Game Developer Chooses To Connect With Pirates, Reaps Rewards As A Result

from the good-guys dept

While the industries that dominate digital products generally aren't great at recognizing the true nature of the threat of piracy to their businesses, it seems to me the video game industry is better at this game than most. Whereas the movie and music industries are dominated by a great deal of fists pounding tables, some game developers have for some time recognized that piracy might actually be an opportunity in wolf's clothing, if they would only try connecting with these potential customers and ingratitate themselves to this wider potential audience. Still, because this idea that should be easily portable to other industries is so rarely entertained by those other industries, it's worth pointing out the ongoing examples of how gaming companies combat piracy by being awesome and human.

One such recent example is the story of how PM Studios, makers of Playstation Vita game SUPERBEAT: XONiC, reacted to a discussion on Reddit's r/VitaPiracy/ thread detailing how to pirate the game. The game developer decided to jump into the comments themselves with the following:

Hello everybody!

We feel honoured that you enjoy our game SUPERBEAT XONiC so much, we would like to invite you to take this opportunity to purchase it on sale at the Playstation Store.

You can enjoy the original game and show support to the team for just $15.99 (60% off), no Playstation Plus required!

https://store.playstation.com/#!/en-us/games/superbeat-xonic/cid=UP2011-PCSE00717_00-SUPERBEATXONIC02

Have a nice day!

This, quite simply, is how it's done. Rather than flying into a rage, which would be somewhat understandable on a thread designed specifically to show how to play the game without paying for it, PM Studios decided to treat those on the thread with respect, even thanking them for trying out the game. This acknowledgement that some percentage of piracy is comprised of those wanting to see if they'll like a game before buying it, combined with simply ignoring those that pirate without any intention of ever buying the game, and wrapped up at the end with a link to where the game can be bought while on sale, was met with enthusiastic responses in the comments.

And not only that. PM Studios stayed in the thread and had a relatively lively but respectful debate about how it views piracy, the harm of piracy, and describing its status as a small team just looking to make great games. In other words, rather than simply screaming about piracy, it connected with its potential customers in a respectful way. In the end, several comments came to the defense of PM Studios.

[–]DidntEvenReddit 5 points 3 days ago*

For a small team making Xonic it really is a way to keep the developers on the payroll post-release and keep in mind this is a third party exclusive game on the fucking vita to begin with so the margins are already against them. I have no idea why you would equate the practices of AAA publishers to PMStudios or why you wouldn't want to support them. You're not sticking it to the big corporate man by fucking over a small studio like this

One imagines that this kind of thing builds up goodwill amongst potential buyers of PM Studio games. Some of the comments on the thread state as much. It won't do anything with the pure-pirate folks out there, but, then again, nothing will. Worrying about those that were never going to buy the game would have been wasted time and energy. Instead, the developer chose to try to win over those that might indeed want to support its efforts.

Here's hoping PM Games gets the positive reinforcement needed to confirm that this kind of thing is the right way to deal with piracy. And that other studios are paying attention, as well.

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Filed Under: connect with fans, games, piracy, superbeat xonic
Companies: pm studios


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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Sep 2016 @ 11:49pm

    One would be curious to see how much of a sales boost this generated for them.
    The only way to get more studios to follow this lead would be to clearly show them the bottom line benefits.

    I'm of an age when there were these things called playable demos. You could see how well it would run on your system, and experience some limited game play. It made it easier to engage with consumers who would know if they could even play it without buying upgrades.

    Demos are pretty much unheard of these days, replaced with renders of gameplay or video filmed on a machine 15x's the listed specs. Its really annoying for someone to see something, see they are above the specs and the game looks like Minecraft when they buy it.

    So much of the video game industry has moved to what should be called bait n switch. Incomplete games, the DLC already on the disc, plays nothing like the videos, ship now/patch later, the latest in root kits, Always online demands for a SP game, central servers that crash leaving players screwed, lopsided support for 1 video card brand over another. (there is so much more)

    But for some reason they can't quite figure out why so many people 'pirate' titles.
    Pirates don't put up with the DRM or many of the other headaches meant to stop them that only punish paying customers.
    Pirates might just not be willing to drop $80 on a title with nothing more that perfect renders of a game that plays like crap on their machine in reality - but they would be willing to try it to see if thats something they want to pay for.
    Pirates might play the game for 25 min and decide its crap & delete it.

    Given that they have tried to destroy the used games market, or capture it for themselves with even worse terms for consumers they pretty much are hastening the next generation of 'pirates' who after being burned a few times will be far more picky in what they purchase after they try it.
    If you keep slapping them around, they might reach a point where they shift to just full time pirates. Nintendo frequently abuses their fans, want to guess how pirated their titles end up being as payback?

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