Does “Sonic Gather Battle” have malware? This is what players are asking after installing the fan-made game and stumbling upon the malicious DRM it contains that apparently allows the creator to access players’ web data.

This week, “Sonic Gather Battle” players expressed their concern online after realizing that the fan-made game may contain a virus or malware of some sort that infects computers and enables the game’s creator to do some shady stuff. A Discord user with the handle LJSTAR started a thread by warning people to stay away from the fangame. According to the concerned user, while “Sonic Gather Battle” is a “pretty darn awesome game,” people should steer clear because it contains a DRM that’s quite close to being a malware.

“When people complained about ‘Sonic Mania’ and Denuvo, this fan game is actually much worse than ‘Sonic Mania,’” LJSTAR said referencing the time in September when players complained about the DRM protection that was blamed for not allowing “Sonic Mania’s” PC version to be playable offline. “I wouldn’t recommend to download and install it by any means.”

The concerned Discord user went on to explain in detail what the problem with “Sonic Gather Battle” is all about. “To explain it a bit, there is a DRM that protects the game. It can be triggered in various ways, either a bug or if you try to run [the] cheat engine,” LJSTAR wrote before pointing out that the DRM basically displays a blue background, black tiles and red invincible ghosts while the game becomes unplayable.

When the DRM is activated, uninstalling and reinstalling the game will not work against it. What’s worse is when players try to get into the registry to remove stuff, the DRM’s background turns red, then creepy-looking eyes appear as part of the static background. Again, trying to uninstall and reinstall the game at this stage would just automatically lead players to the “red ghost glitch.”

Additionally, LJSTAR found out that once “Sonic Gather Battle” is installed, users cannot type the game’s name and words such as “cheat,” “hack” or “mod” on Google’s search bar. Attempting to do so would automatically close the web browser and activate the DRM protection. As per the user, the only way to solve the problem is to contact a specific person who will then reach out to the creator just so the affected PC could work normally again.

Here’s a clip showing what the questionable “Sonic Gather Battle” DRM does to a computer. 

Other users who have seen the thread couldn’t help but worry that the creator of the fan-made game could use it for ransomware. One commented: “I mean it seriously sounds more like ransomware than a fan game. I mean, like, instead of payment you give your comp’s info to this guy which isn’t right.”

LJSTAR’s post has since been shared on Reddit and Facepunch Forum, and many other members of the gaming community have shared their negative experience with the game. Fortunately, Facepunch Forum member Testmega shared a clarification as to what the DRM is really for. “After doing some reading apparently an update for the game installs the DRM on your computer and persists after uninstalling the game. The supposed reason was because the artist was super protective of his sprite edits to the point where he wanted to control who could and couldn’t play the game.”

Despite the clarification, many are still not pleased with the DRM and others are questioning the creator’s real intention. “I wonder why he did it? Did he believe nobody’d notice? …even if it’s for protecting his own files and his own game from possible crackers and modders, that still makes no sense when you yourself are illegally using assets from a company, let alone abuse the fanbase of that company for your own agenda,” Facepunch Forum member Feuver opined.

“Full web browser tracking, gather of PC information for personal use, scanning of files and programs, this [creator] has done it all. All because he didn’t want people getting the sprites. It’s kind of scary what sort of software we implicitly trust on our computers as ‘unlikely to ever be a problem’ sometimes,” Reddit user ItsKiino stated.

What do you think of the “Sonic Gather Battle” DRM? Tell us in the comments below.