Video game piracy has been around as long as video games themselves. Developers have devised creative ways over the decades to deal with the problem, some more successful than others. Titan quest developers combated piracy by immediately dumping players to the desktop after certain triggers. This was actually thought to hurt sales as word spread that the game was riddled with bugs. Earlier games implemented code wheels and text passages from manuals. The developers at Greenheart Games opted for a creative solution in their new title Game Dev Tycoon.
The Greenheart developers seeded a special copy of their game on Sunday to coincide with the paid for version release date. This "honeypot" version will only let you play for a couple of hours before hitting a wall where players cannot move forward. At a certain point a message is displayed telling you that you can't proceed because of piracy.
Greenheart Games founder Patrick Klug described the pirated game's conclusion in a blog post: "Slowly in-game funds dwindle, and new games they create have a high chance to be pirated until their virtual game development company goes bankrupt."
"For most of these players, the $8 dollars wouldn't hurt them but it makes a huge difference to our future," he wrote. "We are just two guys working our butts off, trying to start our own game studio."
After only a single day of availability, the game usage statistics tell the whole story. The developer reported that the 214 users who legally purchased the game were significantly outnumbered by approximately 3,100 pirates which is a piracy rate of roughly 93 percent. Hopefully some of the pirates who played the "cracked" version will ante up and pay for the full version of Game Dev Tycoon.
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