“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.