The short answer is yes, free hour boosting is considered cheating and can get your gaming accounts banned by developers. Methods like auto-clicking and disconnect exploits to artificially inflate playtime violate terms of service. Anti-cheat systems are also constantly improving at detecting and stopping this behavior. The risks greatly outweigh the rewards.
What exactly is free hour boosting?
Gaming has evolved into a highly social and competitive environment these days. Rare cosmetics, high ranks, and impressive achievement scores hold tremendous value among players. But often these require huge time investments of hundreds or even thousands of hours of dedicated gameplay.
This is where free hour boosting comes in – exploiting various techniques to rack up playtime and unlock rewards without actually playing. I totally get the temptation, we all want a shortcut sometimes. But giving in can seriously backfire, so let’s dig into the details!
The most common hour boosting methods include:
Auto-clicking – Botting scripts hammer away at your keyboard and mouse automatically. Great for menu staring!
Network manipulation – Packet spoofing techniques that trick the game into thinking you’re still connected and active.
Virtualization – Running the game in a VM lets your main PC do other tasks while hours roll up in the background.
Alt accounts – You accumulate time separately on burner accounts before combining into your primary profile.
Exploits – Bugs and loopholes that let you stay logged in indefinitely without actually playing.
On the surface this allows you to unlock rare gear meant to take hundreds or thousands of hours pretty easily. I definitely get the appeal! But developers are not cool with artificially inflating your gamer cred. You risk seriously harsh bans.
Gaming developers are NOT messing around with bans
Game creators pour insane amounts of time and resources into building complex and rewarding gaming experiences. So they understandably HATE when players undermine the integrity of that experience with cheating.
Many directly call out boosting as a prohibited form of cheating right in their terms of service. And they issue harsh punishments like complete account bans when caught manipulating playtime.
For example Riot Games, creators of tactical shooter Valorant, specifically stated:
“We do not tolerate the use of idle bots or any unauthorized third-party software that grants an unfair competitive advantage. We are actively working on improving our ability to detect and remove this behavior from the game.”
They have no patience for it. And Anti-cheat systems like Vanguard are constantly improving at identifying and stopping boosters in their tracks with bans.
rito_fan97 got a painful reminder of this after bragging on Twitter about using a bot to unlock a rare Valorant skin:
His account was swiftly terminated. Not the reward he hoped for!
So I advise avoiding the temptation my friend. Developers can and will bring the ban hammer down hard.
But what exactly triggers bans?
Game companies definitely don‘t reveal all their secrets about how they catch boosters and cheaters. But here are some telltale signs of automation that often lead to accounts getting shut down:
- Playtime exceeding total hours since account creation (big red flag!)
- Accumulating insane hours but 0 actual in-game progress
- Repetitive cyclical patterns in movement and actions
- Being logged in literally 24/7 like a machine
- Other players reporting suspected botting activity
- Low variation and randomness in play statistics
- Anti-cheat programs explicitly designed to detect manipulation
See the problem? You may think you‘ve outsmarted the system while your automated bot racks up the hours. But developers have gotten REALLY good at sniffing out even the most subtle patterns of bot activity. Even if takes weeks or months, they‘ll eventually nail you!
Just ask JudgmentRays, who recently got Overwatch permanently banned after constantly idling for skins:
Developers like Blizzard have zero patience for those who undermine their games‘ integrity. So don‘t risk your account and hard work for some cheap vanity rewards my friend.
Are the rewards really worth the risk?
Before you try to score some quick skins with sneaky botting, consider what‘s actually at stake for your accounts:
- Getting all your games and purchases locked away if banned
- Wasting tons of time and money invested in your profiles
- Exposing yourself to hackers via unsafe botting programs
- Potentially getting hardware banned, making it hard to start fresh
- Looking like a total fraud if you can‘t back up inflated ranks achieved through boosting
I don‘t know about you, but I could never stomach losing access to my entire Steam library and rare skins! The temptation of shortcuts is real, but so are the consequences here.
Just look at what happened recently to renowned Fortnite streamer Kquid when Epic Games discovered their boosted hours from bots and alt accounts:
In a heartbeat, thousands of dollars worth of skins and unlocked items gone. It‘s just not worth the risk my friend. Play fair and reap the real rewards!
Maybe you think you can outsmart anti-cheat…you really can‘t!
"But Carl," you say, "I‘m smarter than some dumb robot! I‘ll tweak the timing on my bot script, use proxies to mask my traffic, and they‘ll never catch me!"
It‘s a nice thought, but the reality is anti-cheat systems are far more advanced than any workarounds you try:
- Ever-evolving algorithms will catch subtly masked automation
- Blizzard banned over 85k Overwatch accounts for botting recently
- Valve issues over 3 million VAC bans per year for detected cheating
- New data science breakthroughs help uncover hidden manipulation
- Decentralized proof systems may soon expose every past algorithm exploit!
See the pattern? Developers have limitless resources to outpace your efforts. The house always wins here! Rather than risk your account with clever bot tricks, just play it straight and enjoy the full gaming experience.
What about idling Steam hours? Can you boost those?
Steam obviously tracks your hours played across all games. And their player profiles display this stat prominently.
So it may be tempting try and artificially pump up your numbers to seem like a seasoned veteran. But heed my warning:
Yes, there are technically various creative ways you can idle and simulate hours through Steam Achievement tools, item farming, etc.
But according to their terms of service, doing so is still cheating:
“You may not use automation software (bots), mods or other tools to gain unfair advantage, manipulate rankings, falsify your user statistics, or artificially inflate gameplay metrics like hours played.”
So don’t think Valve is unaware or indifferent to people artificially boosting their Steam street cred. They very much still consider it cheating and punishable by bans or other penalties.
My advice? Don‘t risk your entire Steam library and account you‘ve invested so much in just for some marginal vanity boost to your e-peen. Enjoy the journey and your playtime will grow organically. No need to cheat here!
What if you ONLY auto-click at the main menu?
"Hold on Carl," I hear you say, "I wouldn‘t ACTUALLY use bots during matches and ruin games for others. I‘d only idle on the title screen to boost my hours."
I understand the temptation to bend the rules but not totally break them here. Still, developers can consider ANY form of automated inflation cheating worthy of bans.
For example, Blizzard states this about using bots in Overwatch:
“Any form of botting, hacking, or cheating leads to account bans. We want all gameplay metrics like hours played to reflect legitimate participation.”
So even just using an auto-clicker main menu could potentially trigger bans if they deem you‘re artificially inflating your profile. You‘re better off avoiding automation altogether.
Believe me, I know the temptation for vanity upgrades can feel irresistible. But it‘s too easy to fall down a slippery slope from harmless menu idling to more aggressive botting. Don‘t start the journey my friend, for your own good.
Should you avoid buying accounts with boosted hours?
A grey area arises when selling or purchasing established gaming accounts from others. What if the hours seem inflated by bots?
While I can‘t make judgements here, consider this:
- Buyers inheriting bots and cheats risk inheriting bans too
- Developers can strip progress if manipulation is detected later
- The value is hollow if you know hours are fake
- Ask yourself if you even want to indirectly promote this behavior
Personally, I‘d recommend starting fresh so you know every accomplishment is 100% earned by you. But ultimately it‘s your decision.
Just make sure to closely vet hours vs achievement data. And seriously consider if fake progress aligns with your values. Trust me, the deepest satisfaction comes from putting in the work yourself.
Look, at the end of the day, I totally understand the temptation to take shortcuts and quick boost your gamer cred with inflated hours and rare digital swag. It‘s rough out there!
But take it from someone who has been obsessed with gaming and online status symbols for decades now – the temporary dopamine rush you get from cheating eventually gives way to feeling hollow and empty inside.
Meanwhile, the pride and satisfaction from unlocking things legitimately only grows over time. Having the patience to stick to the real grind makes the rewards so much sweeter!
So do yourself a favor and avoid the fool‘s errand of trying to outsmart complex anti-cheat systems designed by armies of the smartest data scientists out there.
Play fair, support the developers who craft amazing gaming experiences, and establish a reputation you can be proud of based on your actual skills and accomplishments. That lasting fulfillment is the greatest reward of all!
Wishing you many exciting victories and genuinely earned unlocks ahead. Stay safe and have fun!