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.