Ryan Wilson

The RIGHT Way to Prevent Piracy

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Safedisc. SecuROM. Starforce. Mention any of these words to a seasoned gamer and you’ll see their anger quickly rising. They’re futile against piraters (a particularly good group will crack these things in hours), they serve to annoy those who purchased a title through legal means. They can even render a game useless, as I so annoyingly experienced with a legit PC copy of BioShock that was made completely unplayable the first day of its release due to issues with SecuROM. If anything, the annoyance of dealing with these anti-piracy measures is likely to make some turn to piracy.

Not all developers take these extreme measures, however. Some simply follow the honor system, knowing that some people will still pirate them, but the majority will pay money if the product is good, but this article isn’t about them.

This is about the companies that take creative measures to prevent piracy. I call these acts “cruel and hilarious punishment“.

Earthbound is the first title I can remember punishing the pirater in such a way. If you owned an illegitimate copy of Earthbound, you would expect to see a drastic increase in enemies. If the cheap bastard fought on through this hardship, they could actually get to the final boss, Giygas. However, at some point in the battle, the game would crash itself, forcing a reset. Returning from the reset, you’d realize that all of your save files have been deleted!. Crafty bastards!

Other notable attempts include:

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum – You find yourself needing to cross a room filled in the bottom with poisonous gas only to find out that your gliding ability doesn’t work.
  • Metal Gear Solid – The codec frequency that could only be found on the box.
  • Why do I bring this up now? Check the video below:

    Yes, that is vuvuzelas covering up the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”. This footage has been confirmed by Ubisoft developers to be a true anti-piracy measure they implemented in Michael Jackson: The Experience on the Nintendo DS. While I can’t give any opinion on the game itself, I have to applaud Ubisoft for sticking it to piracy with something equally annoying.

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