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.