During the Humble Indie Bundle, Wolfire games made a strong push to release the source code for their included game, Lugaru HD. As they've outlined in a blog post, their previous fervent desire for games to release their source codes may now face an interesting bubble.
With the Mac App Store now going strong, many smaller, indie companies have been rereleasing their games in a new venue. It's a great way to catch the eye of a consumer who might not follow gaming news, particularly since Macs have not really held the best reputation as a gaming machine. Unfortunately, this means that the fully priced Lugaru HD now has a competitor in Lugaru, which is only $0.99.
The issue is that Lugaru, without the HD was put up on the Mac App store by iCoder. Alex Matlin, when speaking to Kotaku, states, "The license we were granted allows for non-exclusive redistribution of the source code or the compiled product, modified or unmodified, for a fee or free of charge." Wolfire Games is not of the same opinion, stating that the license with the source code was to merely mod the game--not to sell it.
In particular, Wolfire states that the license made it clear the authors retain the rights to the game. Beyond just that, they further feel:
Ignoring the fact that this is obviously a violation of our license, the reason we made the source code available is to give more opportunities for modders and novice programmers to experiment with full game engines and help promote the message of the Humble Bundle. Corrupting this effort for fraudulent financial gain is the worst ethical violation we've ever experienced.
Furthering the issue, Wolfire often makes the argument that pirates will pirate a game no matter what, regardless of whether or not the source code is released. Instead, it seems they wish to give upcoming coders and developers some examples and tools--while I've yet to code, I know I'm a person who works better by examining examples, rather than just reading theory and being expected to practice it.
At this time, Wolfire has appealed to Apple, but there have been no further updates. Considering the state of most indies, and how they have come together to promote offerings such as the Humble Indie Bundle, it makes me wonder if we might see less generosity. For many of them, instead of releasing games with DRM, and in fact offering incentives to pull pirates into paying, I get the feeling that such a move is a direct slap in the face. From the tone of Wolfire's blog post, that's certainly how it sounds. You can follow updates directly from them, as it seems they'll be updating this post.