Game Dev Tycoon is probably not a game that was on your radar, but it’s about to be, because of a hilarious, and pointed, anti-piracy protest Greenheart Games held… and the equally troubling results.
Simply put, they posted a “pirated” version of their game where, once you hit a certain point…:
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… 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.
The full post really need to be read to get the full effect: Pirates whining about their virtual game getting derailed by pirates. One actually goes so far as to ask whether you can research virtual DRM.
It’s funny… until Greenheart breaks down the total figures and reveals that 214 people paid for the game, while over three thousand downloaded the cracked version. And Greenheart notes that there are likely more pirates than that, due to the technical limitations of tracking.
It’s worth noting that this two-man studio followed the hand of the market. They released their game without DRM. They released their game on PC, Mac, and Linux. They did everything PC gamers insist that all games are supposed to do, and be rewarded with fat stacks of cash, and they were essentially crapped on.
As much as we make fun of games like SimCity and the clumsy way EA tries to pretend breaking the game is a feature, it’s hard to look at numbers like that and pretend there isn’t a fairly serious problem. Big publisher or two-man studio, people have the right to get paid, and nobody deserves to get that screwed.