Nobody likes a cheater – they ruin the game for everyone else. Most companies hate pirates even more though. No, not the wooden leg and eyepatch kind, the ‘I’m broke I’ll torrent it’- crowd. For most it’s a victimless crime. They get their game without paying, and they get to stick it to ‘the man’. After all, it’s not like Ubisoft-employees will have to starve if someone pirates a game right?
Well, no, probably not. It does however have a huge impact on the companies numbers, and if there’s one thing companies don’t like, it’s losing money. So, many of them have come up with clever ways to punish those pirates. While some games just simply don’t work, other game devs have a decidedly more…devious streak. Here are some of our favourite piracy punishments.
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1. Game Dev Tycoon
If you’re familiar with this game, you can probably guess what’s going on. In it, you set up your own game studio! You get to hire people, manage resources, develop games and release your games to the (fictional) world. All your teenage dreams with none of the tech-skills or soul-crushing hours that go into actually making a game. Great right?
Only if you paid for the game. If you did not…you still have a very similar if more realistic experience. You get to do the same things – but, as you release your games, pirates take over. You get message after message saying that piracy is affecting your sales and that you are making loss after loss. Eventually your studio inevitably fails.
Obviously, pirates took to forums to look for ways to combat this issue – only to find out they’d exposed themselves as pirates. Good going! Definitely one of the most hilarious pirate-punishment ever.
2. Serious Sam
Croteam, the makers of Crysis (which also has some pretty funny piracy punishments) really went all-in to keep their game safe. That is to say, unfortunately many fans of the game actually pirated the game just to see this particular punishment – for fun.
What is it? A pink scorpion of death. It’s a terrifying (and ugly) boss monster that can’t be killed, while also zipping across the screen much faster than you can, meaning sooner rather than later, you will end up as dinner. You can definitely hide from it for a while, but eventually it’ll dash around a corner and spike you to death.
This makes the game entirely unplayable, unless you are looking for the harshest hide-and-seek game out there.
3. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Unlike some of the other games on this list, this one does not have some flashy, in-your-face punishments, no the devs of this game – Rocksteady – were a lot sneakier. You get to play and enjoy the game for quite a while, until you run into a tiny problem – Batman can’t fly.
Revolutionary, we know. What we mean is that Batsy’s glide ability doesn’t work at all. Instead of using his cape to sail from rooftop to rooftop, he just flaps his arms a little and falls to his untimely demise. As this is the only issue in an otherwise functional game, yet again pirates exposed themselves by asking for help with what they believed to be a regular bug.
There’s some icing on the cake here too – Rocksteady had an official reply to those pirates, and we love it: “It’s not a bug in the game’s code, it’s a bug in your moral code.” They’re probably just as aware of the irony of pirating a game about a dark knight and superhero-themed game.
4. Dark Souls
Arguably, playing this incredibly difficult game would be enough punishment for pirates. After all, how could the devs possibly make it any harder? Well, they found a way. Originally, this measure was put in place to thwart people that tried to play before the official launch date.
What happened? Black Phantoms showed up. If you’ve played the game, you’re probably familiar with them in general, but this particular version was slightly different. The Phantoms you’d encounter were max level – complete with 19000 hit points and max stats. They weren’t immortal per se, but they were definitely impossible to beat for those early players.
There’s some YouTube videos of people trying to defeat them, and it rarely goes well. In fact, these horrors make their normal boss-counterparts look like lovable little puppies – not something we thought we’d ever say about a Dark Souls enemy of any kind.
5. Five Night’s at Freddy’s
If you’ve never played any of the FNaF games, don’t do it. There are by now several titles, and while they are a fun jump-scare game, they might give you nightmares of animatronic mascots. They’ll definitely ruin a couple of popular food franchises for you.
Either way – whether you like the game or not, and whether you find it scary or not, the devs put in a little something extra for pirates. The game itself plays just like the paid for version, the difference is when you decide to leave. Despite the game being incredibly cheap, there must have been enough pirates to warrant this – as you try to exit the game, Freddy pops up for one last, unexpected jump scare.
This obviously doesn’t happen to regular players, and while it isn’t game breaking, we can imagine it made for one or two pairs of soiled pants. Because of spilled drinks of course.
6. Dragon Quest V & Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates
This Square Enix game for the DS had a very subtle approach to deal with pirates – wasting their time. Quite early on, the player is on a ship, exploring the deck and chatting to the crew. They are informed that they are headed for Littlehaven, and get a chance to run around a little before they enter the port.
Well, actually they get a lot of time. All of it in fact. On pirated copies, the ship never lands. Ever. You can sit there for hours waiting, but the game won’t progress, so all you get to do is talk to the same three people over and over.
The Final Fantasy title punishes you with cuteness – after 20 minutes of playing the game, you get a cute message featuring two moogles and the message Thank you for playing!! There’s no error message, no way to get past it and no lecture about the evils of piracy – just smiling critters…and the longer we look at them, the more mocking they seem. Go Square Enix!
7. The Witcher 2
Geralt from the Witcher games is popular for several reasons – his games are great fun, and he gets laid a lot. Ok, maybe only two reasons. It’s the second one that is important here – there are several animated scenes (and trading cards) to prove that players managed to get it on with various pretty girls in the games.
Well, pretty girls and…not so pretty ones. Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t exactly supermodels ourselves, but in pirated copies, Geralt didn’t get to bed the original pretty maidens we know and love, but instead a woman that looks to be well past her prime…in every sense of the word.
It isn’t the only piracy punishment either, as there are various cutscenes etc that kill our protagonist during the early hours of the game, but really, this one is the harshest one in our opinion. Let’s face it, plenty of people played this mainly for the NSFW scenes, and to have those ruined specifically… well played, CD Projekt. Well played!
Honourable Mention: Crysis Warhead
For many, the piracy punishment of this game was more fun than the game itself. Two words: Chicken guns.