Game Dev Tycoon has implemented an interesting little method for combating piracy. Anybody who runs a cracked version of the game will, in turn, have their virtual product pirated so they can see what it feels like. Well played, Greenheart Games.
Tycoon is all about making games and selling them, as the name might suggest. In pirated versions, sales are going to be impacted by those downloading them illegally. Eventually, the game will become unwinnable as the effects of piracy stack up.
"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," writes the studio, discussing the inevitable failure for any who crack the game.
The studio pointed out the irony of pirates complaining about piracy as they asked for help on message board. One particular gamer wrote, "Why are there so many people that pirate? It ruins me!" The user failed to see the humor in the situation.
Of course, while this is all good fun and quite a clever use of pirate-targeting DRM, there's a sad side to the story. Greenheart is reporting 93.6% piracy rate, with only 6.4% of users running a genuine, legitimate version of Game Dev Tycoon. The game costs $7.99, if you want to see how big a saving is being made.
Greenheart, for its part, is hoping to appeal to pirates, claiming not to be mad but urging them to consider a purchase to help them out.
"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," claims the studio.
"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 eight bucks."
Reasonable! Hopefully it reaches some of the less selfish minds out there.
The word "entitled" gets thrown around a lot when it comes to gamers, and in most cases, the word's use is erroneous. When you're pirating a cheap game from independent developers, I think you officially cross over into stuck-up, bratty, little dickhead territory. That's when you start being a self-entitled fuckwad -- especially if you then go on to complain about the game biting you back.
There are justifications of piracy -- chiefly that a pirated copy of a game does not automatically equal a lost sale, and that the digital product is still available for sale so it's not exactly theft. It's logically sound stuff. However, when we're dealing with a two-man studio that's just trying to keep making games, I just don't see how anyone can claim moral victory.
As I've said in the past, you should be considered a thief if these are the types of games your downloading, if only for the social stigma. You're helping yourself to cheap games from developers that need the money way more than a major publisher, and if you're proud of that, I think you're a piece of shit, and I hope such people continue to feel frustrated and upset as Game Dev Tycoon kills their progress.