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Deletion as Punishment

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Gruntilda: Stop this cheating Grunty says, or your Game Pak I'll erase!
Bottles: Banjo! If you use your third cheat code your Game Pak will be erased! Are you sure want to do this? Press A for Yes or B for No.
Gruntilda: You didn't listen I'm amazed, so now your Game Pak is erased!

You know what the best thing about video games is? The freedom to do whatever you want. You're not necessarily bound to perform the task the game gives you; nothing's stopping you from repeatedly playing that particular minigame over and over again, spending hours fighting irrelevant monsters or even getting yourself into some mischief. While most games attempt to deter you from committing heinous acts by punishing your character in various ways, for some players, it isn't enough. So what if the punishment ends up being that you lost some money, disbarred from a particular location, or even the game straight up killing you? You can regain that money, wait out your sentence, and just restart your game—really, it's no big deal. Even if the punishment were to go further than that, it's nothing a little Save Scumming can't fix, right?


Well, what if the game had the ability to take that away as well?

Here is the last resort of a video game to set you straight: Threaten to delete your save data. It's most likely to catch even the most unaffected player's attention, as this particular punishment violates the secure barrier between game and player. Sure, it seems like a cardinal sin a game designer would put upon a player to actually go that far, but still—the player brought it upon himself.

This trope specifically applies to games that actually have (or fakes) the capacity to erase its own save data (save actually going through the game options and deleting the data through there) as a result of the player's in-game actions.

A lot of games likely won't follow through with it, but would you, the player, actually take that chance?


Compare Final Death Mode, where any death deletes your file, instead of a specific condition.


    open/close all folders 

    Adventure Games 
  • Early versions of An Untitled Story would delete save files whose data didn't correspond to their checksum. This was basically meant to prevent players from tampering with the save files.
    Survival Horror 
  • One Sanity Effect in Eternal Darkness makes it look like you've just accidentally deleted all your saves.

  • In Banjo-Kazooie, Bottles threatens to delete your save file if you talk to him too many times after claiming to know all of the game's basic moves — luckily he backs down after Banjo apologizes. Unfortunately, Gruntilda absolutely WILL erase your save file if you ignored her final warning and use more than two cheat codes that lets you bypass the various Note Doors and level entrances — as quoted at the top of this page. note 
    • Fortunately, cheats that give infinite power-ups do not trigger any punishment in the original N64 version. The Xbox 360 version of the game does have a less severe punishment of disabling saving if any cheats are inputted - even the infinite power-up cheats.

    Role Playing Games 
  • In Bravely Second, the False God Providence, after Breaking the Fourth Wall, insulting the party as mere puppets to the player, and engaging in some Interface Screw, tries to do this. Yew manages to stop him, instead giving him a Patrick Stewart Speech for his trouble.
  • Present in EarthBound as the final routine in the game's well-known Copy Protection. If you make it to the final boss, the game hangs. Resetting reveals that all your saves have been erased!
  • Fallen London has Seeking Mr Eaten's Name, a treacherous questline that demands that you sacrifice everything—your character's stats, finances, reputation, life, and soul—just to progress through it. In the end, completing the questline renders your account unplayable. Permanently.
    • Even before the end of the questline, a point in Seeking Mr Eaten's Name also allows you to take a certain action that the game warns you is completely optional and will kill your character, even remarking that you don't even get any flavor text worth reading if you take that action. It doesn't actually kill your character. It instead rewards you for taking the Schmuck Bait with a unique cosmetic award.
  • In NieR, to get the final ending where Kaine is saved, Nier must choose to have his existence erased, including everyone's memories of him. If you do choose this, the game erases all of your save data, and doesn't even allow you to choose the same name if you start a new game. It does give you three or four "Are You Sure You Want to Do That?" warnings, first and asks you to input the name you gave him in the beginning, though.
  • Just like its predecessor, NieR: Automata does this too. In ending E, to stop a massive data purge and save the lives of the three main characters, you have to get through by far the most grueling shooter section in the game in the form of Mini-Game Credits. It starts off manageable, but is incredibly overtuned to the point where you will die, again and again, and combined with condescending and downbeat messages from the game, it appears unwinnable. However, you start to get messages from other players who have beaten it - Encouraging statements in the same vein of the death messages...Culminating in you receiving a Rescue Offer from one of these players. If you take them up on it, you get a halo of extra ships around you, each representing one the players who messaged you earlier, rendering you unkillable and incredibly powerful. When the fight ends, though, you discover that all of your rescuers have deleted their save data to save you. You are then given the option to do the same. Much like NieR before it, you are given about five different opportunities to change your mind, but it WILL do it if you comply.
  • In Undertale:
    • After defeating Asgore for the first time, a major plot twist happens and you're forced to restart the game. When you do, the first thing you see is a save point... and interacting with it causes Flowey, now hopped up on the six human SOULs to erase it right in front of your eyes, saying: "Oh, and forget about escaping to your old SAVE FILE. It's gone FOREVER." He gives it back when you defeat him, though.
    • At the end of a Genocide run, the first human shows up and destroys the game. Starting it back up yields a blank screen. After you wait several minutes, the first human shows up and lets you back in, but at a price.


    Shoot Em Up 
  • In Lose/Lose, dying causes the entire game to delete itself. That being said, for every enemy you kill, the game permanently deletes one of your computer's files chosen at random, which can include system-critical files — playing the game at all is this trope in itself. The game's disclaimer and website at least warns you about all this.
  • Should the player choose to face down the True Final Boss of Zero Ranger then they will have to give up all of their continues in an all or nothing gamble to go back in time to destroy the Lotus Jewel. Should the player fail then all their progress will be deleted and they will have to start over from the beginning. The game does warn you about this, saying "Only one shot", and seeing the thing with your continues break in the process.

  • The Resettis from Animal Crossing will show up to lecture you if you don't save your game properly before quitting and even threaten to delete your save file. They can't actually do it, though.
  • LHX Attack Chopper has one save file. If you die your savegame is deleted. Even when you abort the mission in enemy territory, there's a chance that you can be killed trying to escape or just plain wind up missing in action.
  • Did you fail to eject in time during an emergency in Steel Battalion? Kiss your save file goodbye!

    Third Person Shooter 

  • Joke programming language Vigil deletes parts of "misbehaving" source code.
  • The website Write or Die has a mode that deletes your work if you don't write quickly enough.


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