Anti-piracy Measures in Video Games
Surfing the net...on a pirate ship!
Video game piracy has been an issue since the creation of the concept of torrenting as torrenting gave way for individuals to share copyrighted content without the other party paying for it. While an attempt was made to stop the act of torrenting copyrighted files, many large companies gave up because it felt impossible.
How come video game piracy doesn't get punished?
Unlike peer-to-peer sharing platforms like Napster or Soulseek, where there is a target to go for, torrenting works by fragmenting the file into many pieces; hence there isn't a single target but a group that could be thousands of people.
In addition, the availability of VPN services made torrenting a much easier and safer process, with VPN providers like NordVPN with specific P2P servers and ExpressVPN providing high speed and encryption of outgoing data. This left developers with no way of fighting back except with, more often than not, harmless anti-piracy bugs.
A VPN is not limited to pirating undetected and has many uses when it comes to gaming?
For info on the uses of VPN in gaming click here.
And let's face it, nothing beats saving hundreds of dollars when downloading and playing video games, right? Not if you’re the developer of that game! If you are a game developer who has spent hours making a game for the past few years with no way to stop torrenting, then you would definitely try to get back at those who tried to pirate your game.
So what did video game companies do to solve piracy?
Solve is a strong word as piracy is hard to stop when done right. However, videogame companies came with the idea of intentionally cracking a defective version of the game, resulting in funny encounters. This article will mention some of the best times a video game company trolled pirates with anti-piracy bugs in their games.
The Witcher 2 -(Anti-piracy) MY EYES IT BURNS!
CD project red had the genius evil idea of targeting game pirates in their most vulnerable moments. In The Witcher 2, you have the option of making love to different characters in the game. An anti-piracy bug installed by CD project red made the “love scenes” in the game bugged with grandmother-aged partners. Unless you’re into that (not judging, but I hope not), no bleach would help you cleans your eyes. While you might have saved yourself the price of a game, was it really worth the price?
Try unseeing that pirate!
Crisis Warhead - (Anti-Piracy) Shooting Chicken
Crisis warhead had the diabolical idea of turning bullets into chickens when shooting, which don't deal any damage. Imagine you start playing a game with soldiers, tanks, and helicopters attacking you. When you go to fight them, suddenly, you’re shooting that tank creeping towards you with a stream of tasty chicken that barely even damages a soldier. What do you do in this case? I hope the chickens have avian flu (they don’t).
Do you want to pirate this game? Well, we hope you find a fast-food restaurant in-game!
Serious Sam - (Get over Here!)
In the case of Serious Sam, they decided you can keep your ammo and damage. Still, they made it obsolete with an un-killable arachnoid scorpion/spider monster (everyone’s worst nightmare) that follows you to the ends of the earth to kill you.
Hans can’t help you with “ze flammenwerfer” here.
Game Dev Tycoon - (pirate-ception)
Game dev tycoon is an indie game development simulator game where you can build your game software. You start slow going through the struggle while building your company.
With time you start getting sales, business starts flourishing, and suddenly a message pops up that you’re going bankrupt because of pirates!
Imagine the irony of pirating a game development company simulator game, only to get a taste of your own medicine by an in-game piracy event causing you to go bankrupt.
This anti-piracy bug is Ironic, impedes gameplay, and has a moral message based on personal experience. It's genius!
Batman Arkham Asylum - (Anti-Piracy) a Flying Rat No More!
Here is a dad joke, what do you call a bat that can’t fly? A FILTHY PIRATE! Batman Arkham asylum pirated version ensures that you can’t use the gliding ability when playing as batman. This resulted in some parts of the game being unpassable abilities, such as the poison gas area.
When players tried reporting the “bug,” Rock steady’s response was, “it is not a bug in the game, it’s a bug in your moral code” Now that’s a burn, a bug, and pest control done right!
Skull Girls - (Anti-Piracy) Square Root of a Fish
Skull girls, also known as the waifu battle simulator, had an error text that shows up in-game saying, “what is the square root of a fish? I’m sad”, which doesn’t really have a meaning. But when users checked online to see what it means, they were called out for being pirates.
Garry's Mod - (Anti-Piracy) Letting off Some Steam
The developers of Garry’s mod, similarly to other games, had an error message that pops up in the pirated version of the game stating “unable to shade polygon normal” in addition to the steam ID of users. In the span of 15 hours, more than 2500 people reported this bug. This resulted in their steam accounts getting banned. Oh, the sweet taste of revenge.
While downloading copyrighted games falls under piracy, downloading games via torrent that don't have copyright issues or are part of the public domain is completely legal. However, an issue you might encounter is the governmental block of torrenting websites, for which a VPN can be the solution.
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