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10 Hilarious Examples of Anti-Piracy Measures in Video Games

From the earliest days of video games, game developers have fought to prevent piracy. If a game receives praise or hype, more often than not an illegal copy will float around. Even in the days before the Internet, this was a problem, as counterfeit cartridges found their way into various conventions or circles of friends.

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When it became clear that this was a problem, some developers found ways to not only prevent piracy, but to punish those who practiced it. From humiliation to game crashing, here are 10 ways developers have prevented their games from being hacked.

ten mirror edge


mirror edge is a great game to play if one likes parkour mechanics in games. This is because freerunning and parkour are key game mechanics and must be mastered in order to play the game. If a user is playing a hacked version of the game, they will encounter issues.

In the game, a player must run before reaching a ledge or jumping. This allows them to build enough momentum to close the gap. In a hacked copy of the game, the player actually slows down when reaching an edge instead of speeding up, causing them to lose momentum and fail to make the jump. It even prevents hackers from completing the tutorial.

9 Legend of Zelda: Spirit Trails


Right train controls disappear in hacked copies of Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks

For many, the DS title The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is one of the best titles The Legend of Zelda series. One of the game’s key mechanics is trains and at various times Link has to control a train. The train controls are on the right side of the screen.

Train control is quite simple, but many fans had problems when they first started playing. Indeed, in all likelihood, they were playing pirated copies. If the game is an illegal copy, the train controls do not appear, which effectively crashes the game and renders it unplayable.


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8 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates


The hack screen seen in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Ring of Fates

Nintendo DS Developers Final Fantasy game not only deterred hackers, but also made fun of them. The game starts normally and everything seems to run smoothly. This is until the game has been played for twenty minutes. Pirated copies have a timer, and once it reaches 20 minutes, the game ends.

At this point, a screen appears saying “Thanks for playing!” featuring some of the game’s characters. This not only hindered the player from progressing but also gave the pirates a compliment. The pirated copies are essentially demos, giving pirates a brief glimpse of what they could have had had they purchased the game. Final Fantasy The series is filled with great characters, so it’s a shame that hackers don’t know the ones in this game.


7 Spyro: Year of the Dragon


Zoe warns the player that they have an illegal copy of Spyro Year of the Dragon

This classic PS1 game was highly anticipated, meaning pirated copies were virtually guaranteed. Pirated copies of the game gave pirates every chance to stop while they were ahead. They are warned from the start that an illegal copy has been identified and that problems may arise. Should they arise, because there are several issues that could appear. Several key items such as gems and even characters are not appearing.

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If a player gets the items, chances are they will disappear from inventory. Other issues include Spyro randomly teleporting to the start of a level, removing the pause function, and Sparx’s inability to recover health. There are tons of game-breaking annoyances that could arise. And if the player somehow manages to get to the end, all of their save data will be erased.


6 Game Developer Tycoon


Anti Hacking Tip in Game Dev Tycoon

As the title suggests, Game Developer Tycoon allows the player to simulate being a game developer. The game goes through several eras in the history of the game and the player must design consoles and games to make a profit. Pirated copies of the game show players exactly how it feels. After a certain point, the player will stop making profits and lose money.

The beautiful irony is that the reason given is that the player’s games are pirated. This hacking mechanic is completely absent from legal copies and ensures that hackers will have no chance of winning the game. They can continue to play, but it will ultimately be for nothing.


5 Grand Theft Auto 4


Grand Theft Auto 4 Game

the Grand Theft Auto The franchise is among the most popular gaming franchises of all time. Rockstar has always had issues with pirated games, and with the fourth installment, they sought to stop that. There are a handful of issues in place that render illegal copies of the game unplayable. The most obvious and annoying is the camera. Right from the start, the camera shakes as if the character is drunk, which makes it very difficult to see.

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Vehicles are also rigged. Each vehicle is almost destroyed when the character enters. This, combined with the fact that all vehicles move forward on their own, means that they will surely explode before the player can react. These are just a few examples of game-breaking glitches encountered by hackers.


4 Gary’s Mod


This error message only appears in illegal copies of Gary's Mod

Gary’s Mod remains one of the best games available on Steam. The popular sandbox game lets players do pretty much anything they want, with any character they want. From the start, the game featured a subtle anti-piracy measure to ensure that hackers not only couldn’t play the game, but also disguised themselves as thieves.

Pirated copies of the game contain an error message stating “Failed to shade polygon normals”. The message also contains the user’s Steam ID and asks them to post the error message on the official forums with their ID in an attempt to receive help. Not only does this make the player a hacker for all forum users, but it also allows Steam developers to ban their Steam ID, which they voluntarily gave away.




3 The Secret of Monkey Island


Question requiring special anti-hacking wheel included with The Secret of Monkey Island

Before the Internet, PC games were actually much easier to hack. Just copy the game data to a blank disc. The Secret of Monkey Island is one of the best Lucasfilm adventure games of the 90s, thanks in part to anti-piracy measures. The game included a wheel called Dial-A-Pirate.

When prompted, all the player has to do is spin the wheel and match the pirate faces to reveal the numbers. The game would not start until the correct numbers were entered. This wheel was only available with copies of the game, and the answers could not be searched on the Internet.


2 Batman: Arkham Asylum


Gliding is disabled in pirated copies of Batman Arkham Asylum

the Arkham are some of the best superhero games, and right from the start they were known as such. The first game in the series, arkham asylum, implemented a subtle anti-piracy measure that is not noticeable at first glance. In the game, Batman has a gliding ability that allows him to close large gaps.

While greatly facilitating the crossing, there are some passages where sliding is absolutely necessary to progress. In pirated copies, these areas are inaccessible due to lack of glide capability. This makes the game unbeatable. It has also led to players asking on the forums what to do next, posing as hackers.


1 Earthbound


The last screen just before crashing into Earthbound

While Earthbound is simple to play today, back when it was released the only way to play was on an official SNES cart. Nintendo is well known for protecting its IP addresses, and it always has. Pirated copies of Earthbound run just as well as legal copies. In fact, the game is totally playable. No issues, missing items or error messages.

The game is rather large, and after many hours the final boss is satisfying. Those with legal copies keep beating Giygas and beating the game. Pirated copies, however, end up bugging the player. After all this progress and hard work, the game freezes just before the final fight. The game prompts the player to reset the console. Upon rebooting, all of their progress was deleted.

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