What’s the Difference Between a Cheat, a Hack and an Exploit?

Cheating has long been a part of gaming, and a part that people either tend to love or hate. While some people see cheats as hidden features in the game to enhance their experience, others see using them as backing away from the full challenge of the game and losing out on some of the experience the developers created. Others do use cheats, but only grudgingly when they are stuck and have tried everything else to beat the game ‘normally’.

Of course, non-standard ways of playing don’t just cover cheats. Aside from mods, which are a user generated way to alter a game, there are not only cheats but also hacks and exploits that many games have. Here, we look at the differences between them.


Cheats are the things that are actually coded into the game, and are, these days, usually a feature included in the game’s design. In the olden days, those combinations of button pushes that would unlock cheat modes were put in the game to enable testers to fully test the game without having to be able to actually beat it every time, which were leaked to the user community in various ways.

Over time, as cheats became important to gamers, they began to be included and left in intentionally. Lots of places now supply cheats online, making it easy for the user community to find them should they want to, though cheat codes in their classic form are becoming less and less commonplace as developers want to promote fairness in games played on a multiplayer basis.


Hacks in games, as in life, are just ways of doing things more simply. They can help you gather resources or progress more easily in a game without actually cheating or using exploits. Hacks are not technically cheating, but taking shortcuts or knowing how to use the game interface especially efficiently.


Exploits are another thing players often like to know about to help them beat a game. These are not cheats, which are intentionally coded into the game, or hacks, which are clever ways of playing the game, but ways of exploiting bugs or oversights in the game’s design to make things easier on yourself. If for example you find a weird thing in a game that allows you to get more coins or ammo when logically you shouldn’t be able to, using that to boost your resources is using an exploit.

Using exploits is seen as the same as cheating, because you are playing the game in a way it isn’t supposed to be used, but it can also be a good way to get past the ‘grindy’, less challenging parts in things like RPGs. Exploits are usually discovered by players themselves and posted online.

As you can see, there are subtle differences between the different ways of cheating at a game, but all of them can make playing easier.