About Game Dev Tycoon:
Game Dev Tycoon was created by Greenheart Games and is a management game set in the 1980s where you start your own game development company. The objective of the game is to manage your products and turn them into top rated games.
The developers of this game released a cracked version of their own game for pirates to download. The game contains some code to send anonymous usage data to their server to gather statistics about how the game was being played. The statistics revealed an alarming amount of over 93% of users who pirated the game and Greenheart Games suggests that there are more.
However, there is one difference between the cracked version and the legitimate version. Those that pirated the game would see their virtual studios being hit by piracy soon in the game and the game would be difficult, if not impossible, to continue.
This interesting DRM (Digital Rights Management) can be seen as a way to make people realize the consequences of piracy. In Greenheart Games’ own blog, posts from forums were put up to show the questions that people were asking on how to overcome the virtual piracy problem. There are questions such as “Why are there so many people that pirate? It ruins me!” and “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.”
The irony is that the pirates are asking questions on how circumvent piracy, even though it is only virtual. Imagine what it must be like to have to manage a real game development company and face such rampant piracy. As the developer said in the blog post, “However, as the developer, who spent over a year creating this game and hasn’t drawn a salary yet, I wanted to cry. Surely, for most of these players, the 8 dollars wouldn’t hurt them but it makes a huge difference to our future!”
“We’re just a start-up and really need your support. The game is only 7.99USD, DRM free, you get the installer for all three platforms, you can install it on up to three computers for personal use and we will give you a Steam key when and if the game is on Steam….. … so please obtain a legal copy and make us happy.”
The above scenario is similar to the one portrayed by the DRM of the pirated version of the game. The game development studios need the revenue to sustain their development but because of piracy, their operations have to be scaled back instead of expanding to create more and better games. However, Greenheart Games has been gracious and its founder, Patrick Klug, is not mad at pirates as stated on their blog and even tries to reason with pirates to buy legimate copies of the game.
Another quote from their blog, “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.”
While the ethics of inserting such a DRM as well as tracking users statistics could come into question, the spotlight is on the high rate of piracy and the plight of the developers, some of which need the revenue from the games to sustain their future. Piracy these days has become so widespread that developers are finding it difficult to generate income and revenue from their products. Many game studios which released great games in the past have had to shut down because of the lack of funds to continue operations. This is probably a good wake up call who think that piracy is not such a great deal. The next time you think about pirating a software, put yourself in the shoes of the developers and ask if you would want people to do so.
 All information from Greenheart Games’ blog post: http://www.greenheartgames.com/2013/04/29/what-happens-when-pirates-play-a-game-development-simulator-and-then-go-bankrupt-because-of-piracy/