MacGuffin’s Curse Is Now DRM Free. How? Well That’s A Funny Story Actually…

MacGuffin’s Curse Is Now DRM Free. How? Well That’s A Funny Story Actually…

Normally press releases are dull and I delete them. This has led to me missing out on IMPORTANT VIDEO GAME NEWS on more than one occasion. Press releases from Brawsome, the creators of Jolly Rover, are rarely dull, but this one is especially good. Not only did it informs us that MacGuffin’s Curse can now be bought DRM free, but it told us the story behind that decision. And it’s a good story…

But first — the short version. Brawsome has done a deal with the Humble Bundle folks. They are now distributing MacGuffin’s Curse and Jolly Rover.

Now I’m going to post the long version. Because it’s interesting, and Brawsome make some really interesting points about piracy. I’d rather show you guys precisely what they said than simply paraphrase…

The Story (complete and unabridged)

I’ve picked up a few Humble Bundles in my time, which isn’t surprising, but what I really love about them was their system, which I felt was clean, easy to use, and gave people just about every payment option they could ask for. So when they contacted me out of the blue last month to ask if I wanted to use their new Humble Bundle widget to distribute Jolly Rover I said “YES! HERE! TAKE MACGUFFIN’S CURSE TOO! AND WHAT ELSE? I HAVE SOME OLD GAMES YOU MIGHT LIKE! HAVE YOU HEARD OF JUST ANOTHER POINT AND CLICK ADVENTURE?”. So they took MacGuffin’s Curse too.

Well, it didn’t happen exactly like that. I tried googling around first to find out what this was all about. But it’s not easy to find out a lot of information on this shadowy new Humble Bundle store, which is still in Beta. Initially I got excited that I had been selected as one of the lucky indies to make fat stacks of cash by being in a Humble Indie Bundle, but this was not the case. However the example game they pointed me to was Braid, which is also using the Humble store. And if it’s good enough for Braid, then sign me up!

Initially they only asked for Jolly Rover, and the decision to make this DRM Free had been already made earlier this year when it was part of the highest grossing Indie Royale Bundle to date. Since then Jolly Rover has been DRM Free on Desura, so deciding to distribute it via the Humble Bundle store wasn’t a hard decision. But MacGuffin’s Curse hadn’t even been out a month. I had been thinking about making MacGuffin’s Curse DRM Free for a while though, even before release. I think the final tipping point was when I was talking to my partner on the project Ben Kosmina. I was talking about maybe making MacGuffin’s Curse DRM Free and I asked him if he thought it had been pirated already. “Yeah, it’s pretty much up everywhere already”, he told me, which for me was a little disappointing, because I was distributing the PC and Mac version exclusively through Steam I thought we’d have a bit of time before this happened, but this didn’t seem the case. So I thought, why should the pirate sites be providing an easier way to get the game than me? Don’t get me wrong, I love Steam, I’m a Steam fanboy, I want to marry them and have their babies, but I can’t deny there area lot of people, or a vocal minority, that really hate Steam, and hate the people who put their games on there by association, and quite frankly, I’ve been worn down.

My main concern with moving DRM free was not so much piracy, which was inevitable, but a more “casual piracy”, i.e. sharing games around the office, or between friends or family. It just makes it a little easier, and I have no doubt that this is exactly what’s going to happen. But the upside to this is the involuntary marketing, which for a studio my size is probably more important.

I’m not actually that phased by piracy anymore, it’s just another form of marketing, after all. But I wish there were some way to organise a period of exclusivity where the game was not pirated, at least. And anecdotally, people who pirate your game probably wouldn’t have bought it anyway. Also, I’m guilty of being a pirate myself. As a kid in the 80’s with a hand me down computer, and no money outside of birthdays and christmas, I pirated a lot of games. That is to say, my friends older brothers pirated them and I copied them. Many of the games that shaped who I am today were pirated, and since then I have bought some of them several times over as they are re-released on various platforms, but without that link to the past I never would have known about them in the first place, and likely wouldn’t have bought them now. That’s not waving a flag saying it’s okay though, I don’t advocate the practice, and people who pirate games, like me, should not feel like it’s a legitimate option, there should still be that slight pang of guilt if you’re enjoying something that somebody worked hard on that you didn’t pay for, because you still want them to buy the game when they’re able. But it is going to happen, and people are going to be exposed to the game that maybe might not have. So, cheers, for piracy, and cheers for going DRM Free!


Bravo guys, and good luck with it all!


  • i think this is EXACTLY the view any digital publishers shold take.. Piracy is going to happen and the people that do it probably arent going to buy it anyway.

    • Exactly, and if you offer it in a pay-what-you-want format you might actually make a few sales from the people who usually wouldn’t pay

  • Guy One: This validates my opinion, this guy should be listened too, any contrary statements are wrong.

    Guy Two: This guy is an idiot, piracy might work for his tiny company, who the hell is he anyway?, he’s overlooking the actual problem. My guy is right, any contrary opinions are wrong.

    I think that’s the tl;dr of the eventual comments thread for anyone in a rush.

    • You forgot the third guy: I have an angry opinion about something that’s unrelated to the point of the article because I didn’t bother to read it properly.

  • MacGuffin’s curse is a fantastic game, got the iPhone version. Great dungeon/block puzzling/adventure game with much love, humor and attention to detail. They even got a guest line from Tim Shafer in the game.

    • Same here – Up there with the best $1 purchases I ever made! Worth it even at $5. The touch controls are really intuitive too – drag with one finger to walk, drag with two fingers to push and pull, tap screen to read/talk.

      While the main gameplay is a bit samey, the puzzles are good, the writing keeps things fresh and the developers did everything they could to keep frustration to a minimum.

      I can’t recommend this game enough!

  • “My main concern with moving DRM free was not so much piracy, which was inevitable, but a more “casual piracy”, i.e. sharing games around the office, or between friends or family.”

    this is the piracy you should actually care less about. Not only is this method less ubiquitous these days, but the people who do it see it as less of a problem than even online piracy. Many consumers find it unfair that a lot of games don’t let you lend or sell copies to friends, and so this piracy becomes an extension of that. I mean who are you thinking about when you torrent a game? Yourself probably. But sharing a floppy? Such a pirate is trying to spread the experience, whether they know it is damaging or not. Since you have the greatest influence on your close friends and family it is a good way to spread awareness and trust about what games are shared and could lead to them eventually buying similar and subsequent productions.

    It’s in a similar vein to how game companies are treating LAN games these days. The inability to just copy (or spawn copy, that was fantastic and legal) a game and just play on a lan, stops the enjoyment of that game before it could even begin. How many people do you think actually go out to buy a multiplayer game to play online after not being able to get it to run at LANs? Not many at all.

    • Wouldn’t want to even think how many games I have now as a result of being lent a copy by brothers/friends/work mates.

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