Over 93% of the people playing Game Dev Tycoon have pirated the game. The joke’s on them, though, because the game’s developers are themselves the people who created and torrented the cracked version. It has code in it that changes the actual storyline, whereby developing AAA titles will result in eventual bankruptcy instead of the expected, mind-boggling success. Why? Because the games will be pirated.
The stats snapshot the developers have posted (the site’s pretty overwhelmed at the moment, give it a few minutes if it doesn’t load immediately) is both fascinating and incredibly sad. For USD$8, the DRM-free license gives you the right to install the game on three Mac, Linux, or Windows computers. They’ll even send you a Steam key when it’s available. Yet, and despite the availability of a free demo to try the game, nearly all its players are using a pirated copy.
To add insult to injury, these folks are complaining about the “problem” on the developer’s forums. It’s not even occurring to them that the in-game storyline has been altered in their pirated version of the game. Admittedly, it’s a pretty slick thing to do, and I’m not sure it’d occur to me, either; but I also wouldn’t be complaining about anything on the developer’s forums if I hadn’t paid for the game. I mean of all the entitled, frickenfrackin’ things to do…
I can’t think of another scenario in which this approach would’ve worked. I don’t know how effective it’ll be in flipping pirates over to paying customers, but kudos to Greenheart Games for trying something different and especially for not punishing paying customers by inconveniencing them with ineffectual anti-piracy measures.