Like athletes turning to performance drugs to gain an edge, gamers have long been hacking and exploiting games to win. Today, a Pokémon Go player became the first player to reach the level cap, later revealing this feat was accomplished using a bot. Almost every Call of Duty and Battlefield game have had problems with hackers (or simply players using hacks or exploits passed around or found online) using aimbots and other methods to cheat. Overwatch is the latest victim. Sometimes hacks can be used to discover pieces of games that the developer never meant us to see. Other times people can alter the game to harm players or the services provided.
The list below is a wide exploration of the different attacks, hacks, and tweaks people have used to change or affect games. Not all of them are bad, mind you. A hack was even used in a clever way for a marriage proposal.
Grand Theft Auto’s Hot Coffee
In 2005, a video game mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas became the spearhead of a political debate about video game violence. A rather graphic sex minigame was originally intended to be incorporated into Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but Rockstar decided to remove it from the final experience, but not completely from the game’s disc. A mod enabled the minigame in the PC version, and hackers later found the content could also be extracted from the console versions. Although most players never saw the content, the game was re-rated by the ESRB and given an A/O (adult only) rating. This prompted Rockstar to re-release the game without the lewd content to restore the M (mature) rating.
Diablo II Hardcore Players Lose Everything
In 2007, Diablo II players were on edge, fearing that they would fall victim to a hack that could potentially end in them losing all of their hard-earned gear. The “TP Hack” as it was called, allowed players in Hardcore mode to declare hostility against other players out in the wild, and kill them before they could escape. Hundreds of hours of looting rare gear could vanish in a heartbeat.
Marriage Proposal in Chrono Trigger
In 2008, a man hacked the Super Nintendo game Chrono Trigger to create a new playable area that contained the memories he had with his then girlfriend. The trail through their time together culminated in a marriage proposal. In the YouTube description of the video (below), the man said that he originally wanted to bring his girlfiend to Mount Baker in Bellingham, Washington for the proposal, but didn’t have a way to get her there without her knowing. He instead created the mountain in Chrono Trigger. And although Portal 2’s marriage proposal doesn’t involve hacking, it’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. Ellen Mcain even reprises her role of GLaDOS in it.
Minecraft, League of Legends, and Eve Online Taken Down
In 2011, black hat hacker group LulzSec orchestrated a DDoS attack called Titanic Tuesday Takedown that knocked out popular PC titles Minecraft, League of Legends, and Eve Online for hours. Although Eve Online was taken down as a precaution by developer CCP Games during the attack, LulzSec still accomplished its goal of knocking the game offline. LulzSec even reached out to gamers to select the next game to target.
World of Warcraft Player Kills Thousands
In 2012, disaster struck Stormwind, a city that was a (mostly) safe haven for players. A level 1 priest flew through this sprawling city, delivering instant death to everyone he set his sights on. His rampage lasted for hours, until Blizzard administrators stopped him. The player used an exploit to grant his player god-like power. Later that day, a community manager in World of Warcraft’s official forum provided details on the problem at hand. “Earlier today, certain realms were affected by an in-game exploit, resulting in the deaths of player characters and non-player characters in some of the major cities. This exploit has already been hotfixed, so it should not be repeatable. It’s safe to continue playing and adventuring in major cities and elsewhere in Azeroth.
Nicolas Cage In The Legend of Zelda
New fan-made texture packs and mods are released every day, but we rarely ever see them for games created by Nintendo. Two people decided that their fate in life was to create a Nicolas Cage texture pack for The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. It took them three years to successfully add Cage to the game, and find a way to deliver it to fans. They even created a complete game playthrough with Cage starring as almost every character in this Nintendo 64 classic.
Xbox Live and PlayStation Network’s Unhappy Holiday
During 2014’s holiday season, Xbox Live and PlayStation Network were taken down numerous times from DDoS attacks by an online group named Lizard Squad. One of Lizard Squad’s members, Julius Kivimaki, took credit for the attacks and said they were done as an act to raise awareness of Sony and Microsoft’s weak security measures. Finnish law eventually caught up with Kivimaki, and he was convicted on over 50,000 accounts of cyber-crime.
Do you have a favorite (or dreadful!) time when a game was manipulated to work differently than intended? Share it with us in the comments below!