How to know if someone pirated your game?

Raijinn

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It just dawned on me, let's say I put up my game on steam. And some people decided to pirate it, any countermeasures to this?
 

NinjaKittyProductions

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To my knowledge, there is no way to stop someone from pirating your game.
However, you can get better protection to make it harder. I would suggest looking at Denuvo.
 

Philosophus Vagus

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None that really benefit you. You can develop DRM to make piracy more difficult but at the end of the day all that you'll be doing is driving actual sales away at no gain. The problem you run into is the wannabe pirate who can't crack the DRM isn't likely to purchase your game in the first place, while the more extensive the DRM the more hoops a consumer has to jump through to play...the more people who would have otherwise bought your game you turn away. It's a self-defeating process unfortunately.

If it really concerns you, rather than trying to make cracking your game impossible what I'd do is find a way to detect and alter the way the game functions if cracked. Some examples of this are as followed:

  • GTA4: cracked versions of the game caused the camera to sway drunkenly from side to side and not respond to player input, making gameplay tedious and progression nearly impossible. Also any vehicle you get into would explode in short order, killing you.
  • Dark souls: obnoxious enemies that shriek in possibly speaker blowing pitch would spawn in and swarm you everywhere you go.
  • DK64: game would never save progress.
  • Farcry 4: camera bugs out with a constant blur to near seizure inducing effect.
  • Some final fantasies: Game straight up shuts down after half an hour or so of play.
The thing about doing something like this is, while it doesn't necessarily prevent piracy it also doesn't inconvenience or alienate people who would actually buy the game (as they'd never see it) and it often brings pirates right to your support network unwittingly reporting their crime to you in the form of a 'bug report' complaining about whatever you did to make their cracked playthrough more difficult(what a surprise, pirates tend to be entitled brats). If I was going to try and stop pirates that's the route I'd go.
 
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Poryg

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There might be a way. However, for Javascript based games it's a lost cause due to the fact that Javascript are UTF-8 encoded text files (in other words no different from TXT files). So it's much better to either do as @Philosophus Vagus said or to turn potential pirates into potential customers by offering free material. in the game.
 

bgillisp

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One other method is to update your game from time to time. Pirates often don't have the latest version so if you patched out a bug on Steam 6 months ago then they report said bug, odds are high they have a pirated version.
 

Raijinn

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I want it to be like in Game Dev Sim where if u pirate the game ur game (in game) gets pirated and you go pirated.
 

Milennin

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If people want to pirate your game, they'll find a way to do so. If big, professional companies can't keep people from pirating their games, I don't see how a solo developer would. I remember anti-piracy being a thing in the 90's, and 20 years later is still an ongoing battle with no end in sight.
What it comes down to, the only real way to completely keep people from pirating your game is to make your game not worth playing in the first place. (Or release it for free...)
 

OmnislashXX

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Personally, I would feel honored.Someone takes the time to steal my little off brand game...if they want it that bad, then go for it.
 

Poryg

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Actually, @Milennin, there is a way to protect games from piracy; online verification system as well as code stored on servers. However, not too many people like to see this DRM on single player games (and everybody is angry when Denuvo servers stop working).

Nevertheless, DRMs are hurting legitimate customers much more than pirates, since most games are DRM-free for pirates even with DLC.
 

_Shadow_

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"How to know if someone pirated your game?"

You will be successful and never care about it. So don't even bother with that. Just focus on making a GOOD game.
 

JensDuck

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Or have version release where the first battle impossible, then release a fix. If the content is legit. You will be spammed by, people that cannot finish the first battle. Those are your pirates.
 

_Shadow_

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Or have version release where the first battle impossible, then release a fix. If the content is legit. You will be spammed by, people that cannot finish the first battle. Those are your pirates.
INCLUDING your legit customers that will witness a bad start. People here are indie developers not a triple A company that CAN sustain such a bad reputation. Most developers here are on their DEBUT, not on yet another game.
If they release a game that will be broken, things work differently, thus I find this idea wrong. Yet that's my own opinion.
 

bgillisp

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There is one way to make that work though. Upload the pirated build yourself to all the torrent sites which has that bad battle. Then you'll know.

Or you could just make the upload on the torrent sites say your demo? I'm thinking I might try that myself, just put the demo on all of those sites and confuse those filters with many hits on the demo so a pirate doesn't know which one they are getting.

Anyone see a flaw in this? I haven't exactly thought long about this myself, this was just an idea that came to me as I was sitting here at the computer so haven't investigated if there might be issues with it.
 

Poryg

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Yeah, I thought about releasing official pirate versions of the game too. Just to mess with the pirates.
Although to be frank, pirating an nwjs game can get scary pretty quickly due to the fact that the connection between javascript, c++ and nw-gyp not only makes it easy to hide lethal malware in the game, it also makes it easy to hide the malware from the sight of antiviruses. And releasing multiple pirated versions just creates an incentive for someone to do it and mess people's computers with abusing your joke.
 

_Shadow_

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Yeah, I thought about releasing official pirate versions of the game too. Just to mess with the pirates.
Although to be frank, pirating an nwjs game can get scary pretty quickly due to the fact that the connection between javascript, c++ and nw-gyp not only makes it easy to hide lethal malware in the game, it also makes it easy to hide the malware from the sight of antiviruses. And releasing multiple pirated versions just creates an incentive for someone to do it and mess people's computers with abusing your joke.

Very good point.
 

MrB

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I don't think it's a battle you can win. So I rather join them. Perhaps release a pirated version myself, that includes a cute little message asking them, if they like the game, to buy it anyways. Even if it makes just one of the pirates buy the game, that's a win for me.
 

Aesica

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As an indie developer, I wouldn't actually worry about it. As others have said, if someone wants to pirate it, they're going to find a way to pull it off. If your games are good and your players come to know you as a likeable developer, you'll get enough support from honest people.

Your attention would be better served by focusing more on making a good game than a pirate-resistant game.
 

Kes

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I've been pirated. There are lots of cracked versions of my games kicking around. I know that pirates would probably not have bought the games anyway, but what really infuriates me is the ripping and sharing of custom assets, especially music.

Can I do anything about it? No, I lack the resources, but that does not make me happy about it.
 

_Shadow_

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Sorry for the huge post.

I don't think it's a battle you can win. So I rather join them. Perhaps release a pirated version myself, that includes a cute little message asking them, if they like the game, to buy it anyways. Even if it makes just one of the pirates buy the game, that's a win for me.

Some people get pirated games cause they are just poor. In that case, when I will release my game I won't mind really. Not that I endorse piracy, don't get me wrong, what I say here is different. I don't mind for MY OWN WORK on that case. In general it's wrong and I do mind, period.

Some others might use pirated copies to evaluate a game. That said, there are people who actually buy an original copy if they like it, to support the developer, while people that didn't liked it don't buy it. I would say it's ok with me again, because I remember myself spending money to get a game that was crap, because the marketing was so cool. And that's why phrases like "Don't believe the hype" or "No more early access" or "No more Season Pass BS" exist. People lost trust on a few marketing ways, because some people abused it.

Pirated copies can work as "free evaluation" copies sometimes, that's actually a good argument, but be honest. If you get a pirated game, play it for let's say 15 hours, enjoy it, finish it, then uninstall it, would you buy it? Look. You DID enjoyed it, but you are not very excited about it. Especially now that it's over. What would you do? I bet the majority would never buy it.
Okay if it has replayability value you might consider get it on discount. Still, what happens though if you don't buy it? You played a game without supporting the people who made it. I find this thing wrong. Forget about laws and s-h-i-t. It is not ethical. I would morally find myself in debt on the developers. I would buy the game because I would be ashamed. But that's me. The majority of people think that I am just an idiot, I call this "romantic" though, but hey, everyone has the right to have their own opinion. Just for your information, in readme files, even pirates say: "If you liked the game support the developers, don't be a lamer" and stuff like that. But that doesn't solve the problem and doesn't make it right. Because people are people.


Let's see the 100% negative part now, shall we? There are people who pirate software, adding malware, bitcoin miners are very trendy nowadays, turning a game into a trojan horse. That's an insult on both the consumer and the developers. They sneaky earn money, by taking advantage of EVERYONE. You like that? I don't.

No matter what, yeah piracy is against the law, but most important piracy is not a good thing and I eventually do not endorse it, but I don't bother fighting it. Why? Extremely huge companies fail to fight them and when they make something that seems to work, they end up biting the @ss of their legit customers. Google "securom" and you will understand what I am talking about.


If your games are good and your players come to know you as a likeable developer, you'll get enough support from honest people. Your attention would be better served by focusing more on making a good game than a pirate-resistant game.

My thoughts exactly. Nobody would like a crappy game that has great copy protection, while a great game with low protection might have better luck. Actually OP if you do this for money, you are doing it wrong. Tripla A companies do this for money. Don't be like them. Indie developers got an audience (customers who enjoy indie games) that doesn't like huge company products for many reasons.
Put your passion into something to communicate with that audience through your game, don't make something just for a lust to get their money. Money end up coming eventually, but you should focus on making something really really good. You shall put your heart in it. People tend to support good efforts.
Check how "To the moon" and other good games go on Steam. It is a reality. Not only on RPG Maker games. See Terraria, Bastion, Transistor. There are DRM Free versions of these three games circulating on piracy torrents. NOBODY CARES.
I bought Teraria twice. TWICE! Once on Steam on a huge discount, then I was ashamed, because I spent 300+ hours with it and bought it from GOG once again. GOG sells the DRM free version. Did I spread the game for free? Did I pirated it? NO! Why? Cause the developer, by giving the DRM free version, actually makes a statement. He says "You know what? I trust you." And I wanna act accordingly.
What you reap is what you sow.

And I personally believe that:
If you reap wind you sow whirlwind.
If you reap a fight you sow war.
But if you reap trust, you sow loyal customers and fan base.

The choice is yours.


I've been pirated. There are lots of cracked versions of my games kicking around. I know that pirates would probably not have bought the games anyway, but what really infuriates me is the ripping and sharing of custom assets, especially music. Can I do anything about it? No, I lack the resources, but that does not make me happy about it.

Pirating assets is stupid. Period. Since you got no license to use them you can end up being sued by the developer.
In case the assets are yours, it is just a matter of time someone notice and give the developer bad reputation, so it is two times stupid.
Even if you do something legally, you end up being ashamed of your lack of inspiration.
Music industry recycles music itself. And people who know about music, see this everyday. If we see someone not remixing, but claiming a music piece as a brand new music piece, and we realize it is a cheap rip off though, the artist's reputation becomes dirty.


P.S.

"Cogito, ergo sum" -- > "I think, therefore I am"
I would also say that:
I get pirated, therefore I am.
I am longing for this to happen one day to me, so everyone will know that someone out there makes good games. Pirates don't pirate trash.
 
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