Indie developers have had a tumultuous relationship with pirates ever since digital distribution became the primary method of acquiring games on a computer. At the beginning of the year, we put together a list of developers that had gone ‘pirate hunting’ – pursuing legal action against individuals that were stealing their games. The gaming community has responded negatively to almost every attempt by publishers and developers to limit theft, whether it comes in the form of lawsuits or restrictive DRM.
Although Steam has stymied the problem, some developers have gone out of their way to sympathize with the pirates. Dennation Games, the developers of the recent indie hit Hotline Miami, have taken that solution one step further by providing technical support in the comments section of their cracked game on The Pirate Bay.
The following is the first comment one of the creators of Hotline Miami left underneath the torrent for his game:
“I’m Jonatan Soderstrom, me and my friend Dennis Wedin made this game. We’re working on an update that hopefully will take care of any/all bugs, and we’ll try to do some extra polish in the next few days. Would be great if you could update the torrent when the patch is out! It’d be great if people get to play it without any bugs popping up.”
He then went on to provide links to a few Pirate Bay users that were having technical issues with their copies of the game. As evidenced by his attitude on The Pirate Bay along with several tweets he sent out, he and his development team hope everyone who enjoys the game buys it through either Steam or Good Old Games, but as he says, “I know what it’s like not having money.”
Last year we put together a feature detailing ten fun ways to prevent piracy without alienating the gaming community. Dennation Games’ decision to not only forego any action against the pirates, but instead engage them just as wholeheartedly and helpfully as they engage paying customers seems to be the most effective way to deal with a tricky situation like this. When Louis C.K. released his stand-up special last year for five dollars and asked people to please pay if they could, he made over one million dollars.
Piracy is a problem without many real solutions, but content creators understand the inherent risk of putting their hard work on the internet. The press Hotline Miami‘s developer has received just by being pleasant to those who can’t or won’t pay for their game might even outweigh the lost profit from piracy. I guess if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Be sure to check back for our review of Hotline Miami later this week.
Follow me on Twitter @JacobSiegal.