There are lots of ways a video game developer can choose to react to finding its game being pirated on the internet. The game maker can elect to get understandably angry and go the legal route for retribution. The company can instead see piracy as not that big a deal and ignore it. Or they can try to add more value than pirated versions of their games. The developer can choose to connect with the pirates and try to turn them into paying customers.
But I have to admit I didn’t even consider the route that Warhorse Studios took when it discovered that a cracking group had put its title Kingdom Come: Deliverance up on torrent sites: pirate them back.
After releasing its action role-playing game Kingdom Come: Deliverance early 2018, the game was quickly cracked by infamous underground group Codex, who released the title online for consumption by the pirating masses. It’s unclear to what extent this event affected sales but within a week of its launch, it had sold a million copies, including more than 300,000 on Steam.
With two million copies sold in the year that followed, Warhorse Studios clearly had a hit on its hands but this year the company showed that it also has a sense of humor. While publicizing a revamp of its headquarters in Prague, the company revealed that it had framed a copy of the information (NFO) file released by Codex with its pirate release, giving it pride of place near the company’s kitchen.
Fans of the studio thought this was hilarious. Some pointed out that the ASCII art, at the very least, could probably be argued to be the copyrighted content of the cracking group, or whoever created it. I’m not sure that’s 100% true, but it seems that Warhorse Studios took the suggestion to heart. In addition to that poster in its kitchen, the game developer is also offering metal prints of the poster to the public, selling them for $45 a piece.
Offered at Displate.com, Displates are described as “one-of-a-kind” metal posters “designed to capture your unique passions.” Their creators note that they’re “sturdy, magnet mounted, and durable enough to withstand a lifetime of intense staring.”
While it’s doubtful that the cracking group is going to even care about this at all, that isn’t really the point. The point is that it’s refreshing to see a game maker react to its game being pirated with humor and wit, rather than just throwing a bunch of lawyers at everyone. Sure, it helps that this developer also has a million copies of the game sold to blunt the sting of piracy, but that’s also sort of the point. Whatever the right balance on how to react to game piracy is, it’s probably as close to this example of a humorous response as it is anything else.