Machinarium Developer Offers Pirates Amnesty

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Machinarium Developer Offers Pirates Amnesty

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Machinarium developer Amanita Design is attempting to turn the tide against piracy with an amnesty sale.

The shadow of piracy constantly looms over the PC gaming market, and indie developers are no exception to the trend. Czech-based developer Amanita Design announced yesterday that as many as 95% of the downloads of its recent point-and-click adventure game, Machinarium, were illegally grabbed by pirates. To make up for lost sales, the studio has announced an "amnesty" sale, giving both pirates and new players a chance to grab the game for a lower price.

Machinarium, which was released last October, follows a robot named Josef as he makes his way through a wasteland to a machine-filled city. The game follows the traditional adventure game format, where a player must gather objects and use them to solve puzzles in order to progress. Machinarium was acclaimed for its unique graphic style and ability to convey hints and story details without the use of dialogue, winning an Independent Games Festival award for visual art.

Game designer Jakub Dvorsky told Gamasutra today that only five to fifteen percent of people who downloaded the game bought it legitimately. He added, "We expected that our game would be soon available for free on torrents and other services, but the number of download links which emerged on the web almost immediately after the release really surprised us."

Amanita Design doesn't include any form of anti-piracy measure on its games. Dvorsky believes that they don't matter, noting that these measures "only make the legal version less comfortable than some free hacked illegal version."

There is a bit of a silver-lining in this story. Apparently, the piracy of the game led to new gamers discovering the independent studio. Amanita claims that a number of people contacted the studio, telling the developers that they had pirated the game and offering to pay the full price. In that spirit, the studio has announced a "pirate amnesty" sale. Anybody, whether they are a former pirate or a curious newcomer, can buy the game and its soundtrack for a measly $5, seventy-five percent off of the standard $20 tag.

To take advantage of the sale price, you simply need to grab the game from the official site before next Thursday, August 12th. A browser-based demo is available for curious players.

Source: Gamasutra

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I've been meaning to pick this up for a while now..

/sniff

It's so sad to see that the pirates will abuse even these tiny indy developers. I'm sure many of the pirates have mitigating circumstances, but you know a lot of them are just cheap assholes.

Screw sale price, I'm buying it full when it goes off-sale!

What you have to remember is that a good number of those 'illegal' downloads will have been by people who bought the game legally then found they couldn't play the bloody thing. Still, good of Amanita to roll with it like this. :)

So, up to 95% of the game was pirated? Even though it was obvious that they were indie developers? Whatever happened to the, "noble cause against huge corporation," bullshit I heard about earlier?

While I apreciate the sentiment (it's nice to see a PC game company accept the inevitable rather than rage against the people who actually bought the title) I fail to see how this is an amnesty in any way shape or form. Were pirates somehow prevented from buying the game before the amnesty?

JaymesFogarty:
So, up to 95% of the game was pirated? Even though it was obvious that they were indie developers? Whatever happened to the, "noble cause against huge corporation," bullshit I heard about earlier?

I'd take their numbers with a grain of salt to be honest. But when you put out a game with a small file size and no protection whatsoever (it's just an exe) this is what happens. Personally, I never thought an online registration or a cdkey was that much a hassle.

Wow... this must be a REALLY good game for pirates to fully admit to it and offered to pay for the game.

Seventh Actuality:
What you have to remember is that a good number of those 'illegal' downloads will have been by people who bought the game legally then found they couldn't play the bloody thing. Still, good of Amanita to roll with it like this. :)

If it has no DRM, as the article says, then will that actually be the case with this game? You might be able to make that case with games that have some pretty hardcore DRM, to the extent that it detracts from the game. But the article said that this game had no anti-piracy measures. If that's true, then would the difference between the legit and the pirated versions really make it easier to play? I mean, I'll admit, I'm not a pirate myself so maybe there's some other benefits to piracy that I don't know of, I don't have any desire whatsoever to get into an argument about it, but without the DRM you can't really make an argument like that in regards to this game.

Grey Carter:
While I apreciate the sentiment (it's nice to see a PC game company accept the inevitable rather than rage against the people who actually bought the title) I fail to see how this is an amnesty in any way shape or form. Were pirates somehow prevented from buying the game before the amnesty?

No, but I think the company is being smart and trying to cut there losses.

Kpt._Rob:

Seventh Actuality:
What you have to remember is that a good number of those 'illegal' downloads will have been by people who bought the game legally then found they couldn't play the bloody thing. Still, good of Amanita to roll with it like this. :)

If it has no DRM, as the article says, then will that actually be the case with this game? You might be able to make that case with games that have some pretty hardcore DRM, to the extent that it detracts from the game. But the article said that this game had no anti-piracy measures. If that's true, then would the difference between the legit and the pirated versions really make it easier to play? I mean, I'll admit, I'm not a pirate myself so maybe there's some other benefits to piracy that I don't know of, I don't have any desire whatsoever to get into an argument about it, but without the DRM you can't really make an argument like that in regards to this game.

It wasn't DRM I was talking about, but a weird screw-up with the PC/Mac versions that meant people's discs only worked on platforms they didn't have. I'm not too sure of the details, but it pissed my girlfriend off royally at the time.

Not G. Ivingname:

Grey Carter:
While I apreciate the sentiment (it's nice to see a PC game company accept the inevitable rather than rage against the people who actually bought the title) I fail to see how this is an amnesty in any way shape or form. Were pirates somehow prevented from buying the game before the amnesty?

No, but I think the company is being smart and trying to cut there losses.

So it's really just an attempt to spin a positive out of a negative. The headline could just have easily been "Machinarium price slashed due to crappy sales."

Seventh Actuality:

Kpt._Rob:

Seventh Actuality:
What you have to remember is that a good number of those 'illegal' downloads will have been by people who bought the game legally then found they couldn't play the bloody thing. Still, good of Amanita to roll with it like this. :)

If it has no DRM, as the article says, then will that actually be the case with this game? You might be able to make that case with games that have some pretty hardcore DRM, to the extent that it detracts from the game. But the article said that this game had no anti-piracy measures. If that's true, then would the difference between the legit and the pirated versions really make it easier to play? I mean, I'll admit, I'm not a pirate myself so maybe there's some other benefits to piracy that I don't know of, I don't have any desire whatsoever to get into an argument about it, but without the DRM you can't really make an argument like that in regards to this game.

It wasn't DRM I was talking about, but a weird screw-up with the PC/Mac versions that meant people's discs only worked on platforms they didn't have. I'm not too sure of the details, but it pissed my girlfriend off royally at the time.

Huh. Well, I guess that would explain some percentage of the illegal downloads. Though, it couldn't explain the "good number of illegal downloads" you mentioned. The numbers don't make sense. At maximum it can explain 5% of the pirated downloads. If 5% of downloads are legit sales, and even if we go so far as to claim that 100% of those legit downloads had the screw up and downloaded the game a second time through a pirated source (which, let's be honest here, is rediculous to think that 100% had that happen, but go with it just so I can make my point) then at maximum that explains 10% of the downloads, one legit download and one pirated download. Unless they had to download multiple pirated copies. But, like I said, it's highly unlikely that 100% of the people who bought the game had the screw up and instead of deciding to trouble shoot went and pirated it, it's unlikely that even as many as 50% had this scenario, hell, I'd be seriously surprised to find it even as high as 25%. Not to mention, if there was a serious problem, one would think that the company would get to work on a patch of some sort.

The point is that the numbers just don't add up. Even if we take the out of the question 100% scenario, 90% of downloads must have come from people who never paid for the game at all. And those really are some pretty discouraging numbers, especially considering that this is an independant gaming company, one who it seems to me from this article, really care about their game and their customers.

Grey Carter:
While I apreciate the sentiment (it's nice to see a PC game company accept the inevitable rather than rage against the people who actually bought the title) I fail to see how this is an amnesty in any way shape or form. Were pirates somehow prevented from buying the game before the amnesty?

I think the word amnesty is being used in how countries would provide amnesty for privateers and pirates alike. Basically they're not holding them liable for their past offenses and instead wish to treat them as entirely innocent customers.

Some - if not most - of those pirates of old that had been granted amnesty were later hanged, however... so I'm inclined to believe this is a trap.

I think Machinarium was well worth the $20 I paid for it - such great work deserves the monetary support. I hope their Amnesty is a success.

Where the hell did that screen come from! it looks like the right art style - but I've played through the game and I don't remember that screen at all.

Just out of curiosity, how are these piracy statistics measured?

Kpt._Rob:

The point is that the numbers just don't add up. Even if we take the out of the question 100% scenario, 90% of downloads must have come from people who never paid for the game at all. And those really are some pretty discouraging numbers, especially considering that this is an independant gaming company, one who it seems to me from this article, really care about their game and their customers.

The downloads likely came from being at the top of a torrent site right after being uploaded, people who logged in at the time saw it, thought it was interesting and downloaded. If you've got people who primarily pirate games, and don't bother with normal channels, that's how they'll find out about new games.

That silver lining? It happens far more than most might think and you'd be surprised how many pirates genuinely believe in it being worth the initial 'losses'. But until the statistics around these things stop being spun, no one will be able to say for or against it conclusively.

Still...good response from the developers I think. But we'll see how it goes from here.

undeadmouse:
Where the hell did that screen come from! it looks like the right art style - but I've played through the game and I don't remember that screen at all.

That was a new piece of art created for this sale. You can find it on http://machinarium.net/blog/2010/08/05/machinarium-pirate-amnesty/

This game is also made in flash and is just an executable = incredibly easy to pirate.
IMO it wasn't worth the money I spent on it though, $20 for this game was too much. $5 is much more reasonable.

Further evidence that pirates are mostly just jerks. Even if the entire 15% who actually bought the game found the game through piracy channels, or played a pirated copy as a demo, that still means at least 60% of the people who downloaded the game just plain stole it. And they stole it from an indie developer to boot.

This is on par with the 90% piracy rate on World Of Goo.

Intresting way to go around it...but, Pirates wotn care. They just want it for free...screw the publisher. Which, is a real shame

That is amazing.
Seriously, I don't know if I would ever do that, myself. I'd probably end up jaded and angry, really.

I bought it, and its well worth its rather low price. This is also horrible for the industry as a whole for many reasons, not least of which is that bigger companies can now use examples like this to prove DRM is necessary on their games.

I think it's a great idea. The game is wonderful, but clearly suffering from the common ailments of an indie title: lack of marketing support, lack of tech support, etc. etc.

Frankly, I hate piracy for reasons different than most- simply put: piracy is ultimately one of the purest forms of selfishness and self-gratification out there. Yes, you can attempt to rationalize it:
"oh, it's like a demo... I'll buy it if I like it" (really? You're really going to shell out for a game that you've already beaten)

"Oh, it has DRM on it; I refuse to support DRM." (And yet you refuse to actually suffer any consequences for your decision? Don't like the DRM? Fine. Don't buy the game. Pirating it is only going to provide more incentive for Publishers to come up with 'better' DRM.)

"Oh, games are too expensive..." (So I guess if you can't afford it, you shouldn't get it. You know what happens when you go into a store and just take that 'overpriced' jacket? You go to jail)

"Oh, my version doesn't work..." (So use tech support like every other person in the world, rather than- in essence- stealing another copy off of the store shelves.)

I could go on, but the bottom line is that it's wrong, and I have yet to see a legitimate reason for piracy.
/rant

I hope they do well enough to make another game. These guys have talent. I already bought the game, but I may just buy a copy or two for some friends.

Grey Carter:

Not G. Ivingname:

Grey Carter:
While I apreciate the sentiment (it's nice to see a PC game company accept the inevitable rather than rage against the people who actually bought the title) I fail to see how this is an amnesty in any way shape or form. Were pirates somehow prevented from buying the game before the amnesty?

No, but I think the company is being smart and trying to cut there losses.

So it's really just an attempt to spin a positive out of a negative. The headline could just have easily been "Machinarium price slashed due to crappy sales."

Pretty much...

I'm buying it a second time just to counteract some of this. I really enjoyed this game and I'd love to see them keep going with game development. I've been a fan ever since Samorost and I can't wait to see more.

Edit: Oh, and that image is my new background. SWEET!

I loved that game, so charming and soothing.

Seventh Actuality:

Kpt._Rob:

Seventh Actuality:
What you have to remember is that a good number of those 'illegal' downloads will have been by people who bought the game legally then found they couldn't play the bloody thing. Still, good of Amanita to roll with it like this. :)

If it has no DRM, as the article says, then will that actually be the case with this game? You might be able to make that case with games that have some pretty hardcore DRM, to the extent that it detracts from the game. But the article said that this game had no anti-piracy measures. If that's true, then would the difference between the legit and the pirated versions really make it easier to play? I mean, I'll admit, I'm not a pirate myself so maybe there's some other benefits to piracy that I don't know of, I don't have any desire whatsoever to get into an argument about it, but without the DRM you can't really make an argument like that in regards to this game.

It wasn't DRM I was talking about, but a weird screw-up with the PC/Mac versions that meant people's discs only worked on platforms they didn't have. I'm not too sure of the details, but it pissed my girlfriend off royally at the time.

I never knew you could get Machinarium on CD. Unless you were just saying it as an off-topic general point towards all computer games.

Also as my Avatar shows I love this game. Brilliant animation and atmosphere. And you grow to love the lead character so much despite the lack of dialogue from anyone. Some bits are quite funny too.

Hope the studio gets some well earned cash from this.

Wow, ninety five percent, less a few to repair that faulty CD problem...

Yep, gamers have done us all proud once again! Fight the power! Free all data (except mine)! and so on.

People who pirate indie titles are scumbags and don't deserve anything. Stealing from a small company that actually wants to make a decent game is disgusting.

I'd buy this game in a heartbeat if I had a way to purchase things online.

Hate to break it to them, but a good deal of the pirates just don't give a fuck. It's the sad reality of life. Even if they lower the price, people will still look at it and say "Well, I could either pay money for it, or I could get it for free. Gee, what a hard decision".

These are the pirates that aren't going to be moved by pleas, sales, fancy shmancy DRM [In fact many crackers believe it a challenge], or anything of that matter. It's just part of what you have to live with on the PC market. Sad that they decide to pirate an indie game, and in such numbers, but to be honest there isn't much one can do about it. So while I wish Amanita the best, and hope that they can recoup their investment, I don't hold that much optimism.

This studio sounds like it hires the nicest people ever. I actually kind of want to buy Machinarium now.

Well, this pretty much cuts right to the heart of most of those pro-piracy statements.

I do it because the game has horrible DRM! Oh, the game has no DRM...

I do it because it's a huge company that doesn't need my money! Oh, it's indie developed...

I do it because I'm trying before I buy, and I'll buy it later if I like it! Great, now's your chance to put up or shut up and for an even lower price than it had initially.

I'm interested in seeing how the sale numbers stack up to the piracy numbers.

JaymesFogarty:
So, up to 95% of the game was pirated? Even though it was obvious that they were indie developers? Whatever happened to the, "noble cause against huge corporation," bullshit I heard about earlier?

I believe that the noble cause bullshit you heard about was bullshit.

I better hammer down my lawn. Never know what those pirates could come after!

I didn't play it at all before, one way or the other. Unless it's a huge release I've waited a long time for, $20 is still a sum I have to think hard about, just my financial position I guess. $5 though, that impulses me. :D Bought and downloading!

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