A Diablo fan who pirated the original game in 1997 pays his debt to Blizzard co-founder David Brevik at the end of the designer’s talk on the game at GDC 2016.
Ever pirate a video game and later wish that you had done the right thing? That was the case for Shivam Bhatt, the writer who used a talk at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to repay his debt for an illegal copy of Diablo that he downloaded almost two decades ago.
Blizzard co-founder David Brevik made an appearance at GDC 2016 to take part in a postmortem discussion of the original Diablo. After discussing the game in detail, the legendary designer turned things over to the crowd for a Q&A session.
Bhatt took this opportunity to offer up an apology to Brevik and his colleagues for pirating something that the team had poured so much work into. Not content with making amends verbally, he would also pony up some cash — here’s hoping he remembered to account for nineteen years of inflation.
Bhatt and Brevik would discuss the encounter on Twitter afterwards. Bhatt described the entire experience as ‘surreal,’ while Brevik thanked him for the gesture and noted that he was ‘stunned.’
It’s easy to downplay this transaction as a bit of fun to round out a GDC talk, but it illustrates a tenet of the video game industry that’s perhaps easily missed — at this point, piracy has been woven into the fabric of the medium.
Many industry professionals are likely have some experience with video game piracy from their youth, and that’s changing the pervading opinions about how this sort of behaviour affects production. Bootlegging can wreak havoc on profits, but it does serve to expand a game’s audience.
That said, not many pirates are as polite as to remedy the situation by offering up some money for a game that they enjoyed. More to the point, not many games are anywhere near as popular as the Diablo series, which went on to spawn two sequels and sell more than 20 million copies.
Video game piracy continues to be a blight, particularly for independent developers and particularly on PC. We already know how this behaviour can negatively affect the industry, but still there are countless individuals who illegally download new releases and think nothing of it.
New technology means that piracy — at least in its current form — might be removed from the equation entirely, but that’s still some way off. Until it comes about, we’ll have to rely on more people following Bhatt’s example and paying for games that deserve the investment.