More than a dozen people have been arrested in China -- for helping people cheat in a PC game.

Police in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu detained 18 suspects behind two PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds cheating rings, according to the game’s distributor in China, Tencent.

A cheating menu on the upper-left shows a list of hacks. (Picture: jd218.com)

The groups are accused of creating and selling exploits that claim to give players an unfair edge, including abilities like auto-aiming, shooting through walls, and even flying.

And the software doesn’t just harm other players: It can also hurt the cheaters themselves, because some of the hacks were found to be Trojans, able to hack into computers to loot data.

The scale of these operations are massive: Funding was said to range from 20 million yuan (US$3.1 million) to more than 30 million yuan (US$4.7 million).

But it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Cheating in games is rampant in China. PUBG’s creator cited a study estimating that 99% of cheaters in the game are in the country.

A quick search online shows plenty of Chinese websites blatantly offering what’s advertised as PUBG “assistance” -- in other words, cheats.

One site sells a list of PC and smartphone programs costing 30 yuan (US$4.7) a day, including one called Hanweizhe or Defender that removes gun recoil so that gamers can aim more accurately and shoot faster.

In some programs, users are told to shut down antivirus software and firewalls on their devices. They are also advised to “keep a low profile” and only kill fewer than 10 people in each round -- presumably to avoid getting noticed and banned.

Suspects accused of running a PUBG cheating ring. (Picture: Tencent Games)

Tencent, which distributes the PC version of PUBG in China and the mobile version worldwide, is keen to crack down on cheating. Last year, the company said it helped Chinese authorities catch more than 120 people suspected of designing and selling exploits.

There are signs that PUBG’s growth has stalled in recent months, but it looks like Tencent is still betting big on the blockbuster title. The Korea Herald reports that the Chinese internet giant is mulling a US$468 million investment in PUBG studio Bluehole.