How 11 Bit Studios Put Piracy to Work to Help This War of Mine

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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How 11 Bit Studios Put Piracy to Work to Help This War of Mine

Piracy in video game circles—particularly in PC gaming—is a huge problem. With nearly any game around available for immediate download, and studios all but required to release the tools of their own demise thanks to the way that PC games are bought and sold, it's not surprising to see that piracy may be a bigger problem in gaming than just about anywhere else. But while there's plenty of outcry over piracy, there are also some more creative solutions afoot, and one came from developer 11 bit studios, who brought the pirate war directly to the pirates, by appealing to their humanity.

Basically, what 11 bit studios did was, after releasing its game “This War of Mine”, it took the title straight to The Pirate Bay, commonly regarded as one of the great hubs of pirated content currently available online. And then, 11 bit left it there. But in the comments was perhaps one of the greatest statements of human optimism that I've seen in quite some time, a comment from 11 bit studios' own Karol Zajaczkowski, which read:

“It's Karol from 11 bit studios, the developers of This War of Mine. We are really happy to hear you that you like our game. They prove, that spending 2 years on it was worth it. I would like to say thank you to everyone, who decides to buy the game and support us — because of that we'll be able to develop TWoM further and create even better games in the future. If because of some reasons you can't buy the game, it's ok. We know life, and we know, that sometimes it's just not possible. Here are some codes for the steam copy of the game, so some of you can take a look at it. And if you like the game after spending few hours in, then just spread the word, and you'll help us a lot.”

11 bit studios then left behind 10 Steam keys, and went on its way, perhaps toward the next development project. But in its wake it left behind a story that virtually no one could ignore. The reports suggest that, as expected, the game was pirated like no tomorrow. But the comment thread contained therein, now, that was a different matter. Reports suggest that the comment thread is already running positive—which is something of a feat for The Pirate Bay—and there's set to be quite a groundswell of word of mouth advertising to come out of this, not to mention the sheer number of bloggers like yours everfreakintruly that are talking about it.

This move has garnered a lot of support, and a lot of free notice, about this game, and that's likely got a few people wondering if maybe this isn't something of the key to success. It's not hard to see anymore that the traditional ways of doing things aren't going to work any more, and so, other ways have to be considered to get the job done. In a time when the Internet can both tell the world about the existence of our new books, songs, movies, short form content and games—and at the same time, offer full retail versions of these works at no charge—it's clear that trying to work without the Internet is a disastrous strategy. Yet the Internet can also mean disaster in and of itself without some kind of alternate strategy in place, and 11 bit studios has shown us the kind of impact one of those “alternate strategies” can have.

It's a strange thought to consider the idea of working with the pirates to make money, but it's not a unique proposition, even if it is seldom-used. Clearly studios have to make some changes in order to get a game sold, and staging war against the pirates really isn't working. This approach, a more understanding approach, may well win the studios some friends in the pirate community, and that's a development that's certainly not to be scorned.

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