Game Developer Decides Best Way To Get Back At Pirates Is To Pirate Them Back

from the yarrrr dept

There are lots of ways a video game developer can choose to react to finding its game being pirated on the internet. The game maker can elect to get understandably angry and go the legal route for retribution. The company can instead see piracy as not that big a deal and ignore it. Or they can try to add more value than pirated versions of their games. The developer can choose to connect with the pirates and try to turn them into paying customers.

But I have to admit I didn’t even consider the route that Warhorse Studios took when it discovered that a cracking group had put its title Kingdom Come: Deliverance up on torrent sites: pirate them back.

After releasing its action role-playing game Kingdom Come: Deliverance early 2018, the game was quickly cracked by infamous underground group Codex, who released the title online for consumption by the pirating masses. It’s unclear to what extent this event affected sales but within a week of its launch, it had sold a million copies, including more than 300,000 on Steam.

With two million copies sold in the year that followed, Warhorse Studios clearly had a hit on its hands but this year the company showed that it also has a sense of humor. While publicizing a revamp of its headquarters in Prague, the company revealed that it had framed a copy of the information (NFO) file released by Codex with its pirate release, giving it pride of place near the company’s kitchen.

Fans of the studio thought this was hilarious. Some pointed out that the ASCII art, at the very least, could probably be argued to be the copyrighted content of the cracking group, or whoever created it. I’m not sure that’s 100% true, but it seems that Warhorse Studios took the suggestion to heart. In addition to that poster in its kitchen, the game developer is also offering metal prints of the poster to the public, selling them for $45 a piece.

Offered at Displate.com, Displates are described as “one-of-a-kind” metal posters “designed to capture your unique passions.” Their creators note that they’re “sturdy, magnet mounted, and durable enough to withstand a lifetime of intense staring.”

While it’s doubtful that the cracking group is going to even care about this at all, that isn’t really the point. The point is that it’s refreshing to see a game maker react to its game being pirated with humor and wit, rather than just throwing a bunch of lawyers at everyone. Sure, it helps that this developer also has a million copies of the game sold to blunt the sting of piracy, but that’s also sort of the point. Whatever the right balance on how to react to game piracy is, it’s probably as close to this example of a humorous response as it is anything else.

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Companies: warhouse studios

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Comments on “Game Developer Decides Best Way To Get Back At Pirates Is To Pirate Them Back”

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17 Comments
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That One Guy (profile) says:

Oh noes, free advertising...

While it’s doubtful that the cracking group is going to even care about this at all, that isn’t really the point.

If they have any sense of humor I imagine most of them find it quite funny, and if they’re cracking games for the challenge and/or the cred for doing so being ‘advertised’ like this is probably seen positively as well.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Oh noes, free advertising...

"Everyone seems to be assuming the cracking group owns the copyright, if any, to the ASCII art they used. There is the unlikely possibility they commissioned a work from an artist who had no idea what "CODEX" is. Or even reused some old BBS artwork."

When it comes to ASCII "art" it’s pretty much guaranteed that most of it relies on prior work – only so many symbols and combinations you can use to produce anything recognizable as scrollwork or an image.

If anything that underscores the invalidity of copyright as a concept more than it does anything else, but in reality you may be correct. There may be some original ASCII tinkerer who would recognize CODEX’s signature as being part of something he threw together in an idle moment way back when on usenet.

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Peter says:

But but but, my copyright.

Can you just imagine?

"You can’t sell that poster. It’s my copyright. I’m gonna sue!"

"Is it? Oh right then. If you could just contact our lawyer and let us know who you are and precisely how this artwork came to be associated with Codex, that would be great. Cheers"

Anonymous Coward says:

my version

not piracy:
1.recording music from the radio onto cassette tape
2.copying/downloading music from the web (just a modern day version of #1)

piracy:
1.copying/downloading software that’s not open source
2.using the home/personal version of non-open source software at work (at your manager’s request even)

To me software is different because I can’t think of an analog equivalent like with the radio/cassette example above.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: my version

Analog equivalent: watch a video of some guy using a home-made jig or sled for his power tools and making the same one for yourself, then posting a video about what you did with it.

Or maybe: downloading a recipe from the Internet and making food from it / sharing it with friends.

As far as software goes, I can definitely remember 5.25" floppy swaps back in the day. We did that pretty much the same way as recording music from the radio: took a blank floppy to a demo kiosk at a computer store and copied the software over… usually with the blessing of the store employee, who got some of our software in exchange to use in demos.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: my version

"To me software is different…"

And yet, it’s not.

The analog equivalent of software is the instruction manual for IKEA furniture, a cooking recipe, a math formula, or a description on the chemical process involved in turning water into hydrogen and oxygen.

This is what renders software patents particularly toxic. At the end of the day it’s about trying to prohibit people from using selected bits of math.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: my version

The analog equivalent of software is the instruction manual for IKEA furniture, a cooking recipe, a math formula, or a description on the chemical process involved in turning water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The bits in your head qualify too, as does the base-4 pairs responsible for defining your existence.

This is what renders software patents particularly toxic. At the end of the day it’s about trying to prohibit people from using selected bits of math.

To be fair, everything can be represented as a number or an algorithm. The question copyright asks is one of probability: I.e. What is the likely hood of someone else coming up with this exact same pattern of bits without prior knowledge of the pattern? If it’s above a certain threshold, it’s copyrightable.

(Of course in the US it’s a question of Bribe payed – Bribe demanded. If the result is zero or greater it’s copyrighted. If the result is less then zero, it can still technically be under copyright, but enforcement will be spotty at best.)

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: my version

"The bits in your head qualify too, as does the base-4 pairs responsible for defining your existence. "

Doesn’t exactly add validity to the concept of copyright, that. Biology has already had immense issues with patents and copyright cases blocking and hindering research on subjects such as breast cancer (The BrC1 gene debacle), for instance.

"The question copyright asks is one of probability: I.e. What is the likely hood of someone else coming up with this exact same pattern of bits without prior knowledge of the pattern? If it’s above a certain threshold, it’s copyrightable. "

Not really. In practice copyright means the party which can put up the biggest initial investment in legal fees will usually win the dispute.

Because that "propability calculation" is almost invariably completely subjective.

"Of course in the US it’s a question of Bribe payed – Bribe demanded. If the result is zero or greater it’s copyrighted. If the result is less then zero, it can still technically be under copyright, but enforcement will be spotty at best."

This is the case in europe as well, as can be quite clearly seen from French, Italian, German and Swedish handling of copyright law. Copyright law is legislation so odious there is no jurisdiction in which it is not inherently toxic.

To a large degree this is shared with patent law as well. Generally speaking the only part of IP law which has any form of practically applicable moral and ethical basis is trademark law.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Worse. They’ll have no incentive to crack games at all since 50 years down the road their descendants won’t keep getting paid for the work, according to the copyright cult.

If copyright actually had validity software "piracy" couldn’t even exist since no one would be getting paid for cracking and without fiscal incentive no one would so much as lift a finger.

It’s pretty damning that to this day the best argument the copyright cultists have is that the 99% of what we call "culture" shouldn’t exist since it was created before copyright was invented.

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