Despite what some triple-A publishers might think, piracy isn’t a simple black-and-white subject. Pirates aren’t necessarily shifty-eyed thieves, and a pirated copy doesn’t necessarily equate to a lost sale. You can’t beat it, either, so you might as well come aboard and embrace that other audience that’s playing your game. Increasingly, that’s the mentality many indies have adopted, and SpeedRunners developer tinyBuild is following suit. All of the wickedly fun multiplayer platform-racer’s offline features will be free of charge straight out the gate. If you want updates further down the line, then you can buy the full game. It’s your call.
Basically, it sounds like a less nickel-and-dime-y version of free-to-play, but that’s hardly a bad thing. Here’s creator Alex Nichiporchik’s take, via a statement sent to RPS:
“I’ve seen it multiple times when people pirate some sort of software, fall in love with it, and then due to constant updates reminders end up buying it, just for the convenience. Basically, when developers provide a good service, people see the value in spending money. Minecraft is a great example. With the constant updates, it’s so clear you should throw your money at the screen – simply provide a service, making it much more convenient than searching for cracks.”
“We’ve decided to make SpeedRunners free when it comes out. The local version of SpeedRunners will be available completely free. You’ll be able to download it and play with your friends on a couch, or use any of the offline features (right now we have bots to play against offline). The online part of SpeedRunners will be what people pay money for, it’s the service we provide to players.”
He also confessed that he’s pirating Battlefield 4 right now, so I of course called the authorities and had him sentenced to 587 years in ultra-prison.
Seriously though, this sounds like a smart release model, assuming the price is a reasonable, one-time sort of thing. And again, the game is excellent fun. It’s on Steam Early Access right now if you want to pay money to give it a try before picking up the final free version. Which is the most backwards thing I’ve ever written. Also, untrue! If you spend money on early access, your paid version is secured for launch.
So yes, there are those things. Do you find them acceptable?