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Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans

Ars Technica has an interesting article on the reaction of developer ACE Team to finding their recently released combat game Zeno Clash available for illegal download. Carlos Bordeu of the Chilean developer commented on BitTorrent Sites explaining the impact of piracy on an independent developer, saying in some cases they were surprised to find a positive reaction: "We've received several mails and posts in our own forums of people who pirated the game that decided to buy it because of the message. I don't know if it is a significant percent, or whether this is good strategy as a whole... but it has sparked some very positive reactions in the community." Here is the statement they made on the torrent sites, indicating a demo is in the works:

Iím one of the developers of Zeno Clash. I would appreciate you read this if you are about to download this file.

Zeno Clash is an independently funded game by a very small and sacrificed group of people. The only way in which we can continue making games like this (or a sequel) is to have good sales.

I am aware that at this moment there is still no demo of the game, but we are working on one which will be available soon.

We cannot do anything to stop piracy of the game (and honestly donít intend to do so) but if you are downloading because you wish to try before you buy, I would ask that you purchase the game (and support the independent game development scene) if you enjoy it. We plan on updating Zeno Clash with DLC and continuing support for the game long after itís release.

Thanks for taking the time to read thisÖ hopefully it will make a difference.

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102 Replies. 6 pages. Viewing page 3.
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62. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 30, 2009, 00:15 Jerykk
 
Are there any other stand out indie titles you like? I'm always on the lookout for a decent game, regardless of who its from.

The Penumbra games (well, Overture and Black Plague anyway) are awesome if you like survival horror. The Penumbra Collection is a steal. I liked Braid a lot, as it really forces you to think outside the box. Quite refreshing. If you liked Carmageddon, there's a Russian game called Armageddon Riders that looks fun. I haven't had a chance to play it though and I have no idea when it's coming out in the U.S. Finally, there's a German driving game called Cobra 11: Burning Wheels that's like a mix between Burnout and Most Wanted.

Edit: Dangit, I got all excited about age of decadence and then started looking for the download or buy buttons. Its not released yet!

Sorry about that I felt the same way when I first heard about the game. It's been in development for a while and there's no ETA for the release yet. Still, it looks to have all the makings of a classic cRPG so I can wait.

It's a big deal and in the news often for a reason.

I blame torrents for that. Piracy has always been around but torrents have made it all too obvious. Does piracy have downsides? Of course. I'm sure there have been some lost sales due to it. Does it have upsides? Yup. Free exposure for obscure games with non-existent marketing and hype. Is it the best way to raise awareness of a game? Nope. But the fact remains that piracy gives a game (or a movie or a song) exposure to millions of people with little to no effort on behalf of the publisher or developer. When you're an indie developer with no marketing budget, that can make all the difference in the world.

And no I don't take your word for it unfortunately, though that's no personal reflection on you. Anyone can say anything they want on the Internet and there is no one there to prove them wrong.

This is true. But why would he lie? If he was so ashamed of his pirating habits that he'd lie, wouldn't it just be easier to lie completely and say he doesn't pirate at all? After all, the moral approval of some random guy on a forum isn't exactly worth much.

This comment was edited on Apr 30, 2009, 00:31.
 
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61. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 23:11 Dades
 
Torrents are a revolving door, people don't always sit on them to seed. Google fallout 3 torrents, start adding up numbers from each individual tracker. That doesn't take into account usenet, ftp, irc or many of the other ways to spread crap either. It's a big deal and in the news often for a reason. If it was just publishers whining then maybe I could see someones point about them blindly blaming piracy but devs are quite vocal too. Doesn't take a genius to understand that massive broadband penetration into most urban centers has taken piracy to new levels in all forms of media.

And no I don't take your word for it unfortunately, though that's no personal reflection on you. Anyone can say anything they want on the Internet and there is no one there to prove them wrong.
 
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60. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 20:33 RP
 
Errr, you won't take his word for it but he's supposed to take yours?

I was referring to his dismissal of the Introversion guys. He said their piracy "success story" was invalid, but didn't really explain why. Just typing "not valid" does not make it so.

I don't expect people to believe claims I make on a message board. But I've been purchasing and pirating PC games since 1994, though the last game I pirated was in 2006. (Company of Heroes, if you're curious, which I eventually purchased through Steam.) When I did pirate games, I'd play them for about an hour before moving on to the next one. I pirated lots of PS1 games, too, but never played a single one. Looking back, it was more about collecting games, not playing them.

Pirates can be customers and customers can be pirates. Black and white distinctions are kinda stupid here. I dropped $200 on PC games last year and twice that much on hardware...if you take my word for it

Anyway I just find it weird that PC game blogs keep posting about piracy as if it's new to PC gaming or digital media. Put another way: is PC gaming so sad these days that piracy is the only thing to talk about? Piracy happens all the goddamn time in the music and movie industries, but it doesn't dominate the discussions to the same degree. On ThePirateBay, the most-seeded PC game is Fallout 3 (1500); the most seeded film is the latest Fast and Furious (15,000). I know the MPAA actively goes after pirates and stuff, but none of the movie blogs and sites I visit have stories like "VIN DIESEL TALKS ABOUT PIRACY NUMBERS FOR FAST AND FURIOUS OMGS!!1
 
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59. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 20:28 Dev
 
Jerykk:
Thanks for mentioning some titles I need to check out
Eschalon, Geneforge, Age of Decadence, Men of War, The Tomorrow War

Are there any other stand out indie titles you like? I'm always on the lookout for a decent game, regardless of who its from.

Edit: Dangit, I got all excited about age of decadence and then started looking for the download or buy buttons. Its not released yet!

This comment was edited on Apr 29, 2009, 21:05.
 
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58. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 18:58 Krovven
 
Too bad this game had to use the "P" word to get 50+ posts...instead of based on it's art style and gameplay.  
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57. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 18:41 Dades
 
But the Defcon case is invalid simply because you wrote down the word, right? If you read the rest of the interview, Introversion also released a version of Darwinia to the torrent sites, but had no way of tracking what sales it generated. Fun fact: I pirated Darwinia and later bought it when I saw it in the store. I still use the keychain that came with it, too.

Errr, you won't take his word for it but he's supposed to take yours? It's really easy to type hey fellas i bought this on the internet after I pirated it. It doesn't mean anything when it can't be proved or disproven. There is a tangible benefit to selling a product. There is no tangible benefit to piracy. It's funny because pirates are always demanding numbers from publishers then yelling at them when they're produced yet pirates give none of their own.

I have no doubt that there can be some small intangible benefits for a nobody uploading their game to a torrent site. At that point you have nothing to lose anyways. Indie doesn't just mean people with nothing to lose though, there are plenty of indie companies barely riding the edge between breaking even and going under entirely. Throwing away your game into the Internet and just trusting people isn't a good way to succeed. If every dev did this I wouldn't be shocked to see the vast majority of them fail entirely.
 
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56. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 18:23 RP
 
You're such a saint! I'm sure they appreciate your charity.

A sale's a sale, man.
 
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55. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 18:16 Jerykk
 
When you say it's about awareness, I believe you, only I think that what piracy really makes people aware of is that they can have digital entertanment at no cost;

I'm pretty sure everyone is aware of that. What people aren't aware of is the existence of obscure indie games that have little to no marketing. Piracy helps alleviate this issue.
 
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54. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 18:10 StingingVelvet
 
Well, I was happy to buy it after finishing it.

You're such a saint! I'm sure they appreciate your charity.
 
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53. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 17:53 Elf Shot The Food
 
I think I get it now: all those people who pirated Demigod two weeks ago were just trying to build exposure for the game!  
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52. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 17:46 Kosumo
 
Jerykk, There was a demo for World of Goo so if that had been spread and exposed as apposed to the full game, those who enjoyed the demo and wanted more, would have been much more likely to to have brought the full game, where as those who enjoyed the pirated version and got past the demo point can just blissfully play on, with what I would feel is a much lower chance of buying the full game.

World of Goo was also advertised on websites and had other marketing yet you still have a hard-on for it being some mythical game that news stories about it piracy made into some super selling indie game , dropped off from the pirate ship Jollydownloader.

When you say it's about awareness, I believe you, only I think that what piracy really makes people aware of is that they can have digital entertanment at no cost;
 
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51. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 17:25 Mysdrial
 
Well, I was happy to buy it after finishing it.

And looking forward to the DLC for it now, too.

Anecdotal evidence is worthless, I know, but so it goes.
 
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50. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 17:13 Jerykk
 
And there can be tons of exposure without piracy.

Yes... if indie developers had multi-million dollar marketing budgets. Fact is, the vast majority of indie games get little to no exposure through legal means.

Exposure through piracy just promotes the fact that the game can be pirated easily, and that piracy is OK.

No, it promotes the fact that the game exists. This isn't about right and wrong. It's about awareness. Increasing awareness of one's product increases the chances of that product being purchased.
 
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49. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 17:10 StingingVelvet
 
On a second note, this game is sick. as in a bad way. As are most games made today. Nothing but piles of degenerate filth and violence. We all eat it up and lose a little more humanity each time. anyone who thinks that games and media have not been a big part of why we have 5 school shootings a year now and many other sick twisted crap going on is a blind fool.

You'd think people would have learned after videogames caused the crusades and holocaust...

Oh, wait...
 
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48. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 16:52 Yifes
 
With no exposure, there's no chance of a sale at all.

And there can be tons of exposure without piracy. Exposure through piracy just promotes the fact that the game can be pirated easily, and that piracy is OK. Human psychology is such that if everyone's doing it, then it's ok for me to do it too (ie. Mobs, groupthink, Kitty Genovese).

Again my point:

I highly doubt that the extra publicity that World of Goo received from the piracy debacle (beyond the publicity it received from their ad campaigns and for simply being a fantastic, critically acclaimed game) even remotely offset the revenue they lost from piracy.

This comment was edited on Apr 29, 2009, 17:05.
 
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47. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 16:51 Elricsi
 
Sounds like they have a much more mature approach than just suing their potential customers.

I still have no problem with taking measures to curtail piracy, as long as it is in the background and doesn't wreck my computer.

Releasing the first part of the game on torrent sites sounds smart.
 
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46. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 16:42 Jerykk
 
Small indie developers are perhaps the worst off considering that there is very little incentive for pirates buy the game after they've already played through the whole thing. (unlike shooters with multiplayer, etc)

With piracy exposure, there's at least a chance of a sale. If a pirate really likes a game, he may buy it or support future games from the developer. He may also recommend the game to his friends, some of whom may not be pirates.

With no exposure, there's no chance of a sale at all.
 
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45. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 16:34 Yifes
 
I'm not saying you should. I'm saying that piracy simply provides free, effortless exposure to a far broader audience than any niche podcast or site.

Widespread exposure through piracy is only beneficial for software like Windows, where market dominance is important and you have sources of revenue other than sales of the software itself.

I highly doubt that the extra publicity that World of Goo received from the piracy debacle (beyond the publicity it received from their ad campaigns and for simply being a fantastic, critically acclaimed game) even remotely offset the revenue they lost from piracy.

Small indie developers are perhaps the worst off considering that there is very little incentive for pirates buy the game after they've already played through and "demoed" the whole thing. (unlike shooters with multiplayer, etc)

This comment was edited on Apr 29, 2009, 16:41.
 
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44. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 16:22 RP
 
Also I notice no actual numbers to back up any of these claims. Putting out a version specific to pirates is different than putting your virgin game out there. Not valid.

Steam doesn't publish sales numbers ergo it's unsuccessful. Digital sales numbers are rarely published, but I guess Introversion just likes making shit up.

How is this situation invalid? Introversion knew what was going to happen (zero day piracy) and used it to their benefit. Defcon got more sales and players, crucial for an online-centric game. More online games would benefit from a free-play mode (aka extended demo) that only grants you access to a few levels/weapons/vehicles. More players benefits everyone and you'll get more sales from people who want to upgrade to the full package.

But the Defcon case is invalid simply because you wrote down the word, right? If you read the rest of the interview, Introversion also released a version of Darwinia to the torrent sites, but had no way of tracking what sales it generated. Fun fact: I pirated Darwinia and later bought it when I saw it in the store. I still use the keychain that came with it, too.
 
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43. Re: Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans Apr 29, 2009, 16:17 Jerykk
 
I noticed World of Goo frequently on news sites several months before any of the piracy crap even came up.

Go ahead and Google "World of Goo piracy." The results speak for themselves.

If you're making a niche title, you don't get a mass market audience by uploading your game to the piratebay.

I'm not saying you should. I'm saying that piracy simply provides free, effortless exposure to a far broader audience than any niche podcast or site.
 
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102 Replies. 6 pages. Viewing page 3.
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