One of my favourite things to write about on this website are the creative ways developers have learned to fuck with people pirating their video games, so it’s with great pleasure I get to share another example today.
Ross Symons, the CEO of Big Ant Studios, has been talking on Twitter today about some of the measures his company has used to deal with pirates, which are far more creative then just denying them access to the game.
Speaking specifically about sports game Cricket 22, the studios’ latest release, he says Big Ant just turned on their own idea of piracy protection for the game, which involves making the whole screen flash white between matches. Like these kind of anti-piracy measures often do, it’s drawn a lot of oblivious pirates to the game’s support forums, asking for help in fixing their problem:
The white screen is just the start of Big Ant’s plans, though. Responding to former Kotaku AU Editor Alex Walker’s questions on Twitter, Symons says the company “has other things in store.” Some of them are favourite measures from older games, like making sure pirates lose 100% of coin tosses, displaying controller connection error messages and, most frustrating of all, making sure they have to field first (while the AI bats), then when it’s the player’s turn to score some runs, making it “rain forever” until the game is cancelled (which is something that happens in cricket).
I asked Symons about these measures and how Big Ant implement them, and he told me, “We actually have a control panel for it here,” where on a whim they can “select what happens to pirates,” with some other options being a black screen instead of a white one, and telling users that the batteries in their controller need replacing.
“I figure if people are going to steal the game,” Symons says, “we might as well have some fun at their expense.” He also says that since turning the anti-pirate measures on, sales of Cricket 22 “are up 300%,” thanking those who have “converted” to a legitimate copy, while enticing any current pirates still clinging onto their free versions with a promise that “if you purchase now then you will automatically get to keep your progress.”