Gamers last week downloaded Game Dev Tycoon, a new title from a tiny start-up Greenheart Games. The game challenged players to build a game developer and turn the game developer from a tiny operation to a mighty studio capable of turning out hits.
The only problem was that the gamers downloaded a pirated version of the game instead of paying $7.99 for the official version. And no matter how well they managed their assets, their in- game funds dwindled as the new games they created were pirated by unscrupulous crooks. Eventually their virtual game-development firm went bust.
The entire sequence of events is the brain child of Greenheart Games' founders, brothers Patrick and Daniel Klug, who released this self-defeating pirated version to highlight the challenges budding games developers face in the online world. They realized that piracy was inevitable and transpired to hit the gamers where it hurts the most, the inability to play the game as intended.
Within 24 hours it transpired that 93% of gamers had opted to download the cracked version of the game while only 214 gamers paid the fee of 7.99 US $ that the brothers were asking for on their website greenheartgames.com for the genuine official version of the game. .
Game Dev Tycoon isn't the first developer to hit the pirates in this innovative fashion. In 2001 a first-person shooter called Operation Flash Point was released with an addition; if the game was pirated, the players' weapons would become less and less accurate, and less powerful. Eventually the players would be slaughtered.
Similarly a pirated version of Grand Theft Auto IV sees the gamers gangster character Niko Bellic stumble around like a drunk, making completing the game practically impossible.
These type of stunts draw attention to how developers are having to adopt to new 'freemium' and pay-per-play business models to stay one step ahead of the pirates.