Dell has formally apologised for comments condoning cheating at games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), made by one of its executives in a product launch in China last week.
The account director, Sally Xiao, had claimed that the eighth-generation Intel Core microprocessors in Dell laptops were ideal for gaming because of the 'plugins' - aka, cheats - that they could comfortably handle while running demanding games, like PUBG.
Xiao had claimed on stage that the extra cores and threads are excellent for running "plugins" in order to get an edge (ie: to cheat) at the popular "chicken dinner" game, aka PUBG.
While the launch was largely comprised of journalists from mainland China, the news was only covered by two magazines, PC Authority in Australia and Japan's PC Watch, which also ran images from the event.
"The account director and assigned spokesperson for Dell's gaming range, Sally Xiao, is giving the presentation about the new gaming laptops and has talked for at least five minutes about how ‘plugins' (cheats) demand greater CPU power in the game "Chicken Dinner" (PUBG)," wrote PC Authority journalist Ben Mansill.
He continued: "She spoke of how Chinese gamers are the most innovative and dominant in the world by using ‘plugins' to, for example, run faster than other players, or blow up ten cars at a time, and that these top gamers can really use 8th-Gen power to ‘run more plugins to win more at Chicken Dinner', and that the top players run the most 'plugins' so that's where 8th-gen Dell power gives them the gamer's edge.
She spoke of how Chinese gamers are the most innovative and dominant in the world by using ‘plugins' to, for example, run faster than other players
"Behind her a video proudly shows various cheats in PUBG in action (they really like the one with the massively oversized gun and show that a lot), with the new Dell gaming laptops shown every few seconds while Sally told us that gamers should buy a Dell because they're better at running many plug-ins."
The presentation was all the more astonishing given the constant complaints, not just of rampant cheating at PUBG on the PC, but the suggestion that much of it is coming from players in China. Indeed, the game has become popular it has made ‘simplified Chinese' the most widely used language on PC gaming portal Steam, way ahead of English.
PUBG, meanwhile, is three times more popular than the next most popular game on Steam, with more than two million people parachuting in for a game every day, despite the cheating claims.
Xiao's presentation was covered more fully by Japan's PC Watch.
"Besides being focused not only on gamers, the G series also targets "crazy" gamers [according to Xiao] who will fundamentally reverse the concept of game developers' games. Recently, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) [a game] that is popular all over the world, but some gamers enjoy using cheat programs," Xiao said, according to PC Watch (translation courtesy of Google Translate).
Dell is fully committed to supporting fair play in online gaming. We do not encourage nor endorse any behavior that undermines fair gaming practices
She continued: "Although it is a cheat which greatly destroys the game balance, there are even bombs of hundreds of vehicles all together [causing] high loads on CPUs and GPUs. With the top level G7 [laptop], you can choose six core/12-thread Intel Core i9 processors, so that even such 'crazy' gamers will achieve satisfactory performance," Xiao told the audience.
Backing up Mansill's reporting, PC Watch also published a few images from the launch.
Xiao also claimed that the more legitimate Waves MaxxAudio Pro software bundled with the laptops could also help by focusing the sound on the footsteps of other players, giving players on Dell platforms an edge - although that sounds very much more like marketing nonsense rather than an actual cheat.
Ben Mansill, the journalist who covered the event for PC Authority, defended his coverage on the PlayerUnknown's Battleground official forum.
All she talked about was how the best players use plugins to always win
"She [Xiao] got my attention when she started to talk about ‘plug-ins', and ‘chicken dinner'. I thought it was mildly funny she wouldn't use the proper name for the game, but then, all she talked about was how the best players use plugins to always win, and gave the examples I quoted, and others, of specific cheats (‘plugins'), ie. to run faster than is allowed, do more damage etcetera. Then it clicked she was endorsing cheating, and recommending Dell gear to do so."
According to Mansill, none of the other 150 or so journalists seemed in the least bit surprised by this somewhat unique marketing angle.
He continued: "I wish I'd recorded it. It was only when she was done that I started to realise the magnitude of what Dell endorsing cheating meant.
"I wrote down the only clear quote for the story that I was confident enough to have remembered verbatim, but that was no exception, the whole talk was about cheating, and how Dell laptops let you cheat better. Except it was never presented as cheating - but as something smart gamers do to win."
In an attempt to communicate the power of the new Dell G Series, inappropriate modification examples were used in Dell's product launch event in China last week
He added: "With a full presso deck prepared, and Dell being Dell, I can only assume the presenter Sally had run it by others in the company and wasn't a loose canon."
The apparently nonchalent attitude towards cheating will further calls from many PUBG players to region-lock China. That is, to lock out Chinese gamers from servers elsewhere in the world. Indeed, Mansill later commented that the assembled hacks from China didn't seem to bat an eyelid at Xiao's claims.
And Dell has now responded to V3 after the news story started to gain traction. In an official statement received today, it said: "Dell is fully committed to supporting fair play in online gaming. We do not encourage nor endorse any behavior that undermines fair gaming practices.
"Dell has a strong track record in partnering with gaming teams, aiming at providing world-class gamers with the ultimate experience.
"In an attempt to communicate the power of the new Dell G Series, inappropriate modification examples were used in Dell's product launch event in China last week. This does not reflect our global gaming culture or strategy. We condemn any modifications misused in gaming."
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago