Piracy is a problem. For one person who buys a game, there’s about a hundred others who won’t. Piracy is a bad thing, which has spawned other bad things, like DRM and always-online internet requirements.
Unfortunately for everyone involved (except the bad people), these DRM measures don’t actually work. But this is the internet, and you know what does work on the internet? Trolling.
It is the universal language of the web, and despite achieving nothing it’s often the only viable course of action, even for game developers.
These then are the most hilarious ways game developers have managed to make a pirate’s life miserable.
The Serious Sam Scorpion
Serious Sam, despite its title, doesn’t take itself too seriously (har har). You’re a large man, with a large collection of large guns, who has to mow down large waves of large monsters while cracking awful one-liners. It’s like Duke Nukem, except it doesn’t make you want to kill yourself and all of humanity.
It wasn’t much of a surprise then, to see a hot pink scorpion scuttle out of a narrow alleyway and do non-consensual things to your skull – before you were even halfway through your first cocky remark.
It may have even turned into a challenge as it happened again. And again. And several more times after that. You may have been convinced that if you could just squeeze off one more rocket before getting swatted into halves like a minor inconvenience, you’d be in with a chance. But you’d be wrong.
The scorpion moves faster than you, hits harder, and is invincible. It also only appears if the game pegs you as a filthy, one-legged pirate.
You don’t find the scorpion, he finds you. You might want to shut down that “Blu-Ray Gossip Girl Complete” torrent I see there in your task pane. If you wake up tonight to a faint clicking noise, like pincers slowly opening and closing, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Michael Jackson: The Experience DS (??)
I don’t know what’s harder to believe – that an anti-piracy measure exists for this game, or that someone actually tried to pirate it.
I’m not sure what kind of maniac would want to steal, let alone purchase, a Nintendo DS game called Michael Jackson: The Experience, but let’s just say it’s not the kind of person I’d want looking after my kids. If I had kids. Which I don’t (that I know of).
Still, even those sociopathic lunatics didn’t deserve what happened when they switched the game on – non-stop Vuvuzelas. Talk about the punishment not fitting the crime; this is like hanging a man for jaywalking.
Mirror’s Edge Wants You Dead
Some of these anti-piracy trolling are a little more covert than others. You might think something is a little off when the Scorpion King’s flamboyant cousin reams you for the 57th or so time, and it’d certainly cross your mind that a Pirates-Chiefs finals match at Soccer City doesn’t quite fit your idea of the Michael Jackson Experience.
Mirror’s Edge, on the other hand, is just believable enough to drive you insane. What happens is that as you’re running to make a big jump, the game slows you down a little bit right at the end – just enough to make the difference between a badass barrel roll to safety and an undignified swallow dive into concrete.
I can just imagine the keyboard-snapping, pants-shitting horror of trying that jump for the 20th, 30th time. Watching walkthroughs, scouring Google, unable to eat or sleep, wondering, how, HOW, HOW THE ACTUAL F$%# DO I DO THIS. You can’t, you dirty pirate.
Crysis Warhead’s Chicken Gun
The most hilarious thing you can do is Google this particular bit of anti-piracy trollage, and discover the hundreds of forum posts of confused gamers, wondering why their weapons are firing chickens.
It amazes me that people can actually think this is a bug (the common explanation on aforementioned forums). Like your gun firing chickens is some kind of a graphical glitch, maybe if you update your video drivers they’ll change back into bullets. It’s incredible how many people totally missed that this is quite obviously intentionally coded into the game.
But only your game, you thieving miscreant.
Game Dev Tycoon Has A Taste For Irony
This wrestles the number one spot from chicken guns because it’s the world’s first recorded case of meta-trolling.
Game Dev Tycoon, as the title suggests, is a simulator in the style of Theme Hospital or Rollercoaster Tycoon which tasks players with developing and selling games.
Rather depressingly, after a single day, 93,6% of people playing the game were playing the pirated version. Keep in mind this is an indie title, DRM free, and it costs a measly $8.
What I haven’t mentioned is that that pirated version was uploaded to torrent sites by the developer itself. Instead of being greeted with an angry message or a virus which e-mails porn to their mothers, players would be able to progress several hours into the game somewhat normally.
Then, after a while, they’d start to receive a “Sales Report”, stating that due to piracy their game wasn’t making a profit, which would essentially keep them from progressing any further. This is an excellent example of the highly effective “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed” approach.
The real irony can be found, once again, in the forums. Thousands of players flocked online to protest that the game “wasn’t fair” and other whiny gems such as “why are there so many people that pirate?”