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Japan bans game key re-sales and (bafflingly) save data editors

Run the plates on that Truck

Image from Polygon's Mass Effect 2 Monster Factory, aided by Gibbed's ME2 save editor.

A change to Japanese law has outlawed the re-distribution of game keys and - more confusingly - software that can alter save data for games. As reported by Gamasutra, this change came in December, but has already forced Japanese company Cyber Gadget to end sales of their seemingly innocuous PlayStation 4 save file editor. It's not just sales of such tools that has been prohibited, but rather the distribution of "tools and programs for altering save data" entirely, with criminal penalties including five-year prison sentences and fines up to ¥5,000,000.

The decision to restrict the resale of game keys is a thorny one, but understandable. Many developers and publishers have spoken out against sketchy 'grey market' re-sellers, some of which accrued their stock through illegal means, or buying from anonymous sellers who could plausibly be up to no good. Now the grey market is officially a black market, at least in Japan, although given how many distributors operate well outside of Japanese legal jurisdiction I don't see this affecting too much.

The more likely casualty is ordinary hobbyists and modders. 'Altering save data' is an enormously broad umbrella and could arguably be used to describe a great many emulators, or - as Monster Factory so expertly used in the video above - innocuous mod tools. Truck Shepard wouldn't exist without the tools to plunge deep into save files and monkey around with the preciously protected bits and bytes within. The thought that such things could become illegal in even one modern, tech-savvy country is disturbing, especially as 'distribution' could cover non-commercial releases too. Not that commercial save editors should be illegal, either.

If you want to create your own handsome space boy, you can get Gibbed's Mass Effect 2 save editor here on Mod DB. Unless you're in Japan, in which case you should keep this on the down-low.

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Dominic Tarason


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