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Classic Games (Games)

The Rise and Fall of the Cheat Code 178

An anonymous reader writes A new feature published this week takes a deep-dive look at the history of the cheat code and its various manifestations over the years, from manual 'pokes' on cassettes to pass phrases with their own dedicated menus — as well as their rise from simple debug tool in the early days of bedroom development to a marketing tactic when game magazines dominated in the 1990s, followed by dedicated strategy guides. Today's era of online play has all but done away with them, but the need for a level playing field isn't the only reason for their decline: as one veteran coder points out, why give away cheats for free when you can charge for them as in-app purchases? "Bigger publishers have now realized you can actually sell these things to players as DLC. Want that special gun? Think you can unlock it with a cheat code? Nope! You've got to give us some money first!"
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The Rise and Fall of the Cheat Code

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  • And this ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:13AM (#47314647) Homepage

    Bigger publishers have now realized you can actually sell these things to players as DLC. Want that special gun? Think you can unlock it with a cheat code? Nope! You've got to give us some money first!

    And this is why my XBox isn't connected to the interwebs.

    I'm not interested in your damned in-game economy, and I have no interest in getting my ass kicked by a 12 year old playing on-line.

    I'll stick with my off-line gaming, thank you very much.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:15AM (#47314667) Homepage
    this may just be my opinion as a greybeard, but back in my day of commander keen and blake stone: aliens of gold, Cheat codes existed but players rarely used them. part of the games replayability was its challenge; its where nintendo users patented the phrase 'nintendo hard.' Sure, you always knew the kid down the block with the Game Genie, but there was a certain pride and honor to beating Duck Tales without using it.

    my question is when will DLC stop? I already bought the game, and back in my day that meant half or a quarter of the content. some can argue shareware was analagous to DLC but thats a stretch. Shareware originally came on BBS systems and was a form of advertising. it convinced you to mail in a check for $25 and get that sweet copy of Duke Nukem 1. DLC just serves to segregate players by monetary class, effectively voiding any reason to care about prowess in gameplay. Some trustfund kid in hawaii will always be able to kill you with his microtransaction-approved skill enhancement that doesnt get flagged on multiplayer servers as cheating. Turning my playing field into an ayn rand capitalist paradise will certainly make me reconosider your games.

    tethering me to a multiplayer universe serves only two purposes I can think, perhaps 3. Its a way to ensure you rent me a product instead of me buying it, and it prevents me from using your game without you knowing exactly how and when i decide to play it. Sometimes im not here to collaborate and that should be OK. i should be allowed to selfishly play a game by myself, i shouldnt have to 'authenticate' with your servers and i should be allowed to avoid entirely your rich tapestry of trash-talking 13 year olds and perhaps multitask with a bit of quake in one window, and code in the other.
  • by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:17AM (#47314691)

    I think the reason they don't have cheats anymore is not because they can sell them as DLC, but because they CAN'T sell them anymore. If you look at it, cheats were first invented as a method of copy-protection, rather than a testing device.

    It's most evident in a lot of older NES games (usually ones that were made before battery-backed saves) where the most commonly used "cheats" were so-called continue codes - button inputs that could be used to continue after a game over. These things were all over the place, and were usually listed in the way back of the game's manual. This was mostly a tactic to stop rentals and re-sale, since there was no easy way to look up the codes and unless you had the manual or knew someone who did, you'd be out of luck. Even the Konami Code is an example of this: unless you are very highly skilled at Contra, which was one of the first games to feature the code, you are probably not going to finish Contra without the extra lives granted by the code.

  • Re:Mark of times (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:22AM (#47314727)

    I guess you never bothered with the Chocobo nonsense to get Knights of the Round.

  • Re:DLC? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @12:53PM (#47316297)

    Well, then you don't know the gaming industry. Basically people work on a game and then get laid off.

    And all this has just about zero to do with the comment you replied to. Which I agree with, by the way.

    THIS is the reason I don't buy many competitive games anymore. When you can buy your way through them, then who gives a shit at getting good at the game?

    I don't give the slightest damn about the gaming industry's internal problems. I didn't create them. I'm a customer, and I don't like their product.

    Period. It's that simple. Make a product I want to buy, or I won't buy it.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel