TikTok has long since evolved beyond being thought of as "just" dance clips, also becoming a home for educational and informative content presented in a fun and casual way. There are accounts themed around pretty much any interest you can think of, and one of the biggest is gaming.
It's not all entirely innocent, however. Sometimes we observe new twists on old scams, or slick videos designed to obscure some sleight of hand. Shall we take a look?
Free Steam game accounts: be careful what you wish for
Games are expensive. Even without the costs of downloadable content (DLC), you also have things like season passes, in-game currency frequently purchased with real money, lootboxes, and more. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a big driver for timed exclusives and must have items, and all of these constant pressures drive gamers to want a bit of a discount. Where it tends to go wrong is with the promise of everything being free. If it’s too good to be true, and so on.
What we sometimes see on TikTok is gaming-themed accounts making many of the same promises you see on other platforms. Free games, free items, free stuff. Everything is definitely free with no strings attached. Would RandomAccountGuy3856 lie to you?
The answer is, of course, “Yes, RandomAccountGuy3856 absolutely would lie to you”.
Taking a walk through free game town
This is a typical free game account which you’ll find on TikTok:
As you can see, it’s pretty minimal and is simply a stack of the same video uploaded repeatedly. The site claims to offer free games and keys.
The site itself appears to have recently been taken offline. Thanks to the magic of cached content, we can still piece things together and figure out the process.
The front page splash at the start of last month looked as follows:
They’re claiming to offer up free versions of the incredibly popular Among Us game. However, they also claim to have special hacked versions up for grabs. These versions let the player cheat in various ways. There’s also the reassurance you won’t get banned, which is used as further encouragement to download the altered editions.
This process involves selecting which edition you want, and then hitting the download button. They claim to offer Android, PC, and iOS flavours.
No matter what button you hit, you see the below pop-up. You may well be familiar with these from years of surfing:
The text reads as follows:
Before downloading, we need to make sure you are a real user, and not an automated bot. This helps us keep making these kind of hacks and keep them on Google for a long time
Hitting the verify now button opens a new tab, with a new destination. Unfortunately, it’s not a very good one. As our detection page states, we have that particular URL blocked because it is associated with malvertising.
Running down the timer on TikTok fakeouts
These are old tricks, essentially given a fresh lick of paint and an enticing video to go with it. There’s just something a bit more personal about having what looks like real people telling you genuine-sounding things in a short video clip. It all feels very informal and casual, and that’s exactly the kind of ambience a scammer would look to hit you with alongside their dubious websites and offers.
Even when accounts like the above aren't purged by TikTok, the sites they link to are often here today, gone tomorrow. Everything is purely geared towards driving as much ad/malvertising traffic as possible.
As tempting as the promise of free gaming is, please be on your guard. There are risky games, and then there are risky games.