In an interesting turn of events, and a stand-out exception of basic copyright rules, is the laudable advice given by the developers of the game ‘Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number‘ which was recently refused classification by the Australian Classification Board.
Despite disagreeing with the ruling, and instead of butchering their work and suffering the hefty resubmission fees, the game’s developer Dennaton suggested a bittersweet alternative for their Australian audience. Quoted from Polygon; “If it ends up not being release in Australia, just pirate it after release. No need to send us any money, just enjoy the game!”
This flies straight in the face of the general protectiveness of IPs by content creators and whilst it may seem like a move incapable of driving profits or making any sort of business sense, it does what most publishers won’t gamble on: driving massive amounts of respect and free publicity for their product. In the event of a sequel, it will probably have the effect of lowering overall piracy numbers due to this positive message. The developers aren’t strangers to this form of distribution.
The original game saw Jonatan Soderstrom, one half of the Dennaton duo, post on a torrent thread for the game offering help to those who couldn’t get it to work properly, later tweeting, ”I definitely want people to experience the game the way it’s meant to be experienced. No matter how they got a hold of it.” Suffice to say, they’re a fan favorite developer, and this unusual approach to distributing their content has paid off.
Despite ‘[being] torrented to extraordinary levels’, after this unexpected stance on piracy was outspoken, the game shot up the charts on Steam quickly after its release and, as of December 2012, sold 130,000 copies. While comparatively modest compared to other success stories, its a testament to a positive attitude and open policy when it comes to copyright management. From a quiet duo working on unknown games to a indie success in a matter of weeks, I believe this can at least partially be attributed to the approachable and understanding nature of the team behind the game.
Do you think that not prosecuting pirates, and instead opening a dialogue and working with them to grow a friendly relationship is a viable option for content creators? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!