The cheat code is a changing mechanic in games. Most console games have eliminated the old style of cheat code that would be entered on the start screen. Now cheats are built into the game and given as rewards. The cheat code is being replaced by simple exploits, small glitches or broken mechanics that allow the player to gain an edge.
Cheat codes were originally a novelty that a person would use to provide them with a different gaming experience. For example, some fighting games will not allow you to play as the same character. But with a cheat code, you have the option to change this. Other games gave the player invulnerability, or unlimited ammunition. With Grand Theft Auto 3, there was a code that unlocked all weapons for the player. The use of the code would change the way the game could be played, or it made the game easier. Now however, games are built so that they can still be played differently without the use of a code.
The reason that cheats are going away is because developers are designing their games more around multiplayer gaming, and online content. If a game wants to have any chance of being a successful one, it needs to have a multiplayer option. This means that if the multiplayer is broken by cheats that the developer has put in, then the game becomes unplayable. For online content, developers want to protect the integrity of lap times or high scores. To protect multiplayer content as well as scores, developers are taking the codes out.
The feature that is replacing codes to give the player an edge is called, exploits. These exploits can range from small glitches that allow the player to duplicate any item, to a broken mechanic that allows the player to get unlimited experience. These exploits are mostly contained to single player versions of games, again, because developers want to keep multiplayer balanced. This shift from a player activated codes to exploits, does not mean that codes are completely gone. nstead of inputting the code on the title screen, developers are integrating them into the game. In Saints Row the Third, there is an option menu that allows the player to input cheat codes. Other games even go a step farther and give out cheat codes as purchasable items or even rewards.
While codes are being slowly left out of console games, they are still strong in PC games. Almost every PC game has cheat codes that the player can enter in the dialogue box for the single player. In PC games, a player can even cheat on the multiplayer side of things as well. There are hacks that allow players to see what their opponent is doing or give the computer control over their units if the game is a strategy game. These hacks however are not developer designed mechanics, they are user created add-ons. In almost every gaming community it is extremely frowned upon to use hacks, and will almost assuredly get a person black listed.
With more developers moving towards multiplayer focused gameplay, the cheat code is fading. Exploits are now the tool that gives gamers the edge over the computer. The cheat code was the original way to give players a different option to play a game. Now games can be played in many different ways. If a developer wants to put a code into a game, they will integrate it into that game; not make the player input a code on the start screen. The cheat code is changing and evolving with time.