A Video Game In Which You Make Video Games Fights Pirates With Piracy

A Video Game In Which You Make Video Games Fights Pirates With Piracy

There’s a recent tradition of developers screwing with pirates — from releasing enormous, immortal pink scorpions on them, to booby trapping their games with glitches when they get cracked. This weekend, Greenheart Games, creator of Game Dev Tycoon, just blew the curve for everyone. This is fantastic.

As the title suggests, the game is about video games development. Greenheart is releasing it DRM-free, so this thing is sure to be pirated. Greenheart’s Patrick Klug figured, why wait, put a cracked version on “the number one torrent sharing site,” and sat back to watch what happened.

Something like 94 per cent of the game’s users were playing the pirated, cracked version that Greenheart itself had uploaded. But here’s where the fun begins.

“As players spend a few hours playing and growing their own game dev company, they will start to see the following message, styled like any other in-game message:”

“Slowly their in-game funds dwindle, and new games they create have a high chance to be pirated until their virtual game development company goes bankrupt.”

The best part? The pirates complained about it.

One even asked if he could “research DRM or something” to protect himself. “So what I have to do now? There’s no point in inventing a new engine because the revolutionary game made out of it will get pirated and I will not be able to cover my expenses.”

Well, duh.

Klug briefly delighted in the irony, but he isn’t laughing too hard, though, noting he and his brother, Daniel, spent a year building the game and haven’t drawn any salary from it. “If years down the track you wonder why there are no games like these any more, and all you get to play is pay-to-play and social games designed to suck money out of your pockets, then the reason will stare back at you in the mirror,” Patrick writes. Yep.

He discusses the caper in greater detail at the link (which, if it isn’t working, try this. The post made it to NeoGAF this morning and Greenheart’s site has been swamped.) Game Dev Tycoon — the one that works — is $7.99, available for Mac, Windows and Linux. The game also is up for a vote on Steam Greenlight.

What happens when pirates play a game development simulator and then go bankrupt because of piracy? [Greenheart Games via NeoGAF]


      • So they’re releasing another Call of Duty game with exactly the same mechanics and levelling system and online play and hope to make an income from it? Nah.

        Oh… wait…

        • Call of Duty started out as something original. Now they’re just milking it. Not the same thing.

          • My point is, by your logic, the first Doom clone should have been a complete failure.

          • In my opinion, the point of difference is that while Quake or Heretic might be thought of fondly as “Doom Clones”, Game Dev Tycoon *is* Game Dev Story. It would be like copying Doom and releasing it as a game called “Duum” and then having the audacity to preach about stealing.

            Also, “Call of Duty games are bad and the people that make them should feel bad, etc.”, but churning out unimaginative annual iterations is a whole other kettle of fish.

          • Game development isn’t as easy as copying and pasting the game and you’re talking about a game on a different platform with added features to the formula. The creators even say they were inspired by the game, cut them some slack. I’m sure you could say most games these days are original since they all build on others ideas and add their own ideas and thoughts to the mix.

            At the end of the day these two developers played game dev story and though hey we could do this better and on a different platform. Actually try the game before judging it as another “clone”.

          • Oh well, if you’ve played both games at length and have determined they’re exactly the same except for the graphics and there’s no difference in the mechanics at all, I’ll happily concede the point. Of course, if you haven’t played both games and you’re just assuming that they’re the same based on comments by people on the Internet… then I wouldn’t really consider that an informed assessment.

    • From screenshots and what I’ve read (not a lot) the mechanics of the game seem almost identical. Game Dev Story has better ‘graphics’ imo though.

    • The developers openly admitted game dev story inspired them but they’ve added a lot more to the formula if you care to check out the demo or even preview video. It’s also a PC game not a mobile game and it’s not as if you can just copy and paste a game, they put in a lot of time and effort to create this game. Game developers have been building from similar ideas for years, we wouldn’t have WOW if games like ultima weren’t born.

    • When I first saw the game name I was eager to buy it. Read the description and I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pay a guy that was blatantly ripping off Kairosoft. So instead of buying this I got Ninja Village for my Android phone 🙂

    • If you actually played both games, it would be clear that Game Dev Tycoon (while not quite as addicting, or anywhere near as easy) is very VERY different from Game Dev Story. On paper – start an indie company work your way to fame – thats the same. Gameplay is similar in some aspects but the research and engine creation and all the extra things you can research (2 genre’s for example) are some of the many MANY additions this game “adds” to Game Dev Story. Playing Game Dev Tycoon is very different from Story.

  • Lame. I had experienced such crap before. Bioshock. Bought the game from a retailer and installed it on my pc. Went to play. Must insert CD. So I gotta put the CD in every time I want to play? Screw that. So I cracked it. Played the game, the combat system was crappy but I pushed on. Hit a door and waiting to load the next area, it doesn’t open and you’re stuck. So I gave the game away to a friend. Also had number 2 it was on special at jb.

    • Yes, how lame that they should want to be paid for their work. Next farmers will want to be paid for the oranges that they grow, even though I have to peel off the orange rind EVERY time I want to eat an orange.

      Read the article properly. This is a game that is DRM-FREE. The developer’s “DRM-solution” was to make the game available to pirates in this broken form. If anyone buys the game, there is no limitation on how it can be copied, played, or anything like that. The only thing lame here is your response.

      • yrah and the price at jb couldn’t have effected my decision in any way. Moron? Wow. Alright I’ll let you know I did buy bioshock 3 and it is a huge improvement and yes I did buy it on steam. I am curious what checks they have in place to see if the games pirated or not. What ensures all legitamate users will get the full quality of the product and not just a majority of the legitimate users.

  • too bad they are relying the “ever pirate is a lost sale” logic when it is completely false

    • The people who pirate your game probably weren’t going to buy your game in the first place. Not defending piracy, but I definitely agree with that when a product is pirated, it is not always a lost sale, and very rarely is.

  • Operation Flashpoint did this to me. Bought a copy in Bali when i was younger and tried to play the game. The further i played the weaker my gun got. I couldn’t kill someone unless it was a virtual headshot and anything automatic fire had the accuracy of Michael J Fox. had to resort to sniper rifles (except 1 sceen where i was forced to use a MG nest) and some missions i just ran the entire way avoiding everything. It made the game that much more challenging and i loved it to death. FYI i dont pirate games anymore and i bought almost all the codemasters flashpoint expansions after that.

    It’s these little additions that make the dev world rock

  • You know piracy is a problem with indie games when great titles like Hotline Miami get pirated like crazy 🙁

  • He didn’t even come up with an original title! It’s sad he got pirated but he made a GameDevStory clone! It’s shovelware!

  • Completely agree. They appear to be using the same 4 element formula too. If Bugs gives you extra dev time, it’s exactly the same as Game Dev Story.

    I’m not paying double the price for a clone of a game have already.

  • Ha ha that’s kinda cute what greenheart did (although like what others have pointed out that it’s Game Dev Story just with a graphics update). To be honest I didn’t even know this game (Game Dev Tycoon) even existed. The funny thing with the pirates is that groups within the pirate community will get the real version of this game and release it onto torrent sites with comments in there that this is the real version.

    This is should be part of the game….the whole point of the game is to become a successful game developer…IRL piracy affects game devlopers so why not let it happen in game (paid or “pirated”) I guess in the “pirated” version…it should happen more quickly than usual

    • I’m giving you a downvote solely because people that have actually played both games are saying they’re different enough to not be considered clones. You can’t always judge a game by its premise.

      • That’s cool…I haven’t played Game Dev Tycoon…yet (I will download the official demo shortly)…I’m going off the screenshot…but like I said, the whole pirating part should a scenario in the full game

        • Let me know how it is if you get the chance. I haven’t played Game Dev Story myself, so I can’t really compare myself.

          • i just played the demo version last night. And yes it’s a Game Dev Story clone (I have played Game Dev Story and there are many similarities). There are some secarnios in Tycoon that are not in Story (from what I can remember) such as fans creating games from your tech, people piarting your games (giving you the option to sue or just warn them), and to steal tech or sabotage another developer.

            Just Game Dev Story, Game Dev Tycoon is a good casual game that can wipe out a few hours of boredom.

          • I played Story the other night to give it a try. Interesting game, though I didn’t really like the touch interface. I’ll try Tycoon at some point. I’m still not sure I’d call it a clone from the reviews I’ve seen, but I’ve removed the downvote from earlier because you’ve tried it for yourself and stand by that conclusion. Thanks for the review =)

  • Part way through the legit version of the game you get stuck with a very average game and then have to make a modified version to upload to a torrent site to trick news sites into giving you a mountain of free publicity in the hope that it causes people to buy your game because they feel they are sticking it to the pirates by doing so.

    • My favourite part of the game is when you unlock the ability to reverse engineer other peoples games and re release them as your own intellectual property! Although it clashes really hard with the anti piracy message the game tries to pull off and breaks the realism.

  • While I see this as a clone of Game Dev Story, Kairosoft haven’t released anything for PC and while the developers could have changed it a bit more, it seems the only major change, at least according to most reports, has been the “screw you” version for pirates.
    Maybe have the company dealing with publishers, fans demanding new IPs and publishers demanding sequels to popular games, international markets or streaqmlining, there’s sm much wich could have been changed insted of what boils down t a PC port of a sucessful mobile game.

  • I love that the mechanic seems to be based off the assumption that every pirated copy is a ‘lost sale’ and that no-one will buy your game if they can pirate it. [/sarcasm]

    Hopefully these guys were exaggerating to prove a point, but I would like to remind them: The ‘lost sale’ argument is (and always has been) a line of bullshit. If every person who pirated a copy of a game did so instead of buying one, then yes – the game, movie, and music industries would be TRILLIONS of dollars richer. Only, those trillions of dollars don’t actually exist. Because a significant number of pirates would take option three: Don’t pirate, but also don’t buy. That’s not a lost sale. That’s a ‘never was‘ sale. Using these figures trotted out in the newspapers to award damages in the trillions to individuals who do get caught is a ludicrously disproportionate and ill-informed travesty of law bending justice over a barrel.

    These guys are complaining about a segment of the market who would have bought their game, but didn’t ONLY because it was available to pirate. That’s not as large a segment as the creative industries like to claim. Massive piracy should not bankrupt your business. McPixel and others have proven that offering up your game for free to pirates can result in staggering sales boosts, further disproving the underlying assertion.

    FUN EXERCISE: Checking the top 100 pirated games on the pirate bay shows Bioshock Infinite, Skyrim, Sims 3, Far Cry 3, and Crysis 3… all commercial failures whose companies are being bankrupted by the highest level of piracy occurring across the global gaming market!

    *eyeroll* Disclaimer: Yes, I know economies of scale come into play because those are AAA titles, and yes, piracy may even have an effect on why those games’ publishers are pulling ridiculous game-harming stunts to protect their revenue.

    I just really wish there were some way of accurately calculating the real damage done by piracy so we didn’t have to put up with hyper-inflated claims.

    An analogy: let’s assume that piracy is the financial equivalent of breaking a leg. When someone experiences this you absolutely afford them sympathy and consideration for their circumstances. If someone breaks their leg and then wails and moans incessantly about how it is as lethal as cancer and their every waking moment is agony, you might start to feel significantly less sympathetic, and probably a bit disgusted and lose your patience with them.
    That is how I feel about hyperinflated claims of piracy damages.

    • Wait, Bioshock Infinite, Skyrim and Far Cry 3 were commercial failures? Jesus. Every man and his dog owns those games.

      For clarity: I’m not doubting your facts, I’m just surprised by them.

      • They weren’t failures, The point he was trying to make was that they succeeded despite piracy because they were quality games.

  • There is literally no excuse warranted for pirating an $8 indie game, I see a lot of people always try to justify piracy by saying “they want to try the game for themselves” (The game has a demo) or “It’s too expensive” (IT’S $8 FFS YOU CHEAPSKATES) “I’ll buy it later (BULLSHIT)

    Seriously if you really are going to go into justification for how you should pirate an $8 game then you’re really just becoming a self-entitled douchebag.

    • The “no demo” is an entirely legitimate excuse. Go back in time to Doom and Duke Nukem. Back then you could gauge whether or not you would purchase the game using a completely legal demo disk to see if you liked it, whether your system could handle it, e.t.c.

      When the demo started to die off, piracy increased, initially because of the reason above. Then market forces, sisters and brothers and mums and dads found out they could get games for free. You can’t compete with that.

      Originally, “pirates” were the people who bootlegged these software and film titles and sold them at dodgy back-alley markets. The terms “pirate” and “piracy” are not really suitable for what goes on these days. Mr Bloggs, a blue collar worker and father to two boys and a girl with a loving wife, is not a pirate. He’s a consumer who looked for the best deal around. Torrents gave him that deal.

      Basically, @transientmind nailed it above.

  • Now that I think about it, I don’t mind thinking about developers/publishers as victims of physical injury, as relates to piracy. I picture EA or Ubisoft as an Olympian in the making who got hit-and-run by a taxi once, leaving them crippled.

    They don’t talk about it much anymore, and they’ve compensated (to an extent), becoming a Paralympian instead. But somewhat bizarrely anytime they catch a taxi now, once they’ve arrived safely at their destination they pay the fare and try to kneecap the driver. They explain to the cabbie that the only way to mete out justice on the guy who did run them over is to fuck you up.

  • I don’t know. Can I create a fundamentally flawed game. Sell to to Australia for 3x the price of the rest of the world. Lie about numerous features. Remove content from the game and sell it as DLC and then make millions of dollars?

    Or is their no option to play as EA games?

    DRM free?
    I wonder how many of those people who downloaded it even knew what it was, or ever installed it? Wouldn’t waste my time on this game. Sounds stupid..

  • Small Indie Dev (hereon-in referred to as Sid) makes game. Sid doesn’t make good sales. Sid releases a torrent of a “pirate” version. Pirate version gets downloaded 10 zillion times. Sid trolls pirates with “lol piracy”. Writes article. Gains clicks. That’s all I see. Sid doesn’t need to prove that piracy exists, we all know that, so I don’t understand.

    I did giggle at the idea, I love a good troll.

  • Well it is a Game Dev Story knock off, but a little more complex and a lot harder as I breezed through the demo version but am stuck at the second office in the paid version which I bought.Since Kario-soft haven’t bothered to translate GDS2 on pc I quess they have themselves to blame as I would have bought that instead, as I prefer Kario’s style and 8bit graphics more.

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