Game Dev Tycoon: Pirated Edition

The problem with all these systems is, forgetting how funny they are, they are as strong as the DRM is strong. If the DRM is strong and can’t be circumvented, then you will always have the giant scorption of whatever. If the DRM is weak, then the crackers will skip the bit that activates the giant scorpion in the same way they skip the “cd check” or “online activation” or other normal DRM effects.

The only useful net gain of these systems is when the “you are a pirate effect” isn’t very clear, and then the crackers can believe it’s a challenge or a puzzle or just a real bug of the game, and the pirates don’t investigate further believing is normal, and release the game regardless, with that hidden DRM check still active.
But you have to be very careful with that, because you can have another Titan Quest, which took bad publicity as buggy thanks to the DRM.

I’ve never even heard of this game, so that might have something to do with the limited sales.

Is it really only for Windows 8 metro? If that is the case it would seem like a pretty crazy choice.

Also I seem to remember like 5 years ago some game was released and they blamed it being buggy on special copy protection that caused problems for pirates. In effect saying anyone who complained about bugs was a pirate.

Was this titan quest?

Maybe the makes of the original Game Dev Story should make a game in which another company keeps ripping off your games and send it to the makers of Game Dev Tycoon.

It was. Launched about 3 weeks or so ago as a Metro exclusive. It’s now been ‘ported’ to the greater Windows platform, as well as others. With only 214 sales thanks to Metro exclusivity, it’s not hard to understand why.

The pie chart with the 94% piracy rate is a little unfair at this stage of the sales cycle since, you know, they are the ones that posted the cracked version to a heavily trafficked torrent tracker where 10,000’s of people just download shit because they are bored. I don’t think it is really indicative of the expected piracy rate had they not done that.

Truly excellent experiment however.

Was this titan quest?

Reasonable chance. I seem to recall TQ doing some awfully odd things, which the devs at the time claimed was indicative of the copy protection kicking in.

Exactly the point I was going to make. These “clever” copy protection mechanisms always have that effect. Pirates are gamers too, and they take part in the conversation too. It’s best to make copy protection overt, and failure obvious.

The Titan Quest, ArmA, Arkham Asylum, and Assassin’s Creed copy protection harming the sales of the games were the result of keeping the piracy glitches a secret. The full story of what was going on didn’t get revealed until much later. This meant pirates complained to legit players about the “bugs” who then related the stories to other people, making the games seem like a buggy mess. This went doubly so for ArmA for a time because the game was buggy anyway. FADE made different things happen so no one knew what was a piracy bug and what was ArmA just being ArmA.

Game Dev Tycoon and Serious Sam 3 turned it into jokes that worked against pirates. The devs immediately publicized what was happening so anyone complaining about the “bugs” are outed as tools.

Does it stop dedicated hackers? Of course not. They will correctly hack out the glitches. But the casual I’m-bored-and-torrenting-this-because-it’s-free pirates become unwitting marketing.

Stealing should not be used to describe both taking inspiration from another game AND downloading a game. Very different behaviors, and it’s arguable that either qualifies as theft. Though the Greenheart Game guys seem more concerned about their payday than most, so they would certainly agree with you on piracy = theft.

Both behaviors are likely to damage the “property” (the downloaded/copied) game, though.
And I don’t think GDT can get away with “taking inspiration” - the game’s clearly a blatant ripoff off GDS.

I think this sort of “copy protection” is classier than Titan Quest’s “we’ll make the game crash for pirates”, but Canuck’s point is still a good one. However, the approach taken makes me think this is more a prank pulled on pirates rather than an actual copy protection attempt.


I don’t think most pirates would care. I suspect most pirates reaction to this message would be to laugh at it.

This is about as effective as the “Please don’t rape me” tatto.

The game hasn’t sold 214 copies total, it sold 214 copies across all platforms other than Windows 8 by a day after it launched.

The game was released on the Windows 8 store back in December of 2012, and by January it had sold 2,300 copies. Still paltry numbers of course, just clarifying things.

Also, an ARM version wasn’t launched until earlier this month, so for the (small number of) Surface owners looking for a game to play, this wasn’t even one that was available to them until a couple weeks ago.

Correct. The pie chart only applies to the launch versions over the weekend.

Your language is sticking to that same metaphor. You soften the usage of the game as property with the quotes, but you still call this Game Dev Tycoon a blatant ripoff – images of a guy tearing a purse out of a woman’s grasp. I mention this just because I think the semantics of the piracy debate are interesting, not because I want to get into the ethics of it.

Anyway, I had a good laugh at the pie chart, though sharaleo makes a good point about its relevance. Something about this developer’s tone doesn’t inspire my rooting interest, unlike this post and comment thread from the guys at Puppygames.

Crashes in Titan Quest pirated versions were caused by incompetent, incomplete cracks. Blaming that on the developer is adding insult to injury.

Oh oh, I remember another one now!

The original 1987 Pirates! I think if you input the wrong flag or identified the incorrect ship you got an instant mutiny.

Steam really makes it easy to impulse buy. There’s serious barriers to get people to register for yet another account and spend 10 minutes just to buy a game.

Yea, these things only work out well if you publicly state what’s going on. I got bit by the TQ issues and had no idea what was going on. I legitimately bought the game but, like I did for every game back then, the first thing I did was grab a No-CD crack for it. That was enough to kick in the various crash scenarios. I still really enjoyed the game but if anyone were to ask they’d get an answer along the lines of “It’s a fun game but it’s got stability problems”.

The DRM done right, lol.

If you got a crash, it may or may not have been a result of the intentional piracy glitch. That was part of the problem. The game at launch was a little unstable anyway, so some crashes were legit. People reported crashes on forums and complained. Sometimes they were pirates and sometimes not, but either way, the public just saw a lot of complaints of crashes. For whatever reason, Iron Throne did not divulge what was going on until later. (Perhaps it was a publisher directive?) Since no one knew if a crash was a piracy measure or just a regular error, public perception for a while was that TQ was a crash-prone mess.

Michael Fitch of Iron Throne posted his explanation right here on Qt3!

One, there are other costs to piracy than just lost sales. For example, with TQ, the game was pirated and released on the nets before it hit stores. It was a fairly quick-and-dirty crack job, and in fact, it missed a lot of the copy-protection that was in the game. One of the copy-protection routines was keyed off the quest system, for example. You could start the game just fine, but when the quest triggered, it would do a security check, and dump you out if you had a pirated copy. There was another one in the streaming routine. So, it’s a couple of days before release, and I start seeing people on the forums complaining about how buggy the game is, how it crashes all the time. A lot of people are talking about how it crashes right when you come out of the first cave. Yeah, that’s right. There was a security check there.

So, before the game even comes out, we’ve got people bad-mouthing it because their pirated copies crash, even though a legitimate copy won’t. We took a lot of shit on this, completely undeserved mind you. How many people decided to pick up the pirated version because it had this reputation and they didn’t want to risk buying something that didn’t work? Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecy.

One guy went so far as to say he’d bought the retail game and it was having the exact same crashes, so it must be the game itself. This was one of the most vocal detractors, and we got into it a little bit. He swore up and down that he’d done everything above-board, installed it on a clean machine, updated everything, still getting the same crashes. It was our fault, we were stupid, our programmers didn’t know how to make games - some other guy asked “do they code with their feet?”. About a week later, he realized that he’d forgotten to re-install his BIOS update after he wiped the machine. He fixed that, all his crashes went away. At least he was man enough to admit it.

So, for a game that doesn’t have a Madden-sized advertising budget, word of mouth is your biggest hope, and here we are, before the game even releases, getting bashed to hell and gone by people who can’t even be bothered to actually pay for the game. What was the ultimate impact of that? Hard to measure, but it did get mentioned in several reviews. Think about that the next time you read “we didn’t have any problems running the game, but there are reports on the internet that people are having crashes.”

Which is my point. If you’re going to do this kind of Trojan horse middle finger to pirates, make it obvious. Don’t just have the game crash out or glitch in ways that could be mistaken for a normal bug.

Hey! I had something similar happen to me with Caesar IV. I installed the first patch and started experiencing what I learned was a failed copy protection check. I never posted about it. I installed the cracked version of the game and the cracked patch. The error disappeared.

Please excuse me, but I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here.
I’m not a native english speaker, and as far as I’m aware the term “blatant ripoff” can be used to describe the fact that GDT is copying mechanics of GDS 1:1 without even making an attempt to hide this being the case.
It’s like that Zynga game that carbon-copied Tiny Towers.
Is it the term wrong to describe this?


I didn’t know C4 had one of those. Was it at least something hilarious, like an iron smelter producing pigs?