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Game Dev Tycoon creator punishes pirates with in-game bankruptcy


Upon launching its debut title Game Dev Tycoon for Windows, Mac, and Linux yesterday, creator Green Heart Games implemented a clever approach to anti-piracy, targeting non-paying players with a game-ending dose of ironic retribution.

The cracked version of Game Dev Tycoon, which Green Heart Games created and distributed itself, functions normally for the first few hours of play. Soon, however, the player's up-and-coming studio encounters a serious problem.

"Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally," reads one in-game message in the pirated version of Game Dev Tycoon. "If players don't buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt."

Shortly thereafter, all games created by the virtual studio suffer a very high piracy rate. The end result is bankruptcy, and a premature end to the player's quest. As a result, Green Heart Games received a series of help requests from baffled software pirates on its forum. "Why are there so many people that pirate?" one player asked. "It ruins me!"

Though it finds humor in the situation, Green Heart Games also notes an unpleasant reality: paying players make up only 6.4 percent of Game Dev Tycoon's userbase. By tracking anonymous usage data, the developer found that 3,104 players opted to pirate the game, while only 214 users paid $7.99 for a legitimate copy.

"When I was younger, downloading illegal copies was practically normal but this was mostly because global game distribution was in its infancy," Game Dev Tycoon co-creator Patrick Klug admits in a follow-up blog post. "We are not wealthy and it's unlikely that we will be any time soon, so stop pretending like we don't need your 8 dollars! We are just two guys working our butts off, trying to start our own game studio to create games which are fun to play."

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