Interview

GameDev Tycoon: Marketing Stunt or Bad Attempt at Clarity?

A couple weeks ago I heard about GameDev Tycoon and their adorable little blog post. It made some bold claims and even had some bolder numbers that showed the stark difference between pirated games and their actual sales. At first I was ready to hop on board, proudly promote them for trolling the people most likely to troll or whine about the game industry, but before I went into “smash” mode I realized I was missing some really key sets of data to help legitimize their claim. I decided to ask their creators for further insight into the situation and the results are now even more confusing then I was already feeling at that moment.

The Devs were cheery albeit a little time burdened due to the game being released (and lots of small silly game bugs to crush) so they weren’t able to get in touch with me for a few days after the graphic was released. When we did have a conversation they were happy to talk about their studio, the name of their studio, and to give the generic ” video game piracy is bad, here’s some links to get you up to speed”, but the moment I asked for specifics about HOW their data was collected, how marketing was handled, or try to find any other details that can be counted as “variables” within their experiment they immediately stopped talking under the reason of  ” we’re now too busy today” .

So now I’m stuck in a predicament, I came into that interview fully expecting the team to have done due diligence and to help fill in the voids that were starkly missing from what I will now call a piece of “marketing”. For all I know their team could have done good work, ran a solid test, made sure to collect the results carefully, and single handedly created evidence of something that no one in the AAA  game industry or various tech fields have been properly able to trace in the last ten years. Unfortunately, their willingness to chat on the basic but refusal to talk of the science, share the results, and pin this damn annoying concept inside the industry has now left me with doubt.  This is a small indie team, I really like indie teams, indies have been genuinely rocking the place a lot lately so I’m a little afraid to state these words because of how negative press of any kind can affect indie Devs, but the way that graphic was sent out,  then their sudden silence is making me wonder if this is all just another scam or sloppy showing to be used to strictly promote GameDev Tycoon.

Communication is a two way multi-tiered street. You can’t use it your benefit when it only seems to fit your needs then refuse to do anything when it doesn’t. All that does is make you look like the kind of person that sees what your working on as important, but what everyone else is working on doesn’t matter in the least.  You need to share information, seek out people that can prove your information is accurate, then together help whatever field your working in move on or at the very least stop making the same simple mistakes over and over again. Piracy for all I know could really be the most damning destructive violent thing in all of existence, but the Devs that made a game that more or less blames piracy for being the singular reason why a video game won’t sell, wouldn’t show me their data, wouldn’t explain their thought processes, and refused to explain things themselves instead relying on other sources to do the work for them. I am annoyed, I want some solid experiments, and I want someone to finally prove that piracy is a real issue where the people online are truly harming their games sales and that they are indeed the same people that would normally buy the games if piracy didn’t exist. If you can’t prove any of these things or explain the purposes behind things being devised in your games then you have no right to produce shiny infotainment pieces to hopefully make your game look special.

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2 comments

Patrick Klug May 23, 2013 at 00:22

Hi Clayton, If the reference I found in my system is correct then I asked where you want to publish your interview because from my side it just looked like someone asking a lot of questions without clarifying if it’s for a publication (you didn’t answer my question). I did answer a lot of your questions but was simply too busy to answer questions without knowing if it will serve a larger purpose. The questions were also very broad and took a lot of time to answer.

Anyway, this was not a marketing gag and we collected the data based on our usage of a product called localytics. The cracked version simply had a different ID.

“but the Devs that made a game that more or less blames piracy for being the singular reason why a video game won’t sell”

We never made such a statement and we never claimed that this was a scientific experiment either. There are many factors that play into this and many valid interpretations but you seriously don’t have to go far to see that ‘piracy is a real issue’. There are heaps of examples out there (not just ours).

As said in my interview, here is a good article:
http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_1.html

and here is an even more shocking example: http://kotaku.com/5535744/why-are-people-pirating-a-charity-game

HulkGameCrit May 27, 2013 at 23:05

I believe through our first few rounds of initial contact that it was pretty clear I was trying to write something up about this.

Anywho, Your statement inside the gag clearly states that piracy sooner or later = bankruptcy, ignoring the hundreds of other variables that are always in play when creating and releasing any product. Taking one of the variables then blaming them for everything is a rather dangerous statement that will always lead to this kind of questioning. Especially when their devs dedicate a huge post to it and actually go into some specifics.

What that posts lacked however were the controls and variables. Did both pieces of media ( free and paid) start out with the same start, were they pushed at all by anyone online, did they receive any promotions, word of mouth, and a whole multitude of other things that would all have an equal affect to both pirated and non pirated downloads. These are things that needed to be tacked down along with a few of the other questions I asked because for all we know you had some other issue happen during the release that hindered or accelerated over the other. For all we know it could have been a different issue as to why your pirated downloads was insanely higher then normal sales and we could be blaming piracy just because we feel a need for a scape goat.

I liked the joke and appreciated you felt like saying something about the issue, but until we can solidly prove this is an issue and not just say it is then we’re literally just pissing in the wind. Piracy has potential, and that potential itself isnt negative or positive. Plenty of companies that had and still have a piracy issue are still alive, and that itself is excellent contrary evidence to piracy = bankruptcy statement that is inside Gamedev Tycoon. It would have been better to say it *can* affect your sales. Because a highly pirated game from a marketing standpoint can just as easily bee seen as a good thing. The more people see your game, the more people that get to experience your work, the more likely your game sales will increase. It can go either way from the data that has been presented so far and will likely stay that way until variables and controls are… well… controlled… so we are able to see repeatable evidence that will in turn makes this a fact.

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