Believe it or not, we’re not called Cheat Code Central just because we like video games and the letter c. Cheat codes are integral to gaming history, and we at CheatCC love them for it. They’ve given us countless hidden items, added subtle flare to every genre, and offered an over-the-top and outlandish form of post-game content. What’s more fun than playing through a game the old fashioned way? Wreaking havoc with invincibility and infinite ammunition enabled, that’s what. Come on, where would Grand Theft Auto be without infinite rocket launchers, or Need For Speed without unlimited cash to upgrade your ride?
Unfortunately, the current generation of games hasn’t been too kind to cheat codes, and the coming wave of consoles doesn’t exactly instill a sense of optimism. Sure, the codes are still around, but they’re few and far between at best, which means our favorite unlockables and Easter eggs have been steadily disappearing. As a result, the entire game industry—particularly the AAA side of things—has been spiraling down a digital hellhole, and the everyman gamer has been paying for it. Literally.
Obviously, character skins, vehicle decals, weapon upgrades and the like haven’t simply vanished. However, in-game items such as these, which were once obtained by entering a cheat code, have been replaced with a more lucrative alternative in the form of microtransactions and DLC. What were once harmless content inclusions have devolved into a rampant form of developer (and publisher) greed that continues to plague the industry.
Pay-to-win multiplayer and “day zero” DLC are no strangers to gaming. In fact, they’ve become quite the hot button, with fiascos like StarHawk’s imbalanced PvP and Dead Space 3’s ridiculous at-launch DLC leading the charge. Even big names like BioShock Infinite and Borderlands 2 have begun playing the DLC card, offering season passes for future content at launch. I’m not saying that DLC is a bad thing; we’re still just paying for gameplay content (and saving a bit in the long run).
Downloadable content is actually a good thing—at least, fundamentally. Thanks to the avenue of digital distribution that online stores like Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network have created, developers now have an opportunity to diversify their games’ experience by adding mini-campaigns and content expansions to the titles’ repertoire. This means that we, the players, get to spend more time with our favorite games if we’re willing to fork over a bit more money. However, there’s a distinct difference between adding content to a game over time and asking consumers to pay for the most basic of features. The more-bang-for-your-buck mentality shouldn’t apply to something as minor as cosmetic changes.
You know what should? Cheat codes.
Dragon’s Dogma requires you to purchase additional hairstyles in order to further customize your avatar; Injustice: Gods Among Us requires you to pay to expand your fighting roster; Uncharted 3’s multiplayer asks that you pay for dozens of in-game equipment pieces—the list is depressingly long. That cheat codes have been dismissed despite offering a solution to this exact sort of tedium is appalling.
Clearly, asking developers to avoid a proven method of easy profit is a bit idyllic. And quite frankly, I’m not holding my breath on a digital boycott. Regardless, the fact remains that the revival of cheat codes would help put an end to the nickel-and-dime tactics that have become so prevalent. At the very least, the implementation of in-game challenges (which should be paired with cheat codes) would add a more valuable incentive than cracking open the digital wallet.
Uncharted 3’s multiplayer already uses a challenge system to unlock items. Players collect treasure pieces by competing in various game modes. This system could easily be applied to all of Uncharted 3’s buyable options. The same can be said for a game like Injustice: Gods Among Us, which should take a page out of the Super Smash Bros. book and add character challenges over DLC expansions. Similar solutions exist for virtually every cheapening content package.
But, at the heart of all of this, we favor the effective simplicity of cheat codes, and the host of benefits that come with them. We’re talking about one of the nitty-gritty hallmarks of gaming: entering a convoluted series of buttons and reaping the rewards of our dubiousness. There’s certainly a place for a challenge, but there will always be a need to cut loose and go nuts in our favorite games. So, how about it readers? Can cheat codes be saved?
Date: May 2, 2013