5 Hilarious Ways Game Designers Are Messing With Pirates
Video game developers, like most creators, are tired of having their shit brazenly stolen by anonymous pirates. However, as has been proven time and time again, eradicating online theft is damn near impossible, at least without making things too annoying for the legitimate buyers.
So what's left for them to do? Find devious ways to get revenge, obviously. Some more of our favorite anti-pirate harassment measures include ...
Crysis Warhead Turns Your Bullets into Chickens
Crysis Warhead is a first-person shooter where you portray a battle-hardened soldier with a shitload of guns and armor fighting hostile alien forces. No game before or since has boasted such a unique plot. Or at least none that have also featured a gun that shoots a rapid-fire stream of flailing chickens, which is what you wind up with if your copy of Crysis Warhead is stolen.
The eager pirate boots up the game, grabs his dual-wielded machine pistols, pulls the trigger, and ... sprays a barrage of chickens through the air:
Something we've been begging the gaming industry for since day one.
Yep, Warhead's developers sat down and tried to think of ways to fuck up the game for anybody who illegally downloaded their copy and came up with "all guns become Chicken Gun." It doesn't matter which gun -- you're spraying chicken bullets like it's going out of style:
If only they'd included a physics engine that allowed the chickens to kill the enemy with their blunt force trauma.
No matter how many times you upgrade, the results are the same: Chicken Gun. You don't even get bigger chickens or anything like that. It is a thing of beauty:
In case you're wondering, chicken bullets do no damage whatsoever, meaning you can't kill anybody, and the game cannot be won. You can't die, either, because the bad guys use chickens, too. You could seriously "play" this game for all eternity and never get anywhere, you and your enemies endlessly bouncing streams of poultry off of one another in a sad metaphor for the futility of warfare.
However, shooting enough chickens at a building will actually demolish it (without harming the chickens), so if that's your idea of a good time, have at it.
OK, we actually do want to try that.
Sadly, the developers didn't include any clucking noises, which is a damn shame. Watching the most fruitless gunfight of all time while thousands of chickens tumble through the air squabbling their little heads off might have been a feature actually worth paying more for. Still, when it comes to sheer entertainment value, we guess the mindless complaining of hackers who don't understand that they're the reason chicken bullets exist will have to suffice:
"So ... is that a 'no' then?"
Serious Sam's Seriously Invincible Scorpion
Serious Sam 3 is a first-person shooter where you portray a battle-hardened soldier with a shitload of guns fighting hostile alien forces. Yes, that is exactly what we said about Crysis Warhead. But Sam doesn't have armor, and his game takes place 200 years in the future, so it's a totally different concept.
One thing the games do have in common, though, is a dedication to creatively pissing off pirates. Where Crysis has chickens, Sam has scorpions. Well, just one scorpion. One big, terrifying, completely invulnerable, utterly murderous, lightning-fast scorpion.
"Here I am. Rock you like a hurricane."
If you went to the store and bought the game for real, you'll never run into this guy. But if you didn't, and you chose to get cute with the hacking and the cracking, be prepared for it to relentlessly stalk you, from the beginning of the game until you can't run anymore. Because you are dead. Because it has killed you. Because you are a thief.
You cannot stop it. You cannot kill it. Any shots you land will make it spill blood, but it seemingly has a never-ending supply of the stuff, because it keeps coming at you. Running away is useless, as it can catch up to you in a nanosecond. Literally your only hope of survival is to turn off the game, dig into your soda-and-Doritos fund, and buy a legit goddamn copy.
In the beginning, it was highly likely that pirates didn't even realize what was going on and assumed that this was just another challenge -- a ridiculously hard monster with a secret weakness that simply needed to be uncovered (we'd love to know the record for "most time spent trying to kill the unkillable anti-piracy monster"). The secret's out, though, and the hacker community's fully aware of what this enemy signifies. And they STILL want to fight it:
Once again, we kind of agree with them.
Grand Theft Auto IV Has the Camera Movement of a Found-Footage Horror Movie
Grand Theft Auto IV is one of the most popular games of all time, as well as one of the most pirated. Even before the game was officially released, over 17,000 illegal downloads were recorded. The hardened criminal you portray in the game would be so proud.
Naturally, Rockstar Games saw this coming and took measures to punish anyone who stole the game. Now, while their methods didn't make the game completely unplayable, they sure as hell caused some major headaches, Cloverfield style. When your computer or console detects a pirated copy of GTA IV, everything is normal for a few minutes. So the pirate thinks, "Hey, I'm home free. Piracy rules!" Sure it does, much like slowly succumbing to alcohol poisoning rules. Because after a short while, you start to notice a not-so-subtle change:
It's the same game, only with the wobbliest, clumsiest, drunkest camera imaginable. Pirates found themselves in an environment that was full of life and under the effects of an earthquake that nobody, not even the main character, seemed to notice.
Just pretend you forgot your glasses and have an inner ear infection.
Despite hiring the cameraman from The Bourne Identity and injecting him with Quaaludes, the game is actually still playable, although the inevitable motion sickness you'll suffer might be a slight distraction.
That's why Rockstar coded another anti-piracy trigger, because overly patient pirates deserve even more punishment. Glitch No. 2 makes it so that any car you drive only goes in one direction, auto-accelerating the entire time. Also, it will be smoking and close to exploding the second you hop in.
Exiting the car won't do much good, since it'll just speed away the second you get out. Find another car, and the same shit happens again.
And yes, the camera is still shaking the entire time. And no, pirates didn't get the hint, going online to find out why their illegally obtained copy isn't working perfectly:
Somewhere on WebMD, there's a post from his mother, asking if she can still abort him.
Spyro's Never-Ending Series of Traps
Damn, even cutesy children's games get pirated? Absolutely, they do. Spyro 2 had pirated versions floating around a mere week after its release, which put a significant dent in the game's sales. With Spyro: Year of the Dragon, Insomniac Games wanted to make damn sure that didn't happen again. What they did was nothing short of genius: Instead of throwing one giant fuck-you into the game somewhere, they turned the entire game into a series of middle fingers.
Insomniac developed a series of crack-protected traps. This meant that, even if a pirate successfully removed the original copy protection, the game would still be affected in ways that wouldn't be obvious until you attempted to play through it. Although it should have been obvious from the get-go, when a fairy politely informs you that you're a horrible person doing horrible things:
"Thank you in advance for licking all of our dicks. Please do have a miserable day."
After that screen, developers decided to see just how much time hackers had on their hands.
It starts small -- for instance, to progress in the game, Spyro needs to collect eggs and gems, just like a real dragon would. The pirated game, however, causes random gems and eggs to disappear from parts of the game you had not reached yet. Since those important items had vanished, the player was unable to continue past a certain point. Clearly the pirates figured out what was going on, and patched that particular problem.
But here's where the real genius of the plan falls into place: Fixing that layer of piracy glitches only exposed another. It would, at different times, prevent the players from pausing the game, keep them from using portals to advance further, and change the menu language to German.
It then enrolled you in a very open and public Nazi social club.
Finally, when all previous issues had been properly patched and the hackers could actually make it to the end of the game, they found that attacking the final boss would immediately send them back to the beginning of the game, with all of their save files erased.
The best part is: It worked. Most of a game's sales occur within the first couple of months, and it took over two months for a properly patched version of the game to become available to pirates.
Game Dev Tycoon Plagues Pirates With Pirates
Game Dev Tycoon puts you in the shoes of a game developer whose goal is to make good games while making enough money to do all sorts of cool rich people shit, like buying food and paying bills.
The game's developer, Greenheart Games, decided to leak a hacked version of the game, mere minutes after releasing the legitimate version, just to see what would happen. Sure enough, within one day, a whopping 93.6 percent of players were playing the illegal version of the game. So now we have a game about making games pirated by pirates? How could this possibly be more meta? Simple: by sticking pirates in the pirated game.
The goal within the game is to build a successful gaming empire and make money. Well, people who stole the real game found that, if they made enough good fake games, they would eventually receive messages like this:
"P.S. We're standing right behind you."
Yup; people are stealing your fake game, and you are making no money. Sad face.
The thievery gets worse the further you progress in the game (you start in the 8- and 16-bit era, when game piracy was barely a blip on the radar) and the better you become at game design. That makes sense, after all -- better games mean more people want to steal them. So, releasing games with solid 9-10 ratings will result in increased piracy and decreased sales. Keep releasing awesome games, and the piracy will become so ridiculously rampant that your company is forced into bankruptcy.
And yes, the irony was lost on the pirates of the world. How else to explain cries for help like this one:
Come on, little buddy ... you're soooo close to getting the point. We know you can do it!
The creator of the game, Patrick Klug, claims that he doesn't hate pirates, although his company doesn't seem to share his sunny disposition. At least that's how we interpret a quote like "If, years down the track, you wonder why there are no games like these anymore, and all you get to play is pay-to-play and social games designed to suck money out of your pockets, then the reason will stare back at you in the mirror." Ouch.
Related Reading: Eager to see more pirates get their comeuppance? Read our first article in the long saga of pirate versus developer. Curious about piracy BEFORE the Internet? Click here to read about early file-sharing panics, like Phillip Sousa's war against the phonograph. And if you're more interested in seeing the dark side of the anti-piracy crusaders, this article reveals the most hypocritical online copyright busybodies.