Blog, Creative Solutions

Killing piracy with irony


This story is about a game developer and a huge problem. It starts with some creativity and hopefully ends with a lot of free marketing and good product placement.

The main character is a startup game house called Greenheart Games, and their first game released just few weeks ago. As the entire software ecosystem, this little firm was preparing to bump against the distribution leak and experiment the piracy effect. But instead of complaining on how difficult the software system is and how many people somehow steal games, they risked a totally cool approach.

Their game is basically a game developing simulator, and they delivered two versions: a fully functional one and a second one with an incredibly frustrating bug that introduce the piracy in the game universe. Then they simultaneously released the genuine copy of the game in the store and the cracked version of the game in the torrent channel. In this second version there is no way you can go on with your gameplay because the pirates will steal your work and stop you from making any money.

Anyway this annoying bug doesn’t stop you from playing the game, it does something worse. It lets you play the game and sadistically compels you to live what the real developers are already suffering because of the piracy. At the same time it punishes you and teaches you that your behavior is substantially wrong. A tiny perfect juxtaposition. During the game you even receive some messages from you virtual co-workers complying about piracy and money loss.

Sadly enough, the Greenheart developers soon discovered that during the first release day of Game Dev Tycoon, more than 90% of the online connections were made by the cracked (and bugged) game. So the problem was real.

But the creative solution was real too. It worked! Two months have passed since the release of this game and a lot of people (including me) have bought it. For me at least was because the news was so thrilling that I couldn’t resist to try this genuinely innovative game. And a lot of people did the same. Furthermore, we the first buyers gave our positive feedback and approval to the Steam Greelight. Which mean that the game made it to the Steam game market, with a boost of visibility.

So this is the real deal. Have they defeat the piracy? Not at all. Have they reached a boost of selling, an incredibly feedback from the community, have they achieved a no-cost-at-all huge marketing campaign? F**k yeah! Moreover they taught us a great lesson. They showed this always complaining world that with little thinking you can defeat the final boss. Remember Super Mario? There was no way you could kill the Giant Turtle jumping over it. No direct conflict. You had to sneak behind it, find the lever and let it fall into the lava bath. Go Mario, you’re the best plumber ever!

Super Mario defeating the final boss

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