There's a recent tradition of developers screwing with pirates—from releasing enormous, immortal pink scorpions on them, to booby trapping their games with glitches when they get cracked. This weekend, Greenheart Games, creator of Game Dev Tycoon, just blew the curve for everyone. This is fantastic.
As the title suggests, the game is about video games development. Greenheart is releasing it DRM-free, so this thing is sure to be pirated. Greenheart's Patrick Klug figured, why wait, put a cracked version on "the number one torrent sharing site," and sat back to watch what happened.
Something like 94 percent of the game's users were playing the pirated, cracked version that Greenheart itself had uploaded. But here's where the fun begins.
"As players spend a few hours playing and growing their own game dev company, they will start to see the following message, styled like any other in-game message:"
"Slowly their in-game funds dwindle, and new games they create have a high chance to be pirated until their virtual game development company goes bankrupt."
The best part? The pirates complained about it.
One even asked if he could "research DRM or something" to protect himself. "So what I have to do now? There's no point in inventing a new engine because the revolutionary game made out of it will get pirated and I will not be able to cover my expenses."
Klug briefly delighted in the irony, but he isn't laughing too hard, though, noting he and his brother, Daniel, spent a year building the game and haven't drawn any salary from it. "If years down the track you wonder why there are no games like these any more, 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," Patrick writes. Yep.
He discusses the caper in greater detail at the link (which, if it isn't working, try this. The post made it to NeoGAF this morning and Greenheart's site has been swamped.) Game Dev Tycoon—the one that works—is $7.99, available for Mac, Windows and Linux. The game also is up for a vote on Steam Greenlight.