Game Studio Bungie Accuses Cheat Sellers of Deleting Crypto Records to Hide Profits

News | May 31, 2024 By:

On Monday, May 20, 2024, video game studio Bungie told a federal jury in Seattle that a group selling Destiny 2 cheat codes deleted financial records and fabricated evidence in an effort to hide how much money they made from the activity.

Bungie is suing Phoenix Digital Group, the operators of the website Aimjunkies.com, alleging they violated copyright law by reverse-engineering and creating cheats for Destiny 2. During opening statements on Monday, Bungie said Phoenix Digital ignored requests to preserve any records related to cheat code sales on Aimjunkies.com. Instead, the defendants allegedly deleted website content, sales data, and the cheat code itself.

As evidence, Bungie presented a purported May 2022 press release from Phoenix Digital announcing the sale of Aimjunkies.com to “Blome Entertainment” for $7,000 in bitcoin. However, in a later deposition, one of Phoenix Digital’s members admitted to fabricating the release in hopes of misleading Bungie.

Bungie alleges developer James May hacked into Destiny 2 over 100 times starting in 2019 in order to copy code and create cheats for Aimjunkies.com. Court documents indicate Phoenix Digital paid May more than $700,000 for his work developing cheats. However, due to deleted records, Bungie was only able to obtain documentation of $43,000 in revenue from cheat code sales. Records of additional cryptocurrency and payment processor sales were allegedly removed.

If found liable, Bungie aims to show how cheat code sales degraded the Destiny 2 experience for millions of legitimate players. Bungie’s counsel argued the activity hurt their client’s business. Phoenix Digital’s lawyer counters that May did not create the specific Destiny 2 cheat and that Phoenix Digital served as a marketplace like Amazon, removing infringing content when requested.

The week-long trial also includes May filing a counterclaim, alleging Bungie improperly accessed his computer during its investigation. Conflicting testimony is expected regarding whether Bungie obtained a copy of the cheat software.

In 2023, an arbitrator sided with Bungie and awarded $4.4 million in damages against the defendants. However, the Ninth Circuit will hear Phoenix Digital’s appeal that claims it was blocked from fully questioning a witness.

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