Ever since the Nintendo Famicon came out in Japan, there have been some folk who didn’t like the idea of paying developers for their work. The end result was breaking the DRM protection and getting a free copy of the game. Everyone saw the warning signs, but it seems like no one took notice of them.
The introduction of PC gaming made this slightly easier for people for obtain a freebie. Along with this, everyone from the 90’s will remember hearing about that “friend” who knows someone that could chip a PlayStation.
Learning from this, game companies ramped up their DRM protection, but some people took it as a challenge to break it. Other game devs took a more stroke of genius approach. They made a game seem playable, but then make those pirating games unwittingly out themselves. Here are 5 ways game devs outsmarted pirates…
1. Game Dev Tycoon – Greenheart Games
As a stroke of genius from Greenheart Games, they put out two copies of Game Dev Tycoon. One on their site, the other on torrent sites. The folks who torrented the game could play normally, until a big slice of irony pie came up on the screen saying that the player’s games were getting pirated, they lost money and went bankrupt. Bar the obvious irony, it also made people out themselves on forums by asking how to stop it happening.
2. Mirror’s Edge – EA DICE
EA, the masters of DLC and microtransactions, also came up with an interesting way to foil pirates. In a game that’s all about parkour, as soon as you get to your first jump, you slow down to a point that you can’t make it across the gap. A very simple, very effective way of stopping people playing a game.
3. Crysis Warhead – Crytek
This one is quite amusing. As like Mirrors Edge, the in-built protection makes the game unplayable. This is something Topper Harley would be proud of (give yourself a pat on the back if you get the reference). When those who pirated the game fire any weapon, instead of firing bullets, they instead fire chickens. Yep, pressing the trigger will let you fire actual grown poultry at your foes. They won’t do any damage, but at least they’ll make you laugh before buying the game.
4. The Sims 4 – The Sims Studio
EA are back again with the ingenious ways. Those pirating can play the game as normal, until the moment your Sim needs the throne or a wash. You’ll instead get the standard pixelation to stop you seeing the naughty bits. However, the pixelation doesn’t go away once you flush, and just gets worse. You’ll soon be thinking you’re playing a indie pixel art game as it fills the entire screen.
5. Michael Jackson: The Experience (DS) – Ubisoft
The DS had quite an issue with piracy early on, but then claimed that the 3DS was unhackable. That lasted an entire 24 hours, which offers a valuable lesson- never challenge the internet. In response, Ubisoft changed the music in Michael Jackson: The Experience to a vuvuzela… on full volume. For anyone who isn’t familiar with this instrument of sodding torture, they came to fame at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The noise they make is horrific and they should be burned with napalm.
6. EarthBound – Ape & HAL Laboratory
Once EarthBound detects that someone had a cracked game, an anti-piracy warning came up. At the time, most people thought this was normal and thought nothing of it. The continued to play normally, until the final boss. Just as the fight started, the game would crash. It wasn’t too uncommon for the older games to do this, of course. However, once players reset the console and loaded it back up, they found that the save files have been deleted. That’s right, it let you play right through the game, only to stiff you at the very end. Rage inducing for sure.