Originally Posted on Techdirt.
Recently, Extra Credits did a great episode on game demos and why no one makes them any more. The reason came down to the fact that it was really tough to make a game demo that really allowed a game to shine — you were more likely to make a great game look terrible. In this episode, they talked about the need some people have to try out a game before they buy it and that free to play games were one way to accommodate that need. I would also add to this that piracy is another way some gamers try a game before they buy.
Just as it is important that people who play a demo get a good experience that leaves them wanting more, the same should be said of the full game itself. If your game sucks, people will stop playing it, word will spread and fewer people will buy it. This word of mouth also comes from those who pirate the game. Although they never paid the developer money, these players are still willing to speak their mind when it comes to the games that really make an impression on them. So it is still important to make a great game.
It was this last scenario, of people pirating a game and then talking about its bugs, that led one developer to take to the Pirate Bay to let those players know that a patch was coming. Jonatan Soderstrom is one of the developers behind a recently released game, Hotline Miami. After the game showed up on the Pirate Bay, people started complaining about bugs they ran into.
However, a few people had a couple of problems getting the game to run.
“Whenever I try starting the game I get [an] error,” user randir12 explained. “Error defining an external function.”
“Sometimes the game works if I click ignore, but there’s no sound.”
Instead of letting these players get help from other Pirate Bay users, Jonatan, as user cactus69, showed up himself with advice and news of a coming patch.
Hey there! I’m Jonatan Soderstrom, me and my friend Dennis Wedin made this game.
We’re working on an update that hopefully will take care of any/all bugs, and we’ll try to do some extra polish in the next few days. Would be great if you could update the torrent when the patch is out! It’d be great if people get to play it without any bugs popping up. Hope everyone will enjoy the game!
For the ‘Error defining an external function’ problem, try restarting your system and play again, it can pop up when your computer has been running for a while. We’ll try to figure out if there’s more to it than that.
While such direct contact between pirates and a game’s developer is not entirely new (we have seen something like this before) it is still not the norm, and a great way to make an impression on the fans of the game. Soderstrom was able to put out a potential fire that could have led to some people to never picking the game up. In fact, this was his thought process on taking that effort. In a pair of tweets, Jonatan explained that he both understood why people might pirate, but also that it was important that they have a good experience.
I don’t really want people to pirate Hotline Miami, but I understand if they do. I’ve been broke the last couple of months. It sucks.
And I definitely want people to experience the game the way it’s meant to be experienced. No matter how they got a hold of it.
That great experience is one of the most important things any creator should work toward. It doesn’t matter how much time and money you put into a game, movie, album or book. If the output does not meet the expectation of those who experience it, they will tell others. That will lead to even more people avoiding it. However, as you work toward making the best possible experience and you are completely open about faults, then people will respect you more, and often look past any flaws to support you.