Pirated Version Of Game Dev Tycoon Features In-Game Piracy. For Pirates.

“When we released our very first game, Game Dev Tycoon (for Mac, Windows and Linux) yesterday, we did something unusual and as far as I know unique,” say the developers, Green Heart Games. “We released a cracked version of the game ourselves, minutes after opening our Store.”

“I uploaded the torrent to the number one torrent sharing site, gave it a description imitating the scene and asked a few friends to help seed it,” says the studio’s Patrick Klug.


“The cracked version is nearly identical to the real thing except for one detail,” the blog continues. “Initially we thought about telling them their copy is an illegal copy, but instead we didn’t want to pass up the unique opportunity of holding a mirror in front of them and showing them what piracy can do to game developers.”

What happens is that after a few hours, a message like the one below appears, styled like the rest of the messages in the game. It’s subtle, but actually quite obvious too.

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

After a day, the developer says that just 6% of the copies being played were genuine, the rest pirated. “We know this because our game contains some code to send anonymous-usage data to our server,” says the blog. “Nothing unusual or harmful. Heaps of games/apps do this and we use it to better understand how the game is played. It’s absolutely anonymous.”

Forums around the world are now playing host to people confused as to why their in-game games are being pirated. There are several examples on the site’s blog.

The game can be bought, DRM-free, for $8 from here.



  1. Considering Green Heart Games have essentially cloned Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story (a 1997 PC release they ported to Android & iOS a couple of years ago) they have some front to claim it’s ironic that people who played the torrented version of their game should ask questions about researching DRM.

    Can only imagine the Kairosoft devs are scratching their heads right now at the goodwill feeling heading towards the ‘poor’ 2 man team of Green Heart Games & the increased sales they must be benefiting from from this stunt.

    • I wanted to reply with “oh, the delicious irony” and then I read your reply.


    • To cap it off even the name they’ve given to their clone is itself a copy of both Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story & the old PC ‘…Tycoon’ games.

      Unless Green Heart Games turns out to be a Western brand of Kairosoft this whole saga is rather tragic.

      I hope people upload the premium version of this clone and millions of people torrent that… for free, now that will be ironic!

      • They have multiple times given credit to Kairosoft and Game Dev Story.

        Game Dev Story is nice, but Game Dev Tycoon seems much more polished and since Kairosoft can’t be bothered to finish a Game Dev Story 2 for western release, but keeps pumping out the same type of game with a new skin, I’m oki with this.

      • There’s a difference between being ‘inspired by’ & copying the whole thing lock stock & barrell.

        Giving a credit if you take that much of someone else’s work doesn’t really seem ok. Playing the 5 year demo of it – they should have licenced with an exchange of royalty payment & not just said “inspired by” on a byline somewhere, it’s that much of a cloneware product.

      • I don’t agree. It’s hard to make a “game dev” game, without having lots of similarities with other “game dev” games.

        Game Dev Tycoon features lots of things that Game Dev Story has none off, more variations and just more polish, then Game Dev Story which is a funny, cute game, but very simple.

    • I think you’re being harsh.

      If you decide to make a game in this genre about making games, what else can you do?

      Nobody says Call of Duty and Battlefield rip each other off just because they’re quite similar.

      Why should it be different on this end of the scale?

  2. Depressing how many of the users playing have brought the game illegally. These same people half the time complain about ‘lack of innovation and original ideas’ in games. Stop shafting people then so they can get to work on more projects without the fear of having no money at all – due to your disgusting thieving ways.

  3. I think this is a brilliant idea, sure this game has ripped off Game Dev Story, but I think this is a hilarious way to punish pirates.

  4. RedLynx already did the same by torrenting Trials2SE some years ago. Just saying… :)

  5. I think it’s brilliant (regardless of who did it first). I hope all developers do this from now on, not just PC’s but for PS3 and X-box too.

    • PS3 doesn’t have a piracy problem as far as I’m aware.

      • Well piracy for PS3 exists, it’s been there for some years now, since they cracked the PS3’s security due to a bad encryption key (very shortly explained). They fixed this in the newer models and it’s properly not a lot sales the PS3 devs looses because of PS3 piracy, it is there.

  6. wait a minute, if they leaked the game intentionally to use spyware to track “illegal” copies and if they’re using the data for some kind of study they just contaminated the results by using a different version of the game that one can only play by playing a pirated copy. If you pirate God of War 3 but include a different version its obvious more people are going to pirate it just because its the only way to get the game.
    Maybe the 94% of the people playing the pirated copy like it better then the retail version :)
    Also, is it really piracy when youre downloading a game that the developers intended you to pirate so they could install spyware on your computer and the game doesn’t even work. To me this sounds more like a nice PR stunt to trick people into playing a demo then some kind of piracy isn’t a victimless crime campaign.

    • Spyware? Yeah let’s not go overboard with wrong terms.

      They track how many plays which version plays what when people OPEN the game. The data is anonymously and only tells them how many are playing a bought version and how many who went for the “demo”. Pretty much every game out there these days, has anonymously tracking of players.

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