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A Hostile Place for Cheaters
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on October 18, 2006   |   Episode 117 (Show Archive)  

   

There are bunch of game journalists that will be out of a job if cheat codes become a thing of the past!
When it comes to online video games nobody likes a cheater. There is nothing worse than jumping into a multiplayer room and finding that one or two of your enemies are using outside sources in order to win. Not only does it take away all of the fun of playing with other people, but it puts the whole idea of online gaming in jeopardy every time somebody decides to use cheat codes to gain the upper hand. But offline people are much more forgiving. Gamers that would be outraged by the idea of online cheating are just as likely to use a code to pass a level, add extra lives or continues and manipulate the world around them.

You may scoff at the idea of cheating online or off, but cheat codes have been with us since the very first batch of video games. At some point or

The Konami Code is one thing, but looking cool while playing games is a whole other article for the future!
another everybody has used a cheat code, how else would you explain the fact that an entire generation of gamers can rattle off the Konami code without batting and eye? Practically every magazine has featured a section for cheat codes or Easter eggs, there are even periodicals that have been created specifically for people who are looking for the easy way out. Cheating is a worldwide phenomenon that is here to stay.

But some gamers may be missing out on all of the cheat codes. If you're a fan of Microsoft's Xbox 360 then

Perfect Dark Zero is a perfect example of the type of game that could use cheats to get through the boring single-player campaign!
you already know that cheat codes are few and far between, they have been all but stamped out due in large part to the invent of the Gamerscore. Instead of just getting the satisfaction of beating a game, Xbox 360 owners have the ability to rack up extra points for doing various difficult (and not so difficult) tasks. If you kill a certain amount of people online you earn points. If you beat a game in a certain amount of time you earn points. If you only use one type of weapon you earn points. All of a sudden there is an entire community whose only interest seems to be earning points.

But these achievement points come at a high price; they require you to give up any notion of using cheat codes in order to make the game easier. Most of the first generation Xbox 360 games have opted

You can do a hell of a lot in Saints Row, but you have to think twice before you punch in a cheat code!
to leave out cheat codes all together, focusing their attention on having people play the game in a fair and honest way. Even games that featured codes on other systems are opting to forego these cheats when they are ported to the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 is fast becoming a system that is hostile towards the idea of cheaters, even when it has nothing to do with playing games online.

There are a few games that offer gamers the ability to cheat. THQ's Saints Row is a perfect example of a game that gives players the chance to cheat in a number of different ways. Not only can you make the game easier with a flick of the control, but you are also able to manipulate the fictional city of Stilwater in a number of interesting ways. You can change the city's weather conditions, spawn whatever vehicle you're looking for and even make lightning strike at random. The cheats in Saints Row are about

Like Grand Theft Auto, not all of the codes in Saints Row are meant to make the game easier!
more than just making it easier to beat a mission or earn money; they can make a game you've grown bored of fun again, simply by changing the world you're driving through.

But no matter how much fun the cheats are, THQ doesn't want you to use them. All it takes is one cheat code (even something as innocent as changing the rainy weather to clear skies) to cancel out any hope of earning achievement points. In Saints Row it's your choice; you either cheat or earn the achievement points honestly. While this certainly makes sense, it does keep most gamers from actually trying out some of the more exciting cheats. You can always try the cheats out on a different save, but never before has the punishment for cheating been so severe.

Electronic Arts has figured out a way of balancing the cheat codes with the desire to earn achievement

What would Tiger Woods think of the fact that you have to pay extra for his cheat codes?
points. Unfortunately this balance comes at a price ... that is, EA Sports is making their customers buy the cheat codes for $2.50 (200 Microsoft Points). In the past you might have typed in a password or figured out a strange button combination using your game control, but now if you want to cheat you will actually have to give the biggest video game company in the world more money. It's not enough that you are paying ten dollars extra for game play that hasn't changed; now you need to pay a little more if you want to cheat.

Ever since Microsoft first announced the idea of the Xbox 360 Marketplace and micro-transactions gamers have had mixed feelings. Some enjoy the idea of being able to download new levels, vehicles and other extras for a small fee. Others haven't been so kind, vocally criticizing the idea of buying new content that should have been in the game in the first place. Some gamers worry

Not only is Rockstar's Table Tennis $40, but they opted not to milk their customers by holding content back!
that the video game companies are purposely holding content back so they can charge extra a month or two later. This concern has been confirmed by companies like Rockstar Games, who at one point considered removing some of the characters and arenas from their recent Table Tennis game in order to sell them over the Xbox 360 Marketplace. Thankfully Rockstar Games opted against this practice, but it's easy to see why other companies might do this, especially with the price of making games doubling and tripling every few years.

But what Electronic Arts is doing far exceeds anything that Rockstar Games considered. EA isn't just letting you buy new clothes, levels and players (the kind of thing the Marketplace was originally set up for), they are actually selling you cheat codes. Two people can have a healthy debate when it comes to whether or not the downloadable levels and clothes

Is it even possible to beat Contra without using the Konami Code?
should have been unlockable items in the $60 game, but it's hard to defend the idea of buying cheat codes. Cheat codes are the type of things that you hide in a game, not put in a shopping center to be purchased for a nominal fee. Sure $2.50 isn't a lot of money, but when you're spending that cash on something like a cheat code it's hard not to feel completely ripped off.

Is this the future of cheat codes? Are the only two options to either not offer cheat codes at all or to offer them for a small amount of money? What ever happened to the days when these codes were tucked away only to be found by the most patient (or people who read magazines)?

Its too early to suggest that the cheat code is going the way of the cartridge, but if Microsoft has their way this may be the first steps towards a world where there is no Konami code or a God Mode for Doom. Will the PlayStation 3 and Wii follow Microsoft's lead and keep their consoles cheat-free? While I don't generally partake in pleasures of cheat codes, I do think it would be cool to activate codes using nothing but the motion sensitive Wii remote. I can only hope that at some point Konami will develop a way of performing their code using nothing but the motion of up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, and Start.
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