When Nier: Automata released on PC at the end of March, the PC version of Nier was unfortunately riddled with issues, including poor graphics optimization and the lack of true 1080p resolution. A new PC mod promises to fix all those PC issues, but a specific design decision to lock out players who pirated the game has stirred up a small battle among PC gamers.
PC modder Kaldaien excited fans of Nier: Automata when he announced FAR (Fix Automata Resolution) a game mod which promised to fix Nier Automata’s many graphical shortcomings, including delivering actual 1080p resolution instead of the PC version's current standard, a stretched 900p resolution. However, as Kotaku reports, the mod’s anti-piracy failsafe has sparked a host of angry attacks against the modder.
As it turns out, Kaldaien included a warning in his mod telling gamers that the "use of this software is granted on the condition that any products being modified have been licensed to you under the terms and conditions set forth by their respective copyright holders." Basically you can only install this mod if you purchased the license to the game legally, even putting a small, "I am not a pirate" checkbox in the mod settings menu. Video Game pirates, or pirate sympathizers, were not amused.
While nothing bad happens to your PC if the mod discovers the player owns a pirated copy of the game, Kaldaien revealed that the mod will initiate a looped license screen that will prevent the player from using it, even if they try and click "accept". "Nothing malicious happens... but since you don't respect licenses, the license doesn't respect your click," says Kaldaien in a NeoGAF forum post.
The original Steam forum post where the mod was featured quickly devolved into a string of attacks against Kaldaien, who himself got temporarily banned for calling someone a "pirate moron." People felt very strongly about the mod's ability to pass judgement on players who pirate games, with a Reddit post on FAR even going as far as calling Kaldaien's work a form of Malware because of the blacklist he made to prevent pirates from using his mods.
Of course on the other side of the fight are people defending Kaldaien's decisions, saying that as the maker of the mod, he should be entitled to design as it he sees fit, without kowtowing to players who commit online piracy.
Kaldaien responded to the whole debate with an explanation for the blacklist, which he made to protect him from similarly angry trolls, and a fix for pirates who want to use his mods: namely, uninstall it, or download a modded version of his own mod.
Ultimately, Kaldaien explained that the anti-piracy feature on his mod isn't so much because of any personal beliefs, but rather to protect him from asset injunction of copyright material. And while it's hard to feel sympathy for video game pirates who want their cake and eat it too, it's interesting to see this kind of debate spring up in the first place.
As the discussion over a mod's anti-piracy stance — to be clear piracy is a crime — divides the gaming community over mod ethics, piracy, and counter modding, it just goes to show the gaming subsection of the internet highlighting what is actually a morality play over a video game, a mod, and the people who just want to play good versions of games they pirate.