Game Developer Finds Where Pirates Are Downloading Their Game, Leaves Thank You Note

It's like somebody always says, probably: If you can't beat 'em, convince them to join you. We've got a new entry in the increasingly lengthy saga of clever developers realising that, shit, piracy is never gonna go away, so we'll make the best of it, I guess. Upon discovering a few pirated versions of their PlayStation Vita game, SUPERBEAT: XONiC, on the Vita Piracy and Vita Hacks subreddits, developer PM Studios joined the discussion. Here's what they wrote (via Torrent Freak):

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!!/en-us/games/superbeat-xonic/cid=UP2011-PCSE00717_00-SUPERBEATXONIC02
Have a nice day!

Both subreddits created threads specifically to thank PM Studios for the gesture, and many posters said the devs' attention convinced them to purchase the game.

Others pointed out that PM Studios wisely acknowledged one of the less prominent functions of piracy: It allows people to try before they buy. Whether intentionally or not, PM both descended at the exact right time (when their game was in deep discount mode for a weekend) and made people feel like they weren't morally reprehensible cookie jar thieves for their piracy habits.

Sweet, sweet validation.

Granted, some users still tried to rein them in:

In other words, it's complicated. Some people simply don't have a ton of money, and piracy gives them a risk-free way to try games. Other people just want free shit, despite maybe having the means to pony up. In either case, piracy is not necessarily the best thing you can do. But it is what it is.

Still, this seems to be a case of "all's well that ends well". Or at least, as close to "well" as we're going to get.


    Oh my gosh that piracy analogy is great. Thank you handy reddit person.

      Reddit knows masturbation.


          Can't tell if joke I'm not getting or...

            The reddit poster being quoted mispelt it as mastErbation. Thats all. Probably a joke in there about them being masters in that area, but that wasnt really the intent.

              Ah, right. Was only paying attention to Cubits :P

    There's also a distinction that needs to be made eventually for the splitting of piracy into things you've downloaded that you don't or haven't originally owned and downloading things that you own in regards to having a digital back up. After getting a PSP Vita and having my psp be broken I'm fresh out of luck because I have all these umd drives and can't use them on my vita, but I can buy psp games on the ps store that play on my vita? Looking forward to the breaking open of the vita that's on the horizon that'll allow psp backups to be played.

    People need to stop looking at piracy as straight as they do theft because it's not depriving someone of a product. It's depriving them of a sale, and someone's essentially getting something for free that they shouldn't be more or less able to, so I'm not justifying it but it's a different bucket of fish than stealing where not only are you taking something for nothing, you're going against people's will and you're also making them lose a sale, losing both money they'd have made on the product and the money that went into the product.

    It's a slippery slope discussion, all aboard~

      People need to stop looking at piracy as straight as they do theft because it's not depriving someone of a product.

      I think that goes both ways though. Just as many people need to stop looking at piracy as ok simply because it's not directly depriving someone of it. So much of the conversation is dominated by people arguing semantics over the use of the word theft that we overlook the fact that piracy is piracy. Whether or not it's stealing is sort of irrelevant. Piracy is it's own thing and like any crime as individuals we have to decide if we're ok with committing that crime.
      If someone's argument begins and ends with 'it is/isn't stealing' then they're not going to change my mind and they're definitely not exploring the topic. It's like a con-man insisting they did nothing wrong because technically they didn't rob anyone.

        It's more along the lines of is a crime really a crime if it isn't enforced or there's no obvious victim? I go pirate something, deny a faceless company their cut of a $15-$60 sale. I then use/play the pirated goods and nothing ever happens.

        If I steal something it'll likely be reported to the police and they'll come looking for me...If I pirate something no-one cares except the IP holder and that's only if they realise I pirated the game in the first place.

        That's what it comes down to, is it a crime if no-one ever gets punished for doing it?

          If I sneak into your house and take naked photos of you, is that really a crime? I mean, I didn't take anything from you, and me shaking hands with the president over your naked photos doesn't harm anyone... so no harm, no foul?

            "...or there's no obvious victim?"

            Key line there.

            Also I'm not trying to justify piracy, just pointing out why it's so prevalent. No punishment means no reason to stop means crime doesn't stop, pretty simple.

            Last edited 27/09/16 3:14 pm

            There has to be a fallacy of comparing two obviously irrelevant things together to further your point... And the basis of "is it a crime" isn't taking something from you, but that's the basis of theft and why theft is bad, is because it deprives you of your goods. Which is why the idea of piracy needs to be split from the idea of straight "theft" because they're different things that need to be thought of and dealt with as separate things.

              Thought it was a false dichotomy, but might be a false analogy. Check out

              I thought the analogy was apt. I mean, if the criteria was that any action that doesn't cause a negative impact on the victim isn't really a crime, then the peeping example would be considered fair game.

              I think the issue with IP is people misunderstand the product. Devs aren't selling you a game per se, they are selling you the experience of playing a game, much like cinemas sell the experience of seeing a movie on the big screen rather than selling you an actual physical product. By pirating the game, you are taking the experience of playing the game without paying for it, just like if you snuck into a movie theater.

              Actually, now that I think of it, sneaking into a movie theater is probably the perfect analogy for pirating a game. So long as the theater isn't full, you don't cause any harm to the cinema, but you are denying them the revenue they need to keep functioning.

        Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it's okay to go online and say, download Witcher 3 if you didn't pay for it, you're getting something for free that people spent months working on, they need to be paid and that money comes from sales and it's all apart of the circle of life, uh, no, money. I'm just saying it's not as direct as theft because there's no definitive good to be stolen, it's digital and it's data, so it's not 1:1, whereas a lot of people try to compare it as such and it leads the focus down the wrong path, which is probably why it's still not being dealt with properly.

        This article alone suggests that very much in that a large group of people aren't downloading games intentionally to screw over developers but maybe want to try it out before buying, how to deal with that? Have a demo of your game. But if you thought of the scenario as theft then your result and direction to deal with the issue won't be that and you're more likely just going to burn your customers with ideas like always-online-DRM.

        I could go on and on about every little detail, but at the very core the point I want to get across here is that piracy =/= theft. Not that it isn't a crime, or whether it should be a crime, whether you're allowed to have backups of your stuff, all that, save it for another day.

          Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to get preachy. We all have our lines. I just think it's important to recognise that both sides make this tar pit of an argument that piracy is all about theft when even though it's similar to theft piracy is it's own thing. Pretty much anyone who talks on the subject understands that piracy isn't theft but all it takes is one person using the word and suddenly the only thing people want to talk about is the definition of a different but similar crime.

    I pirated a lot when I was younger and didn't have a job. I had no intention of paying for them. On the one hand, I wouldn't have bought the games anyway as I didn't have money. On the other hand, I was really just stealing. Honestly, I wasn't doing a "try before I buy". The games were typically big budget ones that I knew I was probably going to like anyway and just wanted in.

    The indie game scene didn't exist back then like it did now, and I'd think it a dick move to pirate indie games. It's not like they're super expensive.

    Abandonware I'd be fine with if it's unobtainable elsewhere. Roms too, but virtual console exists now, so at least some of those titles can be purchased legitimately.

      This, young no job I pirated, most of what I pirated I now own legally. It just came down to what I could afford and the answer was not very much. Oh the days of 17fps on low on a shitty laptop and loving every minute of it. Was a simpler time.

      You were not stealing. You were committing copyright infringement.

        Call it what you will. More or less the same thing. It's sneaking into a movie theatre to watch any movie I want as much as I want. Telling the usher I want to see if I'll buy it on bluray maybe just maybe I have the money wouldnt fly. Without the paying audience to support my freeloading i wouldnt be able to do it.

          Sneaking into a movie takes up a seat and can deprive someone of the experience, much like stealing something deprives someone else of that object.

          You've watched the opening bit on DVD's too often.
          No it's not.

            So if it doesn't take up a seat, sneaking into a movie theater is okay?

            I've rarely been into a fully packed movie theater. There's plenty seats for everyone.

            Last edited 27/09/16 3:33 pm

              If it doesn't take up a seat, it's more like copyright infringement and less like stealing.

                Oh good. Or I can pay for the movie and bring a camera too.. That would be not stealing either. Just plain copyright infringement. Or I can sneak into an art exhibition, take some photos too. I'm really glad all of these things are not stealing and that I can now do them without anyone equating them to stealing. Most excellent.

                I'm super glad we cleared that up.

                Last edited 27/09/16 4:12 pm

                  You've made a mistake. You seem convinced that they are stealing. I'd bet there are also a lot of other mistaken people out there who are just as wrong as you unless you are some special unique snowflake.

                  So when you commit copyright infringement, these other mistaken people might equate them with stealing. But they would be just as wrong as you.

                  Seriously, look up the actual definition for stealing. It doesn't fit.

                I play music in bands. I'm not a tough or violent person, but if I was, I'd punch someone in the mouth for sneaking into a show and trying to justify it as anything other than having no respect for what I did and being a dick. I'm no saint, I have definitely pirated plenty in the past when I had no money or wanted to spend my money in other ways. But let's not try and pretend that it's anything other than stealing, because it is. Trying to convince yourself otherwise is what sociologists refer to as "neutralisation."

                  You don't seem to know what stealing is. Here it is

                  Steal: take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it.

                  It is not stealing. It is copyright infringement. No one who has ever pirated has been charged with stealing (unless they have also stolen something obviously). They are charged with some form of copyright infringement law, usually to do with copying, sharing or selling.

                  I am not trying to convince myself of anything. I know it is against the law. I am just using the correct terms for something.

        Actually, "stealing" is a valid use of the word in this context. One definition of the word, according to Merriam-Webster, is "to take surreptitiously or without permission". This covers the action of copyright infringement.

        Quite often, the English language can be a multi-headed Hydra. Have to watch those multiple definitions lest they bite you.

          No crap it's stealing. Like how spies steal secrets. They don't copyright infringe them.

          But you aren't taking anything. You are making a copy.

            It's perfectly fine to say you're "taking" a copy. English allows that use.

              I can't reply to the user's earlier posts. It appears greyed out on the reply button. And honestly I'm starting to find the conversation tedious.

              But even typing piracy in:

              the unauthorized use or reproduction of another's work.
              "software piracy"
              synonyms: illegal reproduction, plagiarism, illegal copying, copyright infringement, bootlegging, stealing, theft

              Yes, in a court they call it copyright infringement. But I don't speak legalese in everyday parlance. As mentioned earlier, I don't really care what it's called. Call it crealing if you want. It's still taking what you want without paying. It doesn't matter if there's no scarcity. If you had a handheld duplicator and walked into EB Games and could 3d dupe bluray games, it doesn't matter if you're not taking the original copy. If I had infinite gems and you stole one, you're still stealing.

              And if someone is honestly arguing that stealing 5 cents from my wallet is a bigger ethical issue than if you snuck into my show to watch my $80.00 performance for free, and that they are ethically different problems.... There's nothing that can be done to help you. There's a word for this in English too, and it's called equivocation. Your moral compass is broken.

                I'm not making any ethical or moral claims. Just stating what is stealing and what is copyright infringement. Grammar and language are nor moral compass issues. Overblown much?

                  Then my "if someone is honestly arguing...." doesn't apply to you. You might notice I never directly referred to you.

                  Language, am I right?

                  And as far as language goes, the definitions and comparisons presented here should be enough to change your mind. It is both copyright infringement and stealing.

                  You're other button is greyed out, but you said that I don't know what stealing is while copy and pasting a Google definition. If you hit the show more button you'd see that the exact same definition that you quoted also defines stealing as:
                  *dishonestly pass off (another person's ideas) as one's own.
                  *take the opportunity to give or share (a kiss) when it is not expected or when people are not watching.
                  *an idea taken from another work.

                  ..along with many more. Starting to feel like the word could have more meaning than you claim, yes?

                  Meanwhile, if you search for the term "Electronic Theft" you get this:
                  "The United States No Electronic Theft Act (NET Act), a federal law passed in 1997, provides for criminal prosecution of individuals who engage in copyright infringement under certain circumstances, even when there is no monetary profit or commercial benefit from the infringement."

                  Do the same thing for simply "Theft" and you get:
                  "The action or crime of stealing."

                  Ergo, copyright infringement is stealing.

                  Of course it has more than one meaning. Still don't see piracy listed except as a synonym.

                  I also like how the theft act still calls it copyright infringement.
                  Ever heard of the patriot act? The name of a bill is complete and utter spin and/or bullshit.

                  I haven't said once that the type of theft wasn't copyright infringement, it clearly is. But it is also taking something that doesn't belong to you. And that is theft.

                  Also, you just said that you saw piracy listed as a synonym. Google "synonym definition" and you get:
                  "A word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language, for example shut is a synonym of close."

      Similar to you...I pirated a lot as a teenager because I had no job/money. Don't do it as much now but I also play a lot less games now.

      I play mostly indie games for the most part and appreciate the devs more than before so there's a lot more guilt involved if I pirate.

        I pirated alot when I was younger because I didn't have a choice. In Jakarta in the late 90's, it was next to impossible to find ligitimate copies of games - however, there was a shop on every corner that sold pirated PC and console games. I bought original games where I could, but overwhelmingly I played pirated ones.

        That being said, I haven't pirated a game since moving back to Australia 10 years ago. Having money and easy access meant I had no reason to, and youtube reviews / playthroughs are basically the next best thing to an actual demo.

    Some people simply don’t have a ton of money, and piracy gives them a risk-free way to try games. Other people just want free shit...Back in my day, poor people didn't get to have as much shit as other people, and they were mostly okay with that. Now they expect to be able to have the same shit as everyone else, but still not have to pay for it because they're poor.

    Get back in your place, poor people!

    People can talk grey areas and justification all they like but it's still fairly shitty behaviour to take something that you didn't pay for because you feel entitled for whatever reason.
    If people want to try a game then download a demo. The games industry should provide more free demos, I realise that they aren't as plentiful as in the past.
    Creative artists deserve to be able to make money from their work. This attitude that creative works are ok to steal but other things are taboo to steal is just bullshit.
    It's not ok just because it's been normalised through internet culture.

      Game devs stopped doing demos for a reason.

      It just isn't worth it. The cost and effort of getting a flawless demo just isn't worth the extra business that it brings in. More often than not, it convinces people not to buy your game, rather than convincing non-buyers to change their mind. And the demo does need to be absolutely flawless - if you played a glitchy demo, why the hell would you buy the actual game?

      The cost factor aside, it also lets devs peddle shitty games. How many people would have picked up Arkham Knight on PC if they'd played the demo and realized it ran like balls on virtually every system?

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