Great job everyone! It all works, looks and feels great and the music and sound fx are just spot on 🎶 - Thanks for the interesting post mortem writeup too! 💚
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We have read every permutation of this argument numerous times. Those defending piracy seem to have an endless supply of excuses, justifications and usually a clear tendency to make up facts. Same here: We never made a 'press release'. The story spread completely organically and in fact, we were utterly unprepared for the flood of attention it caused.
Your entire argument seems to be: if you download a clearly labelled 'cracked' version that was uploaded by the developers anonymously, you are not a pirate even though you didn't actually know it came from the devs.
In other words: Pirates who download what seems to be a pirated copy later find out that it wasn't pirated and thus don't want to be called pirates.
It might be an interesting philosophical or even legal question but it's silly to argue that the people who clearly source their games from torrents are not pirates.
Anyway, as Mrdecency said, we were even careful to protect the identity of those who clearly used the 'cracked' version and we didn't attack anyone in particular. We simply pointed out that heaps of people where playing our game from torrents, in the believe that it was an illegal copy, playing it for hours and even contacting us personally for technical support.
PC games are an amazingly innovative market but without services like Steam were actual paying customers support developers those games wouldn't exist.
We were lucky (!) to get the support of paying players in the end. Kind of ironic: You seem to be angry because our story went viral. "I still don't support that kind of thing." We don't seem to deserve this in your eyes, even though we didn't plan it as marketing. Who knows, maybe without it we wouldn't have survived as game developers and we wouldn't be working on another business simulation game but would this not confirm the problems with piracy instead of the other way round?
Not every small developer will have the fortune of some random story going viral. Imagine, if the majority of gamers would actually buy the games they enjoy...