What happens when pirates play a game development simulator and then go bankrupt because of piracy?


I think your reasoning is not correct: I think the big gaming companies have much more advanced statistics than the guys of Greenheart Games have put up here:

  • they certainly know how much they sell a specific game
  • Most probably, they have hundreds of people watching what’s going on at pirate bay and the like; just watching how many downloads are happening etc
  • Who tells you they don’t have some code in at least some games which sends a message home “played but not paid for”?


I would bother with an in-depth response to this, but you missed the forest for the trees and your sentences are heavily fractured. Correct your post and try again.

Otherwise, I’ll just say this: Has anyone asked for an updated set of statistics that compares their current sales versus ‘pirated copies’ in order to support this claim beyond the Day 1 experiment? I’ve yet to see any beyond the 93.6% piracy story, which, if we’re being brutally honest with ourselves, these two brothers allowed to happen, expecting not to make money on those copies.


Well if you won’t bother replying to my post without me:

Correct your post and try again.

… I’ll never hear your wise arguments proving me wrong. IMHO the post is in clear English; if you can’t understand it so be it. I did fix one typo though.


The way I understood it, the piracy experiment was a case of “Let’s do this and just see what happens” rather than a rigorous scientific experiment. And the results were presented as simply “This is what happened” rather than a full case study. Therefore reading too deeply into the results, or into @PatrickKlug’s interpretation of those results, is probably an exercise in futility, and a waste of everyone’s time.


Well, as said before, it was NOT day 1 of their sale. It was day 1 of the sale for some new platforms. It was day thirtysomething (or more) in general…

In my humble opinion, this IS relevant, since it changes several factors. (Some people have already bought the game, some people have seen the game and believe it’s not avaiable for their platform legally, etc…)


I suggested over a month ago to these two that they should post this game on GOG, Desura, Indie City, Beamdog, or Gamestop Impulse. All of which support indie games, and Desura allows games in Mac and Linux as well as alpha funding. They said they would look into it.

Have you seen them post the game to those places? Or has it just been Greenlight this whole time?


You’re only supporting my suspicions about the lack of data beyond this one day to back up that claim. Of course, it’s viral marketing at this point anyway and most folks don’t read the fine print. Whatever could be said may as well fall on deaf ears.


As far as I understand it, the market plan has been to get the game Greenlit (or not) on Steam, and then look at the other platforms. They are not being ignored, simply delayed whilst the kinks are worked out for the multiplatform release.


You guys are simply masterminds for the industry! I honestly have never seen such an ingenious way to draw attention to piracy.

I had never heard of your game before, but now, you have a new customer!

Just have to get it as soon as I get home :slight_smile: And as soon as you can sort out the gifting thing, I will get a copy for my brother too. We’re both software developers ourselves and understand the pressure that piracy creates on the business. And honestly, the game looks hel…lots of fun.


The post about piracy made me laugh, made me sad. I understand what you are going through and I’m both happy and sorry for you. I wish you all the best in the sales of this game, I hope you do good.

On a personal note. I played Tropico. Back in the day when we were to get everything from a singe 700MB CD. Back then that was the only way to get a game into the country (because we had sanctions), but on the other side, if you wanted to purchase the original you would have to save up for 3-4 years to do so. I mean, as a kid, living where I did/do.

When things changed I got myself a steam account, and purchased Tropico 3. :wink: Oh, joy! I was helping Kalypso and I had my game. When the Tropico 4 came out, I wasn’t the early 60-50-40 USD adopter. I didn’t wanted to download the game from PirateBay or where ever, but I opted to wait for it and when there was a first meaningful discount I bought it. Hours and hours of playtime and fun.

I haven’t tried your game right now, because I’m on a project of my own, but… When I get some real time off I might get demo a spin. I loved the Kairosoft Game Dev Story. :wink:


I think the idea with putting out a crack version as well as the real deal, was awesome! And specially the part where you altered the crack version :smile:
I just bought the game, like 2 days ago. I saw one of the Yogscast dudes on Youtube play it and thought, this is one of the coolest game ideas i have seen for a long, long time.
It simply draws you in, and before you know it, you have been playing for 3-4 hours. Some of the features are simply genius! Like if you forget to name a game, and therefore accidentally call it, Game #3, or whatever number. The critics will give you a bad review…
It’s simply amazing!
But there is a couple of things, I think could be better… fx. the in-game time… i think the in-game weeks goes a bit too fast… It happened to me, when i was researching in the R&D lab and developing my own console, i went from having 140 million to only having 25 million, in the blink of an eye.
I hope you’ll continue to update the game when new consoles etc. comes out.
Other than that… I can’t wait to see what you bring us next time… But i’m definitely a fan :smiley:


As a fellow game developer, I understand what you’re feeling. If I may make a suggestion, though: instead of making the players go bankrupt, I recommend you simply do what piracy actually does to game developers: take a cut out of their profits. Make it more difficult for players to continue (but never impossible). Make them hate piracy, not your DRM preventing it. Because the best thing you can do to is convert players to your side of the argument.

By effectively halting the progress of gamers with pirated copies you’re annoying them. Yes, you’re making some feel guilty but you’re missing out on the bigger picture here.We want to change them. Not cash in on guilt-tripping.


<Meta content-type=“disclaimer” style=“brevity: none;”>This getting to be a long thread so I’m sure everything I say next has already been expressed in some form or another. Though, with a large topic, opinions and discussion points start to become statistical frequency data and the more samples the better, right?

To be clear about my balance of opinion beforehand, I am thoroughly impressed with your company and game. If what follows seems to dwell on negative points, consider this analogy: You enjoy a meal at a new restaurant, you comment “That was the best Tagliatelle I’ve ever had! End of Story! But I could go on forever about everything wrong with the Ricciarelli”. You still go back next week and order a different dessert.</Meta>

I think your method of handling piracy is inspired and clever but the implementation could have used a bit more refinement; specifically, I think you were too vague. A possible alternate route would have been to deliver the in game piracy notices with decreasing subtlety and a strong sense of humor. For example, start with your current message but gradually alter the message so that after 5 or 6 such warnings you spell it out for the pirate with a message similar to:

Piracy is a real problem in the game industry. If you help make it less of a problem in the real world you’ll find that it will be less of a problem in your copy of Game Dev Tycoon. Please visit Greenheart Games to find out more. {{link to conversion page}}

Don’t skimp on the humor and don’t let them see passive aggressive anger (even if that’s what you’re really feeling). If you can make people laugh, albeit at themselves, you can get many of them to turn around and give you their support. Pirates are not inherently evil or malicious because most people are not inherently evil or malicious. If allowed, or occasionally encouraged, to introspect, most people would prefer to think of themselves as good. In saying that you have no beef with people that legitimately can’t afford to or are otherwise unable to purchase your game, I think you agree with my preceding point.

Back in my college years, in the pre-historic days before Steam and their famous fire-sales, my monthly budget usually included a hard decision between ramen and caffeine. Back then, my entertainment budget was near zero and the piracy option was tempting. Since then, however, I’ve made it a point of principal to buy every game I play; the hypocrisy of being an aspiring software developer and pirate did not escape me when I was broke (I was going to exercise the fifth amendment but that turned this paragraph into a caricature of the Monty Python “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” sketch); I’m trying to make amends for it now. Not counting online subscription games (I either helped put some developer’s kid through college or paid for a fixture in a Sony exec’s private washroom with my EverQuest 2 account), I have a Steam account with 112 games worth over $1400 after significant price depreciation of older titles. My point here is that you shouldn’t allow yourselves to get upset over piracy and fall into despair over the state of your fellow man; there may be many pirates that do not convert for you today but many of them will cross over eventually and will hopefully remember you fondly when opening their wallets for you and other game developers is less depressing and, therefore, more common.

I have not played the “cracked” version so I can only speculatively comment on the added difficulty level in that version. I am, however, tempted to find it and toss it into a VM with no network interface so that it doesn’t phone home and further skew your piracy stats. I agree with commenters on this and other forums that say the cracked version should not be impossible, just harder. Perhaps it should have been balanced in such a way that having legitimate copies unlock it as a challenge or endurance mode after completing the standard game would be viable.

You have received a very significant amount of press for your anti-piracy method. When I search for “Game Dev Tycoon” on Google, the first two results are your website (great SEO, props) and Wikia and everything else is a news article or blog post on your meta-piracy tactic. If I’m correct, or at least not completely wrong, in my above critique that you could have implemented this idea better, in the specific case of this game, any faults due to vagueness have been completely eclipsed by the press coverage spelling it out repeatedly and at length for anyone who doesn’t get why their virtual game company keeps losing money to pirates.

You have also, no doubt, been flooded with legitimate orders after appearing on Slashdot, Fark and everywhere else. Once the dust settles, you should have enough cash on hand for a well deserved post-release celebration. Unfortunately, you will also have a collection of piracy statistics that are so tainted as to be meaningless. As a contrast to the scenario of a legitimate customer of a AAA title obtaining a cracked version because StarForce, SecuRom or some other DRM system does not play nice with their system (I’m a software developer who’s had various game DRM schemes argue with dev and virtualization tools on my system), you will probably have a significant number of legitimate customers download the cracked version (without VM sandboxing) to see what the buzz is about. I suggest, once the dust settles and you get back from the aforementioned post-release celebration, you print and frame your collected piracy rate statistic with a large font caption, “This number is not real. It’s really skewed”.

Final words, I promise.
You have created a great game and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I just entered the third office with $70M in the bank after 5 attempts at getting through the second office (either v1.3.5 has been retuned compared to v1.3.3 or I finally developed the knack). I’m a software developer in the real world aspiring to get into game development. Currently, though, my job is to clean up and maintain web and server code that had been piling up with spaghetti for at least a decade prior to my ever seeing it. If I’m ever in the position to make such a design decision, I may be inclined to borrow and adapt your anti-piracy method. I hope you don’t mind.


They had a demo that you could try out


I pirate from time to time also. I saw this article up and joystiq, and it intrigued me so much I bought the game. I try to buy all “indie” type games and once i realized its just two dudes who developed this, I was happy to give them my money.

This is definitely the most interesting way to combat piracy, and I can say it definitely worked on me and I didn’t even pirate the game. This made me not even consider it.


I don’t download games illegally, but intentionally creating tainted versions of a game for political aims doesn’t make me want to buy it. Your “we are a start up” excuse doesn’t wash with me. Every company has to mitigate loss. You just opened yourself up to it.


I just bought the second and third copy of the game. The first was for myself, numbers 2 and 3 are for friends who are equally nerdy.

I admit: What first bought me in was reading on a games biz website about your smart piracy-version. My second exposure was seeing two coworkers play it (on their lunch breaks, no worries, no one getting fired over the game…).

I finally went and bought it and found myself up at 2am, knowing the next day was a work day and wondering where my evening had evaporated to.

I really enjoyed this sim; though there are some points that are missing (as in every sim), you get the basics of it.

Thank you, GHG!

edits, looking at poster just above
sees the reminder to stay civilSIGH


LOL! HUGELOL! MEGA HUGE LOL! That’s all i can do right now.

I started reading the replies just to see the reaction of people and i’m quite shocked that there are people pissed off at you. Really? Come on… This was an extremely creative and cheap DRM! LOL! I salute you!

Like some people here this isn’t really my kind of game but yeah, after reading what you did, i HAD to give the game a try. Just tried the demo and bought the full version. Even though i’m not sure if i’ll be constantly playing it, you deserve it.

Wish you the best of luck with your work!


just wondering whats your opinion of people who don’t have the money to get the game so they pirate it but once they raise funds to purchase it legit purchase it


What happens when pirates play a game development simulator and DO NOT go bankrupt because of priacy?