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Punkbuster Anti-Cheat Explained

Last Updated August 6, 2022

Cheating in PC games and hacks of cheaters have been updated since PC games were developed. You've faced cheaters many times if you play PC games. You might have felt that someone shot the bullet too accurately or knew every angle you were about to come from. Aimbots help the cheaters to automatically point their cursor on the opponent's head so that they can shoot them and win the battle.

Cheating hacks have become so trendy among the players that the world's most popular PC games are also fighting back against these cheaters. Over the last decade, Call of Duty, Destiny 2 and many other competitive online games have built up strategies to scale up their operations limiting the access of cheaters.

For this purpose, anti-cheat- -programs have been developed as a third-party plugin between the client and the server.

Game developers have started collaborating on anti-cheat software that can detect and ban cheaters from playing the game. Anti-cheat programs run on Windows PC and are broad and invasive to prevent online game users from using any cheat hacks. This software ensures fair play throughout the game for all the players and makes certain that no user wins by unethical means.

Punkbuster Anti-Cheat Program

Tony Ray founded Even Balance Inc. and for the last 15 years, Even Balance has aimed to detect and take off the cheaters from hundreds of online games. They developed an anti-cheat program PunkBuster when he experienced cheaters on Team Fortress Classic. In 2001, Return to Castle Wolfenstein was the first game that used PunkBuster. Punkbuster has been considered a top-notch anti-cheat solution in the game industry due to its approach, highly advanced technology and features.

PunkBuster is installed directly into the PC gaming or can also run separately. When a game collaborating with Punkbuster is installed, PB software is automatically added to the PC. Punkbuster can be called an extension of the game and it catches the gamers instantly when a player uses bots for points, getting weapons or bonuses. The game admin allows PB to examine the hacks, ensure the cheating and directly remove the violator.

Features of Punkbuster

  • Compatibility with game engines to detect exploits
  • Random checking of player settings to detect violation
  • Real-time scanning of memory for known cheats
  • Game server can be remotely administered over the internet
  • PB servers have the access to screenshot samples
  • Game-specific countermeasures to collect source points
  • Environment modification detection for the manipulation of the actual process
  • Game integrity verification to ensure the game files are untampered
  • Admins can manually remove game violators

Punkbuster automatic installation on PC

When you install a game that uses PunkBuster as an anti-cheat, the PunkBuster program is automatically installed on your PC. Punkbuster services run in the background of your PC and can be seen if you open your Task Manager. These services include PnkBstrA.exe, PnkBstrB.exe and PnkBstrK.sys and various other support files.


This service operates in the background. It automatically starts when you turn on your computer and installs and updates Punkbuster files while you are playing the game.


This service also runs in the background and starts when you play Punkbuster enabled game and ensures that all the hacks and cheats are detected.


This service is responsible to give Punkbuster access so that it can detect any sort of violation

Detection and support files

Various other files to detect and support the normal gaming process

How does Punkbuster work?

Anti-cheat software frequently starts a signature-based scanner to look for potential cheats and weaknesses in the memory and running processes of a machine. An event report is sent to the gaming company's engineers for analysis if the scan turns up any anomalies. If the engineers find a match between the cheat and their database, they will alert the account, and any additional cheats will be added for future investigations.

It is compatible with games that use PunkBuster. For instance, you might download a game that needs PunkBuster to function. PunkBuster is frequently already in the software and set of apps when you install the game. The application will launch and begin scanning your computer as soon as you start the game. When you connect to a PunkBuster-using server, the application also begins to watch over your computer.

PunkBuster monitors your gameplay to look for indications of cheating. It can warn you if it discovers signs of cheating. Sometimes there isn't even a warning; you're just immediately removed from the game. The CD key for the game is also blocked and prohibited when you are banned. Be aware that these restrictions are indefinite. PunkBuster keeps an eye on your device for signs of online game cheating.

Punkbuster GUID

Generally, GUID is an acronym for "Globally Unique Identifier." In PunkBuster, the GUID is applied to detect players with a more reliable method than their IP address or playing name. The CD key you used to download the game on your computer served as a loose basis for your guid. PunkBuster uses the player's id to enforce the kick or ban when a server administrator kicks or bans a player from one of their servers

It is a more accurate method of identifying specific players than looking at their IP address or playing username because it is based on the game installation. PunkBuster employs a 128-bit one-way hash, which is a mathematical function, to construct the guid from the cdkey. This ensures that no one can find out or estimate your cdkey even if they know your guid.

Does Punkbuster invade your privacy?

PunkBuster always runs in the background on your computer if it is installed. Because of this, the PnkBstrA service and PnkBstrA.exe process can be found in the Services application and Task Manager, respectively.

Nevertheless, most of the time PunkBuster isn't doing anything. It only activates when you're using a PunkBuster-integrated online game on a server that supports PunkBuster. If not, PunkBuster will only download and install the definition update.

As it is believed that PunkBuster "spies" on your system when you use it to play games, most individuals are concerned about their safety and privacy when using it. PunkBuster, on the other hand, is completely safe and stays away from everything that doesn't entail hackers and cheats. There is nothing to be concerned about if you are not using any of these.

This program ensures the customer's faith who believes that businesses can not only protect their data but also act swiftly to update security problems if things are compromised. This program helps to ensure data security for consumers. Even though cheating is still a problem that needs to be addressed, data breaches pose an even greater threat to the gaming industry. As a result, industries must strike a delicate balance between avoiding cheating and guaranteeing the security and privacy of their customers.

Games using Punkbuster

PunkBuster has been integrated into many Battlefield games; Battlefield 2, Battlefield 2142, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 1942, Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Battlefield Heroes, Battlefield Play4Free and Battlefield Vietnam. PunkBuster is also an anti-cheat program in Call of Duty; Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: World at War.

Further, Punkbuster is designed within Far Cry: Far Cry 2 and Far Cry 3. This program ensures data security of Medal of Honor: Medal of Honor (2010) and Medal of Honor Warfighter. And other games such as Need for Speed: ProStreet, Quake 3 Arena, Assassin's Creed 3, Blacklight: Retribution, Crysis, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and America’s Army also use this system program.

If you're getting kicked from servers with a Punkbuster message then what should you do?


Kick MessageExplanation
... RESTRICTION: Service Communication Failure: ....There is a problem with the installation or functionality of one or more of the PunkBuster components. Use our PBSetup and PBSVC tools.
... GLOBAL PunkBuster GUID BAN xxxxxxxx The PunkBuster GUID linked with the game account has been permanently banned. If you want to play the game again, you will need to buy a new account for the game and/or a new CD key. 
... xxxxxxxx [Admin Decision]Your PunkBuster GUID is currently subject to a regional ban as a result of action taken by the server administrator. Either talk to the person in charge of the server about fixing this problem or go out and buy a new CD key and gaming account.
... Violation (XXXXXXX) #XXXXXXPunkBuster has identified a cheating program as being active on this device. Take out the cheat program, and try again
 ... PB INIT FAILURE   There is at least one PunkBuster component that is not up to date. Use their PBSetup and PBSVC tools to solve this issue.
... RESTRICTION: Disallowed Program/DriverYour computer currently has a driver or program installed that gives it the potential to be used to cheat in a game. Try reconnecting after closing any unused programs you may have open.


Can you uninstall Punkbuster?

Simply find the "pb" folder within the game installation folder and delete it to uninstall PunkBuster. But keep in mind that PunkBuster is necessary for some games. You won't be able to play these games if you uninstall PunkBuster for them.


PunkBuster Services enable you to play an online multiplayer game. This program will scan your computer's RAM to see if there are any "cheat" or "hack" programs that interfere with the standard gameplay.

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