Update 03/04/2020: Rockstar has confirmed that it will now ban players caught spawning illegal Red Dead Online treasure chests, rather than the (sometimes innocent) players opening them.
The developer updated its online FAQ for the game, saying, “We are aware of some PC players using mod menus to spawn treasure chests and other items in Red Dead Online and are actively working to have these accounts banned.”
The FAQ also makes clear that those opening chests at “extraordinary rates” will also be targeted for bans, but it sounds as though they can’t be used as booby traps to get innocent passers-by banned anymore.
Original story: Red Dead Online players are being suspended and, in some cases, permanently banned after opening treasure chests spawned into the game by hackers. Unfortunately, it seems it’s not just hackers that are getting caught out, as even players who have never used a cheat in Red Dead Online are being suspended if they interact with these treasure chests.
The treasure chest spawner was released on January 22, 2020 as an update to a mod menu created by an Austrian hacker called zJanny. Mod menus allow players to use cheats inside Red Dead Online, such as god mode, teleportation, and spawning objects – and breach the game’s terms of service.
When zJanny released the treasure chest spawner into a hacker’s forum, it came with the message “IDK if detected or not,” meaning they weren’t sure if using the cheat would be detected by Rockstar’s anti-cheat software and lead to an account suspension.
Around February 15, hackers from the same forum in which zJanny released the cheat started to report that they had been banned for using zJanny’s mod menu, specifically for using a treasure chest spawning function. The number of bans reported by the hackers due to using the treasure chest spawner have increased since.
Hackers speculated that Rockstar was hot on the treasure chest spawner and had started spectating flagged players and issuing bans if they were seen using the cheat. On February 20, one player who was banned due to using the tool, wrote in the forums: “I used this hack for one day, the first day that the treasure spawner came out. I only used it for that day a lone [sp]. Made 1k gold and 100k cash. I believe its been over a month since I used it. Finally got a ban notice. Sounds like they are looking over everyone’s money now lol.”
On February 22, zJanny popped up in the forum thread where many hackers were reporting account bans, saying that they figured out why so many people were being caught out when using their cheats. “I know why ya all get banned,” zJanny wrote. “The 3 rewards in one treasure chest is detected. I am using it with just 1 reward per crate since a week no ban.” Some hackers replied to this saying they never used the 3-in-1 treasure chest spawner but were banned regardless.
That same day, a Red Dead Online player reported on Reddit that their account had been suspended after they opened a treasure chest. “I think it was a modder who spawned it or something. The chests kept spawning and I left the session,” the Redditor wrote. “When I tried to go back, it said my account was suspended until March 17.” Other players replied to that thread sharing similar tales of being suspended after opening suspect treasure chests.
A day later, on February 23, a Red Dead Online player reached out to me on Twitter saying that they had been wrongfully suspended after opening a treasure chest.
“Myself and at least 4 others in the r/reddeadonline community have reported being wrongfully suspended by Rockstar and have had our characters reset, losing all progress,” the player told me over Twitter DMs. “Rockstar does not listen to any of us in our efforts to contact them about being wrongfully banned. They will not state what caused our accounts to be flagged, and they won’t communicate with us in any way except to say we were reset and to wait until the suspension is over to continue playing.
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“From what I have gathered, these hacks allowed the hackers to disguise their names in game to look like other players, which could have been part of why innocent players were banned,” the player said to me. “All of the people I’ve talked to who were wrongfully banned (including myself) came across a random chest in the world in which we found gold, as if from a regular treasure chest from maps. From what I’ve found, these chests were spawned in using a hack menu and everyone who interacted with one was banned. Even innocent players who had no idea the chest wasn’t supposed to be there. I wrote to you in desperation as I have lost hundreds of hours of gameplay, unlocks, and grinding because I was wrongfully banned.”
This report rings true as hackers in the forum where zJanny released the spawner have said that they spawned many treasure chests inside Red Dead Online as a test to see if they would get banned – they did. One hacker even admitted to using the treasure chest spawner to get innocent players banned. “I have been spawning gold chests in areas of high traffic to try and get others to open them,” they wrote in the forum.
If you’re a Red Dead Online player, it’s advised that you don’t open any treasure chests you happen across randomly inside the world. Only open those you track down using a treasure map that you have earned legitimately.
IGN is awaiting a response from Rockstar on this issue, but hadn’t received it at time of publishing.
This isn’t the first problem inside Red Dead Online caused by hackers – previously, we saw unscrupulous types spawning in two-headed skeletons to terrorise innocent players.
Chris Priestman is a freelancer who writes news for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.