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Video game developer Greenheart Games plays a prank on people who pirate video games

Game Dev Story Pirate Message [1]

In a rather amusing turn of events, Greenheart Games, the developers of Game Dev Tycoon, played a sort of prank on pirates. )No, not the type of pirates that sail the high seas but the ones that illegally download digital content. Greenheart Games developer Patrick Klug intentionally uploaded a “pirated” version of Game Dev Tycoon that actually turned out to be crippled. The supposed “cracked” version of the game is normal for the first few hours of play before something hilarious happens.

If you don’t already know, Game Dev Story allows players to take control of a game development company, and the goal is to release fictional game titles into a simulated marketplace. Essentially, you live the life of a game developer. In the pirated version that Klug seeded, after a few hours a message pops up before players fail the game:

Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt.

In the pirated copy of the game, funds run out and future games end up being pirated at higher rates. This subsequently leads to the player’s company going bankrupt, because of piracy. It’s genius!

Klug discussed the hilarious move through a blog post on the Greenheart Games blog:

The cracked version is nearly identical to the real thing except for one detail… Initially we thought about telling them their copy is an illegal copy, but instead we didn’t want to pass up the unique opportunity of holding a mirror in front of them and showing them what piracy can do to game developers.

Unfortunately, even after pirating the game several players had the gall to complain about the restriction, one of which even claimed that piracy was ruining his game session (completely oblivious to the fact that he/she just pirated a game copy).

After compiling statistics, Klug discovered that 93.6% of Game Dev’s players actually pirated the game:

We know this because our game contains some code to send anonymous-usage data to our server. Nothing unusual or harmful. Heaps of games/apps do this and we use it to better understand how the game is played. It’s absolutely anonymous and you are covered by our privacy policy. Anyway, the cracked version has a separate ID so I can separate the data. I’m sure some of the players have firewalls and some will play offline therefore the actual number of players for the cracked version is likely much higher.

Klug goes on further to say that he’s not angry or upset with the gamers who downloaded the game illegally. Instead, he cleverly pointed out what happens to a game development studio –especially an independent studio like his- when lots of people pirate the game. Needless to say, if things don’t change then eventually there won’t be many games to play:

[…]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.

What do you think of what Klug did? Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments [2] below!

[via Greenheart Games [3], Ars Technica [4]]