Unfair Advantage?

When you play console titles online you can generally expect a fairly level playing field. Leaving ping times and player skill out of the equation things should be more or less equal.  Except when they are not.

Going back a couple of years now to when I was playing quite a bit of Warhawk there was some controversy in the Warhawk community once it became apparent that a number of players were using the SplitFish FragFX controller.  They were gaining an advantage in accuracy that was notable on the battlefield.

It was a similar story when I was racing online in Forza 2.  Those who were willing to accept the risk of combusting by using the 360’s Wireless Racing Wheel were again noticeable on track.  (I am calling the 360’s wheel non-standard in this case as most players online will not have one.)

I have been thinking about this again following the appearance of two recent products.  The first is SplitFish’s latest iteration of its FragFX, the Dual SFX Frag Pro which goes completely wireless.  The other is a 360 controller mod that adds various rapid fire modes for different FPS games.

SplitFishDualSFX

One of the things that distinguishes console-based online play from PC-based online play is that you can generally expect to be playing against someone using the same hardware as you.  Your console opponent will not have a frame rate advantage from a monster graphics card or have a greater wealth of game functions at his fingertips than you thanks to a programmable gaming keyboard.

Now obviously an unskilled player will still be an unskilled player even with one of the aforementioned controllers.  However, once you get up to average and above-average skill levels they can give a player an edge over is peers.  Is it right in console-gaming that someone willing to spend more money to gain an advantage can?

Some games do attempt to detect whether a player is trying to get an advantage by using something like a rapid-firing controller and impose restrictions.  Other times repeated complaints from other players may lead to action being taken.  Is it fair to penalise someone like that?

Have you ever used one of these types of controller to give yourself an edge online?  Have you ever come up against people who obviously are?  If so, did you do anything about it or just accept that it does happen?  Which side of the line do you fall on regarding the question of fairness?

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