Independent UK studio Preloaded believes that the high risk of piracy on PC games can be turned to online developers' advantage.
The London-based developer's creative director Phil Stuart urged the audience at the World Of Love conference in London last week to "work with pirates."
Preloaded had made SWFs of its Flash-based historical strategy game 1066, made in association with Channel 4, easy to obtain, so they were then taken by less scrupulous individuals and shared around – thus increasing the game's audience. "It gets stolen and put onto the pirate sites, so we get a massive [catchment] by being on the free sites."
Preloaded is perhaps in an enviable position in this regard however, with much of its work coming from contractors such as the BBC, Bacardi and the Science Museum rather than post-release sales.
Stuart also emphasised the importance of approaching the target audience, as well as creating a seeding matrix' from which the game was then likely to spread.
Editorial coverage from sites such as JayIsGames and Rock, Paper, Shotgun, was important, he felt, as was mastering Google Analytics. "It's incredibly powerful if you get it right. You can see how many people completed certain levels, correlate it with how hard you think those levels were."
Identifying the most useful referrers was also key, with Stuart revealing that Preloaded's "top referrer is 4399.com because kids [when they're at school] can't go to sites with games in the title."
Such techniques, he claimed, had led to its game 1066 appearing above the Wikipedia page for the famed historical year 1066 in Google results.