ByRob Harris, writer at
Sometimes I play video games.
Rob Harris

Recently, a group of Far Cry 4 players took to various video game forums to complain about the lack of 'field of view' options in their copies of the game. Little did they know, they had all just confessed to committing a crime.

Game developers often build bugs into their games that only activate in pirated versions. This one - as Ubisoft Montreal creative director Alex Hutchinson tweeted - was built to out all the people who had illegally downloaded it:

Video game piracy has plagued the industry for decades now, depriving hard working people from the well deserved fruits of their labour. But instead of getting mad, some decided to get even. These devilishly creative revenge schemes were designed to expose the players who don't pay for their games, often in the most ingenious and hilarious ways. Take a look...

A Taste of Their Own Medicine - Game Dev Tycoon

This business management sim tasks players with starting their own game company, having to recruit top designers and promote their latest releases in order to turn a profit. The game's creators, Greenheart Games, suspected that Game Dev Tycoon was likely to be illegally downloaded, so in a bold move they purposely released a free pirated file of the game and made it available on peer-to-peer sharing sites.

Why would they do this, you might ask. Well, the illegal version played almost identically to the genuine one, with one significant exception. After a while players of the pirated game would receive the following message from their employee:

In a fantastic piece of meta-revenge, real pirate players would gradually succumb to bankruptcy due to virtual pirates excessively stealing their in-game games! What a fantastic way to teach a lesson.

A Gap Too Far - Mirror's Edge

EA cooked up a particularly frustrating anti-piracy measure for their first-person Parkour platformer, Mirror's Edge. At first glance, the illegal copy of the game plays exactly as intended - until the player gets to the first major jump.

As you barrel towards the building's edge, gaining momentum to leap across the gut-wrenchingly high gap, it looks like you might just make it. That is until you approach the ledge and begin grinding to an excruciatingly slow crawl, making the jump impossible. What a tease!

Check out the footage below:

Musical Hell - Michael Jackson: The Experience

If you're at all interested in playing Michael Jackson: The Experience, then presumably you're a fan of his music, or at least of vaguely palatable music in general. However, if you chose to illegally obtain your copy you wouldn't hear much over the all-consuming, unbearable noise of vuvuzelas.

Keen not to be outdone by pirates, the developers coded the game so when the ROM detects that its been illegally downloaded it plays vuvuzela noises over all the music tracks. Now that's a truly torturous form of punishment! Bravo.

Branded a Criminal - Alan Wake

Remedy Entertainment, the developers of Alan Wake, actually went pretty easy on pirates of their game, letting them still play it in its entirety. The catch? They had to permanently wear an eye patch as a tribute to their nefarious no-good ways.

Remedy were even so polite as to kindly request players purchase the game during the loading screens, just in case they got sick of the Jolly Roger eye-wear.

The Cape-less Crusader - Batman: Arkham Asylum

For the average Gotham criminal, Batman's an undeniably terrifying foe to be up against, gliding around in the shadows, waiting for the perfect time to swoop down and pounce. But take away his cape, and he becomes much less of a problem.

This is exactly what Rocksteady Studios did to all their pay-dodging players, depriving them of the ability to glide in the game. This meant many areas of Arkham Asylum became unreachable and therefore it was impossible to complete. The Dark Knight suddenly becomes much less cape-able!...Sorry.

'Do You Want to Play Again?'- EarthBound

This Japanese role-playing game has perhaps one of the most brutal anti-piracy methods of all time. In the illegal version enemies appear much more often and are a lot stronger, making it exceptionally difficult to reach the end of the game. However, if a pirate does miraculously get to the final boss then the game is programmed to freeze up right before the climax and delete the save file, leaving them to repeat their Sisyphean-like ordeal all over again!

So, if there's a lesson to be learnt it's this: continue to pay for your games, and continue to laugh at the misfortunes of those who don't.


Which of these anti-piracy traps was your favorite?


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