Game Dev Tycoon Combats Piracy With Humor 1


When it comes to fighting piracy, there are a few approaches one can take. If you’re the RIAA, you can make examples of people by threatening to sue them into poverty. If you’re looking for something absolutely foolproof, you can try this newfangled “always-online” business. Yet there is a third way: one that brings the promise of aversion with a few dollups of prankishness: releasing a “pirated” version of one’s game that has been deliberately sabotaged. Such was the route taken by Greenheart Games, developer of Game Dev Tycoon.

Facing the lawless digital seas, their take on the anti-piracy formula was simple: punishment through humor. Like the approach taken with Arkham Asylum – Eidos had inserted a game-breaking glitch into its own release, which made one particular section of the game impossible – the altered version of Game Dev Tycoon works identically to its legitimate counterpart for the first few hours. Then, with little warning, the player’s virtual studio faces rampant piracy problems. Finding said studio’s income dashed by this development, it falls into bankruptcy, bringing the game to an unavoidable end. Despite the humorous twist, Greenheart Games’s tactics highlight the serious issue of how piracy can affect developers – particularly smaller studios, for whom even modest sales can mean the difference between survival or closure.

When it comes to Game Dev Tycoon itself, the developer states that one day after the game’s release, 214 users had paid for their copy, while 3,104 (or 93.6%), chose the “pirated” version. From the Greenheart Games blog:

“We know this because our game contains some code to send anonymous-usage data to our server. 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 and you are covered by our privacy policy. Anyway, the cracked version has a separate ID so I can separate the data. I’m sure some of the players have firewalls and some will play offline therefore the actual number of players for the cracked version is likely much higher.”

For those interested, demo for Game Dev Tycoon can be found at this link, and is compatible with PC and Mac.  A Linux version is currently unavailable, but is in the works. Should you be swept away by its charms, the game is available DRM-free for $7.99 at the same link.

(Writer) Jesse Gmitro is the self-proclaimed “resident ally/lady-fancier” of — a position he has held since 2011 – and a shameless fanboy of Metal Gear, pre-Homecoming Silent Hill, and Final Fantasy. He plays drums in a local post-rock band called “Between Two Skies,” and is currently working on a black comedy novella, “The Madcap Laughs.” He currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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One thought on “Game Dev Tycoon Combats Piracy With Humor

  • avatar
    Shin Gallon

    They need to have an element of the game that says how there are people willing to pay money for the game, but they buy used instead of new so the money all goes to Gamestop instead of them so now they’ll go out of business soon.