Anodyne dev: It's better to embrace piracy

Sean Hogan gives pirates his blessing, but game disappears from Pirate Bay anyway

After finding out his game had appeared on file sharing site The Pirate Bay Sean Hogan, one of the developers of 2D title Anodyne, decided to not only to give the pirates his approval, but to post download codes for it too.

"Yeah, piracy is inevitable so it's better to embrace it - plus, it gives lots of people who couldn't normally afford the game the opportunity to play it," he later explained on Reddit under the alias seagaia.

"I think when you're a small group of developers (only my friend Jon [Kittaka] and I made Anodyne), it's better to have lots of people able to experience your game. We hope enough people will like it and the word will get out, eventually allowing us to get onto Steam, which then lets more people see and play Anodyne!"

He also asked The Pirate Bay users to tweet him with feedback on the game and to vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.

Interestingly TorrentFreak is now reporting that the game has disappeared from The Pirate Bay, something which Hogan knows nothing about.

"Uploading it and then taking it down would have been genius, but I am not that smart," he said on Twitter.

In the past Jonatan Söderström of Hotline Miami fame has taken a similar approach to piracy, offering a patched version of his game to illegal downloaders.

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Latest comments (16)

James Boulton Owner, Retro HQ Ltd7 years ago
Brave stance, but I'm completely with him. You cant stop piracy, you can only try and make it more difficult for people to pirate a game. I believe you are reaching a different audience through a pirated version (they would not have paid anyway), so if you can get some kind of recompense from those who have downloaded your game for free, then that's a great approach.

I must admit the thought of adding your own game to torrent sites on release day is almost appealing. At least you could put analytics in there to get accurate figures on piracy, or some other means of getting something useful from the inevitable.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development7 years ago
I'd prefer something that corrupts their boot sector tbh. This kind of talk is utter bullshit and does nothing good for anyone.

"Well, you know, murders happen. Seems silly wasting time trying to stop it, so lets just call open house"...
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee7 years ago
I don't really agree.

I'd rather look on business models that make games cheap and highly accessible (some even free) rather than extortionate prices and often little content.

Games should be so amazing and fill people with so much excitement and anticipation and content that they feel they want and need to invest in them.

Of course, game pricing and low content doesn't make an excuse for piracy but turning that on its head can make it worthless.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 12th February 2013 9:52pm

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Show all comments (16)
Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development7 years ago
Calling bullshit on that as well, Adam. Our mobile game has won several awards (scroll up and you'll see the latest - us nominated for a BAFTA), is bristling with content to give at least 40 hours of gameplay, has online multiplayer, the works. For three dollars it's ridiculously cheap and we tried it at a dollar for a while.

And yet piracy rates on Android are still ridiculous. We know this because for every multiplayer game that starts, about 20 are rejected by our server license check. That's 20:1 just on a part of the game that's played the least. I can call in any of my mobile dev mates to give you similar stories if you think this might be due to something specific about our setup.

If people really did see the size and scale of this blatant lawbreaking, it would shake the world. There is no other area of crime that gets even close to this widespread ridiculous level. If 19 out of 20 people had been burgled on every street in England, you'd get a feel for the size of it. Especially if you were one of the 19 and that other 1 in 20 just said "tough"

It's bloody insulting to pretend "well they wouldn't have bought it anyway". I'm sure that's true for some, but if piracy was stamped out and one in ten casual pirates started paying for stuff, the value of the Android sector would triple overnight

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 13th February 2013 12:00am

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 7 years ago
Digital IP theft is the biggest orgy of stealing in the history of humanity and has nearly killed off the game industry on several occasions.
The reason that consoles succeeded, despite their incredibly high game prices, is that they served as an anti piracy dongle. When this dongle failed, as with the PSX, the industry caught a very bad cold indeed.
These days we have business models that work round piracy. Hence the resurgence of the PC and the explosion in mobile gaming.
However we should never be complacent, a thriving business can be reduced to near zero overnight when the thieves discover a work around.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee7 years ago

Not critcising your game's content or every game's content but you can either be in the camp that decides piracy should be embraced because there's no alternative or be in the camp that works on and finds an alternative and continues making amazing games.

I'm just saying its what we should aspire to as opposed to just complaining. You can't magically change people's behaviour but you can try or find ways to devalue 'stealing' a game.

As I said, you can always make it free(mium) or make it even cheaper. If not work with what you've got or exit the market altogether. Maybe nothing works and the whole industry is screwed but I don't carry that view.

Somehow a lot of games still manage to be incredibly successful even through adversity. Its not a fluke.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 13th February 2013 9:48am

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James Boulton Owner, Retro HQ Ltd7 years ago

The battle with piracy has been going on for decades, and to be honest it's done sod-all. By all means you have to try and do what you can to protect your investment, but at the end of the day it is an inevitability that the game will get cracked and pirated.

You can either take your blinkered view, or you can try and think outside the box a little.

All of our games have been pirated. And in the wonderful age of analytical reports, we can see roughly how many and where the games are being pirated. Now we've gained absolutely NOTHING from the pirated units at all. Why not try and think a little about how you can leverage these extra units out in the wild. Because it WILL HAPPEN.
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You can't get on too high a horse about piracy and it is not the same as stealing a car. IP is not a thing, its an idea. As adults we can invest in ideas, talk about them, even make money from them - so to us IP is real becuse of its benefits. Kids don't see ideas as belonging to anyone - that includes music, art, movies - they just see it as stimuli, either good or bad, and certainly not as a business. When I was young everybody I knew bootlegged albums by taping them. These were swapped in the playground. Then in my teens I "pirated" C64, Speccy and Amiga games in the same manner, as did everybody I knew. Once I was able to download albums I did that too. I gave it all up when I had money of my own and could borrow games/movies/albums from friends who also were old enough to have money to buy. So some questions: do you think all this grand larceny on a mass scale fired or doused my love for music and games? And if its real theft, at what point in that chain was I actually criminal - when should I have had the police around our house? Should I have been arrested and charged? And if not me then, why some other kid now?
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No reason to put 'stealing' in between apostrophes.
Stealing: to take or appropriate without right or leave and with intent to keep or make use of wrongfully."
Fits the bill. A game is not an idea, a game is a thing. If it was an idea, it wouldn't take time, effort and money to create. A lot more time, effort and money than the average Joe appreciates. I can get along with some of the other arguments and agree that not every download is a lost sale, that not all games should be 60$ at retail etc., but we should really quit the tired old "piracy is not stealing", because it simply is. I'm no saint myself, but all in all, I think piracy does more damage than it does good and embracing it, facilitating it, sends the wrong message and devalues the industry.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee7 years ago

I definitely see piracy as stealing, as a game is a product. Physcial or digital. But its quite interesting that different people have different perceptions of what the term actually means hence the marks ;)

The word pirate is suggestive enough as it describes a certain type of thief...
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I don't say piracy isn't a form of stealing, I'm saying it isn't the same as being mugged or breaking into somebodies house. It's not that kind of traumatic theft and ought not to be criminalised to the same level. I went on to point out that every kid of my generation spent years copying everything we could get our hands on. What makes kids these days so uniquely terrible that we need to send the coppers around? You can argue its the principle but it's not - the difference is money. IP is protected up the ya-ya these days and society more inclined to believe - out of fear of the law - that business folk are super important people. As an 80's kid I disagree.
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Fair enough, but who's talking about sending coppers around? My point was we should not 'embrace' piracy, but we don't have to call in the drones. ;)
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I dunno how to tackle it either - I've not heard a good argument one way or the other tbh. But I do know that criminalising it is a bad idea. An entire generation of kids gorged themselves on IP 'theft' yet went on to have workable lives - easily the majority of people in this industry pirated to hell and back to get here. It's only since the 2000's that game companies themselves started buying legit copies of software across the board. So to see some of these "pirates" of the 80's and 90's trying to bring down the heavens on the heads of today's kids is soaring hypocrisy when so much of us benefited from an orgy of free media. Piracy is kinda like drug policy - it's not about looking to hang somebody it's about damage limitation.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Barry Meade on 13th February 2013 11:56pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
You never know the true value of anything if you always get it for free, I say. It takes time and money and sweat (and blood if you drop your laptop on your big toe, ouch) to make a game and that should be properly rewarded whenever possible. Unless you're not in this business to make a profit and just do it as a hobby in your spare time...
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development7 years ago
I can only refer back to my own (admittedly very) limited projections. It's costing millions, possibly billions just on Android. That puts it four-square in the "this is a massive crime" bracket. Bigger than various bullion robberies that used to make the news. I can assure you that I would much rather be mugged than lose my home due to piracy-based business going outofage.
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@Paul Computiing is traditionally an open field and very few devices are actually closed systems. Androids piracy problems are heavily to do with the nature of Android, its not something IOS suffers from. You can choose to lobby for all computing ecosystems to be closed architecture but that's a grim future to wish for in my book. When I used to copy there was no question I could afford the stuff I was getting. I really doubt every pirated copy is a lost sale, or even the huge majority of them.
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