The Best Anti-Piracy Techniques Ever Seen in Video Games

You wouldn’t steal a car. So why download a game? Piracy is an age-old problem that has plagued many entertainment industries, and the gaming industry was no exception. Developers were constantly looking for the best way to prevent piracy.

Some developers have taken a more creative approach and come up with some of the most hilarious anti-piracy measures ever seen in the gaming world. Some of these anti-piracy measures are just plain funny, while others are scary enough to make anyone think twice about downloading a game illegally.

1. Earthbound: Difficulty x1000

Earthbound is already known for having steep difficulty curves throughout the gameplay. But for anyone playing an illegal copy of the game, the difficulty has been increased tenfold. When an illegal copy of Earthbound was discovered, the game immediately spawned many more enemies than usual. Not only that, they were also much stronger than the original version of the game.

If anyone somehow managed to fight their way through the seemingly endless hordes and make it to the boss, the screen would freeze and prompt you to reset the game. After the reset, the game would erase all saved data.

2. Spyro: Year of the Dragon: Missing Parts

Spyro: Year of the Dragon would use similar tactics as Earthbound to discourage people from playing illegal copies of the game. Zoe would inform you at the beginning that the game is illegal and would most likely not work properly.

If you insisted, a barrage of errors would occur. Characters and items may not appear, Sparx cannot restore health, and Spyro sometimes randomly teleports back to the beginning of the level. And if you somehow made it towards the end, all saved data will be erased. But hey, you can’t say Zoe didn’t warn you.

3. Game developer tycoon: piracy glitch

Game Dev Tycoon had the most painfully realistic anti-piracy method on this list. Game Dev Tycoon is a simulation game in which you create a game. You could succeed and make all your video game dreams come true, or you could fail. And illegal copies of Game Dev Tycoon were doomed from the start.

If illegal copy of Game Dev Tycoon was detected, your game would launch smoothly without any problems. But suddenly you started losing money and people stopped buying your game. Why? Because pirates started making illegal copies of it. Suddenly, your video game dreams would fall to the ground. This piracy bug was not present in legitimate copies of the game.

4. The Sims 4: Censorship

The Sims 4 developers took a very sarcastic stance towards pirated copies of their game. If you’ve played a Sims game before, you might be familiar with the pixelated censorship bubble that appears over your Sim’s privates when they take something like a shower or use the bathroom.

If an illegal copy was discovered, this pixelated area would not go away once your Sim did its business. Instead, your Sim would be caught in an endless cycle and the pixels would eventually spread until the entire screen was censored.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: Runaway Train

One of the main features of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is the train. In fact, the one who travels the ghost tracks. However, if the game’s programming felt even a hint of piracy, the controls for the train simply wouldn’t appear.

The game became completely unplayable without these very important controls, so players who managed to get their sticky paws on an illegal copy cried all the way to their local game store to grab a legitimate copy of the game that they actually could play.

6. Crysis Warhead: Angry Birds

Crysis Warhead had possibly one of the most hilarious anti-piracy tactics known to mankind. Instead of shooting bullets, pirated games would make your gun shoot chickens. Chickens certainly have their place in life, but being used as bullets is definitely not one of them.

Those chickens didn’t damage your opponent. Granted, they would stun the enemy, but that won’t get you very far in the long run. At this point it would be better to play Angry Birds.

7. Alan Wake: Captain Alan Wake

Alan Wake’s developers served their anti-piracy measures with a satirical side. Many of the games on this list use tactics that render the game unplayable if perceived as illegitimate. But Alan Wake, on the other hand, just let the pirates know they knew. Whether they felt guilty about it or not is unclear.

If you played an illegal copy of Alan Wake, the game would slam a big pirate eyepatch right on Alan’s face. It didn’t make any difference to gameplay at all, other than making Alan look more jittery and a bit more illegal.

While the idea of ​​playing Alan Wake with a pirate eye patch might seem a little enticing, there are actually real security risks to playing pirated video games or downloading cracked software in general. Not to mention the fact that we want to support the developers who make these games so they can make more in the future.

8. Serious Sam 3: Unleash the Kraken

Serious Sam 3 opted for a more nightmarish approach. Players of illegal copies would be constantly plagued by a giant red scorpion-like arachnid. This beast was incredibly fast and wouldn’t stop until you were dead. If that wasn’t scary enough, it was also invincible.

Playing through the game and never knowing when this hideous creature would spawn and attack you was certainly enough for people to just buy the game. Playing the real game would have been far more enjoyable, if a little less exciting, without the constant threat of death.

9. The Mystery of Monkey Island: Dial-A-Pirate

The Mystery of Monkey Island would ask a series of questions at the start of the game that would prevent you from proceeding unless you had the Dial-A-Pirate Wheel. This cardboard anti-piracy measure had a row of pirates with unique codes that were revealed once the appropriate pieces were lined up.

Apparently only made available with legitimate purchases, this wheel was one of the few physical anti-piracy measures for video games.

10. The Witcher 2: Mistaken identity

While many of us are under the impression that the age of piracy is over, unfortunately that is not the case. Online piracy has been found to increase in 2022. So it wasn’t just classic games from the 90s that had anti-piracy techniques.

If we had to rate anti-piracy measures, The Witcher 2 would definitely be in first place. The Witcher 2 features a set of romantic mechanics that allow you to unlock cutscenes that involve Geralt and an NPC of your choice in a raunchy cutscene.

However, if you play an illegal copy of the game, your chosen NPC will be replaced with a rather unsightly old lady named Marietta Loredo. Surely that surprise would have been enough to put any player on the right side of the law.

Buying games legally is by far the best way to support the games you love

While piracy is less of an issue for modern consoles, it was once a plague every game developer had to contend with. But hopefully these quirky and creative anti-piracy measures were enough to stop people from illegally downloading their games and inspire them to go out and support the people who made these incredible games instead.