Zwift has made a rapid u-turn on the shadow ban imposed on a user that found, tested and highlighted a known weight-doping hack. Lucian Pollastri had received a 30-day partial ban from the platform as Zwift felt his actions were promoting the hack but Zwift’s CEO has now apologised to Luciano and vowed to fix the problem.
After two days of angry comments from users, Zwift has apologised for banning one of its users who had exposed a simple way to change a rider’s weight while riding. The hack meant that the weight change was active within a matter of seconds and would go undetected.
At the time, Zwift claimed that Luciano Pollastri’s actions had made more people aware of an apparently undetectable way to cheat within Zwift races. But after backlash on social media and Zwift’s own forums, a decision has been made to rescind the shadow ban and Zwift has gone further, promising to implement a reward for users that flag issues and bugs within the game.
The backlash was particularly strong a many saw a significant hole in Zwift’s argument due to the fact that this hack had been known to Zwift for nearly two years and Zwift hadn’t done anything to remove the ability to exploit this hack, instead relying on its community to spot potential cheaters and then ban them once reported.
In a statement made on the Zwift forum, Zwift’s co-founder and CEO Eric Min said that “having been brought up to speed, it is clear to me that this situation could have been better handled by both parties.”
“I can only apologise to all involved, but in particular to Luciano himself. We have an obligation to the community to address exploits on the platform and will fix this particular exploit as a matter of priority.”
In regards to that exploit, where a user was able to change their weight within the game, giving a potentially huge advantage when on a climb, Min suggested that it was “until now, relatively unknown both within Zwift and outside,” though he admitted that “this is no excuse to not have addressed it.”
Interestingly, Min then laid out plans for a bounty program that will actually reward users for reporting bugs and other issues. As we pointed out in Friday’s story, this is a common occurrence in the world of tech as it helps both the user and the company.
Min asked that “rather than share information on how to exploit a performance bug, we would always encourage members of the community to come forward to Zwift with performance exploits they find. The process on how to bring such issues to the attention of Zwift hasn’t always been clear, so in order to improve this, we plan to introduce a bug bounty program that will not only make it easier for Zwifters to highlight issues but will also reward them for doing so. We will need time to develop this program but will share information in due course.”
Speaking this morning, Luciano told us that he is happy to see the promise of the bounty program outlined by Min, though he points out that the promises must be followed up by actions.
We'll also be keeping our eye out for Zwift implementing the bounty program.