Clever Anti-Piracy Methods in Games

The recent Bombcast had discussed several video games that cleverly use and detects pirate/hacked versions of games which the designer/programmer of said game will add some terrible flaw if said game was pirated. They had exemplified games like if you pirated the PC version of Alan Wake, your main character will be wearing a pirate match to pirated DS games like Rhythm Heaven which will affect the speed and render the game more difficult to unplayable and other games that will increase/tweet the difficulty of a game because of a illegal version that was detected. Nowadays, these measures of anti-piracy or DRM hasn't really been added in such games to stop piracy or make great uses of scaring the shit out of you if you really pirated a copy of a game.

After the bombcast, I searched in Youtube for a few games that added many bizarre side-effects if you ever pirated a game; it goes from "EVIL" to many out of the ordinary bugs that will effect the game and wish you really had purchase the damn game.

Surprising Grand Theft Auto 4 on the PC has some side effects when you play a pirated version of this game. The video says that if you did not log in "windows serial number" the game will go nuts. The actual video starts at 3:11, where you will experience several annoying things that Rockstar had implemented to screw with the player. The one main thing that screws with you is the camera, the first thing shown in the video is when you drive a vehicle will start "smoking" for no reason and the camera will then proceed to swirl uncontrollably like if you have been drinking in the game and does it for the duration of the game affecting the gameplay. It's like Niko is drunk forever with the way the camera is making you nauseous.

Mirror Edge does a little tweeking if it finds out that you had been playing a illegal copy of the game. The game has these checkpoints that will determine if you ever pirated this game and so if you did, this will happen. The game is essentially about running but if you reach a checkpoint like this coloured ramp, you will stop running and instead walk slower and that will screw up the point of trying to jump across to another building.

I have some fond memories of Spyro: Year of the Dragon back when I was playing this on the PS1 but I regrettably had pirated/brought a pirate version of this game and there were some instances that would fuck my entire game for me. I remember one exploit or copy protection schemes that will teleport you to the final boss, not knowing how to kill it or extremely impossible to kill it in the first place, I died and then it jumps back to the start of the game and my save file has been deleted or has been overwritten to the start of the game. This was the many detects of this game with copy protection that will fuck with you plus the fairy in this game will break the fourth wall and will tell you that "you seem to be playing a hacked version of this game" and it will result/experience problems that will not occur in the legit copy.

Maniac Mansion has a funny copy protection scheme too. When you encounter the steel door, there is copy protection, failure to input the right code will have severe consequences but provide the right code will give you a hilarious GAME OVER screen. Maniac Mansion is already scary in the first place with the fact that you could die in an adventure game but this takes the cake.

Puggsy, a weird ass SNES game somewhat breaks the fourth wall and tells you the game that you have been playing is "pirated" or this "silly copy." The video showed here is somewhat similar to Earthbound but in the cheeky way it is implemented. When you reach the last level of this game, you will face a underpowered and weak boss that will encourage you to play a legit copy or the "full game." After you had beaten this boss, it will prompt a message with a somewhat creepy message and music telling you to play the cartridge version of the game "instead of this silly copy". There are also several things in the game that will prompt this message too.

Mother 2 or Earthbound which has a clever to creepy copy protection. The game will detect the bootleg cartridge through boot-up and then will screw up the game for you. The programmer has added several affects that will screw the player if it is pirated; the first instance shown here is really scary and clever at the same time. If you have encounter Giygas, during the battle it will automatically freeze the damn game along and will add some scary music and sound and you will be forced to reset the console. If you do, the game will perceived to delete all your save data from your cartridge and thus all your hard work wasted for pirating a SNES game. Other effects will include such things like increased difficulty and enemies that will spawn at a unprecedented rate.

There are also games like Super Metroid, Super Punch Out and Tetris Attack that will detect if your copy is pirated specifically Super Punch Out that will out right NOT let you play the damn game. I find that even back then programmers and developers have the time to add these layers of copy protection into games that will screw and scare the player if you did not purchase a legit copy. Nowadays developers is trying to find ways to do it but fail at attempting to prevent people who pirate games to access them in the first place. I would like to see in the future that they will implement these things shown here and possibly scare the shit out of you...

13 Comments
14 Comments
Posted by RelentlessKnight

The recent Bombcast had discussed several video games that cleverly use and detects pirate/hacked versions of games which the designer/programmer of said game will add some terrible flaw if said game was pirated. They had exemplified games like if you pirated the PC version of Alan Wake, your main character will be wearing a pirate match to pirated DS games like Rhythm Heaven which will affect the speed and render the game more difficult to unplayable and other games that will increase/tweet the difficulty of a game because of a illegal version that was detected. Nowadays, these measures of anti-piracy or DRM hasn't really been added in such games to stop piracy or make great uses of scaring the shit out of you if you really pirated a copy of a game.

After the bombcast, I searched in Youtube for a few games that added many bizarre side-effects if you ever pirated a game; it goes from "EVIL" to many out of the ordinary bugs that will effect the game and wish you really had purchase the damn game.

Surprising Grand Theft Auto 4 on the PC has some side effects when you play a pirated version of this game. The video says that if you did not log in "windows serial number" the game will go nuts. The actual video starts at 3:11, where you will experience several annoying things that Rockstar had implemented to screw with the player. The one main thing that screws with you is the camera, the first thing shown in the video is when you drive a vehicle will start "smoking" for no reason and the camera will then proceed to swirl uncontrollably like if you have been drinking in the game and does it for the duration of the game affecting the gameplay. It's like Niko is drunk forever with the way the camera is making you nauseous.

Mirror Edge does a little tweeking if it finds out that you had been playing a illegal copy of the game. The game has these checkpoints that will determine if you ever pirated this game and so if you did, this will happen. The game is essentially about running but if you reach a checkpoint like this coloured ramp, you will stop running and instead walk slower and that will screw up the point of trying to jump across to another building.

I have some fond memories of Spyro: Year of the Dragon back when I was playing this on the PS1 but I regrettably had pirated/brought a pirate version of this game and there were some instances that would fuck my entire game for me. I remember one exploit or copy protection schemes that will teleport you to the final boss, not knowing how to kill it or extremely impossible to kill it in the first place, I died and then it jumps back to the start of the game and my save file has been deleted or has been overwritten to the start of the game. This was the many detects of this game with copy protection that will fuck with you plus the fairy in this game will break the fourth wall and will tell you that "you seem to be playing a hacked version of this game" and it will result/experience problems that will not occur in the legit copy.

Maniac Mansion has a funny copy protection scheme too. When you encounter the steel door, there is copy protection, failure to input the right code will have severe consequences but provide the right code will give you a hilarious GAME OVER screen. Maniac Mansion is already scary in the first place with the fact that you could die in an adventure game but this takes the cake.

Puggsy, a weird ass SNES game somewhat breaks the fourth wall and tells you the game that you have been playing is "pirated" or this "silly copy." The video showed here is somewhat similar to Earthbound but in the cheeky way it is implemented. When you reach the last level of this game, you will face a underpowered and weak boss that will encourage you to play a legit copy or the "full game." After you had beaten this boss, it will prompt a message with a somewhat creepy message and music telling you to play the cartridge version of the game "instead of this silly copy". There are also several things in the game that will prompt this message too.

Mother 2 or Earthbound which has a clever to creepy copy protection. The game will detect the bootleg cartridge through boot-up and then will screw up the game for you. The programmer has added several affects that will screw the player if it is pirated; the first instance shown here is really scary and clever at the same time. If you have encounter Giygas, during the battle it will automatically freeze the damn game along and will add some scary music and sound and you will be forced to reset the console. If you do, the game will perceived to delete all your save data from your cartridge and thus all your hard work wasted for pirating a SNES game. Other effects will include such things like increased difficulty and enemies that will spawn at a unprecedented rate.

There are also games like Super Metroid, Super Punch Out and Tetris Attack that will detect if your copy is pirated specifically Super Punch Out that will out right NOT let you play the damn game. I find that even back then programmers and developers have the time to add these layers of copy protection into games that will screw and scare the player if you did not purchase a legit copy. Nowadays developers is trying to find ways to do it but fail at attempting to prevent people who pirate games to access them in the first place. I would like to see in the future that they will implement these things shown here and possibly scare the shit out of you...

Posted by Video_Game_King
Posted by Phatmac

Is there a concept page on the site for this? I want to see all examples of this.

Posted by RelentlessKnight

@Phatmac said:

Is there a concept page on the site for this? I want to see all examples of this.

Yeah

Edited by Milkman

Legit question. If it can detect that it's a pirated version of the game, why not just make it not work? What's stopping them from making it so when you hit start on a pirated version of the game, it crashes to the desktop? 

Posted by MikeGosot

Batman Arkham Asylum had one that would make one section of the game almost impossible, because your gliding is fucked up. They say itis impossible, but you can exploit some bugs to pass. Also, the Command & Conquer one is really funny. It just blows everything.

Posted by gaminghooligan

serious sam had that big monster that would chase you around the level forever with unlimited health and mass damage.

Posted by SexyToad

Maybe they're not making the game crash if it's pirated so it's not noticeable by crackers. So that people who do pirate it will just not play it. Also I heard some apps do too.

Posted by MikeGosot
@Milkman said:
Legit question. If it can detect that it's a pirated version of the game, why not just make it not work? What's stopping them from making it so when you hit start on a pirated version of the game, it crashes to the desktop? 
Some games did this. Garry's Mod did it, saying the game couldn't be played because of an error. The steam users who mentioned said error were banned.
The maker of the game said that this wouldn't stop piracy, and that it's easy to bypass it. But at least it's a way to deal with piracy without hurting your customers and having some fun in the process.
Edited by Gilsham

if they put things in that are like bugs then crackers have a hard time to catch it before releasing the game and when someone finds out that the cracked version has a bug they might just buy it if there were having fun and don't want to wait for the crackers to release a new crack

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates has a screen saying 'thank you for playing' at the end of the first dungeon

Posted by LordAndrew

If the game refuses to run at all, people will turn to unauthorized modifications of your game. That's even worse than just piracy, because the end user doesn't know what else is included in those modifications.

Instead, try to convert pirates into customers. Let them have a taste of the game, but you can limit how long they play or where they can go like a demo, or just politely ask them to buy the game if they like it. They just might do it.

Posted by Salarn

We used a bunch of bad builds to seed torrent sights with for FEAR 3, my personal favorite was:

- Opening doors would also cause you to throw a grenade

close second place was random language changes, but there were about a half dozen different crippled versions. All of which stopped the game after the first level despite being the full size download.

Posted by JoeyRavn

I love how they used to protect the old LucasArts and Sierra adventure games, with things written in the manual and stuff. I remember having a sort of paper wheel with many pirate faces that you had to match to start The Secret of Monkey Island, IIRC. That was pretty sweet. Silly, but sweet.

Posted by Onno10

In black and white 2, your villagers would not age with a pirated copy, but they could die to other stuff, meaning you'd eventually end up with a city with nothing but 0 year old infants in it