Popular Nier: Automata PC Mod Includes A Piracy Check, Sparking Meltdown

Many fans were happy to hear about Kaldaien's "FAR mod", a patch that fixes Nier: Automata's technical issues on PC. Some people who downloaded the mod were surprised to find that it checks whether or not you've pirated the game, and the modder's decision to include such a feature has proven controversial.

When you install FAR, it warns you that "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". If you move forward and click through the new user agreement, on the main settings screen, you can see that FAR checks if you have a legitimate copy of the game. If you do, it checks off a condition titled, "I am not a pirate," as you can see below.

Screenshot courtesy of Kotaku's Luke Plunkett.

On neoGAF, Kaldaien explains that "Nothing malicious happens if you fail this check, you're just presented with an infinite licence screen that you can click Accept on but since you don't respect licenses the licence doesn't respect your click". In short, you can't use the official mod if you pirate the game.

On the Steam forums, this news caused quite the commotion. The thread that originally shared the mod burst into arguments and insults, and Kaldaien himself even got temporarily banned from posting, allegedly because he called someone a "pirate moron". The thread has since been removed from Steam, but reactions to the piracy check can be found all around the web. Some people actually feel entitled to use the mod no matter how they obtained the game.

"What a petty little shit," one Redditor wrote. "I fail to see why a modder would do that," another wrote. "Probably just to be a prick." Some fans, however, were more supportive. "He created it," one Steam user noted. "He has the power to do whatever he wants with it. If that means blocking pirates and outright banning people from using it, then so be it." "Kaldaien is the only person I know who buys games not to play them but to fix them and enjoys doing it," another wrote.

Part of the controversy lies in the idea that Kaldaien says he has developed a "blacklist" that prevents two Steam users from using his mod. Because of that, some are angrily calling FAR "malware", though Kaldaien contends the list only exists because "Steam moderators did absolutely nothing to stop a rash of troll flood posts while I was trying to offer support for the two mods I was working on at the time. Nobody has been added since, nobody ever will." We reached out to Kaldaien yesterday but had not heard back by time of writing.

While many are taking FAR's check as some sort of moral judgement on piracy, Kaldaien insists otherwise. "My anti-piracy measures actually have nothing to do with my personal views on individual piracy," Kaldaien wrote on neoGAF. "I don't condone the practice, I don't generally think highly of people who do it, but this is not done to punish them. It is to protect me against asset injection of copyrighted material." On Steam, Kaldaien said, "I will not be thrown under the bus when some user uses my software to inject DLC they didn't purchase." It's also worth noting that locking pirates out means Kaldaien doesn't have to waste time trying to troubleshoot problems with people that don't even have the game legally.

Kaldaien's practice of inserting piracy checks into his mods actually goes back to Tales of Berseria, and at the time, that decision also didn't go over well with some people. It's possible that FAR's continuation of this practice has caused a bigger commotion because Nier: Automata's anti-piracy software, Denuvo, recently got cracked again. Some players are probably trying to squeeze out the best performance possible from their pirated copy, and Kaldaien's mod could be considered crucial for the best experience on PC. Kaldaien suggests that such frustrated players "Uninstall the mod and accept that you're not entitled to everything in this world", and that furthermore acting "like a giant baby because you don't get your way is immature".

Despite the heated bickering, some pirates aren't letting FAR's code get in the way. On Reddit, some users are sharing workarounds if not modifications of FAR that allow them to enjoy the technical improvements. Kaldaien seems to welcome that development.

"The source code is readily available," he wrote on Steam. "If you want to use it to do illegal things, feel free to modify it yourself. I won't be distributing versions that allow it and that's the minimalist approach to anti-piracy."

As of this morning, following the Steam forums meltdown, FAR has been moved to a new thread that you can find here. 


Comments

    Piracy checks in mods are completely acceptable, the modder owes these people nothing. The amount of self entitlement is insane.

      Yep, this is just pirates and children throwing tantrums. The blacklist he added isn't exactly smiled upon, but to call it "malware" shows a gross lack of awareness. The mod author has done nothing wrong here, certainly doesn't deserve this pitchfork mob he seems to be getting.

    Well done to him. I absolutely support him 110%.

      I can't see an issue beyond, well, people being unable to challenge what they think and want, not his problem at all. I can't understand someone getting annoyed at this.

    Sorry, "DLC" as the quote means it, is in this case the base game, right?

    You don't actually have to get DLC for this game (let alone for a mod to work)?

    I like the cut of this guy's jib.

    "Pirate moron" ohohohoh I'm stealing that one.

      I read it as, people are using his mod to add DLC they haven't paid for to either legitimate or pirated copies of the game.

    I'm actually in two minds about this.

    On one hand, the modder has no right to police the end user and cripple his or her own mod due to the user being a pirate as the modder is neither the developer or the publisher of the game.

    On the other hand though, this is a good safety measure so the modder doesn't get dragged into a piracy cases via proxy.

      What? The modder has full rights over his own mod. He has every right to revoke permission to use his mod to anyone who doesn't meet the conditions of use.

        That's the thing; if the check was for DRM on the mod itself then yes the modder has every right.

        But I don't see (other than protection from litigation by proxy) why the modder should also consider the legality of the installed base software.

        That's like me writing software for free (for discussion sake) and keeping you out because my check thinks you have a illegal copy of Windows.

        It's not my right to hold your EULA to Microsoft against you so why should it be different to a modder? I can only hold you to any EULA I provide of my own software.

        I know software licensing is an ugly mess and again I'm in two minds about this but it does raise the question; if there is piracy where is the boundary between who can hold a violation against a user and who cannot?

          We disagree on that then. You would have the right to prevent me using your software if I didn't have a legal copy of Windows and that was part of your terms of use. You can include in your own EULA that I must also comply with the Windows EULA, there's nothing wrong with that.

          It's not his obligation to check for a legal copy, but it is his prerogative, and within his rights.

            Sorry, I read the material again and found I had missed a few things; see further down.

              All good, mate. I think the DLC thing is incidental in the end, software licences can ask for pretty much anything they want as long as it's legal. Maybe I take that side because I've been a software developer all my life, I don't know, but it makes sense to me.

        I think what he means is that the author is essentially taking the law into his own hands. It's a strange way to look at it since it's all perfectly above board and I don't think it's a problem since it's prertty much bulletproof, but I can understand why someone would think it's none of the authors business to be checking.

          I think what he means is that the author is essentially taking the law into his own hands.

          That is the concern I have.

          It's like the monkey paw story; even the best intentions don't always turn out right.

      Sure he does, he made the mod. Its not like as gamers we are owed something by mod makers, if anything we owe them for either fixing issues or making new content for the game.

      This is no different than any mod that is kept on a private server, made by Patreon modders or the old private Korean Skyrim modding community that you needed to know people in order to get in.

      the modder has no right to police the end user
      - But he does have a right to police his mod.

      He isn't policing those using the vanilla game, just those trying to using the game with his mod. It's his mod. He can do whatever he wants with his mod. He owes absolutely nothing to anyone that decides to use it. He made it, decided to share it, and placed protections for his work.

      @blightly, @vaegrand, @eccx.

      I didn't even touch on who owes what so I don't understand why others are bring that angle into the discussion.

      The question is (and I do apologise for not wording my post right, again) where does the boundary lie between who can enforce and EULA and who cannot?

      If there is a violation (aka, piracy) isn't that suppose to be settled (via courts if need be) via the rights hold (developer, publisher, etc.) and the user and not an unrelated third party?

      Ah, I see. Sorry everyone.

      Again, I apologise; I really should stop trying to comment on Kotaku while waiting for the compiler to finish.

      So at the heart is some were trying to use the mode to access DLC without paying. Well, that falls into the "other hand" scenario I mentioned. It's to protect against litigation by proxy.

      Again, sorry, I don't often play on PC these days so I'm still in the mindset of mods still being standalone (for want of a better term).

        Again, I apologise; I really should stop trying to comment on Kotaku while waiting for the compiler to finish.

        PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT.

        I'll be having none of that. Wise up, hack.

        EDIT: Crikey. I was being nice, honest.

        I suppose it's too late to add an emoji then.

        Last edited 11/05/17 12:40 pm

        Maybe it would be worth switching to a language with longer compile times so you've got more time to work on your comments?

        C++ has fairly long compile times if you want to try that. And if you're already using C++, some judicious use of template metaprogramming can really blow out the compiler times.

          Hehehehe. Or better yet, I finally ditch this habit and save reading and commenting on Kotatu for my lunch break.

        To be fair, even standalone mods rely on the original software assets in their creation and use, and their use by a pirated version of the software could potentially expose the mod's creator to claims of unlawfully facilitating use of those assets, although it's generally accepted the mod was created in good faith and so this tends not to happen. As you say, he could be further exposed through the use of his software for unintended purposes, to whit the introduction of pirated DLC. It's all about covering his own arse, which given the litigious nature of the industry is quite understandable. Most people settle for a simple "I agree not to be a toss-pot and use this code unlawfully". He's just being a bit more thorough due to the extended nature of the mod and the increased exposure that brings. Regardless of the scenario, though, some form of rear-end protection should always be utilised, and you can't hold modders at fault for that regardless of the scenario. As they say, don't hate the player, hate the game.

      Oh come on people, don't vote someone down just because he has an opinion. Why all the negative votes?

    I love how self-entitled and whiny these douchebags are. You know that the only people who are making a stink about this are the assholes who stole the game and are pissed they they can't get support from other players for the game, that they stole. NieR Automata is not a game that is hard to get in your country, it's not an old game that's impossible to get legitimately any more, it doesn't have ridiculous and intrusive DRM that makes it a chore to play even when you buy it legitimately. The only reason anyone would have a pirated copy is because they're a cheapass, self-entitled piece of shit who doesn't want to pay for the game, and thinks merely wanting it is justification enough for stealing it.

      Completely agree with everything you said.
      This dickheads are like children throwing a tantrum. Entitled little children.

      I don't think entitlement works that well enough any more. It's there, it's available. Whether they think they 'deserve' it or are 'allowed' to have it doesn't even enter the equation.

    The only problem I have with this is that if he stops supporting it the mod will no longer be usable once the game protection changes or if someone 10 years from now needs to have a crack to get around unforeseen issues.

    However if he wants to put an arbitrary expiry date into his mod that is up to him.

      True, but the counter to that is that he's made his mod open source. Literally anyone who could be fucking bothered is going to be able to recreate his efforts without the DRM check.

      From that point on, it's really people complaining that someone isn't doing something for them that they could do themselves if they weren't too lazy to learn how.

        Oh no, I have been caught out for not reading the entire article before commenting haha!

        I swear this never normally happens...

          (Snicker) Does that mean it puts you in the same boat as me?

          :-P

        Actually it sounds even more like the complaint is that her had 'the nerve.'

    One of the piracy arguments that seemed insane was that the PC port is poorly optimized and that is the reason the pirates feel the developers don't deserve their money.

    But outside the optimization issue, apparently the game is good enough to pirate and a modder created a mod to "fix' the problem.

    If base game + mod = great game with no problems then why aren't people buying the game? The problem is solved right? Or are they donating to the modder himself?

    I don't have any issue with pirates in and of itself. But when pirates try to pretend that their piracy is the result of others actions, (which absolutely can be a legitimate reason, I'm thinking of using vpns to bypass bullshit Australia region stuff.) when in reality they're just trying to come up with a scapegoat to justify their illegal actions. They should just man up and say "I am a pirate" instead of "I'm not a pirate, but..." or "I'm only a pirate because..."

    Last edited 11/05/17 12:10 pm

      While I think piracy is wrong, why should games companies be allowed to release broken products that a third party has to fix, why should they be allowed to avoid basic consumer protections and why is there no terms within the "licences" we buy that guarantee a working product. I have purchased multiple games that do not work out of the box, patches to improve performance is one thing, patches to make the game run should not be allowed.

        I think you're onto something, but I'm not sure if it applies to this game and this mod?
        From what I know, Platinum released a good game with a poorly optimized, but working, PC port.

        From my perspective the "right" thing to do is not purchase the game if you object to the quality of the PC port, not pirate the game and play/enjoy it.

        If and when you learn of a mod that "fixes" the PC port, then the "right" thing to do if you still want the game is to buy it and download the mod.

        A hybrid of pirating the game until it is "fixed" and then purchasing it also works.

        Just in case I'm using "fix" not to suggest something broken that now works. I'm using it as in something doesn't work to a personal satisfaction and now it is "fixed" so it meets someones standards/expectations.

        And my final point was that pirates gonna pirate. They should admit it and not blame their piracy on something else. I feel especially in this case by blaming Platinum. I'm just pulling numbers out of my ass but if Platinum spent 100,000 work hours into making a desirable game, but only spent 1,000 hours on the PC port (which again, works) then I don't see the justification in pirating the desirable game they spent 100,000 hours on because of a sub-par(?) 1,000 hours.

        If this was another case like Batman Arkham Knight, then I'd be more aligned with your opinion.

    planting scanning software into your mod?
    I think all the ppl sayings whats wrong might change their tune if it was malicious
    his agenda was in good faith but what about the next person?

    I don't think pirates have an issue with the mod having drm, let's face it the game was cracked the mod will be too, it's the blacklist he has incorporated into the mod, if he gets upset with you for whatever reason he can bar you from using the mod.

    From what I have heard, he has banned quite a few users, both legit and pirates from using his mod.

      The blacklist is part of it, the other is that he's literally turned his mod into malware by making it delete files on people's computers when it detects a pirated copy.

    Honestly the only parts of this I disagree with muchly is the apparent 'blacklist' and that I like mods to be lean and not to have superfluous components not related to the function of the mod.

    TruckersMP, a Euro Truck Simulator 2 and American Truck Simulator Multiplayer mod, requires the user to own the game on Steam to even register for the game, as well as have 2 hours of gameplay, voiding the refund policy. This is to ensure a number of issues are met, including that the developers get paid for their work.

    This has been part of our mod for years and we have over 1.4million registered users on that mod.

    Additionally, just because a mod is out there, doesn't mean the developers aren't able to say cease and desist all work on your mod because it isn't in line with our modding policy, so I can see why modders would do this.

      The full story isn't just piracy detection and a blacklist for people he doesn't like.

      The modder also patched in a change to make his mod delete files on your computer if it detects a pirated copy. It has literally become malware. That's what the uproar is about. The write here missed the most important part.

      The piracy detection etc itself doesn't matter, the pirating community bypassed it within a couple minutes and added a clean version of the mod to re-packs.

      I've recently started following /r/crackwatch and saw the reports from people as they discovered what the mod was doing.

        "The modder also patched in a change to make his mod delete files on your computer if it detects a pirated copy. It has literally become malware."

        Pretty much all AV software performs the exact same function. Yet it is not malware.

        Heres an idea for these pirates. Buy the game, Then nothing will be deleted. Simple huh?

          Except what if his mod messes up and deletes files for people who have purchased the game?

          Whether people are pirating a game or not the modder has violated numerous terms and conditions on Steam. His attitude is also extremely toxic and arrogant.

          He has blacklisted both people who have pirated the game and people who have purchased it. The existence of any blacklists on a mob is also against Steam's conditions.

          The above article seems to gloss over what he has done wrong and fails to mention the updates he made to the mod to malicious delete people's files.

            "Except what if his mod messes up and deletes files for people who have purchased the game?"

            It hasnt

            "Whether people are pirating a game or not the modder has violated numerous terms and conditions on Steam"

            He hasnt, Please provide the exact lines in the steam service agreement where it states such a thing.

            "His attitude is also extremely toxic and arrogant."

            Nope, You are thinking of the butthurt pirates.

            "The existence of any blacklists on a mob is also against Steam's conditions."

            Again nope, Mods are privately owned. Mods are not controlled by steam. Any line in steams terms of service stating how mods can be coded (No lines exist btw) would be unenforcable. They could take no action what so ever against the modmaker

            "The above article seems to gloss over what he has done wrong"

            He has not done anything wrong. He did not want his application being used to enable piracy. The only people doing something wrong is the butthurt pirates of Nier Automata.

            Try again buddy.

    I would totally blacklist anyone I thought was a douche, What you say about my mum, Banned, I don't like bananas, Banned. He should be able to share his work with whom he chooses.
    But, he does make a good point that he should not have to provide support for his mod for peeps running the non-legit version.

    Deleting files off ur PC >.<, thats really not cool

      Yeah, he can choose to share the mod with whomever he wants. If he shares it to Steam though he has to abide by their terms and conditions. He hasn't done so by both introducing a blacklist and deleting people's files.

      Piracy aside the actions of this modder are deplorable.

        "If he shares it to Steam though he has to abide by their terms and conditions."

        No he does not. All he has to do is abide by their forum rules. Nothing else. The mod is not hosted by steam. It is hosted by himself on Github. Steam has no duristiction what so ever dictation how he codes his mod.

        You have no idea what so ever what the purpose of their terms of service is and what it applies to. Go back to school.

    Love this. I bet he majored at Reality Check Tech.

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