Indie Game developer Fights Piracy with Irony

One of the biggest topics people hear about regarding the game industry these days is how to tackle piracy. It’s a real conundrum, since the developers want to make sure they rake in the profits, but leave the actual paying customers alone. One independent game company did just that, with a rather humorous result.

Greenheart games, a company from Australia recently released a game called “Game Dev Tycoon”, a simulator where the player runs a growing company making video games. To completely throw off hackers and pirates, the developers themselves leaked an “illegal” version of the game. This pirated copy was snatched up by 3104 users in one day. That turns out to be roughly 90 percent of the total amount of people downloading the game.


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The users of the pirated copy got a nasty surprise, though, as their in-game funds began to dwindle. Your computerized assistant then informs the player that their customers are downloading illegal copies of the games you made. Soon enough, the player goes bankrupt, having finally been given a taste of his own medicine.

Clever anti-piracy ploys didn’t start with “Game Dev Tycoon”. Hackers of Pokemon Fire Red or Leaf Green version were treated to game dialogue from a non-playable character, who implores the player that if they “enjoy the game, buy it or die.” A more severe penalty for game piracy came in the form of “Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2”, where the player’s entire military force would spontaneously explode after 30 seconds into the hacked game.

Developers and animators who embed these sorts of traps into their work also benefit from something else: a sort of fame in the development community. Not only is it effective, but being creative on this level may end up profiting companies in the end, and letting legitimate consumers have a good laugh at a harmless prank.
-Austin Visuals Writer and Author of this Article,  Nathan DeGarmo.

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