"What is the square root of a fish?" the message at the end of the Skullgirls single-player campaign asked. "Now I'm sad." Perhaps thinking he'd discovered some kind of oddball Easter egg, player Dan Hibiki took to Twitter to ask what it meant. But the answer, he was dismayed to learn, was that it meant he'd pirated the game.
Following yesterday's news that a Russian hacker had unofficially reverse-engineered 360 action game The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile to run on PC (for reasons of "justice", in case you were wondering), developers Ska Studios have revealed that they were working on an official port all along. Well, I say all along: they approached Microsoft last week, before the hack appeared, but they've been given the go-ahead to make a 'pre-announcement': "We'll be working with Microsoft to bring our stuff to PC".
The deal with Microsoft is still in the early stages, so it might be a while until release (if indeed it sees the light of day at all), but we'll be rewarded for our patience with an enhanced Director's Cut of the game.
The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, a sidescrolling, super-violent Xbox Live Arcade game released in 2011, has made the jump to PC by a somewhat unorthodox route: a Russian hacker pirated it, cracked it out of its Xbox shell, and released it into the wild to run free.
DRM is a constantly tricky balancing act between deterring piracy, however briefly, and not upsetting every one of your legitimate customers. That's why it's always great to see copy-protection measures that specifically target, and hilariously mess with, inveterate torrenters. Whether it's Batman's uncontrollable cape in Arkham Asylum, or Serious Sam 3's immortal pink scorpion, pirate-specific hijinks provide the best kind of schadenfreude.
This specific example from Greenheart Games, creators of the Game Dev Story-like development sim Game Dev Tycoon, might be one of the best - if just for the hypocrisy at the heart of its piraception. The game's developers uploaded their game to "the number one torrent sharing site" with one key difference: As players built up their development studio, they are told that not enough people were buying legitimate copies of their games - leading to a slow and unavoidable financial collapse.
Team Meat's take on piracy is just as blunt as its bloody platformer Super Meat Boy, with the two-man team stating in 2011 that it "doesn't #%)@$ care" about gamers stealing its game. Now, co-creator Tommy Refenes says in a tumblr post that a more worthwhile alternative to intrusive DRM systems is to forge trust with gamers and deliver a solid, reliable product. I know, that's just crazy talk.
In this week's Face Off debate, T.J. climbs the mast with a cutlass in his teeth to proclaim that if a company already has its share of his plunder, he should be able to recover his lost booty in whatever way is most expedient. Please, no more booty analogies, says Logan, who believes that piracy is gross, even when you might be entitled to the thing you’re pirating, and prefers that we don't hasten the collapse of civilization by participating in it.
The hyper-stylish indie revenge/murder/pizza-parlour simulator Hotline Miami has sold 130,000 copies since it launched. But according to publisher Devolver Digital, it's also been pirated to "extraordinary levels".
In an interview with Eurogamer, Hotline's Project Manager at Devolver, Graeme Struthers, said, "It has been torrented to such a staggering level, and given the file size of it, I mean, you can't really be surprised, right? You could pass this thing around on the world's smallest memory stick."
CD Projekt RED's DRM-free policy has made The Witcher 2 a popular target for piracy, and the studio is well-aware. Though it maintains its anti-DRM stance, in 2011 it briefly tracked down holders of pirated Witcher 2 copies and sent legal notices requesting compensation. CDP has since stopped the practice and apologized, something I spoke to PR Specialist Agnieszka Szóstak about yesterday.
In a dubious honor, BitTorrent news blog TorrentFreak has named Rutgers University as the top torrenting university in the US. And what's the most torrented game at this fine institution? The Witcher 2.
Frictional Games posted a two-year postmortem on its bravery-busting hit Amnesia: The Dark Descent today, discussing its success at carving a niche in the PC horror scene and the longevity created by a dedicated modding community. But when the topic of piracy reared its ugly, eyepatched head, the developer's stance was a simple "screw it."
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has been speaking to GamesIndustry International about Ubi's reasons for embracing the free to play model. He says free to play games are more cost effective to create because typical PC releases are so heavily pirated. He claims that "only about five to seven per cent" of players pay for PC games, "the rest is pirated."
Guillemot doesn't provide any evidence for this, but insists that the rate of paying customers for a traditional release is equal to that of a free to play game. He says that the free to play model lets Ubisoft "take content which we've developed in the past, graphics etc," to make "cheaper games and improve them over time."
This probably isn't what the British Phonographic Industry hoped to achieve. The Pirate Bay's traffic has increased by 12 million following a high court ruling that the site should be blocked by six major UK ISPs. “We should write a thank you letter to the BPI,” a Pirate Bay insider told torrent news website TorrentFreak.
On Wednesday, Virgin Media's four million UK customers became the first to be denied access the infamous file-sharing site. Users trying to access the site were greeted with a message saying "Virgin Media has received an order from the Courts requiring us to prevent access to this site in order to help protect against copyright infringement".
Yesterday we reported that popular torrent site, The Pirate Bay, is due to be banned by six UK ISPs. A high court ruling stated that the site “actively encourages” copyright infringement.
Now The Pirate Bay have had a chance to respond to the ruling. And it's not happy.
Popular torrent site The Pirate Bay is set to be blocked by six major UK internet service providers following a high court ruling, according to The Daily Telegraph. In his ruling, Mr Justice Arnold said that the site's operators "actively encourage" copyright infringement.
The ruling comes following a complaint from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), who get a bit cross when users download music for free. As a result the site will be blocked by Sky, Everything Everywhere (Orange), TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media.
Piracy is a contentious issue for PC gamers and developers. We've talked to CD Projekt, Notch and Devolver Digital about DRM recently. It was only a few months ago that SOPA reared its ugly head too.
Notch has just finished his "Fireside Chat" with Chris Hecker at GDC. It sounds cosy, but that didn't stop the Minecraft creator taking on the thorny issue of piracy towards the end of the talk.
"If someone copies your game a trillion times, you won't have lost a single cent," said Notch. "Some people are using that to ruin the internet."
Hey-ho, the witch is dead. OK, in truth, SOPA and PIPA will only remain six feet under until they inevitably reach mud-crusted hands out of their graves with newfound rhetoric and support, but the results of recent Internet-wide protesting are encouraging, to say the least. We haven't won just yet, but the tide of battle is most certainly turning.
Crysis 2 was the most pirated game last year, with nearly four million illegal downloads according to a report on Torrent Freak. The numbers were collated from stats put out by public BitTorrent trackers, and suggest a slight decrease in overall piracy numbers compared to 2010.
CD Projekt RED have sent legal notices demanding money from thousands of alleged pirates in Germany, with a threat of court action for anyone refusing to pay.
When The Witcher 2 was released earlier this year, its developers CD Projekt RED offered the game DRM-free via sister-company GOG.com. It was a smart move, and including retail copies with DRM included, The Witcher 2 sold over a million copies worldwide. When the DRM free version was announced, the other part of the story was that CDP RED would monitor torrent sites and pursue the pirates. TorrentFreak reported that they're now doing exactly that, using the same deeply unpopular tactic used in the past by music companies and games publishers.
We spoke to CD Projekt RED to find out why they've decided to pursue pirates in this way, and why they think they've found a way to successfully identify pirates with 100% accuracy and "are not worried about tracking the wrong people."
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In a refreshing change to developers moaning about piracy levels on the PC, Serious Sam publisher Devolver Digital have given the platform a big bigging up. The company’s chief financial officer, Fork Parker, tweeted: “people will pay for awesome.”
Destructoid asked Parker for more comments, and he followed up with: "Piracy is a problem and there is no denying that but the success of games like Skyrim and our own Serious Sam 3 on PC illustrates that there is clearly a market willing to pay for PC games.”
Ghost Recon Online producer Sébastien Arnoult says that free-to-play games are a response to piracy - and an alternative to the restrictive DRM that's annoyed PC gamers in so many recent Ubisoft games.
"We are giving away most of the content for free because there’s no barrier to entry. To the users that are traditionally playing the game by getting it through Pirate Bay, we said, 'Okay, go ahead guys. This is what you’re asking for. We’ve listened to you - we’re giving you this experience. It’s easy to download, there’s no DRM that will pollute your experience.'"
While Ghost Recon Online is exclusive to PC, Ubisoft's other Ghost Recon game, Future Soldier, uses a traditional payment model and will only be available on console.
"We’re adapting the offer to the PC market. I don’t like to compare PC and Xbox boxed products because they have a model on that platform that is clearly meant to be €60’s worth of super-Hollywood content. On PC, we’re adapting our model to the demand."