Pirates Of Game Dev Tycoon Foiled In-Game By Their Own Pirating Ways

Oh, the irony. It’s so potent that it burns! Greenheart Games released their game development studio management and simulation game, Game Dev Tycoon, yesterday in both retail and torrent versions. The game is clearly inspired by Kairosoft’s Android and iOS-only Game Dev Story, but Game Dev Tycoon is differentiated as it’s for Windows, Mac and Linux, tapping into that demand that has been demanding a game of this type since the Game Dev Story was released.

The brilliant thing about the game’s release is that the retail version, which costs $7.99, is the game as intended by the developers, and you can grab a demo of it here. However, as Patrick Klug of Greenheart write on their blog, they also simultaneously released a torrent of the game to a popular torrent sharing site and “imitated the scene,” meaning that they didn’t identify as the developers of the game, but as a regular user of the website.

Game Dev Tycoon


“Is there some way to avoid that? I mean can I research DRM or something…”


There was one significant detail changed in this torrent version, however. Those who pirated (downloaded the torrent) Game Dev Tycoon would have a version in which, after a few hours of building up their game development company, they would keep receiving messages such as the one above that informed them that pirates had struck and started zapping lots of potential sales ergo profits, and ultimately, their funds would dwindle and they’d lose the game due to the mass of pirates.

Hours after the torrent became available, there were a number of messages in forums from those who were playing this pirated version asking for help to avoid piracy in the game as it was making them lose the game – a game, let’s not forget, that is about setting up and managing your own game development company.

Patrick saw these messages (and you can below) and says that they wanted to laugh at the irony of these pirates suffering the same thing that they had caused the developer of the game.

Game Dev Tycoon
Game Dev Tycoon

You don’t get much more ironic than that.

The question is, will the game and its message to these pirates do anything to change their ways? Very unlikely. Will they have learned anything? Well, they certainly seemed to have felt some of the anguish pirating can cause a game developer, but my suspicion is that it will go in one ear and out the other. I still enjoy the idea of a pirate asking for DRM to protect their game though…that’s just too sweet.


“…if years down the track you wonder why there are no games like these anymore and all you get to play is pay-to-play and social games designed to suck money out of your pockets, then the reason will stare back at you in the mirror.”


Game Dev Tycoon contains some code that sends anonymous-usage data to Greenheart’s server, just so they can better understand how the game is played, and it’s in no way harmful or beyond anything covered in their privacy policy. The pirated version has a separate ID so that it can be tracked and the numbers tallied up. It turns out that 214 players bought the game since it was released, while 3104 players downloaded the torrent. And Patrick adds that there are most likely players that have firewalls or play offline, so the actual number is probably higher than that.

But based on those figures, that’s a pretty whopping 93.6% of players pirating the game on the first day of release.

Game Dev Tycoon

Debates about piracy in the past have seen two sides emerge, with one argument being that piracy is money being taken away from developers, while the other sees piracy as exposure that will hopefully turn other players to buying the full game. Whatever the case, piracy is accepted as an inevitability and differs across each game. One way of tackling it could be to embrace it and ensure that those who do pirate get an inferior version of the game that may encourage them to purchase the retail version. But it’s by no means a silver bullet.

Patrick has plenty of thoughts that he’s shared over on the blog post, but if you want to help him out by purchasing the game, then you can do so right here. There’s also a Greenlight page, so if you want to see Game Dev Tycoon up on Steam, then give it an upvote.

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