Indie game Game Dev Tycoon, which allows you to run a games development company, punishes those who pirate the game with in-game piracy.
If players are running a pirated copy of the PC, Mac, Linux or Windows 8 title, they will receive a message that their virtual company is the victim of piracy and they will eventually go bankrupt. Touché.
Developers Patrick and Daniel Klug, who run Greenheart Games, pre-empted those who refused to pay the $7.99 (£5.69) fee for their wares by leaking their own cracked version of the game on to Torrent sites. However, it contained the Easter Egg which ensured that at some point during gameplay a message popped up and the in-game studio would increasingly be beset with falling revenues until it could not continue to trade. The full, purchased game comes without the additional code.
"Initially, we thought about telling them their copy was an illegal copy, but instead we didn’t want to pass up the unique opportunity of holding a mirror in front of them and showing them what piracy can do to game developers," said Patrick Klug.
"As the developer, who spent over a year creating this game and hasn’t drawn a salary yet, I wanted to cry. Surely, for most of these players, the $8 wouldn’t hurt them but it makes a huge difference to our future."
The saddest part for Greenheart Games is that, once the cracked copy had hit online, forums started to fill with users moaning about the piracy mode, as if it was a feature in the final game. One user even posted: "Why are there so many people who pirate? It ruins me. I had $5 million and then people suddenly started pirating everything I made, even if I got really good ratings (that I usually get). Not fair." Oh, the irony.
After just one day of going on sale, Greenheart Games' statistics were that only 6.4 per cent of Game Dev Tycoon players were playing the bought version. That's 3,104 pirates to 214 genuine.
Game Dev Tycoon is available now from the Greenheart Games website. It is DRM-free, and you get three copies for your $8 which you can use across devices. If a Steam edition is approved, you'll even get a code for that platform thrown in.