A number of developers using the GameMaker tools from YoYo Games found parts of their work covered in skull and crossbones symbols over the weekend, as the DRM built into the tools went haywire.
As the symbol began to appear permanently across sprites, GameMaker users took to the YoYo Games forums to complain. The company's head of development Mike Dailly soon showed up to explain that DRM checks appeared to be failing, labelling legitimate copies of the software as pirated.
"I totally understand that those who have paid for GameMaker and are getting this are feeling very upset by the whole matter, and I can only apologise for the problems," he noted.
But he argued that these sorts of measures were necessary if the company was to continue developing the tools.
"GameMaker has traditionally been one of the most pirated programs around, and it's simply not right that some pay good money for it, while others simply pirate it," he noted. "We try hard to make it as smooth an experience as possible for paying users, but are constantly fighting pirates understanding of the protection systems."
He continued, "We'd love to be able to remove the protection completely, but we know that vast numbers would simply copy it if it was that easy. There are many levels to the current protection system, and while many are visible like this, there are also many hidden so that we can always tell when a final game was created with a crack."
Dailly did admit that this sort of protection may have gone a step too far, and an update was released on November 27 to remove the destructive skull and crossbones protection from the software.
Instead, the company plans to focus on passive methods of DRM in the future, "to help protect innocent users who through no fault of their own, somehow trigger it."