Leaving and receiving gifts is one of the few genuinely nice things you can do in Dark Souls 3. After all, if you’ve got 99+ Embers in your inventory, why not drop a bunch for the pyromancer you’ve just invaded? Better still, why not hand off that boss weapon you don’t need anymore? It’s a noble gesture for sure, but it looks like some hackers have been using the system to destroy save files.
In at the weekend, the publisher warns that players receiving an “invalid game data” message upon booting the game might be the unsuspecting receivers of illicit goods. Basically, if a hacker has jacked the damage up on a weapon and then attempted to hand it to another player, the recipient will receive the message until they’ve removed the offending save data.
“This message is intended to inform end users that some external file, modification of game save data, exploit or cheat/hack, or alterations to the game have been detected by the Dark Souls III server team and that the end users' account/profile has been flagged for further investigation,” the statement reads.
As a result of these shenanigans, players are warned to remove the offending save data quickly if they receive the message. Meanwhile, all users are warned to regularly back-up their save data if they want to keep swapping goods with other players.
“The warning message will continue to be displayed until the Dark Souls III server team has determined whether or not a violation of the End User License Agreement (EULA) occurred,” the statement continues. “At that point the account/profile will either have restrictions placed on it (to limit the online interactions during multiplayer sessions and a further penalty message of "You have been Penalized" issued) or the "Invalid Game Data" warning message removed.”
It’s an unfortunate situation, but with an online system as freeform as Dark Souls these problems are bound to emerge. If you’ve not mustered the bravery to interact with other players in Lothric yet, here’s a good argument for why you shouldn't.