Every few weeks, piracy followers are sent into a tizzy, when a new puzzle arrives.
To get people excited for an upcoming release, it's common for publishers to issue mysterious teases, hoping to prompt discussion, speculation, and endless message board threads. (Bandai Namco did this very thing last week with mysterious a Souls-tinged teaser.) It turns out piracy groups do the same thing, too.
CONSPIR4CY, aka CPY, is one of the more well-known piracy distributors, especially in recent months. The team doesn't just distribute games, but they're known for it. Last year, CPY cracked the seemingly uncrackable Denuvo DRM, which made games like Just Cause 3 impossible to pirate for more than a year, an unbelievable streak, given most PC games are cracked within hours of release.
Being the ones to take Denuvo down a peg makes CPY notable on its own, but CPY keeps chatter at a fever pitch by releasing riddles for people to figure out:
Every few weeks, I'll watch the handful of piracy message boards and subreddits that I keep an eye on flutter to life about a new "hint" from CPY. Hidden away in the documentation for their releases, CPY includes a clue about the next game they're working on. Piracy watchers will even conduct group polls.
Besides acting as free promotion for CPY, it can also be a sign that CPY has managed to find another chink in Denuvo's armor. For example, even though CPY managed to release Mass Effect: Andromeda less than two weeks after it was released, Electronic Arts and BioWare's recent patch, which addressed some of the animation issues in the game, added an updated version of Denuvo. Ayone who pirated the game is stuck playing with the non-patched version of the game—for now. (The latest version was recently cracked by CPY, but it hasn't filtered down to Andromeda yet.)
Anyway, here's the most recent hint.
"Alone or in two, we're always there"
Dishonored 2? Nier: Automata? I'll give you a second to mull over what it refers to.
It's 2Dark, a new horror game from the designer behind Alone in the Dark. Ha ha!
I've been fascinated by the communities surrounding piracy for years. While reporting at Kotaku, I took a closer look at how some piracy websites resemble message boards, with people coming together to talk about their likes, dislikes, and stories about their adventures in gaming. It's all under the banner of piracy, which gives it a weird tinge, but as I discovered while profiling folks who upload torrents as a hobby, it's often more complicated than "Yo, I want free games!"
Though it is often about "Yo, I want free games!" you will see angsty chatter among piracy followers when a great game is released without DRM. Those games are still widely distributed in piracy circles, but the conversation frequently includes encouragement to purchase the game legitimately. Sega's recent port of Bayonetta—well made, cheap, and lacking DRM—was a good example of this.
CPY even includes a subtle disclaimer along these lines in their releases:
Established in 1999, we are possibly the oldest Italian-based release group still in activity. We express a big THANK YOU to all those friends who helped us in various forms throughout thes [sic] years! Don't forget to support the companies and to keep the Scene about FUN. :-)
CPY is sure to release another hint in the near future, but in the meantime, I'll leave you with some of the more recent teases. The answers are below.
HINT: The answer is not always #42.
Do It Zoidberg style!
Hitman and Mass Effect: Andromeda.