Games By Jul. 10, 2014 3:20 pm
Game dev uses brilliant psychological trick to make pirate reveal himself | Games | Geek.com

Software piracy has always been easy. Scene groups will generally have a game cracked and ready to go within a couple of days, and the download (torrents, nowadays) and installation instructions are extremely simple. Developers can’t really prevent piracy, so lately they’ve been taking a different approach — either by changing the content of a pirated game in an obnoxious-to-the-player way, or including some kind of secret that reveals the pirate to the world. The developer of Skullgirls took the secret reveal route, except rather than have the game report in a clandestine manner that it has been pirated, a psychological trick was used to make the pirate report himself.

Twitter user Dan Hibiki — possibly an alias named after the infamous Street Fighter character — beat Skullgirls Encore and received a strange message: “What is the square root of a fish? Now I’m sad.”

//@Skullgirls So I got this message after beating story with both Para and Cere and I have no idea what it means… pic.twitter.com/Nv5bH1vqkV

— Dan Hibiki (@SaikyoChamp) July 8, 2014

The developer quickly responded, calling the player out for pirating the game.

@SaikyoChamp Oh that? It means you should probably buy the game instead of pirate it. o:) — Skullgirls (@Skullgirls) July 8, 2014

Dan immediately realized what happened, of course, and pulled the ol’ “I already bought the game after loving it so much! More than once, honest!”

The message was coded into pirated copies of the game, and one can only assume that it was made so cryptic in order to make users wonder and eventually out themselves. Obviously, now that this happened once and in the public view of the internet, there won’t be a flood of players admitting they’ve seen the message.

Many other games have taken a more clever route to punish pirates. Earthbound, famously, would freeze at the last boss encounter and would erase the saved game upon a reset. Serious Sam 3 deployed an invincible scorpion monster that would hunt the player at every turn. Even Tweetbot, a Twitter client, would force users to tweet a message if they pirated the software.

The lesson here is that if you pirate a game, you probably shouldn’t talk about anything that seems odd.

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