PC developers know that piracy is an issue. So how do you take advantage of that fact?
Well, you can do what RedLynx did, and leak the PC version of Trials on torrent sites on the same day it’s put out to consumers.
The key is to leave out one important aspect of the game…
The leaked version has no leaderboards.
In a game like Trials, where the goal is to finish each course as quickly and flawlessly in a (probably futile) attempt to top the leaderboards, this is a HUGE aspect of the game.
RedLynx CEO Tero Vitala said this on the matter:
“That game relies really heavily on the server side – the leaderboards are the soul of the game. I don’t know if it’s helped, I’d assume so because even though the version that we put on the torrent networks wasn’t the full version, it’s the version of the game without the actual soul, without the leaderboards to play against other players.”
Trials has apparently sold over 150,000 copies since it released about eighteen months ago, and RedLynx has kept a close eye on the leaderboards to see if they’ve been cracked by the torrenters yet. So far, so good.
Eidos did something similar with Batman: Arkham Asylum recently, and don’t forget the classic Earthbound bootleg cartridge detector that deletes your save file at the last boss! Cruel, cruel developers.
RedLynx was hoping that the pirates would love the game but be so saddened at the denial of being able to top the leaderboards that they would go out and purchase the game legitimately. Maybe it worked; maybe it didn’t.
Still a neat little tidbit of guerrilla marketing.