Greenheart Games Trolls Pirates With Altered Cracked Version Of Game Dev Tycoon
from the flawed-simulation dept
When we have talked about game developers messing with pirates in the past, I’ve actually found it quite entertaining. As much as I hate Ubisoft, it made me smile when they released a version of one game that filled the audio up with vuvuzellas if it was a pirated copy. I’d of course prefer they have done something a bit more forward-thinking than simply trolling pirates, but it made me laugh. Certainly I have no sympathy for the pirates, nor for Ubisoft, whose trolling attempt was a minor hiccup corrected when other cracks of the game came out.
While I have some of the same issues, I find it even more entertaining when a move like this is done by an indie developer, particularly when that developer goes out of its way to otherwise be exceptionally level-headed about the pirating of their game. Such is the case with Greenheart Games, who released their game Game Dev Tycoon, and simultaneously released a cracked version that trolled infringers magnificently.
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.”
It’s really hard for me to get mad at them for this. The cracked version doesn’t disrupt the entire game, as Ubisoft’s vuvuzella did. You do get to try the gameplay out for a bit before encountering the trolling code. It is a bit of passive aggression, but one which both makes a point and isn’t angry or mean. Besides that, the effects of the trolling in the responses of some of the infringers are downright hilarious. On forums, the pirates were asking for help, saying things like “Can I research DRM or something?” and “Why are there so many people that pirate? It ruins me!” Detecting irony, it appears, is a skill.
All that said, and perhaps this makes me weird, my first thought once I’d stopped laughing was that the simulator had failed completely. If the result of piracy in the cracked version always results in ruin for the developer, then we know the simulator is flawed. After all, I’m fairly certain folks like Ubisoft, EA, and the like haven’t been driven into the ground by piracy. Somehow they are still going strong. And what about indie developers that utilize CwF+RtB, like tinyBuild or contributors to the Humble Bundles? Why isn’t there room for all of them within the simulation?
The answer, of course, is this is a trolling attempt, not part of the sim at all. And to their credit, the developers seem to be quite level-headed about piracy in general, particularly when this game’s user-base is 94% from unauthorized versions (though that may have been sprung by the developer releasing their own cracked copy).
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.
Nor I with them, though I’d suggest that perhaps if they had attempted to work some of the aforementioned examples into their simulation, it would have been instructive on how they can actually embrace tactics that can make them a great deal more money than just trolling potential customers.