A video game developer has played the ultimate troll on internet pirates, releasing their own game for free on torrent sites. With a catch.
Developers Greenheart Games released Game Dev Tycoon on PC, Mac and Linux platforms yesterday. The game allows the player to take the role of a video game developer, running the studio to ultimately make as much money as possible.
Patrick Klug, founder of Greenheart Games, knew their latest work would instantly be stolen by pirates and decided to release a cracked version of the game himself, uploading it to torrent sites with friends enlisted to act as seeders.
The cracked version of the game is identical to the paid version, with one interesting difference. As players play through the game, they recieve this message;
Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt.
As the cracked version of the game progresses, the players in-game funds dwindle until their virtual business goes bankrupt, thanks to pirates.
But the fun didn’t end there. People took to the company with complaints about not being able to finish the game because their studio kept going bankrupt. One complaint from someone who downloaded the cracked version without paying ironically wrote;
Whya re there so many people that pirate? It ruins me! I had like [$5 Million] and then people suddenly started pirating everything I made, even if I got really good ratings (that I usually get). Not fair.
Klug was both pleased with his little experiment, but ultimately upset; “As a gamer I laughed out loud: the IRONY!!!” he wrote.
“However, as the developer, who spent over a year creating this game and hasn’t drawn a salary yet, I wanted to cry. Surely, for most of these players, the 8 dollars wouldn’t hurt them but it makes a huge difference to our future!”
Being in control of the cracked version themselves, the developers were able to keep tabs on the install rate. After only one day being on the market, the cracked version was downloaded a whopping 3,104 times, yet only 214 people paid for the genuine version.
The game is still on sale, and you can read the full series of events as they unfolded on the developers’ website.