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Cracked Game Released To Get Back At Pirates

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the and-nothing-changed dept.

Piracy 509

John Wagger writes "When Greenheart Games released their very first game, Game Dev Tycoon (for Mac, Windows and Linux) yesterday, they did something unusual and as far as I know unique. They released a cracked version of the game, minutes after opening their Store. The pirated copy was completely same as the real copy, except that after a few hours into the game, players started noticing widespread piracy of their games in the game development simulator."

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Interesting comparissons (5, Informative)

pinkushun (1467193) | about a year ago | (#43580491)

The ratio of pirate copies vs bought copies may be obscured by platform.

Looking at past Humble Bundle stats [humblebundle.com] (games _without_ DRM management) it shows that even though piracy is still as abundant, the same amount of people are still willing to pay. Even more interesting, though Windows buyers ouranked 75% of others, Linux users payed the most on average. ... and that site link in TFA just went down.

Re:Interesting comparissons (4, Insightful)

beltsbear (2489652) | about a year ago | (#43580555)

They paid the most because their market is undeserved for high end games.

Re:Interesting comparissons (0, Flamebait)

robot256 (1635039) | about a year ago | (#43580607)

They appeared to pay the most because Notch and his gang always fight for the top spot and raise the average.

Re:Interesting comparissons (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580687)

What does that have to do with things when. 1) notch is an OSX user and 2) their donations is not even a whole percentage of the total sales.

Re:Interesting comparissons (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580691)

They paid the most because they have more money. An assumption as good as the other one.

Re:Interesting comparissons (5, Insightful)

RoccamOccam (953524) | about a year ago | (#43580969)

They paid the most because their market is undeserved for high end games.

I'm hoping that you meant "underserved".

Re:Interesting comparissons (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43580619)

though Windows buyers ouranked 75% of others, Linux users payed the most on average

Those stats are skewed by the small handful of major contributors, who select Linux as their platform. The same ones who make major contributions every time. I made the same mistake once.

Re:Interesting comparissons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580621)

Not to mention the game has to phone home for this statistic to work. Ugh.

Re:Interesting comparissons (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580697)

Inform yourself before making stupid comments.

When you make a Humble Bundle purchase, it asks you which platform you wish to associate with.

Re:Interesting comparissons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580905)

Which it doesn't, so it doesn't work, since anybody can fill in whatever they want.

Re:Interesting comparissons (3, Informative)

jovius (974690) | about a year ago | (#43580901)

Here's a forum about this with screencaps: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=550032 [neogaf.com] They show that in the first day 6,4% were genuine versions and the rest were pirated copies.

I wonder what's the average conversion rate. Usually not all who pirate buy the game anyway. How about demo downloads versus purchases? It's a neat trick they pulled, but I think some context would be nice.

Re:Interesting comparissons (2)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43581185)

these are mostly old games where the publisher is giving them away as advertising for a new upcoming game

seriously (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580521)

who the fuck cares?

I've just poured hot grits down my pants.

Thank you!

So basically (0, Redundant)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#43580531)

So the game company is admitting that it's a really crappy simulator because if they were willing to "pirate" their own game, surely the real losses from piracy can't be that bad because they are willing to take them.

Re:So basically (5, Insightful)

ctid (449118) | about a year ago | (#43580543)

You really need to read the article.

Re:So basically (2)

leonardluen (211265) | about a year ago | (#43580575)

i can't it's /.'ed. which i assume will show up in their game in the next patch.

Re:So basically (4, Informative)

Daemonik (171801) | about a year ago | (#43580649)

It's pretty sad when someone can't even work up the reading comprehension to grasp the story from a short summary.

In total, if you play the cracked version of the game, the simulator will ramp up the rate of piracy for your simulated company's games, so you will lose. It stacks the odds against you.

Re:So basically (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580699)

You'd have to know what the game is about to grasp that. The summary is garbage.

Re:So basically (5, Funny)

rioki (1328185) | about a year ago | (#43580827)

What do you think Game Dev Tycoon is about? Railroads?

Re:So basically (4, Insightful)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year ago | (#43581041)

The fact that you will LOSE because of that is not obvious from TFS. TFA is /.ed anyway.

Re:So basically (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581129)

The fact that you will LOSE because of that is not obvious from TFS.

...if you're a fuckin' idiot. Point taken.

Re:So basically (5, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43580895)

What part about the title "Game Dev Tycoon" leaves you wondering what the subject matter of the game is? Even if that didn't make any synapses flash, the last sentence should have done it: "...players started noticing widespread piracy of their games in the game development simulator."

See that "game development simulator" bit? Combine that with the title and let your brain run wild.

Re:So basically (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580971)

What part about the title "Game Dev Tycoon" leaves you wondering what the subject matter of the game is? Even if that didn't make any synapses flash, the last sentence should have done it: "...players started noticing widespread piracy of their games in the game development simulator."

It's just a title, and none of it is really clear until one has more information than what was given in the crappy summary. Just because you like to reach premature conclusions doesn't mean that others don't like to wait until there is more information to reach a conclusion.

Re:So basically (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43580995)

You seriously aren't familiar with the "Tycoon" type of games? Or did I just feed a troll?

Re:So basically (0)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#43581119)

Most of the world, even those on the internet, are not familiar with the "Tycoon" type of games.

Re:So basically (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581163)

Just because you like to reach premature conclusions doesn't mean that others don't like to wait until there is more information to reach a conclusion.

They're called "inferences" based on context clues, and it's not particularly difficult to reach one if you're not terribly dumb. I'm sorry for your loss.

Re:So basically (3, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#43580787)

Apparently you have read and comprehension problems. That is exactly what the poster you are criticizing said. Additionally he said that it is ironic because they proved the idea is false by pirating their own game (the simulator) and still having profit, as you fail to understand.

Re:So basically (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581153)

Apparently you have read and comprehension problems. That is exactly what the poster you are criticizing said.

No it isn't. The poster you are referring to said: "So the game company is admitting that it's a really crappy simulator because if they were willing to "pirate" their own game, surely the real losses from piracy can't be that bad because they are willing to take them". This happens to be a straw man argument unrelated to the summary or the article, since the game company isn't claiming those implied terrible losses in the first place.

The game itself doesn't portray piracy as ruining the industry. But if you are using the leaked "cracked" version then you're in a special simulation where "customers" are unwilling to pay you. This leads people to ask "why is nobody paying for my game even if they want to play it?" and realise the irony of the situation, and hopefully a few appreciate the humour and decide to buy the game.

Re:So basically (5, Insightful)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43580667)

It really is down due to traffic. And cloudflare really is playing medical insurance company again. If you're not familiar, it's where you pay and pay and pay for their protection and then that one time when you critically need them, they're useless and refuse to properly do their one single job that they had (they claim there's allegedly no cached version of the page for them to serve up off their servers).

Re:So basically (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580811)

I read the article. Most of it just read like a game dev who was pissed because his game wasn't the next angry birds.

They claim 93% piracy after 1 day but I wonder how many of the 3000 (yes that many) downloaders only found out about the game due to being on the torrent site.

I'd be interested in seeing the numbers after a month and more interestingly what the reviews of the game say. Nobody will buy a rubbish game after playing it. Thats why most games companies dont usually offer game demos & hate piracy.

How many of them would have bought the game if it wasn't broken?

Re:So basically (5, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about a year ago | (#43580639)

You skipped the second half of TFS.

The game is a game about game development, right? In the pirated copy, the games you develop will have a chance of getting pirated (!) which goes up as time goes on, eventually causing you to lose as you are then unable to make enough money to continue. It's delicious irony.

Re:So basically (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580801)

Not really, developers rarely, if ever, go out of business because of piracy alone. In order to have a piracy problem you have to be creating software that people want. The developers that ultimately go out of business are usually the ones that aren't creating software that's worth pirating.

Think about that, if your software is so bad, that people aren't even pirating it, how would you expect to stay in business? Pirates themselves don't cost developers any money because, quite frankly, if they won't buy the software, they wouldn't buy it whether or not there's a pirate version available.

Re:So basically (5, Informative)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#43581011)

It is a game. Not the real world. In this pretend world they have in the game if your games get pirated you lose income. Whether that is the case in the real world or not is irrelevant.

Re:So basically (1)

th3rmite (938737) | about a year ago | (#43581047)

I've known plenty of people who would have otherwise bought software if there had been no option to pirate it.

Re:So basically (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581161)

Really, NO option? Or just didn't like some part of it - price, platform, DRM, etc.

Because if the game was for sale, they could have bought it. They just might not have LIKED everything about that option. That doesn't mean they had NO choice.

Re:So basically (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581107)

I disagree that pirates dont buy games but you're right that bad software will ruin a company. I dont pirate as much these days but when I did it was usually to try the game. Reviews are useless due to the way game companies 'buy' positive reviews and flood every channel with FUD to hide criticism. I cant remember the last major game that had a demo that wasn't 90% cut-scenes & pre-beta gameplay.

If you buy a car you test drive it first. The current way games are marketed feels more like buying a car based on what you heard coming from it's radio.

Re:So basically (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about a year ago | (#43581111)

Well I don't think the simulation of piracy is supposed to be 100% accurate. Obviously if that was how it worked in the real world nobody would make games. And I assume that's the lesson they wanted to teach: we're afraid one day this will happen to us, now you see why, maybe you should sympathise a bit and buy our game.

There are flaws with your actual argument too, but I will just say that there's nothing preventing me from seeing a game I like, say, Bioshock Infinite, downloading it, playing it, and then never buying it. Without the pirated copy I could not download it, and I would be forced to buy it (incidentally I haven't done any of that and plan to buy it on Steam when they put it on sale). So I can definitely say it is possible for piracy to do financial harm.

Let's say the majority of pirates would never buy the game anyway, as you claim. If I was a dev, I would not care about this group since if I implement DRM nothing changes. So I am going to ignore them. Whether they really exist or not or how many of them are doesn't matter, it's a moot point.

So now we have one more group: pirates that might help sales. IIRC I read a bit about music pirates actually being good for music sales as they tended to buy more music than other customers. So let's say DRM makes these guys more wary about purchasing music and they prefer to "try before they buy". Devs have to weight how much money they'd gain from those guys based on how much they'd lose from the first group (the group that would buy if there was no pirated version) to determine whether or not they try to implement some form of DRM to delay the release of a cracked copy as long as possible.

Re:So basically (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580825)

> It's delicious irony

No it's not. They uploaded the game themselves, like a shareware, and then make fun of people who downloaded the game. That's making fun of potential customers (for an ugly game to say the least)

Re:So basically (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581063)

like a shareware

No. The demo that they made available for download from their site is like shareware. http://www.greenheartgames.com/game-dev-tycoon-downloads/

Downloading the torrent is like... copyright infringement.

Re:So basically (2)

mlk (18543) | about a year ago | (#43581145)

> Downloading the torrent is like... copyright infringement.

Not if the owner of the game made it available, which in this case they did. The torrent version is a time limited demo.

Re:So basically (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580837)

I'm wondering if they've modeled piracy realistically or if they've just gone full derp.

Re:So basically (1)

fazey (2806709) | about a year ago | (#43581049)

i wish i had mod points for this one. I absolutely agree. Unfortunately they probably just went full derp.

Re:So basically (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580887)

No he didn't. His criticism is spot-on. If that were an accurate simulation of how the PC game market worked, then all these companies complaining about piracy would long since have "lost" and gone bankrupt. In the real world, however, video game companies don't "lose" because of piracy. They "lose" because of bad games, bad marketing, or both. Piracy, if anything, works more like free advertising.

Posting anon because of mod points.

Re:So basically (4, Interesting)

nurbles (801091) | about a year ago | (#43580923)

Where are the statistics about how many game companies have closed due to piracy? They sure don't show up with any of the quick attempts I've been trying with Google.

Not that unique (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580557)

>they did something unusual and as far as I know unique
If I rememeber correctly, the devellopers of Serious Sam 3: BFE did something very simlar a while back. An invincible monster would appear in the later levels of the game.

Re:Not that unique (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580663)

Same with Earthbound, not unique at all: http://earthboundcentral.com/2011/05/earthbounds-copy-protection/

Re:Not that unique (4, Interesting)

Gerafin (1408009) | about a year ago | (#43580871)

This is unique insofar as they released their own cracked version, whereas I believe Earthbound and Serious Sam would detect modified launchers and activate their DRM. One of the Batman games (Arkham asylum, I think) did the same thing, it messed up your batarang so you couldn't complete certain parts. People posted about the issue, thinking it was a bug, on the official forums and then got publicly shamed by a moderator who exposed the fact the 'bug' was related to pirating the game. I don't like DRM but at least they're being creative! But with Game Dev Sim, you could argue it's not DRM.

Re:Not that unique (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581181)

Yep, it was Arkham Asylum. It also flagged you as a pirate for simply having daemontools installed. Whoops.

Re:Not that unique (4, Interesting)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43580729)

Ah, the invincible pink scorpion [rockpapershotgun.com] . It appeared fairly early in the game, which was probably a good idea. If they'd put it in too late then pirates might have been put off (more so) from buying the game, but since it was so early it gave pirates a chance to get a feel for the game but not have to replay too much if they decided to buy it.

Re:Not that unique (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43580883)

Ah, the invincible pink scorpion. It appeared fairly early in the game, which was probably a good idea. If they'd put it in too late then pirates might have been put off (more so) from buying the game, but since it was so early it gave pirates a chance to get a feel for the game but not have to replay too much if they decided to buy it.

False Dichotomy. Assuming competence (which I realize is an unsafe assumption) they could have made the savegame from the warez version work on the official version, and the players would not have to replay anything. Just don't load the pink scorpion.

Re:Not that unique (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#43581183)

We don't often agree but we do, here.

It's not easy to put a check for "Should I still be here?" in the Scorpion's game logic.

So it would appear - for as long as it took the loaded game to trigger that check and 'disable' the instance.

Re:Not that unique (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#43581191)

Totally misworded that. I think you get what I meant.

Re:Not that unique (1)

doconnor (134648) | about a year ago | (#43580933)

The 1986 game Starflight required you to look up things in a code wheel. If you failed it would still let you play, but after a while a swarm of unbeatable police ships would arrive to destroy you for copyright violations.

hehehehe (3, Interesting)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43580571)

That is the mother of all trolls. Definitely pirate troll level: British admiral hat and solid gold scabbard

Re:hehehehe (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a year ago | (#43580657)

The pirates are the real trolls.

This is sweet justice of the finest sort.

Re:hehehehe (4, Interesting)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about a year ago | (#43580689)

Don't forget Serious Sam 3, who's DRM manifested as an invulnerable pink scorpion [rockpapershotgun.com] .

This is what happens when games are made by gamers. It's mainly the big, long-disconnected companies that think DRM will save their games from pirates; everyone else just acknowledges it with a little fun.

Re:hehehehe (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43580935)

Wasn't there another game that was rigged to slowly fall apart or something? It was a fairly big title too. Certain sounds and graphical files would just delete themselves randomly every time you loaded it after it was determined to be illegal and soon you were using half a game with unskinned 3D files and stuff. Now THAT was funny. Although, an invincible pink opponent stalking you is up there too.

Hilarious Irony (5, Interesting)

bravecanadian (638315) | about a year ago | (#43580579)

People posting for help trying to progress.

I'm going to buy this game just because they have illustrated their point SO well.

Re:Hilarious Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580635)

What was their point? This all seems like a waste of money to me.

Re:Hilarious Irony (4, Funny)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year ago | (#43580685)

If I buy their game, do I also get access to the cracked version to teach my kid a lesson?

Re:Hilarious Irony (0)

Dan667 (564390) | about a year ago | (#43580793)

The point that punishing your paying Customers chasing people that will never buy your game does not work?

Re:Hilarious Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581139)

I seriously hope that English isn't your first language.

Re:Hilarious Irony (5, Informative)

Bieeanda (961632) | about a year ago | (#43581099)

Reminds me of the infamous Deus Ex boat bug.

For those that aren't aware, the original Deus Ex was released when pirated games were heavily distributed via sneakernet and usenet in the form of spanned 2 MB (or 2.88-- it's been a while) RAR images. Needless to say, this was a lot of diskettes for the games that were coming out on CD at the time, so the cracking teams would cut out every ounce of fat that they possibly could: cutscenes, non-vital sound effects, you name it. The games ran, but you were likely to miss a lot of story and fluff.

An early Deus Ex rip went through the same process, but for some reason would just stop at an early point in the game-- specifically, when you hopped on a police boat and sailed off to the next level. It turned out that the scripts used to drive the in-game cutscenes weren't designed to fail cleanly, and one of the missing sound effects caused this one to hang partway through.

People with pirated copies started complaining and looking for tech help with this baffling bug. It didn't take the devs long to figure out what was going on, and only took slightly longer for people who'd paid for it to start leaping down the throats of anyone asking for help getting past the 'buggy' cutscene.

That's pretty meta (4, Funny)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#43580581)

but what happens when the in-game pirates start playing their pirated pirated copies of Game Dev Tycoon? And the next generation? And the next? This game was mislabelled. It's not a game at all, it's an infinite pirate creation device.

Re:That's pretty meta (2)

Achra (846023) | about a year ago | (#43580735)

Reminds me of the oblig. xkcd

http://xkcd.com/244/ [xkcd.com]

The game itself was Pirated from another game (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580599)

The real irony of course is that the game itself is a rip off of Game Dev Story by Kairosoft for IOS/Android.

Hehe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580709)

Wish I had mod points :)

Re:The game itself was Pirated from another game (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580771)

Also: if you upload a game, don't complain later that people download it, it's your own fault, you can't really call the people who download "pirates."

Re:The game itself was Pirated from another game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581085)

they're not complaining.

they're LTFAO ;-)

Re:The game itself was Pirated from another game (5, Insightful)

MaerD (954222) | about a year ago | (#43580861)

Annnd by this logic Xplane pirated MS Flight simulator. Halo pirated Wolfenstien 3d. etc.

It isn't piracy. If the gameplay is exactly the same (such as some clones that ONLY change the graphics) you might have something. If the game plays differently, adds features, etc, it's just another entry in the genre.

Re:The game itself was Pirated from another game (4, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | about a year ago | (#43581007)

Right. Because the whole concept of "Making Computer Games For A Living" is so obscure that no one else could have ever thought of it, especially not someone who makes computer games for a living.

bad astroturffing (1)

bobaferret (513897) | about a year ago | (#43580609)

Generally when you market your wares like this on slashdot, you'd want your servers to be able to handle the load. Come on people, it's not that hard anymore to make a site that can handle the load. As for the game, this is a nice bit of marketing, in that they now have people who are going to go out and look for the pirated version, and then possibly like it enough to get the real version.

Re:bad astroturffing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580797)

Not only that, but bad slashdot editing tradition continues. Come back for one day...

John Wagger writes:

"When Greenheart Games released their very first game, Game Dev Tycoon (for Mac, Windows and Linux) yesterday, they did something unusual and as far as I know unique. They released a cracked version of the game, minutes after opening their Store. The pirated copy was completely same as the real copy, except that after a few hours into the game, players started noticing widespread piracy of their games in the game development simulator."

Really John Wagger. You wrote that? Because from what I can tell from the blog post you linked to, Patrick Klug, the author of the blog post, wrote:

When we released our very first game, Game Dev Tycoon (for Mac, Windows and Linux) yesterday, we did something unusual and as far as I know unique.

So you really didn't write that but merely changed some pro nouns. Did you think it was unique because you have a wealth of experience in the field, John Wagger, or do you simply think so because Patrick Klug of Greenheart Games tells you he thinks it is?

Whatever, I realize I'm a pedantic prick, but when Slashdot editors do at least 10 seconds of actual editing maybe I'll be a regular visitor again.

New feature for the pirated copy... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580643)

Web cams only, something like...

Dialog Box: "The boss is angry about our games being pirated! Go see him quick! [Click here to see the boss.]"

*click*

Webcam turns on showing the person sitting at the keyboard playing the pirated game.

So .... (2)

King_TJ (85913) | about a year ago | (#43580701)

The secret to this is, slap together some nonsense game title in minutes and then download the pirated version of Game Dev Tycoon. Laugh as you earned a free game just for letting people download your non-working junk code!

The Best High Returns on Best Investment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580955)

ya is good to see it....

http://www.whatacash.com

Pracy = advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580755)

A game which is best on the market will profit mostly by killing the piracy because it really is worth buying. A bulk of people (particularly outside of US and rich western countries) want to save money if possible and will play the pirate version if they can get it. If not they will play something else unless that game is top notch, so they surrender and buy it.
Easy to defeat piracy can also be effective if there are annoyances which force people into buying. What puts people off is DRM/protection which screws legitimate users. Even when it's a rare case, everybody's vocal about it and wants to kill it, harming the reputation (and btw. pirates-I mean end-users who are willing to pirate it, also join this because they hate protection which prevents them from playing the game). See how Starforce ended up, and basically it was one of the rare protection systems that served the purpose - some interesting games were never cracked.
These days there is instant-on stuff which is effective if done properly. Diablo3 is a good example on how to make an unpirateable game. Of course pirates hate it and complain loudly about always-on stuff...no wonder. (well these days almost anybody is connected)

PS: I'm not against piracy - for people without money it's the only reasonable way to play. I did it a lot as a student (and hated SF...). However I see the market logic behind it. It's a business like any other, and those people have to eat something. Rampant piracy definitely cotributed to the decline of the PC as a gaming device, and brought us too many bad console ports, afterthoughts made to squeeze last possible $$$.

So do you profit more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580775)

Do you get an extra bonus when you release a sequel because now your game has international appeal even though you did not market it in other territories? Do they account for the people who want to support the artist and go out and buy it if they like it? Does the uncracked version of the game deal with Ubisoft-style DRM boycotts and low ratings on amazon and general negative feedback from your userbase?

slashdotted, cloudflare fail, here's a copy-paste (5, Informative)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43580829)

Here's the world's worst barely formatted copy-paste job for those of you who can't access the site because it got slashdotted (and cloudflare dropped the ball)

When we released our very first game, Game Dev Tycoon (for Mac, Windows and Linux) yesterday, we did something unusual and as far as I know unique. We released a cracked version of the game ourselves, minutes after opening our Store.

I uploaded the torrent to the number one torrent sharing site, gave it a description imitating the scene and asked a few friends to help seed it.

A minute after we uploaded it, my torrent client looked like this:

Soon my upload speed was maxed out (and as of the time of writing still is) and my friends and I had connections from all over the world and for all three platforms! How does piracy feel?

The cracked version is nearly identical to the real thing except for one detail Initially we thought about telling them their copy is an illegal copy, but instead we didn’t want to pass up the unique opportunity of holding a mirror in front of them and showing them what piracy can do to game developers. So, as players spend a few hours playing and growing their own game dev company, they will start to see the following message, styled like any other in-game message:

Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt.

Slowly their in-game funds dwindle, and new games they create have a high chance to be pirated until their virtual game development company goes bankrupt.

Some of the responses I found online (identities obscured to protect the guilty):

Is there some way to avoid that? I mean can I research DRM or something

And another user:

Why are there so many people that pirate? It ruins me!

As a gamer I laughed out loud: the IRONY!!!

However, as the developer, who spent over a year creating this game and hasn’t drawn a salary yet, I wanted to cry. Surely, for most of these players, the 8 dollars wouldn’t hurt them but it makes a huge difference to our future! Trying to appeal to pirates

I know that some people just don’t even think about buying games. They will immediately search for a cracked version. For this reason, when we released the game, we also published a page which targets people who search for a cracked/illegal version. Unfortunately, due to my lack in search-engine-optimization skills, that page has had no impact yet, but I hope it will convince some to buy the game in the future.

[]if years down the track you wonder why there are no games like these anymore and all you get to play is pay-to-play and social games designed to suck money out of your pockets then the reason will stare back at you in the mirror.

I do think it’s important to try to communicate what piracy means to game developers to our consumers. I also tried to appeal to a particular forum a day earlier after someone who I gave early-access to the Store seemed to have passed on the copy to others:

We’re just a start-up and really need your support. The game is only 7.99USD, DRM free

Clearly, my post hadn’t worked too well since on the same forum someone posted the earlier screenshot (“Why are there so many people that pirate? It ruins me!) just a bit after I made my appeal and this was followed by many others complaining about piracy.

I still hope that it made a difference to someone.

Anyway, how many really did buy and how many did pirate our game during this first day? The awesome/depressing results

Today, one day after release, our usage stats look like this:

Genuine version: 214 users

Cracked version: at least 3104 users

Over 93.6% of players stole the game. We know this because our game contains some code to send anonymous-usage data to our server. Nothing unusual or harmful. Heaps of games/apps do this and we use it to better understand how the game is played. It’s absolutely anonymous and you are covered by our privacy policy. Anyway, the cracked version has a separate ID so I can separate the data. I’m sure some of the players have firewalls and some will play offline therefore the actual number of players for the cracked version is likely much higher.
To the players who played the cracked version!

I’m not mad at you. When I was younger, downloading illegal copies was practically normal but this was mostly because global game distribution was in its infancy. To be fair, there are still individuals who either can’t make a legal purchase because of payment-issues or who genuinely cannot afford the game. I don’t have a quarrel with you. To the rest who could afford the game consider this:

Would you like to see a bigger/better sequel of Game Dev Tycoon in the future? Buy the game! Creating this game was already expensive and this was just a small game. If we ever want to make a bigger/better version we need a lot of support!
Do you hate the trend towards social or pay-to-play free games? Buy games from independent developers! (start with ours :) )
Do you hate the recent trends in the industry? Buy DRM free games.

We are not wealthy and it’s unlikely that we will be any time soon, so stop pretending like we don’t need your 8 dollars! We are just two guys working our butts off, trying to start our own game studio to create games which are fun to play.

The game is DRM free, you can use it on up to three of your computers for your own use, you get copies for Mac, Windows and Linux, you can continue your game before piracy wrecked your company and we even aim to provide you with a free Steam key once the game is on Steam. All for a mere 8 bucks.

Buy the game
7.99 USD, €6.49 EUR (excl. VAT)

If you just want to try the game then there’s the free DEMO:
Download FREE DEMO
Final words

Do we need DRM?
Whether or not to use DRM isn’t clear at all to a new start-up. The main argument against it is that all it does is to inconvenience genuine customers. Fact is that any game can be cracked, so all you do is spend time on something that in the end just annoys your real customers while only slightly delaying the inevitable. The only way to protect yourself is to create an online game. I guess that’s why so many studios focus on these types of games and it’s probably a driving force to eradicate traditional single player games.

Personally, I love single players games and hope to be able to continue down this path and if more people would buy our game, we might even be able to.

Would I do this again?

This was a unique opportunity. You need a game development simulation game to make this particular joke work. The more general idea/experiment to release a cracked version which inconveniences and counts pirates can probably work for any game and might work in the long run.

If pirates are put through more trouble than genuine customers, maybe more will buy the real game. Sadly, for AAA games it is currently the other way. Customers get the trouble with always-on requirements and intrusive DRM, while pirates can just download and enjoy. A twisted world. To our genuine customers

Thank you for your support. Your purchase is more important to us than you might think. We hope to be able to bring you more games in the future. Also, please update to the latest version of the game by using the download link from your purchase email. Before writing this blog post I’ve fixed most of the known issues :)

Patrick Klug
- Greenheart Games

If you want to comment on this post, please do so on our forum.

Re:slashdotted, cloudflare fail, here's a copy-pas (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43581067)

can't access the site because it got slashdotted (and cloudflare dropped the ball)

Side note, but CloudFlare rarely helps much with Slashdotting. Most of the time what kills a site is generating dynamic HTML out of a database without sufficient caching, and CloudFlare by default doesn't do anything about that, because it has no idea when it's safe to cache dynamically generated pages. By default it just proxies media files, so it can help things if bandwidth was the bottleneck for a server being hammered, but bandwidth usually isn't the bottleneck.

If you generate static HTML pages (or pages that are static for a period of time), you can mark them cacheable in CloudFlare. But if you're doing that you probably won't go down anyway, because serving up static HTML is not server-intensive.

Re:slashdotted, cloudflare fail, here's a copy-pas (1)

edxwelch (600979) | about a year ago | (#43581071)

It would have been good publicity appearing on Slashdot... pity your servers couldn't handle it

Re:slashdotted, cloudflare fail, here's a copy-pas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581097)

"Do we need DRM?
Whether or not to use DRM isn’t clear at all to a new start-up. The main argument against it is that all it does is to inconvenience genuine customers. Fact is that any game can be cracked, so all you do is spend time on something that in the end just annoys your real customers while only slightly delaying the inevitable. The only way to protect yourself is to create an online game. I guess that’s why so many studios focus on these types of games and it’s probably a driving force to eradicate traditional single player games."

I've got a question/suggestion. For the "pirate" version, why not offer them the option of buying a DRM system for their game? Give them a few options, from cheap (e.g., just a serial number/key), to draconian (always-on internet restrictions requiring server maintenance), and make them budget for all that and deal with the repercussions (more support costs for DRM failure and compatibility issues for genuine customers). Then let them try to figure out the economics of it.

Then buy your own DRM system based on the results of your experiment :-)

Just kidding. I'm hoping the economics of it make more sense without any DRM.

So I have a question... (1)

Pikoro (844299) | about a year ago | (#43580841)

If the owner/publisher released the game for free also, then it is perfectly fine to copy since it is an authorized release? Sounds like it's free to me.

Re:So I have a question... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43580869)

If the owner/publisher released the game for free also, then it is perfectly fine to copy since it is an authorized release? Sounds like it's free to me.

The version they released is probably free. The other version that doesn't feature massive in-game copyright infringement (piracy? YARRRRR! SHIVER ME TIMBERS) is still not free.

Re:So I have a question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580943)

The "dev-cracked" version is (by their own admitted actions, even if not by their intent) freeware. The crack for the cracked version that changes piracy from a cost to a revenue source will be on torrents in 5 minutes.

I suspect their simulation is flawed (-1, Flamebait)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43580885)

Their simulation of pirated copies will undoubtedly reflect diminished sales.

Who the hell would want to play a game like this anyway?! Ridiculous.

Game prices are too high. People don't want to spend any amount of money without knowing what they will get in return. But in the software product world there are "no refunds" which has made the software product business more hostile to the consumer than most others. A mildly educated consumer will be risk averse knowing this.

So certainly they will want to try it before they buy it. But if they like it and their friends like it, they will likely buy it if they can afford it.

Game publishers are just stupid about their products and especially the VALUE of their products. So many completed games simply stop being played and it's no longer useful. Is it really worth the $50+ ? Especially since you can't resell it any longer?

Greed and unrealistic expectations is the game making business's current failure.

Re:I suspect their simulation is flawed (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581137)

Normally I'd say RTFA, but since it has been slashdotted, I'll give your ignorance a pass and just correct your errors as I encounter them.

Game prices are too high

This game was $8 USD.

People don't want to spend any amount of money without knowing what they will get in return

They offer a free demo to give you an idea, and also offer a pirated version of the game which gives several hours of unadultered gameplay before they introduce their "bug."

So many completed games simply stop being played and it's no longer useful. Is it really worth the $50+ ? Especially since you can't resell it any longer?

Again, this game was $8 USD. Additionally, the game is DRM-free, available on all platforms, and is being ported to Steam as well. This is an indy company with very consumer-oriented and forward-thinking ideas who simply conducted a fun little experiment on sales versus pirated copies.

Every single legitimate argument pirates spout cannot be applied to this situation. The game was DRM free, ported to all major OSes, offered a playable demo on their website, and very reasonably priced at $8 USD (cheaper than many mobile games).

Re:I suspect their simulation is flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581171)

Their simulation may well be flawed, especially if it ignores the effects of word of mouth on sales.
That said, looking at the details posted by someone that saw the site before it went down, the real company seems neither greedy nor stupid. The game only costs $8 (no drm and multiplatform) and they offer a demo. That addresses several of the common complaints from gamers. Even with the cracked version, you can buy the game after the cracked version causes you to lose and it will let you use your save game from before the forced economic crash (saving the hours spent playing).

I don't have an interest in the game as it simply doesn't appeal to me, but I can't find fault with how the company is handling things.

What does this mean (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year ago | (#43580913)

players started noticing widespread piracy of their games in the game development simulator.

What does this mean? I don't understand what the company did? Can someone explain - I am not a gamer - I used to play Doom Death Match 17 years back, though.

Re:What does this mean (3, Informative)

slim (1652) | about a year ago | (#43581115)

The game is a management-sim in which the player manages a game development studio.

In the normal game, you start out in the 8 bit years, writing games and selling them. You use the profits to hire artists and developers, R&D an engine, advertise, licence etc., to make bigger and more profitable games, and as time passes, technology improves. The in-game economy is balanced for a challenging but winnable game.

In the "poisoned" game they seeded the warez sites with, after a couple of hours of play, the in-game advisor says "we're seeing a lot of piracy, it's going to affect our sales". And from then on the in-game economy is deliberately wrecked, so sales figures plummet despite you doing everything right.

On cue, the messageboards see pirate gamers asking why the game suddenly became unwinnable -- asking if they can develop in-game DRM, to beat the in-game pirates.

Re:What does this mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581179)

The game itself if a game development simulator, sort of like Roller Coaster Tycoon, but replace Roller Coasters with Video Games.

Anyone who has a pirated copy of this game will find the virtual game company they are working on ultimately fail because too many virtual pirates have put their virtual game company out of business and bankrupt.

To give you a car analogy:"Yo dawg, I heard you like cars so I put a car in your car, so you can drive while you drive."

They released a cracked version of the game??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580921)

Has the term "cracked" recently been redefined?

Nice idea (5, Funny)

KraxxxZ01 (2445360) | about a year ago | (#43580953)

Can't wait for rockstar tycoon, where piracy takes heavy toll on main characters cocaine habit.

this% is goatsex (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580965)

SADNESS AND ImT WAS

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580967)

So the "pirated" version is not only cost-free and DRM-free, but also frees you from the trouble of distributing your own games? Add to that that the copyright owner uploaded it himself, thus IMHO implicitly allowing the free download of that version, making it not really piracy to download it (just like if I put a box of sweets on the street and put up a sign "take some, its free", I'll probably not manage to successfully sue anyone taking some of it for theft -- note that IANAL, however, and this is not legal advice).

I guess they will get a lot of "pirate" downloads by people who would otherwise not have done that. :-)

Way to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43580997)

Clever, but it just means that they've lost a segment of the market; the segment that plays a game in pirated form before buying it. Good luck winning that audience back at the expense of trying to make people who will NEVER pay feel bad.

Is it realistic? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#43581005)

Can you lower the cost and sell games DRM-free to de-incentivize the virtual pirates?

You all know this is a publicity stunt, right? (1, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | about a year ago | (#43581073)

Not only are you now all talking about a game that you otherwise never have heard about, the presence of a "cracked" version gives the authors a built-in answer to any bad reviews that might be published.

"The game is too hard? Noooo... that's just the cracked version which seems that way. It crashes ten minutes in? We put that there to deter pirates, and that would never happen in the real version. There's no replayability and it's even less fun than Cat Litter Simulator 2013 in hardcore campaign mode? Sounds like that reviewer was too cheap to buy the game and must haven playing a pirated copy. When you give us money, it will be much better. I promise!"

Cheers to the Klug brothers for thinking of everything.

Propaganda much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581101)

Let's imagine there was a perfect copy protection for the game. Would it affect the sales negatively or positively? Would the people who didn't buy it buy it anyway? Would less people hear about the game? What if you take into account advertising costs?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but you can't just say "piracy == bankruptcy" and expect me to believe that. Also, IIRC there have been studies (posted here on ./ too) in both extremes, so I guess you can "prove" both to be true.

Hypocrits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43581113)

If you know enough about "the scene" to sound like the scene, you're obviously also a pirate.

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