microsoft issued a system-level ban on “unauthorized” accessories connecting to Xboxes in October. That had the unintended effect of cooling enthusiasm among fighting game enthusiasts and accessibility advocates. It did not, however, seem to block the Cronus, so long as you attached a compliant controller to it.

Individual game-makers have also attempted to block devices like the Cronus. Activision’s anti-cheat Ricochet tool called out “third-party hardware devices” that “act as a passthrough for controllers” in a blog post about its April 2023 updates. The same went for Ubisoft and Bungie, none of which called out the Cronus Zen in particular, but were signaling efforts to block it and similar devices, like the XIM and ReaSnow S1. Fortnite was ahead of the game, calling out the Cronus Zen and Cronus Max in late 2022.

None of these companies have offered a patch to the behavior of people who want to spend more than $100 and risk lifetime bans to earn undeserved points worth no tradable value.

Listing image by Cronus





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