Game Developer Connects With Pirates, Sees Massive Support & Deletion Of Torrents

from the how-it's-done dept

One of the long-running themes here at Techdirt has been our insistence that the best way to combat any negative effects of piracy is for content creators to connect with fans, buyers, and pirates alike. If you treat people in a congenial, awesome way, the goodwill you garner will not only make up for any piracy negatives, but can actually propel your work to further success. Unfortunately, too few people seem to avoid the understandable but unproductive emotional response that comes with having your work show up on sites like The Pirate Bay. The vast majority of responses are vitriolic. Nevermind that some creators, such as when Hotline Miami’s developers decided to embrace pirates, have experienced the boon of goodwill and sales as a result. No, anger and threats of legal action tend to rule the day.

That’s why it’s so important to offer up every example available that shows how mistaken this methodology is. With that in mind, witness how the developers of an indie RPG called Anodyne embraced the uploader of their game and used the exposure to propel themselves into the internet limelight. It all started, as these stories so often do, when a Pirate Bay user offered up a torrent for the game. Instead of losing their minds, the game’s developers decided to be the second commenter on the torrent’s page, reaching out to anyone interested in downloading the game and instead offering a better way to do so. The text of that comment follows:

Hi, I’m Sean! I’m one of the two guys who made Anodyne. It’s neat that Anodyne’s ehre and I’m glad that means more people can play it, though of course we’d love it if you bought the game! We’re tryin’ to get Greenlit on Steam so we’d really appreciate it if you and your friends gave us an upvote over at http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92921739.

Most importantly let us know what you think of the game and if you like it or if it fills you with burning rage! – we’re on Twitter at @seagaia2 and @jonathankittaka.

Then they decided to go over the top in generosity by offering up free download codes for Anodyne and pointing readers to Desura.com to redeem them. They saw their game out there for free, reacted awesomely, and offered up their own way to download it for free. This response hits every major way I would have advised them to react to the torrent. They left all threats in their pockets, embraced those wanting to play the game (even for free), used it as a promotional tool as well as a way to crowdsource market and product data, and even threw in a bit of humor to boot. I don’t know that I could have crafted the response better myself.

The response to their actions has been as swift as it has been universally positive. A Reddit discussion broke out almost immediately and Sean Hogan, the developer above, immediately jumped in to prove that his forward-thinking Pirate Bay comment wasn’t some one-off bit of clarity.

“Yeah, piracy is inevitable so it’s better to embrace it – plus, it gives lots of people who couldn’t normally afford the game the opportunity to play it – and I think when you’re a small group of developers (only my friend Jon and I made Anodyne), it’s better to have lots of people able to experience your game,” he wrote.

The publicity is of course a wonderful thing. Anodyne can only benefit from the positive reaction this story is creating, potentially leading to placement within Steam. But the story doesn’t stop there. Because if you go searching for that original Anodyne listing on the Pirate Bay, you’ll find it doesn’t exist any longer. The site is notorious for refusing to remove such links, so the overwhelming likelihood is that it was taken down by the uploader. If so, this case no longer only serves as evidence that treating pirates well can be lucrative, but also that treating them well can cause them to second guess their decision to offer the content in the first place. Which, of course, throws the entire mantra that pirates are evil kids who just want everything for free into a logical tailspin. In any case, this is a textbook example of how to react to piracy.

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Companies: anodyne, the pirate bay

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Comments on “Game Developer Connects With Pirates, Sees Massive Support & Deletion Of Torrents”

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49 Comments
ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Torchlight/Torchlight II, and now Anodyne...

I am pretty sure this is how I found Torchlight. I was hearing all sorts of great things about Torchlight, and most of it from word of mouth from folks here and elsewhere, talking about how you could download it for free and there was a huge modding community behind it. Since then I’ve bought Torchlight, and waited anxiously for Torchlight II, bought it after they released it.

Another game to add to my list of GoG purchases. I agree though, my biggest problem with games is that there are so many of them that are DRM’d to death and I’ve bought quite a few that I hated, so now I just buy off GoG or by word of mouth. Will need to look at Desura to see what they have.

Lately I’ve been playing Nexus – The Jupiter Incident, which has a definite EVE Online feel to it (haven’t played EVE in a couple years and there are some things I miss about that game, but I certainly don’t miss the drama.) Would never have known about or touched the game had it not been for GoG.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Torchlight/Torchlight II, and now Anodyne...

Given your liking of Torchlight, you might like another game: Path of Exile.
It is online only, doesn’t encourage modding and is only in beta. However, it is and will always be Free to Play, they promise not to make content of Pay to Win (and have delivered well on that account so far), they are very fast at correcting issues and generally listen a lot to the players.
Also, it is launching the true raison d’etre in their competition cycle through the next few weeks. The first events are speedrunning to highest level in a timeperiod, speedrunning objective goals and PVP tournaments.
While it has been DDOSed several times and had too little server capacity in the first week, they are doing a lot better on stability now and the game is pretty good.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Torchlight/Torchlight II, and now Anodyne...

It is online only, doesn’t encourage modding and is only in beta. However, it is and will always be Free to Play, they promise not to make content of Pay to Win (and have delivered well on that account so far), they are very fast at correcting issues and generally listen a lot to the players.

Ich…not a fan of MMOs any more (I know, they don’t call it an MMO, but it is pretty darn close.) Way too much drama, though that may have just been EVE (I’ve seen the same when watching others play WoW, so I am pretty sure it wasn’t just EVE.) But I will check it out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Which leaves the illogic of
“Which, of course, throws the entire mantra that pirates are evil kids who just want everything for free into a logical tailspin”

in the clear, of course they don’t bother with the effort involved in piracy if they can lay back and get served the same stuff for free with even less effort, and without even the hint of moral qualms.

That aside, this is the right approach to take and will pay dividends, which is what should count in business.

Francisco George (profile) says:

Similar Experience in Spain...with a Movie

We did experience the same effect here in Spain with a movie called “Carmina o Revienta” http://www.imdb.es/title/tt2177509/ . The Director is a renown comedy actor called Paco Leon http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1346713/

The movie was the first Spanish movie to be released at the same time on the Internet, DVD(without DRM), and Theaters(only 20 due to an exhibitor boicot, even from the ones of the current President of the Spanish Movie Academy). Due to a DRMless DVD released the movie was soon uploaded to the Internet as DVDRip but webmasters from sharing links site were prompt to delete any reference to the “pirated” versions as a recognition for the Director/Poducer efforts to explore new ways of Distribution.

The feature is nomitated in 3 categories for the Spanish Movie Academy Awards Goyas.

The economic result of the film can be found here(in Spanish) http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2012/12/20/actualidad/1356015869_648226.html

Anonymous Coward says:

No. Masnick said:
The site is notorious for refusing to remove such links, so the overwhelming likelihood is that it was taken down by the uploader. If so, this case no longer only serves as evidence that treating pirates well can be lucrative, but also that treating them well can cause them to second guess their decision to offer the content in the first place.

What’s being inferred here is clear. 1. Masnick is well versed in how the Pirate Bay works. 2. The torrent is considered harmful to the creator, and pulling it is considered an altruistic gesture.

The uploader’s account troubles would not cause the torrent to be removed.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The torrent is considered harmful to the creator”

I’m having problems locating where that is implied in what you quoted. Mind pointing it out to me? Or, you you could just stop reading your own ideas into what people write and address the actual words.

Also, if you think that point 1 is a problem, you’re a moron.

“The uploader’s account troubles would not cause the torrent to be removed.”

Citation, or is that just another of those “it’s true because I say it is” fallacies?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“every single non- pro-piracy post.”

That would be most posts here, unless you’re stupid enough to think that not whining about piracy and offering constructive criticism is being “pro-piracy”.

When I’m bored during downtime at work and there’s no interesting new stories on the sites I read, I like mocking morons who have neither bothered to read the article nor read what people are actually saying, especially when I see their whining lies pop up in my email. That definitely applies to the post I was replying to.

If these idiots would learn to read and act like they’ve passed puberty, then you wouldn’t see these replies so often. Unfortunately, that comment was a fact-free personal attack that addressed a strawman, so I felt like pointing that out.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

There were points?

…reads again…

Erm, no there weren’t any points at all. There’s an implied attack against Mike. There’s a ridiculous implication that knowing how TPB actually work is a bad thing (although if you believe that, it would explain why you’re so woefully ignorant of reality). There’s a deliberate misreading of what Mike is actually saying in the article, followed by a baseless assertion that there’s no other reason than piracy being damaging for the torrent to be removed. If I’ve dismissed your post as being a fiction, that’s because that’s what it is.

If you want me to refute any points, you have to make them first. Personal attacks and ridiculous and baseless assertions are not “points”.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What’s being inferred here is clear. 1. Masnick is well versed in how the Pirate Bay works. 2. The torrent is considered harmful to the creator, and pulling it is considered an altruistic gesture.

No, not so clear.

1. Mike didn’t write this article. And how is knowing that “The site is notorious for refusing to remove such links..” any indication of any thing other than being aware of the many news stories that have surrounded The Pirate Bay?

2. I guess you missed the very first comment here pointing out that the very first comments on the TorrentFreak article are from the developer himself saying he was going upload a more recent version to TPB. I’m not thinking he agrees with your statement of “The torrent is considered harmful to the creator..”. Whether you or anyone else sees the torrent being taken down as an “altruistic gesture” is irrelevant (and subjective). The point is that he’s not freaking out and going all legal about it and it appears that his actions are increasing awareness of the game and increasing sales. Just another anecdote to add the ever growing pile of data that fighting piracy is a waste of resources if your true goal is to increase sales.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The developer is negotiating with terrorists; that is understood and it’s his choice. But as I said, yes, it’s perfectly clear the torrent was removed because he was being nice to them. It was viewed as an altruistic move by either the Pirate Bay or the uploader; a reward for not getting upset for them breaking the law. Why did they view it as a reward? Because they know unauthorized sharing of creations is harmful to the creator. This stuff isn’t hard and you pretending otherwise is entirely unconvincing.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The developer is negotiating with terrorists; that is understood and it’s his choice.

Wow. Terrorists? Really? No wonder you come off as a bitter person who has failed at monetizing your creations if that is how you treat your customers and potential customers.

But as I said, yes, it’s perfectly clear the torrent was removed because he was being nice to them. It was viewed as an altruistic move by either the Pirate Bay or the uploader; a reward for not getting upset for them breaking the law.

No it’s not clear. The developer himself stated the the original uploader was having trouble with his account and he would upload a better version himself. You are now making shit up as you go along now since it appears it wasn’t taken down on purpose at all.

Because they know unauthorized sharing of creations is harmful to the creator.

Really? Even when the creator is promoting the use of TBP himself? How the hell would anyone besides you come to such a stupid conclusion?

This stuff isn’t hard and you pretending otherwise is entirely unconvincing.

You are right, this stuff isn’t hard. But you pretending that reality doesn’t exist because it doesn’t fit into your preordained view of the world is downright ignorant.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The developer could have originally uploaded the game if he wanted to. He didn’t.

Read the title of this article: “Game Developer Connects With Pirates, Sees Massive Support & Deletion Of Torrents”

It’s spelled out for you clear as day: Negotiating with the PB terrorists got him
1.Support (inferred as a plus)
2.Deleted torrents (inferred as a plus).

Once again, this stuff isn’t hard.

Masnick made a Freudian slip and revealed what everyone already knows about illegal torrents: they’re harmful to creators. Deal with it and move on with your life.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Masnick made a Freudian slip and revealed what everyone already knows about illegal torrents: they’re harmful to creators. Deal with it and move on with your life.

Mike didn’t write this article.

Please stop with the “terrorists” nonsense. It only makes you look stupid. The main purpose of terrorists is to invoke terror (hence the name). Authorities negotiate with accused criminals all the time. You equating filesharers and terrorists is not only wrong, it’s purposely misleading.

Who is this “everyone” you refer to? Most of the data I’ve seen tends to lean the other way. Being open and honest with your potential customers, even if they obtained your content through illegal means, leads to more sales and, even better, leads to increased sales of your future projects.

You seriously come off as a one-hit wonder trying to rest on your laurels for the remainder of your life. Too bad the rest of us mortals don’t empathize with that position as we toil through life having to produce on a daily basis in order to be compensated.

Besides, nothing in you argument equates to illegal torrents being harmful to creators at all. You are really reaching here. Even if the torrent was deleted on purpose that doesn’t equate it to being harmful to creators in any way. That seems more like a token of respect to the creator, not any sort of admission of doing harm.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Please stop with the “trying to guess what I do for a living” nonsense. It only makes you look stupid. My career is fine and booming, thanks very much. My concern is with the musicians that are exploited; those that have no health insurance and trouble paying their rent. It’s called empathy and morals; traits pirates do not possess.

That seems more like a token of respect to the creator

And why is that particular action respectful, hmm? Whoosh…

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Please stop with the “trying to guess what I do for a living” nonsense. It only makes you look stupid. My career is fine and booming, thanks very much.

Fair enough. You do come off as bitter though.

My concern is with the musicians that are exploited; those that have no health insurance and trouble paying their rent.

That’s fine. I am not a musician*, but not having health insurance and trouble paying rent are problems I am extremely aware of. Does your empathy only extend to musicians? Are working blokes like myself without health insurance and trouble making the mortgage payment just plain shit out of luck in your view?

And why is that particular action respectful, hmm? Whoosh…

It’s respectful because it’s honoring a the wishes of a developer who respects his potential customers in return. Remember, respect between people is a reciprocal relationship, not something that is demanded or forced. It’s got nothing to do with whether it’s harming anyone.

* I used to be many years ago, but haven’t had the time to get on drum kit in well over 15 years now.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Once again, this stuff isn’t hard.”

No, it’s not. Sadly, once again, you get some of the basic facts right, then go down some moronic rabbit hole where you pick one of several interpretations of said facts and pretend that’s the only valid one. There are many reasons why removing a torrent would be seen as a plus, but you’re so blinkered you only see one – then use that to attack someone rather than discuss anything (again, someone not involved in this article in any way).

You’re either an idiot or a self-involved tosser incapable of discussing alternative points of view. Neither is particularly flattering.

sean hogan (profile) says:

dev here

hey this is sean. torrentfreak should be putting up a little info-interview on what happened tomorrow to clear things up.

basically the original torrent got deleted by a moderator mistake. then the torrentfreak commenters gave me the idea that it might be better to just upload it myself , as it would be inevitable the game would be reuploaded later.

i’m okay with the torrenting (though I still prefer being paid for my work if it’s financially possible for the player), the torrenting gives exposure for the game and its ideas which is pretty important to jon and I. it’s pretty unlikely we would have found as much exposure elsewhere (there are reviews and videos but those are pretty scattered and limited in scope in terms of who sees them), so I think the net effect of the piracy will be positive in the end, but that’s still a guess in the end! it’s a bit a of a gamble, but i’m in the situation to be able to make it, so i am.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: dev here

Hey Sean, thanks for stopping by.

I will most definitely be taking a look at your game to see if it is something I would want to purchase once I get some spare cash. Hell, I might even spend the $9 even if it’s not a game I’m interested in, just based on your response to all of this. I will also make sure I keep an eye out for your future projects down the road too.

I would like to ask one thing, if I may, could you possibly keep in touch with Techdirt now and then so we can all see if the tactic you have chosen to follow concerning the filesharing of your work has paid off or not?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: dev here

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

microface (profile) says:

If not for this article I would never have learned about Anodyne

If not for this article, I would not have searched for the download.
If not for the free download I would not have tried the game.
If I had not tried the game I would not have paid for the game.
If not for the free download I would not have told my son, and several colleagues about the game.
See Nice NERDS can and sometimes do win !!

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