Cheat codes are programmed into some games by developers. As an example: Have you ever played International Super Star Soccer 64? Well this game had several codes that would unlock new teams, give the footballers giant heads and things like that. We are able to unlock these things by pressing a sequence of controller buttons at the "Press Start" screen.

But how are the cheat codes actually discovered by people who are not the game's developers? Do the developers leak them on purpose? Are they officially released? Or do 'hackers' find them while reverse engineering games?

Note that I'm not talking about Gameshark Codes - these directly edit memory addresses and thus aren't a 'cheat code' or sequence per se.

Maybe there is a secret society behind the uncovering of cheat codes and its leaking to us, merely humans?

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    Cheat codes originate from developers who were testing part of a game but didn't want to have to play through to get to that part. That's the most basic definition, but the overall "first case" could be back to the early 1800's when you told the referee a "cheat code" like "dude, $5000 if you make the play in favor of me".
    – Judge2020
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 0:35
  • Related: How do GameShark codes work Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 1:19
  • 2
    Personally, I discovered the cheat codes to Pangea Software game Otto Matic after slamming the keyboard in frustration a few years back :/
    – Munesawagi
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 12:17

3 Answers 3


There is an interesting post on Reddit about this question. You can read and imagine many theroies on this topic, but I think the answer is really simple :

The developers leak them and they spread. No one can just figure out combinations of buttons like the ones in the old GTA's.


Most cheat codes weren't discovered by the players per say. In the early days of gaming, the biggest source of cheat codes were actually from the gaming magazines as a way of enticing people to buy them.

For example:


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    Yeah. I remember those. I used to buy a lot of magazines to find cheat codes. Now, would you risk to guess where did those magazine editors got the cheat codes from? Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 4:14
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    @human_afterall from the developers of course. It's an early anti frustration method for games
    – l I
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 12:40
  • The very instances of sponsored content in games media, it would seem.
    – Suman Roy
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 5:58

Cheat Codes basically whenever implemented in the code by the developer were never discovered until they either appear on a Cheat Code database like the
I remember using this as a child. It had a dedicated application for each year which would contain the cheat codes of the games for that year and the year before.
Also, Magazines were a big yet incomplete source, the only reason being so that people would buy gaming magazines.

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