back to article Pirates scoff at games dev sim's in-game piracy lesson

Australian games developer Greenheart Games has released a cracked version of its own product – a games business simulation called “Game Dev Tycoon” – as an experiment in education of pirates and their reaction to a game that tells them their software-pinching ways are evil. The startup outfit detailed its exploits here, …

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  1. M Gale

    Most people probably downloaded that game last year when it was reported quite widely that the developers had seeded it on the pirate sites.

    Finding out it was completely unplayable probably put them off paying for it, too.

    3,000 downloads for a game that everyone knows was effectively given a legal pass to copy the crap out of? Yeah, I don't think the problem is piracy there, buddy.

    1. LilCricket
      FAIL

      Do you want to know what annoys me the most about Game Pirating? The fact that the same people who fall all over themselves to get a hold of a Cracked Game, are the very same people who CAN MOST AFFORD TO BUY THE !@#$%^&* THING! Rich kids, adults earning salaries well above 50,000 a year. For them, laying down $40, $50, $60 or more for the hottest games to hit the market, is just spending POCKET CHANGE! The whole Cracking thing began on college campuses, and you KNOW how much it costs to get into a good college these days! This is is a case of "Who is the coolest computer geek in the neighborhood?" The cool guy doesn't pay, he makes everything "come to him". "Hey, Mates! Guess what I've been playing all day?" And, then he turns on his PC and his chums gaze upon him with awe and respect!"

      The lower income adults, and kids from working class families are stuck with waiting...biding their time until that hot new game comes down in price...and by that time it's old news. THIS is what makes me sick! I'm the sort of person who doesn't believe in stealing. Stealing is wrong, no matter how you look at it. So is deliberately destroying a person's business, putting that company's employees out of work, and making it all but impossible to find employment in that same field ever again, because you've also flushed the industry they worked in, right down the toilet. It happened to the Music Industry. People preferred going on line to steal the songs they wanted, rather than pay for them...thus assuring that the artists who made those recordings also got paid for their hard work. It's slowly happening to Films and Television, and more people download hot copies of books they want to read rather than pay for them. Games are rapidly following suit.

      As I read in this article, ANY GAME can be Cracked. That may be the case at present, but sooner or later, SOMEONE is going to invent a system that makes pirating game impossible. I can easily imagine a kind of security program that activates when someone tries to tamper with the games programming, and totally erases all of the most important files. Voila! All that remains are a few scattered and useless files! I'd like to also like to see someone come with a security program that uploads an incurable virus while deletes those game files. Now THAT would be true justice!

      1. Andrew Moore

        The reason a lot of people are rich is because they don't pay for anything...

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        @LilCricket

        Bullshit.

        When I was young, and poor, I used to crack games (not just get them from others either).

        As soon as I was earning decent money, I bought games.

        Where does that put your little 'theory'.

        "invent a system that makes pirating game impossible"

        Only if it's literally individually coded to your DNA, and then you can give a copy to your clone :)

        1. mmeier

          Re: @LilCricket

          Depending on the game I could think of some nice ways to kick Frank Freeloader where it hurts. Simply make some parts of the game require an external component, check the game ID and if it is an illegal/suspect copy switch to a version of the component that makes the game unplayable. Say in an adventure the merchant component always sells too high/has limited stocks and buys to low

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: @LilCricket

          I'm earning good money, but I don't have time to play any games.

          I wonder if anyone's tried releasing software without DRM lockout but with a moderately well protected notice that says "This software is licensed to Mr Robert Carnegie from Boston" or whoever has bought it. Then people aren't actually stopped from playing copies - and pirates don't make any money from it themselves - but you are pricked into buying the legitimate edition.

          I suppose that the enthusiast cracker would still want to take the licensed owner name off it or change it, without thinking about the pointless wrongness of doing so.

          It occurs to me also that the Netscape Navigator web browser was released as evaluation software with an unlimited period of use before paying for it, so hardly anybody did. This seems to have been really regarded as a joke, although you'd hope that some people really would feel that once they'd satisfied themselves that the software worked satisfactorily, they would pay. As it turned out: not many.

          1. M Gale

            Re: pricked into buying the legitimate edition.

            Egosoft used to have an effective method of getting you to buy the game. No online activation or always-on bullshit, but if you wanted fast access to the latest patches, as well as access to tech support and the developer network, you had to provide your game key with your forum registration details.

            Now they've gone all wanky and Steam-only though, so no more Egosoft titles for me. Oh well. Lost sales for them. There's plenty of other XXXX games in the sea.

      3. Lamont Cranston

        @LilCricket

        Nice try, but you DIDN'T USE ENOUGH CAPITALS. Also, I don't agree with you.

      4. sisk Silver badge

        @LilCricket: You're wrong. Your entire post is wrong. I usually try to be less blunt, but there's no getting around it. The only thing you said that's not wrong is 'Stealing is wrong'.

        Piracy happens at all income levels and ages. I don't know where you got that silly idea that only rich people pirate games, but get that nonsense out of your head.

        While wrong, piracy is not theft. Call it what it is and maybe, just maybe, we can start to make some progress on convincing people that it's wrong. Keep trying to say that it's theft and the people pirating games are going to keep laughing at your sensational attempts to vilify them.

        The music industry dug half their grave themselves. They had plenty of studies showing that if you gave people a legal way to buy DRM-free music online they'd do it over downloading them illegally and it still took them the better part of a decade to do it after Napster. When your own research says that people resent DRM to the point of refusing to pay for it but you ignore the research and start chasing away your own customers with it, you have no one but yourself to blame (Aside: are you paying attention Hollywood? You're repeating the music industry's mistakes here). (And for the record, my music collection had 0 growth during that time, aside from a couple CDs I got for Christmas one year). Some DRM is acceptable. CD keys, for instance, are non-intrusive enough that no one minds them. But this new crap of having to be online? I should dang well be able to play my games in single player mode when my ISP has an outage (which happens several times a year...my ISP is crap, but it's the only one in the area able to offer the kind of bandwidth I've become accustomed to).

        There is no such thing as an uncrackable system. There never has been nor will there ever be a system that can't be fooled by someone clever enough.

      5. A Man From Bras
        Trollface

        @LilCricket

        <i>"...Do you want to know what annoys me the most about Game Pirating?..."</i>

        No. Not really.

      6. seraphim
        Facepalm

        Get over it already.

        "The fact that the same people who fall all over themselves to get a hold of a Cracked Game, are the very same people who CAN MOST AFFORD TO BUY THE !@#$%^&* THING!"

        That's quite a load. I used to do the pirating bit, when I was a student with essentially no extra money. Now that I make good money, I pay. Steam and Spotify are a great deal more convenient than trolling pirate sites, setting up the TOR connection, etc. If you put out a good product that's easy and convenient to use, people will buy it from you, as those two services prove quite well.

        "This is is a case of "Who is the coolest computer geek in the neighborhood?" The cool guy doesn't pay, he makes everything "come to him". "Hey, Mates! Guess what I've been playing all day?" And, then he turns on his PC and his chums gaze upon him with awe and respect!""

        Uh...I don't know where you went to college, but I sure don't recall that experience.

        "The lower income adults, and kids from working class families are stuck with waiting...biding their time until that hot new game comes down in price...and by that time it's old news."

        I quite often do that. I could afford the $60 brand-shiny-new price, but why? In a few months it'll be $25. I can find plenty of other things to do until then.

        "I'm the sort of person who doesn't believe in stealing. Stealing is wrong, no matter how you look at it."

        Sure, stealing is wrong. Murder, assault, and many other things are wrong too. None of those, however, are being discussed here.

        "It happened to the Music Industry."

        I hear home taping did them in. Terrible thing that we don't have a music industry anymore.

        "It's slowly happening to Films and Television, and more people download hot copies of books they want to read rather than pay for them. Games are rapidly following suit."

        Yes, it's terrible, isn't it? I turned on my TV the other day, and there were only hundreds of channels running 24 hours a day! Can you believe it? Only HUNDREDS! Those dirty pirates! And when I look through the Steam catalog, no one is developing any new games, either!

        "As I read in this article, ANY GAME can be Cracked."

        Yep.

        "That may be the case at present, but sooner or later, SOMEONE is going to invent a system that makes pirating game impossible."

        If you can do that, you'll be rich. Good luck with that. It's cryptographically impossible. You can encrypt a message to Bob in such a way that Charlie can't read it, but it is nonsense to say you want to encrypt a message to Bob in such a way that Bob both can and cannot read it.

        "I can easily imagine a kind of security program that activates when someone tries to tamper with the games programming, and totally erases all of the most important files."

        And then the cracker restores the backup copy from media that was disconnected, figures out how they did that, and cracks it to not do that anymore. Unless you propose some magical means to do this that would be different from just preventing the game from starting?

        "I'd like to also like to see someone come with a security program that uploads an incurable virus while deletes those game files."

        And then it gets accidentally triggered against legitimate purchasers (remember, no software is bug free), and someone's facing a class action lawsuit and potential criminal charges. You go right ahead with that. And there's no such thing as an "incurable" virus--at worst, you're going to wind up reinstalling your OS.

        "Now THAT would be true justice!"

        I copy something of yours, you deliberately break my stuff. Sure, that's a just and proportionate response. If I ever catch you jaywalking, would it be alright for me to burn your house down in retaliation? I mean, jaywalking IS against the law, after all.

    2. Mark .

      I agree - I'm glad I'm not the only one to have realised that surely it's legal if the copyright holders distributed it! This is riding on the myth that anything on bittorrent must be pirated. It's also interesting if it was widely reported that they'd done this earlier (do you any links for that?). Rather than "These people are pirating a game - let's slip them a version with a message", it's more like "Let's hand out free but crippled copies of a game, then accuse them of being pirates just because they didn't buy it".

      It also means the stats are useless - we have no idea how much actual piracy goes on for a typical indie game. Similar to entrapment, the stats are skewed, because they themselves have raised awareness of the game by putting it on torrent sites, as well as providing a seed for it. If they hadn't, the pirated numbers may well have been far lower, either because no one knew about the game, or because finding seeds was hard. There are really three categories:

      1. People buying the full version.

      2. People pirating the full version.

      3. People legally downloading the "cracked" modified version.

      The stats only report (1) and (3), falsely referring to the latter as piracy. Either (2) doesn't exist, or is neglible after all, or the stats otherwise aren't accurate in what they report.

      The blog suggests they even have a way to distinguish all three categories (because they both have anonymous stat reporting, and a separate ID for (3)), but they don't.

      Did they get more sales as a result of distributing on bittorrent, or less as a result on piracy? There's simply not the information to tell.

  2. Geraint Jones

    "over 3,000 are happily running the cracked version"?

    Do you mean that 3000 people have downloaded the .exe, or 3000 people are actively playing the game?

    Also; maybe they only sold 214 copies because the game is shit? I've not played it, but it's a distinct possibility...

    1. LaeMing Silver badge
      Meh

      It doesn't look like a game I would even be tempted to download free, let alone pay for.

      The novelty of the 'pirate' version seems to be its only notable feature, and I assume you don't get that in the pay-for version!

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Right up there with

        Madonna's - What the F*ck Do You Think You're Doing?

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Indeed

      Maybe 3000 people downloaded it because they heard it was released for free, albeit deliberately bugged, in order to evaluate it, before deciding it's shit and not buying it.

      Maybe 214 people didn't and got stung for $6 on something crappy and formulaic .

      In the real world, not every pirated copy is a lost sale. In many cases, that sale wouldn't have happened anyway, and in others, a sale is actually made when the downloader decides it is worth buying a legitimate copy. This probably explains whey people are so keen to download EA games rather than pay for them.

      Really, publishers should bring back the days of the free demo, for instance, Diablo II had the entire first chapter available as a demo, and it is precisely because of this that I bought the game. Diablo 3 had no demo, just hype, and in hindsight, I might have saved my money, had I known. The cynic might suggest that the reason most publishers no longer offer game demos is that the games are of poor quality and derivative and when people see them, they decide not to buy the full version. In other words, if you offer a demo of a good game, it is a sale gained, and if you offer a demo of a bad game, it is a sale lost.

      1. Lexxy
        Stop

        RE: In the real world, not every pirated copy is a lost sale.

        Ah, the "Have my cake and stuff my face with it too" argument. Whilst I agree that in the real world, as you put it, this it what happens - it's a method of consumerism which isn't grounded in reality in my view, especially with games where the value is often in the novelty of the product which starts to depreciate as soon as the player fires up their cracked version: and that doesn't even begin to touch on the actual market depreciation of the product itself, i.e. play now (RRP £30), pay later at bargain basement prices (£10). But hey, a sale is a sale right?

        It boggles my mind somewhat what world people are living in where this pro-piracy argument makes sense - try walking out of a supermarket with a trolly full of nicked (read: pirated) gear and explaining to the bobby: "But it's okay, mate, if I like this stuff I might pay for it later!"

        Nor do I buy the "cracked games are full demonstrations because vendors don't make demo's any more" argument in 2013 when YouTube will be overflowing with hours of "Let's play" videos where you can evaluate if you think you'd enjoy the product. Buyers remorse is not an excuse for self-entitlement to pirate.

      2. Kevin 6

        Re: Indeed

        "Really, publishers should bring back the days of the free demo, for instance, Diablo II had the entire first chapter available as a demo, and it is precisely because of this that I bought the game. Diablo 3 had no demo, just hype, and in hindsight, I might have saved my money, had I known. The cynic might suggest that the reason most publishers no longer offer game demos is that the games are of poor quality and derivative and when people see them, they decide not to buy the full version. In other words, if you offer a demo of a good game, it is a sale gained, and if you offer a demo of a bad game, it is a sale lost."

        WELL I know for a fact if I got a demo for D3 I wouldn't have bothered with it. Hell I got a "demo" for Mist of pandaria(the beta), and didn't buy it after being a loyal wow subscriber for many years. Hell if there was a demo for StarCraft 2 WoL I wouldn't have bought it either as after a few hours that game ceased being fun.

        To fight piracy is simple give people an incentive to get the legit copy. Blizzard used to be great at this with SC1, and diablo 1, and 2 as B.net requires a legit key to play on their servers. I actually had all 3 of those pirated originally, and I ended up buying them soon after as I felt the value was worth it(I've done this quite often). Now if I did the same with SC2, and D3 I wouldn't have bought them as I stopped playing those after 2 days (aka pissed money down the drain) as neither was fun in the slightest to me, and I've never touched them since.

        It seems most companies instead of saying HEY WE MADE A SHITTY GAME NO ONE WANTS instead say OUR SALES DID BAD DUE TO PIRACY PIRATES ARE EVIL NOW LETS PUNISH THE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY BUY OUR SHIT WITH DRM THAT IMPEDES GAME PLAY TO FORCE THEM TO PIRACY TO BE ABLE TO PLAY

        I am also someone who has like 30 or so steam games, and regularly buy stuff I find fun, and will spend some cash on those F2P MMO's that have item shops. So no I am not some freetard as I will spend money on things I see worth it.

    3. teebie

      The developer claims the game phones home (anonymously), so I guess the claims amounts to them saying 3000 people have played the pirate version at least once each

    4. Brenda McViking
      Go

      To be fair

      214 sales 1 day after release (read their blog) is pretty good going for a developer that no-one has even heard of until today. I'd be willing to bet that with the free advertising that this controversy is stirring up that they're getting a lot more on board. Yes - pirates are going to download it more - because it's easy and you have nothing to lose. If something is free, I might take it even if I only have a 5% chance of playing it later. You make me pay and guess what - I'll realise that I probably don't really have the time to play it anyway and it would be a waste of money. Difference is I won't be tempted later.

      This game, which I heard about yesterday, ticks ALL the right boxes for me. No DRM - check. Free demo - check. Reasonable price - check. Reasonable use (3PCs/Devices per purchase) - check. Actively trying to support their product in a different way to bring pirates around rather than fighting them- check.

      The only thing I don't like is their confusion of "piracy" and "stealing," but you know what - they passed all the other tests which is far better than the majority of developers - so guess what. I'm buying this - hell, it's the price of a (rather expensive) beer, which I'll happily donate to someone doing sensible in the crusade of finding a mutually convenient solution for gamers, pirates and developers alike. I don't mind supporting the game industry (sans EA) as generally, they don't get their kicks from sueing 9 year olds. Yes, they've made horrendous mistakes with DRM in the past, but they've been an awful lot quicker at finding solutions and learning than the dinosaurs representing the film and music industries, who really can fall off a cliff for all I care.

      The pirates complaining that the game doesn't work is pretty funny, too.

    5. Kevin 6

      @Geraint Jones

      "Also; maybe they only sold 214 copies because the game is shit? I've not played it, but it's a distinct possibility..."

      looking at the pictures of it the game more then likely is shit

      I'd be more than interested in knowing out of those 214 people that bought it how many of them previously played the "cracked" edition.

      Would have been also neat to have a survey in the game for people that played the "cracked" copy to submit if they even thought the game was even worth the time it took to download(again looking at the screen shot I'd almost say no)

      Use the ""'s around cracked cause technically can it even be considered a cracked game if a company puts it out themselves? I'd say it was more keen to shareware of the early 90s that would put out games that had some functions gimped to get you to buy the full thing, but for the most part they ended up sucking so bad no one would bother with the full version(kinda what I think happened here).

  3. Esskay

    How to make your game sound like empty, rehashed dross:

    Put the word "Tycoon" after it. Once rollercoaster and Railroad came out, most of what followed was a fairly poor variation on an unimaginative formula.

    1. BrownishMonstr

      Re: How to make your game sound like empty, rehashed dross:

      Rollercoaster Tycoon...a game written purely in assembly.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    Ahh..

    "“Fact is that any game can be cracked, so all you do is spend time on something that in the end just annoys your real customers while only slightly delaying the inevitable,” he writes of DRM. “"

    He finally gets its, but as the story last week about "Game Of Thrones" making beelions of $, despite being pirated left rigjht and centre demonstrates.

    Truth is this. Make a product people want and they WILL buy it.

    The 5% freetard clan, will have no significant impact on sales at all.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Ahh..

      Loads of people who would buy a full version if they had no other choice, would still pirate a free copy. That doesn't mean every pirate copy is a lost sale, more the reverse - people used to pursue cheap imports in the old days in the same way.

      Those who simply want to pirate will not buy games, but many genuine would-be buyers are lost when a free copy is so easy to get.

  5. Shagbag

    Was there a Demo version?

    I like the concept of Demo versions of a game.

    Too many times the pay-up-front-and-wait-to-see-what-you-get way of life turns out to be a loser - just look at the reasons why people pirate Hollywood movies.

    With a demo version, you get to see if it's worth buying or not.

    Clearly, this game was not worth buying (for all but a 214 people).

    Besides, they've spelled 'Harbour' wrongly. Fucking idiots.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Was there a Demo version?

      If the game's costing $8, it's not too unreasonable to buy it on a whim if reviews are OK (are there any?)

    2. PaulR79

      Re: Was there a Demo version?

      A demo version? Now that's an old idea that slowly died off! I'm willing to be proven incorrect but I'm also willing to bet a large portion of chips (potato in oil kind) that when a poor game with a demo was released the demo showed how poor it was and sales were minimal. Given how much money is being spent on some games the companies can't afford to lose sales just because their product is crap. Far better to have a bad reputation and money than a good reputation and go out of business, right?

      There was a time when a demo came out first and then the full game came later. You're lucky to see a demo at all for any game now and even less likely to see it before the full release. Indie developers are really stuck and purposely releasing your own game as a pirated torrent to try and prove something or guilt trip some into buying the game must have sounded like a smart idea at the time. If you give me an option to pay for something or get it for free (legally) why would I want to pay for it? I don't have a solution, just my random thoughts.

    3. b166er

      Re: Was there a Demo version?

      Indeed, worked extremely well for iD software.

      The demo for Q2, allowed you to play online too.

      How ironic then, that that software house (iD), is one of the most successful and one of the first to embrace user generated content and open-sourcing.

      Most true gamers, will always buy their games, because they understand the work that went in to making the game and feel genuine pleasure playing the game.

      Pirates do it just because they can and more than likely stop playing their pirated game 3 days after installing it, so it's really not a lost sale (unless your business model is based on people only playing your game for 3 days).

    4. AceRimmer

      Re: Was there a Demo version?

      Instead of a demo game, how about some sort of money back guarantee if the game fails to achieve a set playability benchmark on your equipment

  6. Gordon Pryra

    Not at all sure about piracy claims

    Im probably paying more now for games than I did when I was a kid on my old specky.

    From the gold ammo in free to play games to the new raft of "beta founders packs". I doubt I am anything special (much as I would like it to be otherwise)

    From that screen shot all I see is something that would look crap in 1990. You would need to pay me to play that tbh

  7. Ben Rose
    Pint

    A nice bit of marketing

    I, and I'm sure many others, had never heard of this game or its developer before this "story" broke. I bet many of the 214 people who bought it also hadn't heard of it before the pirate release either.

    I'm not going to get into what is good or bad for any media industry but I know for sure that I have bought many games, movies and TV box sets purely on the recommendation of a load of friends who downloaded it for free. Without that, I'd often never of heard of the TV show.

    Beer, because pirates drink that too.

  8. LinkOfHyrule
    Joke

    I'm not a fan of Game Dev Tycoon

    I'm more partial to "Call Centre Mania" or even "Eastern European Hotel Contract Cleaner For Below Minimum Wage Tycoon"

    1. LilCricket
      Happy

      Re: I'm not a fan of Game Dev Tycoon

      Here, here! I'd defintely buy those!

  9. Jarin

    Missing the point

    Maybe try making a quality game first, rather than a designed-to-fail "statement".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    gamers and pirates

    Are idiots, they assume someone else will buy it and keep the developer or artist alive.

    When three is no content left to pirate they will wonder what happened.

    1. The lone lurker
      Thumb Down

      Re: gamers and pirates

      Yes, and home taping was going to kill the music industry...

      1. LaeMing Silver badge

        Re: gamers and pirates

        As were player pianos!

        1. Andrew Moore

          Re: gamers and pirates

          and wax cylinders...

          1. mmeier

            Re: gamers and pirates

            Home taping never was a problem. A single copy of a 60min record took at least 60min to make and the quality was lower. The resulting copy could be used as a "master" once more than the quality generally was so low it no longer worked. That's why limited privat copies are "accepted" and paid for by a charge on empty media in i.e germany.

            The CD burner changed that. Copying became fast and even the 10th "generation" copy was still as good as the original. Even that was not too bad since it still required physical exchange of the media and was mostly restriced to friends/family.

            The same was true for copied computer games. It (often) was an effort and the physical exchange reduced the spread. "Professional" sellers more often than not where tracked down after a while since there was a mail trace. Access to illegal sources was limited for most. Add in that many games had a paper handbook and it was often needed and the Web was not there and it worked.

            Then came the eMules, Torrents etc. Suddenly it no longer worked. The games/musik where spread extremly wide. Scans of the manuals (and the manual on cd typically theses days) added more problems for the publishers.

            1. ortunk
              Devil

              Re: gamers and pirates

              can you prove Madonna or Michael Jackson is making less money due to that?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Devil

          Re: gamers and pirates

          As was online porn - above traditional printed paper porn - said the religious.

        3. ortunk

          Re: gamers and pirates

          well video killed the radio star but nobody is trying to shut down musci televisions....

      2. LilCricket

        Re: gamers and pirates

        On line downloads from thieves like Napster destroyed the music industry!http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/thumb_down_32.png

    2. LilCricket
      Mushroom

      Re: gamers and pirates

      Are you ever right on the money! The thieves have all but destroyed the music industry, TV and Movies are quickly following suit, and book publishing is also failing. When they've utterly destroyed the gaming industry, and they no long have their favorite pastime, they'll sit and wonder how it all went wrong, and probably blame it one someone else! Many game companies are already switching to digital copies only. Digital downloads contain tracking programs, so these companies will always know WHO bought their games, WHERE they bought it, and WHERE that game happens to be when someone starts playing it because you must log into the company's servers to use certain features within the game.http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/mushroom_32.png

      EA used this angle with a couple of their Sims 3 Expansion Packs. You can't access certain in-game features without logging in to their servers.

      1. M Gale

        Re: gamers and pirates

        "Are you ever right on the money! The thieves have all but destroyed the music industry,"

        I only wish they would. Unfortunately, you're talking a load of arse.

        "TV and Movies are quickly following suit,"

        Do you ever turn the telly on?

        "and book publishing is also failing."

        I guess all those lumps of paper in the local Tesco are a phantasm. Tell me, how in fuck do you copy a dead tree book without a flat-bed scanner, OCR software, good proof-reading skills and an OCD level of obsessiveness?

        " When they've utterly destroyed the gaming industry, and they no long have their favorite pastime, they'll sit and wonder how it all went wrong..."

        It'll never happen. Personally though, I'd throw a party in the fucking street if it ever did. The "gaming" industry (I assume you mean computer games, not gambling) needs to die in a fire, right now. Let some new talent in. People who don't feel like raping you for £50, for a piece of shit that wants to call home every time you turn the computer on.

        "Many game companies are already switching to digital copies only."

        Companies I don't buy from, and never will. Except maybe Squad, but then Kerbal Space Program is DRM free. So much for your next statement...

        " Digital downloads contain tracking programs, so these companies will always know WHO bought their games, WHERE they bought it, and WHERE that game happens to be when someone starts playing it because you must log into the company's servers to use certain features within the game."

        You sound like you're getting a hard-on just thinking about that. I personally think you're a little sick in the head. That or you work for EA or Origin making their shit DRM for them. Same difference, really.

        "EA used this angle with a couple of their Sims 3 Expansion Packs. You can't access certain in-game features without logging in to their servers."

        Haven't bought an EA (or Valve, or Ubisoft) game in years, and your apologist shit is the exact reason why not.

        Played plenty of them though. You work that one out.

      2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: gamers and pirates

        "EA used this angle with a couple of their Sims 3 Expansion Packs. You can't access certain in-game features without logging in to their servers."

        LOL! And they can't access the contents of my wallet as I will never buy any cr*p that tries to pull things like that on me.

        Here, count those real lost sales!

        1. mmeier

          Re: gamers and pirates

          The question is: How many real buyers are lost. If the h amber is low enough simply sticking it to Frank Freeloader may be enough for companies to go that route anyway

  11. Stuart Elliott
    Pint

    Bucked the trend

    .. and bought a copy, because well, everyone needs a little extra beer money from time to time, and I thought the piracy hack-job was funny.

    1. Richard 22

      Re: Bucked the trend

      Is it any good?

      1. Stuart Elliott
        Thumb Up

        Re: Bucked the trend

        Yes, it's actually quite addictive, it's had about 4 hours off me tonight, so yeah, it's enjoyable, nice seeing the little history lessons going on with the hardware releases, as time goes by.

        £6.83 well spent.

  12. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Hell

    If I could stomach the idea of participating in the games business I might be tempted to try to sell some of my stuff rather than just giving it away. Why would I want to simulate running a games company. That's like simulating masturbation.

    Also is the fictional game company really called "Pirate Harbor Inc." that's just setting yourself up to fail.

    That said, pirating a game that sells for less than $10 is just pathetic.

  13. John Sanders
    Linux

    Is the game any good?

    Does it appeal to the right audience? Because that can explain many things.

    I, like another reader before spend way much more money in games and software than when I was younger and had lots of time to spare. If I find something I like I tend to buy it, so does most people my age.

    Now the teenagers/kids with little disposable income...

  14. Drefsab

    Meh

    I pirate games and I buy legit versions of the ones I really like and delete the ones on wont play. This though is so uninteresting that I wouldn't even pirate it. If its a tycoon in the title I now switch off, to many rubbish games trying to ride the coat tails of Rollercoster and Railroad tycoon in the hopes of getting some sales from that.

  15. DrXym Silver badge

    Surprised this doesn't happen more

    There are all fun ways a game can screw around with crackers beyond the obvious copy protection checks. e.g. a crack might work but then another copy of the protection code (obfuscated so it doesn't resemble the first) that only kicks in if you step on a trigger by chance on level 8 breaks the game in level 9. Or perhaps the check is on the video settings screen but only affects you in level 3 where a switch won't work. Maybe there isn't enough ammo to sustain your shooting, or the enemies become a invulnerable, or doors won't open. And so on.

    Basically by putting booby traps all over the place and making the cause and effect non-obvious, the whole game becomes a massive time sink for crackers. They'd more or less have to play the game through in its entirety to be sure it was working.

    A few games have done this e.g. Batman Arkham Asylum had some places that you couldn't glide across in the cracked game. I'm surprised it doesn't happen more though.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Surprised this doesn't happen more

      There's a few games which say something on the box to the effect of "illegal copies will deteriorate over time."

      Thing is though, people who get the copies, don't get the box. They get a shit, buggy game that doesn't work properly and think "well.. thank fuck I didn't pay money for it."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surprised this doesn't happen more

      > A few games have done this

      Like the FADE system, used in Op Flashpoint and it's successors. It starts off minor by making your aim a little wobbly and the enemies a little nastier. Over time it slowly ramps up the weirdness and if you persist long enough the player character is turned into a bird.

      I think the latest Serious Sam trolls the pirates by making certain enemies invincible.

  16. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    "an experiment in education of pirates"

    And he's whinging because it failed ?

    Well duh.

    Here's a counterpoint : it's called Minecraft. That game is all over the place. The graphics are horrible, blocky abominations. The principle is, as far as I can tell, just digging and building stuff. The maker of the game has declared to never, ever include any sort of DRM or protection in it. Minecraft can be bought for 20 bucks, or torrented six ways to Sunday.

    The guy (oh, yeah, forgot to add : the ONE guy) who made Minecraft is a millionaire. Hundreds of thousands of people have shelled out for his game. He's so rich he sold his game to a company because he (probably) got tired of the concept of working.

    So how does that situate your product ? Firmly in the pile of shit, I'd say. A good game sells, with or without protection.

    So go take your righteousness and sit on it. Prick.

    1. Andrew Moore
      Thumb Up

      Re: "an experiment in education of pirates"

      Minecraft is proof that game-play is the prime factor in order for a game to succeed. Hi-res graphics; surround-sound; etc are all secondary to game-play. Home computer games in the 80s proved this.

    2. LilCricket

      Re: "an experiment in education of pirates"

      Takes on to know one, doesn't it, Pal? Sure, a good game will sell, and the creators might actually profit, but that isn't going to make me like the effing greedy, rich, who could well afford to buy the thing in the first place being the ones who most often steal the frigging things! I'll bit, you do it. Your tone is sarcastic enough! I'll bet you have a good job and can well afford to pay for the stuff you steal...am I right. And don't try to candy coat it by calling it "Pirating", the word is STEALING! If you take something, without permission that doesn't belong to you that's f**K*ng S-T_E_A_L_I_N_G! Clear enough? Stealing is wrong no matter how you try to get around it, and I'm not going to candy coat an effing THIEF by calling him a Pirate! I'm sure that even a self-important jerk like you can understand that. Sorry about the rant, but I can't stand thieves, nor those that condone them. And by the way, I happen to LIKE those Tycoon Games. I also PAY FOR each and everyone that I download! I may be poor, disabled and live on a restricted income, but I DON'T steal!

      1. M Gale

        Re: "an experiment in education of pirates"

        Taking an unauthorised copy of something is not theft.

        Never has been. Unless some asshole lawyers manage to rewrite the English language, it never will be.

      2. teebie

        Re: "an experiment in education of pirates"

        "the word is STEALING"

        It really isn't. You aren't deliberately and dishonestly permanently depriving someone of their property. You can call pirating "making unauthorised copies" or "unlicensed use", because that's what those words mean. The word isn;t stealing, because that means something else. Unless of course I am unaware of some aspect of english grammar where capitalising a word changes its meaning.

    3. blcollier
      Gimp

      @Pascal Monett Re: "an experiment in education of pirates"

      You're almost there but there's an aspect to Minecraft you forgot to include: the near-constant release of extra content for it (which is free, I might add, and not paid for like most "DLC"). The model for Minecraft is essentially: "Sure, pirate our game all you like - you can even have this free version (which has a limited subset of the features from the main game) - but you won't get all the cool extra stuff we add if you pirate it". There *is* a protection/"DRM"-ish component to it as the game validates against your Mojang account whenever it launches, and multiplayer servers validate your account whenever you connect. No account, no Minecraft for you.

      Of course you could pirate each new version that's released, but you still can't play multiplayer - a major component of the game if you ask me - unless you've bought the game or you use a hacked server.

      To correct a few further factual errors... Minecraft was indeed originally built by one person (Markus Persson, since you asked), but he didn't sell his game to a company; he founded Mojang with the money he'd made from Minecraft, because he couldn't hope to keep up on his own. He might not work on Minecraft any more - others in Mojang do however - but he's still a developer.

      Downvote me all you like for being a pedant, but I can't help myself - when you create your own mods & texture packs it's hard to avoid describing yourself as a massive Minecraft nerd.

    4. Jez Lawrence

      Re: "an experiment in education of pirates"

      Here's a counter-counterpoint - you can't play minecraft without an account, which you can't create without buying a license, because you have to activate it.

      That right there is DRM. It's just not a software version of it.

      1. Tim Bates

        Re: "you can't play minecraft without an account"

        "you can't play minecraft without an account"

        Yes you can... You can use someone else's account. It only becomes a problem when you want to play multiplayer on the same server (at which stage you've probably already decided if you want to buy it or not).

    5. RedGrittyBrick
      WTF?

      Re: "an experiment in education of pirates"

      Notch didn't sell Minecraft to a company, he created Mojang and employed developers to continue working with him on Minecraft and his newer projects.

      Every time you play Minecraft it logs in to Mojang servers. You can play offline but I believe there are limits.

      One key persuader for purchasing a legit copy is that registered users get regular updates to Minecraft.

      1. Yag

        Re: "an experiment in education of pirates"

        Minecraft can even be played without any account : If the login fail, the alertbox gives an option to "play offline".

        Despite the name, you can still play online, but with a lot of drawbacks (anonymous character, only one per server)

        Still a good way to invite a friend for a quick tour of your buildings...

  17. Matthew Smith

    Oh the hypocisy

    But the game itself is a rip-off Game Dev Story. Whats the developers high moral stance on that? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_Dev_Story

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Oh the hypocisy

      It's not illegal to rip off another game otherwise we'd never have had Unreal, Crysis, etc. It is illegal to pirate it.

  18. David Cantrell

    Perhaps only 214 people paid for it because it's poorly executed and utterly unoriginal. It's a rip-off of Game Dev Story (which is rubbish), which is a clone (possibly unwitting, and via numerous intermediate clones) of Software House, which is a clone of Millionaire and Software Star.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    downloads of free and paid do not relate.

    Example.

    I put an app in the app store last week at the princely sum of free. It got over 1000s downloads in a week.

    I upped the price to 99c (it is a utility app and does have actual use and function)... the downloads dropped to under 10.

    People just dont want to pay for stuff. If it is free they will give it a try.

    It sounds like this thing was just rubbish, 3000 people downloaded it for free and found it restricted, if it was that good they would have bought it.... they didn't.

    1. Tim Bates

      Re: downloads of free and paid do not relate.

      I don't know how reality would treat this, but maybe bump that 99c up a little... I personally avoid 99c apps for 2 reasons:

      1) the dev doesn't even think it's worth $2, so it might suck

      2) I have to get up, find my wallet, get the credit card out, enter the details, and all for a measly $1. Make me spend about $3 and I might go find my wallet.

  20. Scott Pedigo
    FAIL

    From the screen shot it looks like it has a 1990's Leisure Suit Larry level of graphics, but without any of the smutty humour, and probably plays like a boring version of Sim - something. I actually bought and played (maybe twice) Sim-Ant, by the makers of Sim-City, where you try to get your ant colony to drive the humans out of the house, and it bored me to tears. The game seems oriented to appeal to wanna-be game developers, which I estimate would be a small subset of the total gamer population. So the game is probably a hard sell to start with.

    Add to that, this: as another poster pointed out, if the deliberately "cracked" version of the game, which the few interested people try out, is rigged to not allow the players to ever win, then if those players go on to assume that this is how the game normally plays, they'd sure give it a thumbs down. The company may have shot themselves in the foot with that trick.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not like reality at all

    The game isn't modelled on reality at all. All scientific studies show that piracy increases sales because it is free advertising.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: not like reality at all

      All scientific studies commissioned by those who like piracy you mean. Studies commissioned by games companies show the opposite.

  22. Irongut

    Fake?

    I read their blog post yesterday and the whole thing looks like an advert covered in link bait to me. A day after a game was released by a new, independant studio that no one has heard of before there were 214 legal players and 3k pirates? If they hadn't released it on torrent themselves a cracked version would not have been available and there would have been no pirates and probably less legal players as well.

  23. ukgnome
    Pirate

    I used to be quite prolific in copying and cracking games and the odd OS, until that is I had an epiphany.

    Put simply, I wouldn't use pirated material unless I could write the software or record and produce the music for the same or less.

  24. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    A punt

    Here is a developer who hoped that an unorthodox marketing move will boost sales (by "going viral") of an otherwise unremarkable casual game, knowing that it will never break even if he marketed it in the traditional way.

    It didn't work out, so he is cross with the whole world now... Cry me a river.

  25. Citizen Kaned

    from what i read it is ironic as his game is a carbon copy of another game dev sim.

  26. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    LilCricket

    Joined the forums today and only made five posts, all on this story, all strongly pro 'Anti Piracy', despite the multiple reasoned rebuttals of your crazed rhetoric.

    You are a shill working for EA, or possibly Activision, AICMFP.

    FYI, copying is not theft; it is at best copyright infringement, which is actually only a criminal offence if done on a large scale for profit.

    Piracy is taking of vessels and property on the high seas, often with associated loss of life.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, but...

    Companys may have gone to the online only model as a way of countering piracy, but that's not all those companies are doing with it. They are doing a lot of evil things which anger the consumers, and it is things like that that cause a lot of the piracy in the first place.

    Those companies spend so much time thinking weather or not if they could, that they don't spend any time thinking of weather or not they SHOULD.

    They created their own problems.

  28. Greg J Preece

    Perhaps it didn't sell so well because the developer was so obnoxious?

  29. AndyC

    What the article doesn't say...

    is that the pirates who downloaded the crippled copy took to complaining,on the company forums no less, that they couldn't get any profits [i]because of piracy in the game[/i]!

    Have a look at the article on arstechnica (sorry for the blatant plug) to get the full story.

    Andy

    P.S. I know that the italics don't work, they are there for emphasis...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is my tale and I'm going to tell it

    I was once locked out of all the Steam games I own that use Games for Windows Live, because Microsoft's buggy DRM got confused. Over three months I visited numerous forums, and tried all the (not insane) recommendations to try and solve the problem. Microsoft was completely useless as a source of advice. It was eventually solved by changing an obscure registry setting.

    Another day and I would seriously have thought about downloading cracked versions of the games.

    That is the only situation where I think doing such a thing could be excused.

  31. jonfr
    Coat

    Buying games

    I buy games when I can afford it. Sadly, I am poor at the moment so that does not happen often. I do not bother with pirated games. I left that long time ago and I am not going to return to it just because I am poor at the moment.

  32. Tim Bates

    Wait? What?

    I'm confused. They've released the game for $8, and secretly released a crippled pirated version, then they wonder why no one who pirated it is throwing the cash at it? Duh!

  33. JDX Gold badge

    What a surprise

    A website like El Reg which has a high proportion of freeloading pirates views this negatively. While a website predominantly for game developers (professional and hobbyist) views it as a great idea http://www.gamedev.net/topic/642460-ironic-game-gets-pirates-to-feel-the-sting-of-piracy/)

    Almost like both sides are speaking out of self-interest.

    1. Mark .

      Re: What a surprise

      Or rather, on The Reg, people are aware that downloading something on torrent isn't necessarily piracy (and it isn't here, since it was uploaded by the copyright holder), where as people on GameDev label them as pirates. I'm not sure I see self-interest here, just a different sample of views. Yes, it's unfair that on the Register you get more people poking fun (not surprising due to there being a wider group of people here, rather than just those into game development), but it's also unfair that on GameDev, they assume the stats to be valid and label everyone a pirate.

      And a point to take from the story is that being "someone who pirates" (which may include some of the people who legally downloaded the "cracked" version) isn't distinct from being "someone who might be annoyed by piracy". I mean, are you suggesting that no one on GameDev, or in software, has never taped off the radio or a friend? Piracy isn't something only done by evil-doers on torrent site, it's done, rightly or wrongly, by a huge spectrum of people.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: What a surprise

        The "people use torrents for legal/good purposes" line is so lame. It's like trying to justify the legalisation of pot because some people use it medicinally. People may use torrenting sites/tools for non-pirate reasons, but piracy is what drives their development.

        The people 'pirating' this game were breaking no laws but they didn't know that, which is the key point. They thought they were pirating it.

        1. Mark .

          Re: What a surprise

          "The "people use torrents for legal/good purposes" line is so lame."

          It's not lame when it's true - this was a legal download, contrary to the claims made by the blog and much of the media.

          "The people 'pirating' this game were breaking no laws but they didn't know that, which is the key point. They thought they were pirating it."

          The key point for what? For accusing them of being pirates? But I'm not sure intent matters - consider, plenty of people have no clue about copyright, and think it's okay if you "only download", or it's okay if you download to try it out, or it's okay if it's "free" - all copyright myths of course,but if you're making the argument that what matters is intent, then the clueless people who thought it was legal still wouldn't be covered.

          What about all the people who now download it, knowing it's been put there by the copyright holders, due to the vast amounts of publicity? I bet that the authors will still be seeing all those extra downloads as "piracy". (Well, I suppose it gets a gray area if they stop seeding it, since legal to download doesn't mean legal to redistribute, but on the other hand, it seems dubious for someone to intentionally distribute their own work on bittorrent, then claim copyright infringement due to other seeders, when that's how bittorrent works.)

  34. Rex Dart

    Wait...

    "DRM-free"

    + "install on up to three PCs"

    _______________________

    ?????

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Wait...

      There's a difference between a technical DRM solution which stops you installing it, and a license which simply says "you can only use it on 3 devices".

  35. Random Moniker
    Mushroom

    The ignorance is astounding.

    214 people are playing the legally bought version. Fine.

    Know how many people would be playing an uncrackable DRM always-online version? Probably <170. (- ~20%)

    Having always-online and/or other DRM is not going to make more people play your game. It is going to make it less accessible to people who would genuinely want to play it.

  36. b0bbly

    Oh wow

    I'm one of only 214 people that bought this game?

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