If you can’t beat ‘em, well… that’s not actually a phrase that exists in the world of Hotline Miami. It’s either beat (with a colorful assortment of bats, drills, pipes, and katanas) or be beaten black and blue and red and neon pink. There is, as Yoda says – presumably as a result of some LSD-induced hallucination – no try. Hotline Miami’s creators, however, are nothing like that. They, perhaps better than much of the rest of the gaming industry, understand the art of compromise. So when pirates started peddling a slightly glitchy version of Hotline Miami in the Internet’s seediest alleyways, Jonatan Soderstrom – aka, Cactus – decided to offer them a helping hand.
Soderstrom joined a comment thread for a Pirate Bay torrent of Hotline Miami not to harass those snatching his rather inexpensive game, but to offer them customer support.
“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!”
“I want anyone who plays the game to be able to enjoy it without stupid bugs that detract from the experience. Feel free to buy it if you like the game. It would help allowing me and Dennis to make more ‘big’ projects like this in the future.”
On top of that, he offered workarounds for controller support issues and general errors to those who asked for help, and many people commented that they went out and purchased legitimate copies of Hotline Miami as a result. Soderstrom explained his willingness to dive headlong into the lair of “the enemy” in a follow-up tweet. “I don’t really want people to pirate Hotline Miami,” he admitted, “but I understand if they do. I’ve been broke the last couple of months. It sucks.”
This isn’t the first instance of a smaller developer civilly making their case to pirates, either. Most notably, McPixel’s Sos Sosowski took a similar approach last month, which ultimately landed him an official weekend-long promotion on Pirate Bay’s front page.
And while it remains to be seen whether this type of thing can win creators some extra financial support in the long run (or even in the short run, for that matter), it’s amazing just to watch people treating each other like human beings on the Internet. Because pirates aren’t soulless blood, sweat, and tear black holes. They’re people. And developers aren’t need-abstaining vending machine monks. They’re human too. If nothing else, I’m happy to live in a world where – slowly but surely, inch-by-agonizing-inch – that’s starting to matter again.