Garry’s Mod Creator Toys With Pirates

Garry Newman, the man behind the popular Half-Life 2 mod, added a tiny surprise for anyone that pirates the commercial version of his modification: a secret error message. The Garry’s Mod creator said via twitter that he had "Just enabled this error in GMod today. It happens when you pirated it. Having fun watching people complain."

When pressed by the community about it further, Newman said "I don’t think the error isn’t going to boost GMod sales. I just like to give people that paid something to be smug about."

The error message only happens in the pirated version of the mod, with the user’s 64-bit Steam ID also forming part of the message. Newman has also taken the liberty of banning pirates from his forums.

It is certainly an interesting way to handle piracy and a method that most can’t disagree with. After all, why would there be a public outcry about picking on people that stole your game?


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  1. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    However, it’s not like they aren’t fixing it for people that actually paid for it, so it really isn’t THAT big of a deal, IMO.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  2. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    Agreed. One of the few times I pirated it was a game I couldn’t get to play otherwise.

    I know there are a ton of SNES and NES gems that will never see release on any of the networks.

  3. 0
    egreif says:

    There are developers who will argue that if the game is made unavailable, pirating it is acceptable. In my opinion, if the game WERE made to be available, pirates wouldn’t have a real reason to do so. Before came along, many of the games they have made available were considered to be out of print and abandoned by the publisher. You can’t sell a game that isn’t available for sale, so the pirating of the game couldn’t lead to a lost sale, and no economic harm is done to the publisher.

    But if it is available, then yes, piracy cannot be justified.

  4. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    "piracy is justifiable if I don’t get things my way, right now."

    Fixed that for you.  Piracy is never justifiable.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  5. 0
    Thad says:

    And, thanks to piracy, people can play it without paying through the nose for a used copy with a battery that may or may not work.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily pay for Earthbound on VC if it were available.  But it isn’t, and I believe piracy is justifiable in cases where a work is out-of-print.

    That’s a whole other can of worms, though…

  6. 0
    Thad says:

    "Considering there’s be ZERO false positives if there weren’t self-absorbed, greed pirates, there’s only one group of people to blame anyway – the pirates."

    Not at all.  There’d be zero false positives if the code wasn’t in there in the first place.

    Of course pirates are indirectly to blame.  And Garry is DIRECTLY to blame.  Fortunately, he’s been very responsive on the issue and has helped the users who tripped false positives, but this is still an exercise that hurt his customers.

  7. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    True, but it’s not like there’s a massive number of false positives here, or that things aren’t being fixed for those caught in a false positive.

    Considering there’s be ZERO false positives if there weren’t self-absorbed, greed pirates, there’s only one group of people to blame anyway – the pirates.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  8. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    They aren’t alienating the user base.  They’re alienating people who stole the game.  As such, they’re alienating people who have no legal right to be playing the game, and have no right to be complaining about bugs in the first place.

    And, as has been stated before, ten bucks isn’t a lot of money for a game.  If you have to steal a ten dollar game, you have much bigger problems in life than a lack of money, and should probably spend their time gaming going after more constructive pursuits.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  9. 0
    NecroSen says:

    Garry’s Mod costs $10: getting "enough money" to buy the game is hardly a difficult task. The mod’s also been out for years now, so if it’s about trying the game out, the window has certainly closed.

    Plus, we’re talking about a lone developer, not corporate money-grabbers behind a $60 big-budget title. Give the man his due or suffer the long arm of the law.

  10. 0
    Thaylin says:

    Talking about some FUD…Anon attacks people who try to prevent people from using their freedoms.

    Thus far they have taken on the government and other CC companies for attacking Wikileaks, the latter aiding the government.. This does not match your statement, as they were attacking 1st amendment rights.


    Second they are taking on sony, not for charging for products, but because sony is attacking people for opening up their own machinees…. It would be the same as if you went to best buy and bought a windows machine, then windows sued you for removing windows and installing linux.



    Again, not an attack for what you state… So WHO have they attacked for not giving stuff away free?

  11. 0
    SpencerRuler says:

    Simply for a game like Garry’s Mod? I think Anon would side with Garry on this one. Most of the people who pirated that game are under 15 years of age. Plus, why would Anon take on a indie devlopper?


    Living in Canada can be a very good thing, you know. We enjoy the universal healthcare and gun-free environment of an European country while getting all of our games released at the same time as in the US.

  12. 0
    Zeke129 says:

    I’m a member of the official forums and I have to say it was downright hilarious watching this unfold in real-time. Unfortunately, it seems a legit user or two was caught in the crossfire as I remember a thread about someone getting the error despite being able to prove that they purchased the game.

  13. 0
    DorthLous says:

    Agreed. The "for the laughs" part of the argument works, but that’s about it. Even if he catches 20 person on his forums that did copy illegally the game for everyone who has a legitimate reason/is a false positive, the fact you are hitting innocents in the crossfire makes this a poor tactic.

  14. 0
    Nerd42 says:

    Hold on … just because someone may be running a pirated version of a product doesn’t mean they didn’t pay for the product. They may have some special reason for running a pirated version, like trying to run the game portably on a university computer from a USB drive without needing admin privileges to install it for example. I paid for the Command and Conquer "war chest" but if/when I ever play that game I still run a pirated copy of Red Alert 2 in order to save my discs from spinning and wearing themselves out. The fact that you may be running a pirated copy doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t pay for a product.


    I don’t have Garry’s Mod. Not pirated, not legitimately, not at all. My computer sucks too much to run it. But I’m just observing that running a pirated copy and neglecting to pay for a product are not mutually necessary conditions. Given the possibility that this may be inconveniencing legitiamte customers through false positives and the undisputable fact that it will not, in the long run, stop piracy (it is ultimately ineffective and causes unintended problems) shows that this is an unwise decision.

  15. 0
    Arell says:

    Heh.  This reminds me of the Earthbound anti-piracy coding.  If you pirated Earthbound, then at the very last boss the game would glitch.  When you restarted, you’d find all your saves deleted.  So the pirate invests hours into the game only to find it unbeatable.

    Anyway, good for Gary.

  16. 0
    Thad says:

    "It is certainly an interesting way to handle piracy and a method that most can’t disagree with. After all, why would there be a public outcry about picking on people that stole your game?"

    Because of false positives.

    Copy protection mechanisms like this are good for a laugh and a quick dose of schadenfreude at anyone stupid enough to pirate a game and then ask for help on the forums, but they’re usually circumvented quickly.  They don’t stop pirates for long, but they may affect legitimate users who trip them through bugs.

    Take a look at Zeke129’s post, above: it looks like it’s already happened.

  17. 0
    Shahab says:

    You are surprised? Honestly as far as real bugs go having ALL users report back can only help the company more quickly identify problems, of course in this case the bug was intentional.

    I understand why developers and publishers dislike piracy but I don’t know if alienating your user base like this is the best way to try and control it. A lot of the time pirates who get enough money or find they like the game can be convereted into paying customers.

  18. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    "It happens when you pirated it. Having fun watching people complain."  …Newman has also taken the liberty of banning pirates from his forums.

    So, people who stole the game are hitting up the official forums to complain?  Wow.


    Andrew Eisen

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