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
    Jajo (profile), 29 Sep 2016 @ 1:14am

    A little while ago a friend was really excited about a game called This War of mine. One day he noticed, that the lead designer of the game put up a torrent of the game on TPB with a similar message along the lines of "we know, that this is inevitable. We might as well make this as easy as possible for any potential buyers. You'll try our game and if you'll like it, you just might buy it, or at least recommend it".
    This friend of mine shared the news with us and after 10 minutes 11 Bit Studios had sold 6 more copies.

    MuHa Games is the studio behind Thea: The Awakening. When the game was in early access on steam, there were several requests for linux support. Lead developer engaged the petitioners on Steam forums with regretable news, that they are just too small of a studio to afford supporting a linux port. But! Since they do not want people to be barred form enjoying their game, they are releasing the linux build as-is for free and hopefully tech savvy people will be able to get it running and provide unofficial support to other enhusiasts (link to the build was included).
    I'm using linux myself, but I've bought a copy on the spot and so have several others, judging by the thread replies. People who otherwise really had no reason to do so.

    What can I say. I'm a compulsive buyer. I just can't not show patronage to companies that treat audience with respect.
    Because to me game piracy is not about getting stuff for free, but about not getting scammed out of money one might be short on. When I was in high school, this was the case; now that I have a job, it's not anymore. Companies could think of me as scum, but as long as I'm buying games every month, that really is not the best financial perspective to have.

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