Pixel Piracy Creators Pirate Their Own Game

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Pixel Piracy Creators Pirate Their Own Game

Pixel Piracy screen

The creators of Pixel Piracy are linking to and seeding a torrent for a pirated version of the game, saying that if people are going to pirate it anyway they might as well do so safely.

Piracy is a fact of life for content producers. No matter what you do, or how well (or poorly) you do it, there will always be people who want to enjoy your work without paying for it. Most game publishers address the issue with some form of DRM but there are a few outliers, like Witcher studio CD Projekt, which has spoken out against DRM for years and recently said that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will launch with "absolutely no DRM."

The creators of Pixel Piracy are being even more aggressive with their anti-DRM stance by providing a link to a pirated version of the game on their website and seeding the torrent themselves. Why? "We aren't idiots, we aren't high," Vitali Kirpu and Alexander Poysky wrote. "We believe that anyone who wants to pirate our game will do so anyways, and feel it's a much safer bet to offer those people the official link to our game in hopes that they keep their computers virus free."

They also suggest that people who like the game can support it in ways other than paying for it, by voting for it on Steam Greenlight and sharing the link with other people. "Not everything is about money, and we want to thank those that pirate our title and actually give them the opportunity to do so with our blessing, while giving them an opportunity to actually make good on the piracy itself," they continued. "Tell your friends about us, share the link around IF and only IF you enjoy the game, and if you DON'T enjoy it at least you didn't have to pay for it!"

It's an unusual approach and one that will no doubt earn the devs at least a few purchases as word of their good nature spreads, but I'm not convinced that it's entirely positive. Pirates are going to pirate and it's arguable that the goodwill generated by embracing piracy rather than fighting it (or even just ignoring it) will ultimately result in more money than would have otherwise been earned, but the message that a vote on Steam Greenlight is just as good as a purchase isn't particularly helpful to anyone who relies on money in order to eat, pay the rent and continue making games.

Source: Pixel Piracy

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I hope they track their website traffic, sales, and "endorsed" torrent downloads and publish those numbers for the rest of us to see. I am particularly interested in seeing if their legal-sales-to-total-download ratio improves because of this marketing campaign.

So it's a bit of a "demo" situation going on.
Still, extremely commendable!!!!!

In regards to being an indie author, the biggest challenge is just visibility. Through our mailing list my partner and I hand out a lot of free copies to our fans. They then tend to help us out by spreading the word and posting reviews. Since we started doing this our sales have gone up quite a lot, and those stories we never bothered to do this for tend to languish by comparison.

Different business, of course, but I imagine for games visibility is probably a majour issue for indie game designers too. And getting on Steam, where the bulk of digital game purchases occur, is likely essential to most success, because it gives them greater visibility and access to the biggest pool of customers.

but the message that a vote on Steam Greenlight is just as good as a purchase isn't particularly helpful to anyone who relies on money in order to eat, pay the rent and continue making games.

Implying that the person who said it doesn't need money to eat, pay the rent, and continue making games are we? Cool I guess?

On topic!

Good to see people realizin that piracy isn't entirely a terrible thing and realizin that no matter what measures you take to stop piracy people will still pirate. Think I might snag me a pre-order. I have 9 bucks to spend and I like to support devs like this.

Well if nothing more they did make the news which is more then can be said for other indies trying to claw their way to the surface while news writers grasp at vine drip rumours of lawsuits vaguely famous people are maybe doing someday.

But I do hope these stunts are soon used to turn their pirated version into proper marketing material, as in fill that game with links and ads that will actually support you, most people will really not care that much as long as they get to for free play.
Also doesn't hurt to put an informative blurb about supporting devs, many people pirate out of habit and don't consider that it's costing someone a paycheck that may mean going back to a regular shit job and consequently no new games.

Hey there guys. Thank you so much for the comments. I apologize if I misconstrued things here. I'm not implying that a steam green light vote in ANY case is better or as good as money. Mind you, I don't NEED the money at this point. If I DID I would be much less candid about offering the game out for free. I am attempting to help those that are suffering through the economic recession as much as the next, and giving those that are "on the fence" about the title AMPLE time to test-run it before buying. Would you buy a Ferrari based on word of mouth alone or would you rather drive it for a while?

It would be a nice thing if we would get to the point where publishers realize it for themselves that file-sharing is not a problem unless they make it into one, and that their related control authorities are not ones that are worth enforcing in the first place. It would be more comfortable, and financially more stable for them, and with less hard feelings, to change business models on their own.

Of course, probably most of the others won't get that far ahead in their thinking, so it will be a lot messier for them as said authorities inevitably get taken away from them anyways.

There is only one thing more ridiculous than the moral belief that copyright protects some sort of human right to "property", and that is the pragmatic belief that you can be able to control information on the internet in the same way as property.

The stability of the Internet is worth a lot more than a single industry's sense of entitlement about what control they "deserve", especially when that's not even connected to any meaningful financial benefit, just the sheer emotional desire for more control over more people's activities.

WTF? The game CREATOR commented in the facebook comment section.... This this right here is why I like the indie market more, and why I like steam and greenlight. Never going to see that shit from EA.
*Edit*
Oh and here too! Awesome! I do not even know if I will like your game yet but now I am going to go look at it and see!

If you don't like it at least you didn't PAY for it bro!

Andy Chalk:
but the message that a vote on Steam Greenlight is just as good as a purchase isn't particularly helpful to anyone who relies on money in order to eat, pay the rent and continue making games.

Considering the statement was made by the developer this comment doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Even more so when you consider they never said a Greenlight vote was equivalent to paying for it.

But ignoring that for a moment, how about we consider the fact that if this leads to the game making it onto Steam and perhaps they wouldn't have before, those greenlight votes will probably become more valuable than the purchases they didn't actually lose because people pirated the game.

My point exactly Vivi22, there's a method to the madness :)

I salute you, Mr. Poysky; you're certainly handling the situation with a lot more grace that I would. So far as I'm concerned if you want to scamper off with my hard work, I don't give a damn if you catch a virus or not. If one had ponied up the pittance, then it wouldn't be a problem.

That said, the best sales I ever saw with my book was when I offered it for free for a few days, so I suppose there's a bizarre yet irrefutable logic in your stance. In any case, I hope whoever plays your game gives money to you somehow.

Here's the cold, hard logic. I pirated it today. Why are my sales 5x what they were yesterday? Why are greenlight votes through the roof? Piracy in itself isn't BAD, it can be channeled in a DECENT way, and many of the people who would otherwise not have taken the plunge do so thanks to the optional download!

So... are we allowed to talk about piracy of THIS game since the developers themselves are condoning it?

Vivi22:
Considering the statement was made by the developer this comment doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Even more so when you consider they never said a Greenlight vote was equivalent to paying for it.

But ignoring that for a moment, how about we consider the fact that if this leads to the game making it onto Steam and perhaps they wouldn't have before, those greenlight votes will probably become more valuable than the purchases they didn't actually lose because people pirated the game.

I don't think it takes an explicit statement of equivalence to foster that kind of mindset in some people and make it easier to apply in other situations. Some indie developers, like Mr. Poysky, are cool with it, yet others who may not feel the same way might find themselves indirectly affected by it. It's all very murky - we know what doesn't work, but there's no consensus on what actually does. And yes, a vote on Steam Greenlight has value, but there's more to life than Steam and I don't think that even implying that it's okay to pirate a game as long as you give it an upvote somewhere is necessarily a good approach to take.

(To be clear, it's Poysky's game and I don't begrudge him anything he chooses to do with it. I hope the strategy works out well for him, that Pixel Piracy is a huge hit and he becomes rich and famous for it. I'm speaking of the general idea of not just tolerating but encouraging piracy - short-term pain for long-term gain, etc.)

I guess it is not stealing if they are cool with it. I hope people download the shit out of the endorsed "free version" instead of paying for the exact same thing and prove just how harmful "getting a product for free" (stealing) can be to a business. So yes, I hope their profits crash and burn.

Welp, doing this has at least gotten them publicity indie-titles usually struggle to get. Honestly, looking at the reaction to this specific case I'm really starting to wonder which reasons this works for. Is it because piracy isn't all that damaging? Is it because of the free publicity and word of mouth? Or is it more to due with the fact that gamers are more than willing to support ideas, and with the current gaming climate knowing that a developer/publisher isn't screwing them over is a very attractive one? Really curious how well this would work if people didn't feel like game companies were constantly trying to screw them over.

Man, attitude towards piracy on this site is a bit bipolar
On one hand moderators issue warnings for everyone who dares imply that piracy isn't invented by Satan when he refined soul of Hitler.
On the other hand we have topics like this.
I almost want to enter troll mode and start reporting anyone who says anything neutral or positive about piracy here.
But I won't.
I only wish crew of Escapist would make their mind about their policy regarding piracy.
Either
A)It is worse than rape, murder, Justin Bieber and genocide combined (like moderators often treat it)
OR
B)It is extremely gray concept that can be both good and bad. and there are circumstances when piracy is justified (like it actually is)
I can roll with both of these attitudes, just not at the same time.

senordesol:
I salute you, Mr. Poysky; you're certainly handling the situation with a lot more grace that I would. So far as I'm concerned if you want to scamper off with my hard work, I don't give a damn if you catch a virus or not. If one had ponied up the pittance, then it wouldn't be a problem.

That said, the best sales I ever saw with my book was when I offered it for free for a few days, so I suppose there's a bizarre yet irrefutable logic in your stance. In any case, I hope whoever plays your game gives money to you somehow.

I'm curious, what book did you write?

On topic,
Comparing indie development to the book industry might make a good point here. Visibility is INCREDIBLY important. If even triple A games have to work hard to make their games visible (though that could be because they throw too much money at the game and need to recoup sales) its tough as hell for indie developers, or authors of books to get noticed. Looking at waves of indie games can be like looking in a library. It can be daunting and sometimes one product may feel like a drop in a bucket, regardless of the content inside.

btw,
Thanks for dropping by Poysky! I was surprised and impressed.

Giest4life:
I hope they track their website traffic, sales, and "endorsed" torrent downloads and publish those numbers for the rest of us to see. I am particularly interested in seeing if their legal-sales-to-total-download ratio improves because of this marketing campaign.

So am I. I have never actually heard of this game before, and with this bit of news I am tempted to buy it just because I think the devs are trying to do right by their customers.

I read the article and decided I wanted to learn more about this game. I followed the link to the developer.

There is very little information about the game, except that it is rogue-like. I don't think that means that it sneaks around, steals things and excels at backstabbing, but I can't be sure.

I still wanted to encourage this developer by buying the game, not pirating it. I think it's wonderful that there are voices of reason and pragmatism. I wanted to, in some small way, help them stay in business. I couldn't find a way to buy the game. It's "Coming to PC/MAC/LINUX in a future". Is the only way to get the game to pirate it?

Or, hear me out here, we don't care if pirates get viruses. I like that option.

Alexander Poysky:
Here's the cold, hard logic. I pirated it today. Why are my sales 5x what they were yesterday? Why are greenlight votes through the roof? Piracy in itself isn't BAD, it can be channeled in a DECENT way, and many of the people who would otherwise not have taken the plunge do so thanks to the optional download!

Welcome to The Escapist, Mr. Poysky. Please feel free to enjoy the warmth of the forums, avoid low content postings (generally more than a six word sentence) and do not, under any circumstances, inquire about the basement. At all.

Now then, onto the topic at hand: I have a general theory regarding piracy and I'd wonder if you'd be so willing for a bit of your time. Please give your opinion on the accuracy of this statement:

"Because there are no readily available demos for me to play a game, I am more likely to pirate the game outright than purchase it."

The reason I say this is because recently my uncle started cleaning out his storage areas and we found a cache of old Playstation Underground disks with loads of demo games among them. Then I recall today's current atmosphere in the industry regarding demos and, to my perspective, it is a very stark contrast. I'd like to see from a developer's perspective if this theory holds any merit whatsoever.

if you DON'T enjoy it at least you didn't have to pay for it!

I think this is (apart from lack of funds) reason #1 for piracy.

It's actually quite shitty business policy to ask for money first and then let the customer see whether you deliver at all.

Andy Chalk:
...but the message that a vote on Steam Greenlight is just as good as a purchase isn't particularly helpful to anyone who relies on money in order to eat, pay the rent and continue making games.

Though the sentiment is sound, Steam Greenlight *isn't* an avenue for income. It's an avenue to get listed on Steam, after which revenue can come in from sales. At the point a game is on Greenlight, it isn't yet providing an income for food or rent and a vote has no (direct) bearing on sales either way.

What it does do is afford the developer a chance to succeed on Steam, as did Cthulu Saves the World. The point is that the game isn't being sold en masse as yet and a vote is free marketing, paid for with goodwill.

Alexander Poysky:
Here's the cold, hard logic. I pirated it today. Why are my sales 5x what they were yesterday? Why are greenlight votes through the roof? Piracy in itself isn't BAD, it can be channeled in a DECENT way, and many of the people who would otherwise not have taken the plunge do so thanks to the optional download!

I didnt download the game or buy the game myself, not really my style after all, but damned if I dont love seeing developers with such progressive attitudes, I am glad to say I just went onto Greenlight and upvoted your game!

I wish you the best of luck in business.

Maiev Shadowsong:
Or, hear me out here, we don't care if pirates get viruses. I like that option.

A pirate is a potential customer, and should be treated as such. Especially by an indie developer with little to no exposure.

I think that these guys have got the right idea.

Hey there everyone. Thank you all for the great feedback. Regarding the links to the purchasable product on our site. It's on the site DESURA or INDIEDB and you can search it there. Regarding the views on piracy in general. Well, I'm neither condoning nor supporting it, nor am I lashing out against it. I simply believe that in this particular case it was going to happen, and we started seing shady russian torrent sites cropping up like wildflowers.

Instead of rolling with a negative attitude towards pirates, and saying they'd be getting their comeuppance for it by downloading that link. I figured there MUST be some way to put that piracy to GOOD use. Now ONCE AGAIN, I am not saying PIRACY is a good thing or a bad thing, I will remain neutral on the subject, but in this case something that generally IS negative (I.E cirumventing sales by downloading a shady torrent) has turned into a few things.

1. Positive word of mouth
2. A safe place for people to actually give good feedback about the game
3. MORE SALES

Why? Because MANY more people know about us now due to the fact. Let's be logical here, as an indie title I was currently faced with around a 5-10 thousand MAXIMUM userbase, it's just how it is.

I release it for free and suddenly we get 5 times that in a day. Of those people that would have pirated it anyways, MANY are now purchasing it because they like the game.

At the end of the day one could argue this wasn't even piracy, as it is my own product. On the other hand I am messing with people who otherwise would have turned a profit from traffic to their site on MY game.

My two cents, that's all :)

Anyways, if you want to discuss it I'm on twitter @alexpoysky

Have a good one guys!

If the developers are giving the game away then why are they calling it 'piracy'? Isn't it like a used car salesman telling me that I am 'stealing' food from his children's mouths because I negotiated a good deal on a car?

I believe the correct name for this is Freeware.

Maiev Shadowsong:
Fuck 'em. If you wanna steal or cheat your way to a privilege, you can fuck right off. I'm not interested in the business. I simply detest people that think they have the right to access something. "Oh but I want a demo." "Oh but games are expensive." "Oh but I might buy it later." Excuses made by people that have a false sense of entitlement and a severe lack of ego check. I've no time to sit down with assholes and ask them to stop being pricks. Make a good game, charge reasonably, give people a reason to come back. Let the pirates die in a fire.

There is no false sense about people feeling entitled to freely receive and impart information. Hell, that's not even ANY kind of entitlement.

A free lunch is an entitlement. Free heath care is an entitlement. Wanting an extra free seat on a bus is asking for an entitlement.

Free speech is not the same thing as wanting "stuff for free", it's a freedom. A libre, not a gratis.

If you have a problem with "a false sense of entitlement", why aren't you complaining all the other publishers than this guy, who feel entitled to receiving a monopoly grant from the government over controlling other people's communication of data, solely to preserve their preferred business model, and then call this privilege their "property"?

Edit: and yes, username is an intentional reference to that nonsense.

Alexander Poysky:
Hey there guys. Thank you so much for the comments. I apologize if I misconstrued things here. I'm not implying that a steam green light vote in ANY case is better or as good as money. Mind you, I don't NEED the money at this point. If I DID I would be much less candid about offering the game out for free. I am attempting to help those that are suffering through the economic recession as much as the next, and giving those that are "on the fence" about the title AMPLE time to test-run it before buying. Would you buy a Ferrari based on word of mouth alone or would you rather drive it for a while?

Hey, I like you! I would buy your game if I had a way to pay for it, but Venezuela is in a very crappy state right now (we don't even have exchange houses, what the hell.)

I will buy your game if/when me and my family move to Peru, promise.

AnnaIME:
I read the article and decided I wanted to learn more about this game. I followed the link to the developer.

There is very little information about the game, except that it is rogue-like. I don't think that means that it sneaks around, steals things and excels at backstabbing, but I can't be sure.

I still wanted to encourage this developer by buying the game, not pirating it. I think it's wonderful that there are voices of reason and pragmatism. I wanted to, in some small way, help them stay in business. I couldn't find a way to buy the game. It's "Coming to PC/MAC/LINUX in a future". Is the only way to get the game to pirate it?

I'd suggest you watch a playthrough. I watched one of this game by Mangaminx and it seemed fun, for what little gameplay I saw, anyway.

I'd describe it as a 2d pirate simulator, you control a crew and you can build a boat. It seems you also have to keep your crew happy, but I haven't seen what happens when they get angry (I assume mutiny).

To be clear, I haven't pirated the game, just watched a playthrough.

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