The same is true for Croteam’s latest release The Talos Principle. A few days ago a pirated copy of the puzzle title surfaced online which initially appeared to work as a regular game.
However, the fun didn’t last long as the developers had previously embedded a feature that traps free-riding pirates in a virtual elevator.
“When I unlocked the 2nd floor on the tower, all the elevators have stopped working. Whenever I want to get somewhere, it just stops in the middle of the way and I can’t do anything,” J.K. wrote on the Steam forums.
The measure had many pirates puzzled, but in a thread on Neogaf the purpose of the “bug” soon came to light.
While bugs in “cracked” games are a regular occurrence, in this case it’s clearly an intentional anti-piracy measure. As can be seen below, the QR code visible in the elevator clearly references the scene release group SKIDROW, who are responsible for many pirated game copies.
Croteam acknowledged the feature on social media by retweeting a mention of the puzzled Steam user, which must have been good for a few laughs among the developers.
Even more so, it probably led to a few extra sales as well. Apparently some pirates were hooked enough to get a legit copy of the game on Steam, to continue playing without any hassles.
“I hit the bug where the elevators stopped working correctly, so I bought the game on Steam and was able to import my save,” an anonymous user wrote on a popular torrent site, adding that it’s been worth the money.
“I did lose some progress, possibly a side effect of the elevator bug, but I was able to get back to where I was pretty quickly. I just finished the game (one ending, at least) and it was totally worth the purchase price.”
So the developers managed to punish pirates and get paid. That’s a pretty good outcome to say the least.
As Kotaku mentions, this isn’t the first time that Croteam has come up with a rather creative form of DRM. Three years ago the developers added an invincible scorpion to Serious Sam, making it impossible for pirates to progress.