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Brilliant, but be careful about this. There was an article here years ago about an indie game developer who put tons of different piracy checks all throughout his game. He was pretty clever, and made it so that several didn't activate until partway through the levels — that way the crackers might miss them. Also, he didn't show any "pirated copy detected!" messages, which would have made the checks trivial to find. Instead, the application would simply crash with a cryptic error message.

It worked perfectly — the crackers missed the later checks. Anyone who torrented the game found that it crashed reliably as soon as you completed the first level. Game over.

Unfortunately, this did not generate the kind of PR he was hoping for. In fact, all this did was give the impression to everyone who pirated the game that it was a buggy piece of shit. Since there was no obvious reason for the odd behavior, they assumed it was the fault of the application. They stormed the gaming review forums and discussion boards, complaining about how the game was "shitty" and "unplayable". Nobody was keen to mention that they had pirated it, so there wasn't an obvious trend. At the time, the ratio of pirated video games to legal ones was about 10:1, so the bad feedback overpowered the good feedback by about 10:1. He was ruined.

Be careful about anti-piracy. You just might succeed.




I mentioned this game in another comment on this page, but Spyro: Year of the Dragon used this technique and it worked very well for them. It could be that this is because it was on a console and not on the PC, but who knows. The goal for them was to simply keep the crackers at bay for as long as possible to keep the sales high during the initial release of the game. The developers stated that once the game is cracked the sales drop dramatically, so the longer they can keep the game uncracked the more money they made.

Great article from the developers about this: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3030/keeping_the_pirat...


I remember playing Spyro, good memories. I think there's a new one out, maybe I'll check it out for old time sake. Thanks for the positive nostalgia


A similar (but much simpler) anti-piracy feature was built into Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. The game would appear to operate normally, and let you start playing; however, after 30 seconds, all of your buildings would explode and you'd instantly lose.


That one was a bitch - sometimes it'd happen to my legally bought and paid for copy of the game.


DRM = functionally indistinguishable from broken


If lots of games used similar methodologies then people would slowly learn that "pirated game" == "buggy game". Wouldn't work unless lots of them did the same thing of course.


No, they don't have anything to compare it with. They'd never figure out that it's because stuff is pirated.


Exactly. It's even worse if you add the crippling behavior later on, i.e. in the upgrade from v1.2 to v1.3. All pirates notice is that the new version is really unstable.




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