Like stages of grief, game-makers' response to file sharing goes in stages. ACE Team, the Zeno Clash developer, skipped rage and grief and moved on to bargaining - directly with would-be copiers.
Developer Carlos Bordeu went to the comments of BitTorrent sites sharing Zeno Clash and posted the following:
I'm one of the developers of Zeno Clash. I would appreciate you read this if you are about to download this file.
Zeno Clash is an independently funded game by a very small and sacrificed group of people. The only way in which we can continue making games like this (or a sequel) is to have good sales.
I am aware that at this moment there is still no demo of the game, but we are working on one which will be available soon.
We cannot do anything to stop piracy of the game (and honestly don't intend to do so) but if you are downloading because you wish to try before you buy, I would ask that you purchase the game (and support the independent game development scene) if you enjoy it. We plan on updating Zeno Clash with DLC and continuing support for the game long after it's release.
Thanks for taking the time to read this… hopefully it will make a difference.
And the grinches stealing the game stopped, considered their actions, and vowed to buy Zeno Clash if they liked it. Or so they said, anyway. One typical comment: "I have not bought a game in 5 years, but the attitude of the developers has made me want to purchase their game. Fuck, if I like this game, I'm gonna buy it!"
TorrentFreak contacted Bordeu to ask about the unorthodox antipiracy measures, and was told "appealing to the conscience of people who download the game is the best we can do."
"Zeno Clash is not an expensive game," he said. "We don't believe in restrictive DRM. We honestly think that ‘converting' the people who download the game into buyers is a much better strategy than trying to fight them."
TorrentFreak says downloads for the game are, at the moment, comparatively low, but that could be attributable to anything. If nothing else, it consolidates ACE Team's position as a sympathetic victim, even to some avowed pirates. And of course, Zeno Clash's publisher, Valve, has made concillatory statements about piracy in the past, too. But how long the goodwill lasts, who knows.