from the good-guys dept
With the way the past couple of weeks have gone for Denuvo, the DRM that was supposed to end piracy but instead only ended the industry’s brief resurgence in faith in DRM, you would be forgiven if you thought this was going to be yet another post about another Denuvo-protected game being cracked and released to the pirating masses. This isn’t that kind of story. Instead, it’s the story of game publisher Funcom accidentally stripping Denuvo out of the latest build of its early access game, Conan Exiles, and having that be released to the pirating masses.
In Conan Exiles’ case, Denuvo Anti-Tamper was temporarily removed – and accidentally. An updated version of the game was suddenly without protection. Denuvo Anti-Tamper returned soon enough, via another update, but not quickly enough. Pirates pounced and the damage was done.
Remember, Conan Exiles isn’t solely an online game, which tend to prevent piracy by requiring game versions to match that of the official servers. In Conan Exiles you can host your own worlds and play them alone or with others, or join their private worlds. In other words, a pirate can play the game.
I’m having trouble thinking up a way to construct a more frustrating experience for a game publisher. To have a game not susceptible to server check-ins, to have tried to infuse that game with DRM only to have it stripped in error and released, and to then have that game very much playable by the people you had specifically tried to prohibit via the DRM is like some kind of trifecta from hell for a game publisher. Remember, Nintendo lost its shit comnpletely when its free app was found to be “pirated.” You’re probably expecting Funcom to be cheesed off at equal or greater levels.
Except, at least from the company’s first public statements on the matter, not so much.
“There is unfortunately not much we can do about those who choose to download and play unauthorised copies,” Funcom said, “but we hope they make the jump to the official version so they can stay up to date with the latest patches and improvements. Being an Early Access title, there will be a lot of updates going forward!”
It’s a nearly perfect response. First, the company admits that piracy is a thing that’s going to happen. Then the company makes both a logical case for why fans of the pirated versions have a reason to buy an authorized copy, while maintaining a cool demeanor and enthusiasm that can only ingratiate the publisher to its fans, paying customers or otherwise. And keep in mind that it would be totally understandable if Funcom had a negative emotional response to all of this. But this way is better business.
It may be a little light on the connecting with fans part of the equation, but Funcom has focused on giving those who might pirate the game — and like it! — a reason to buy. Well done.