'Serious Sam' Developer Teams Up With Denuvo Cracker To Pump Up Sales For Failed Game

from the pirates-are-our-friends dept

In all of our conversations about video game piracy and the DRM that studios and publishers use to try to stave it off, the common refrain from those within in the industry and others is that these cracking groups are nearly nihilism personified. Nothing is sacred to these people, goes the mantra, and they care nothing for the gaming industry at all. If the gaming industry is destroyed, it will be because of these pirate-y pirates simply not giving a damn.

This notion is belied by the story of Crackshell, makers of indie spinoff of the Serious Sam franchise called Serious Sam's Bogus Detour, and Voksi, an individual that runs a game-cracking ring. Voksi has been featured in our pages before as one of the few people out there who has been able to consistently defeat the Denuvo DRM, helping propel the software's precipitous fall from grace. If a game developer and a game-cracker seem to be natural enemies, it will come as a surprise to you that they have recently teamed up to try to resurrect Bogus Detour from the bin of failure.

The whole story is useful for debunking the notion that these pirate sites and those that run them are pure venom for the game industry, but it's particularly useful to hear how this relationship came to be.

In discussion with TF over the weekend, Voksi told us that he’s a huge fan of the Serious Sam franchise so when he found out about the latest title – Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour (SSBD) – he wanted to play it – badly. That led to a remarkable series of events.

“One month before the game’s official release I got into the closed beta, thanks to a friend of mine, who invited me in. I introduced myself to the developers [Crackshell]. I told them what I do for a living, but also assured them that I didn’t have any malicious intents towards the game. They were very cool about it, even surprisingly cool,” Voksi informs TF.

When the game hit the market, Voksi didn't target it. Despite this hands-off approach from a capable game-cracker, sales for the title were very poor. Reviews on Steam were great, critics generally liked it, and yet as of the end of 2017 the game wasn't even profitable. Bucking the stereotype, Voksi reached out to Crackshell and offered to help.

“Last week I contacted the main dev of SSBD over Steam and proposed what I can do to help boost the game. He immediately agreed,” Voksi says.

“The plan was to release a build of the game that was playable from start to finish, playable in co-op with up to 4 players, not to miss anything important gameplay wise and add a little message in the bottom corner, which is visible at all times, telling you: “We are small indie studio. If you liked the game, please consider buying it. Thank you and enjoy the game!”

Voksi, who is doing all of this for free, then went on to tie in giveaways for the pirate version of the game on his own forum for his cracking group. This work, done pro bono, is all the result of Voksi liking the game, liking the developer, and desperately wanting both to succeed. If ever there were a rebuttal to the notion of pirate groups as nihilistic and selfish, this is certainly it.

This whole experiment will also serve as a wonderful test of how useful engaging the supposed enemies of gaming by studios would be. Keep in mind that this game was already a failure in terms of being profitable, despite being a good game by all accounts. If engaging with pirate groups and sites can suddenly make it profitable? Well, that would seem to turn even more claims about piracy on their head.


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 16 Mar 2018 @ 1:58pm

    Pirates are people like anybody else. And they can be simply awesome if treated like people, not like criminals. I am a pirate, I've downloaded shitloads of stuff. And I've bought a shitload of stuff because I was able to experience them through my pirating and even just because I decided people were worthy of my money like Notch when confronted with piracy (bought the game and never played it because it's simply not my type of game).

    Goodwill generates goodwill.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      An Onymous Coward (profile), 16 Mar 2018 @ 2:04pm

      Re:

      To add to that, "crackers" break DRM partly for the challenge and partly for the notoriety, mostly the latter. Give them an opportunity to gain that or an even larger degree of notoriety and don't be surprised if they go for it even if the process and result are entirely above board.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 16 Mar 2018 @ 5:45pm

    Shareware never really went away; people just started making their own.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DONT MAKE ME LAUGH, 16 Mar 2018 @ 7:09pm

    "When the game hit the market, Voksi didn't target it. "

    hes now considered a rat

    end of story

    this site knows not what it is to be a cracker or pirate at that level and he broke a ton of the real rules....

    and you are wrong about notoriety....i give cause i feel like it and i share to get access to things i wish shared back...

    that you dont get it...shows the utter lack of knowledge of what truch hacking and piracy are all about at a base level.

    its not about glory or money....its about freedom from all your rules

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Mar 2018 @ 2:53am

      Re: "When the game hit the market, Voksi didn't target it. "

      He got a free version of the game out there that works and won't ever get taken down. That's almost the best possible outcome. if you could expand on the cracker "rules" you're on about maybe we could discuss the successes possible by following them. Isn't as you mention the true nature of hacking bending the rules to get a desired outcome?


      Also learn what an ellipsis is and when it should be used, you seem to be struggling.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Vidiot (profile), 17 Mar 2018 @ 8:02am

        Re: Re: "When the game hit the market, Voksi didn't target it. "

        Another thing you don't understand, you establishment shill!

        Cracker-pirate-hacker culture means thumbing your nose at the rules, especially grammar and punctuation! And sometimes spelling. And logic. Maybe hygiene, too.


        /s

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Thad, 17 Mar 2018 @ 8:50am

          Re: tl;dr

          Don't forget freedom from the "reply to this" link. He'll reply to An Onymous Coward's post about notoriety wherever he wants; he won't be bound by your "rules" about replying to the actual post he's responding to!

          Also, evidently freedom from short, clear subject lines? I notice my script that hides any subject longer than 50 characters kicked in.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 17 Mar 2018 @ 8:44am

      Re: tl;dr

      this site knows not what it is to be a cracker or pirate at that level and he broke a ton of the real rules....

      its not about glory or money....its about freedom from all your rules

      So wait.

      Piracy is about freedom from rules.

      But Voksi is a rat, because...he broke the rules?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        DogBreath, 17 Mar 2018 @ 12:31pm

        Re: Re: tl;dr

        I think Captain Hector Barbossa defined it quite clearly:

        From: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

        Elizabeth: Wait! You have to take me to shore. According to the Code of the Order of the Brethren-

        Barbossa: First, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement so I must do nothing. And secondly, you must be a pirate for the pirate's code to apply and you're not. And thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 19 Mar 2018 @ 3:56am

    "Despite this hands-off approach from a capable game-cracker, sales for the title were very poor. Reviews on Steam were great, critics generally liked it, and yet as of the end of 2017 the game wasn't even profitable"

    Why... it's almost as if there's a large number of factors that can make or break a product's success, and there are times where piracy is not even on the list!

    For what it's worth, while I've not been a PC gamer for a long time and while I'm aware of the serious I didn't realise there was another game after #3. While it seems I'm not in the target market, marketing may be part of the issue here.

    “The plan was to release a build of the game that was playable from start to finish, playable in co-op with up to 4 players, not to miss anything important gameplay wise"

    Erm, this is the part that confuses me... the existing game *wasn't* playable start to finish or 4 player co-op? Or, is he now having to reverse engineer some of the things that were broken by DRM. Do the developers not have an uninfected copy of the game any more or something?

    While it's great that we have another developer who are not trying to impose broken DRM on to everyone and realising that piracy isn't their biggest enemy, something seems strange here to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 19 Mar 2018 @ 4:40am

      Re:

      I think the idea was that traditionally, when trying to help sales with a free try-it-out release, what gets released is "only part of the game" crippleware, with some elements disabled or entirely removed - whereas they were specifically planning to release the entire game, just with this please-buy-it-if-you-like-it visible watermark.

      So they were contrasting not against the existing purchaseable release, but against the general practices of the industry.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 19 Mar 2018 @ 5:04am

        Re: Re:

        Ah OK, that certainly makes more sense. It didn't occur to me that they were talking about treating it as a demo release rather than just accepting that the DRM wasn't helping them. Thanks!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DONT MAKE ME LAUGH, 19 Mar 2018 @ 4:20am

    @vidiot and @thad

    no vdiot its more likely he saw the writing on the wall and had to retire form what he was doing or get bribed and coerced into joining the darkside. OH and now he wont get any other games free cause they will be breaking into his system with all the exploits available and checking OR if hes seen to be doing anything he gets busted quick

    ya all for price a one game ...lol

    @thad no he is now following the rules , bending over like a shill and prolly telling denovo and this publisher everything he did so they can make things just a bit more hard for the next person....and make people that buy legal have even worse experience due to all the DRM layers

    nice try though your attempt at a reverse angle fails at every angle both of you

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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