Developer pulls game after pirates craft illicit ‘auto-download’ version

“Surviving isn’t just about blowing zombie’s heads off. Depression, starvation, trust issues, loneliness, illness, insanity. These are just some of the things you have to deal.” So reads a warning by Indie Stone, the brains behind PC title “Project Zomboid.”

Though the small, independent developer is speaking strictly about the troubles that gamers will face in its game, the group encountered an altogether different form of horror this week: a pirate-created version of “Zomboid” that allows users to auto-download the full game directly from the company’s servers.

Developer pulls game after pirates craft illicit 'auto-download' version

A recent blog entry at the game’s official site explained that the game was removed after the pirated version was discovered. “An auto-updating pirate version effectively removes any need to buy the game,” opined the developer. In an effort to avoid punishing legit customers or scare off future buyers, the company has pushed out the game’s public demo “earlier than anticipated.”

Indie Stone, who was previously lenient – even accepting – of those pirating the game, said this new illegal version of “Zomboid” is the straw that broke the camel’s (zombie’s?) back:

We’ve always turned a blind eye to pirate copies, even on occasion recommending people who had problems with the legit version try a pirate version until the issues are resolved. We realise the potential viral benefits of pirate copies, and while obviously we’d prefer people to purchase our issue is not with those.

Piracy may have helped the game gain recognition in the past, but the developer argues that there’s a distinction to be made. This time, piracy could “screw [Indie Stone] completely.”

“Whether piracy actually amounts to lost sales we’re not going to get into,” said Indie Stone. “The possibility that it raises awareness and promotes the game cannot be ignored, but the difference is offline versions on torrents, which we’ve been largely unconcerned about, do not cost us real money, only potential money, and even then we can’t really guess at what the net effect is.”

The company’s “cloud-based distribution model” means they pay when someone downloads the game.

Indie Stone admits it “may be overreacting,” but said that without any knowledge on how widespread the issue is or how it could affect their own bottom line it’s a step that needed to be taken. Perhaps this makes for a solid argument on the perils of cloud-based gaming. (via PC Gamer)