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'Steal Real Money' is a unique promotion for Jason Rohrer's  Castle Doctrine
'Steal Real Money' is a unique promotion for Jason Rohrer's Castle Doctrine
January 22, 2014 | By Kris Graft

January 22, 2014 | By Kris Graft
More: Indie, Design, Business/Marketing

Independent developer Jason Rohrer, known for unique games such as Between and Sleep is Death, is known for thinking outside of the box when it comes to the art of making video games.

Now he's applying that outside-of-the-box mindset to the promotion of his "massively multiplayer game of burglary and home defense," The Castle Doctrine.

Not quite as nefarious as it sounds, the "Steal Real Money" campaign has Castle Doctrine players stealing money from one another (in the game), and at 5 PM PST on Monday January 27, whatever money players end up with in the game will be converted into real U.S. dollars.

Rohrer is putting $3000 up for "bounty," to be paid out to players, and it will be divided up according to a variable exchange rate (detailed on his blog). That $3000 is just a "fraction" of the game's alpha-period earnings, he said.

"My budget is small, and running this kind of contest is way cheaper and more interesting than advertising," he said in an FAQ on the game's website. "It matches the spirit of the game and doesn't bother people who are not already interested in the game."

On top of free money, Rohrer is offering free "stuff" as prizes, ranging from paintings of the game to security items, including a "dog club" (never used to club a dog, said Rohrer) and $50 gift certificates to a gun shop in New Mexico.

The Castle Doctrine officially launches on January 29 for PC, Mac and Linux.

More information on this unique campaign is available on The Castle Doctrine's official website.

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John Mascarenas
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I like it. Great way to build hype for the game and entice people to play.

Lennard Feddersen
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I'd be interested to hear somebody who understands the legality of contests and gambling talk about the issues involved with running this kind of promotion.

David Gallant
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Seconded. Cash prizes and weapons sound problematic depending on the federal and state gaming laws in play.

Scott Burns
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It really only becomes a bit of a headache for the promoter when the prize value exceeds $500, at that point there's paperwork involved. I want to say a 1099 has to be issued to the contestant, but I can't say for certain as all contests I ran for GarageGames had prizes specifically picked to avoid the extra paperwork.

Since this contest is skill based and not a lottery it gets it past a lot of the restrictions in those states that people usually can't enter contests from, like RI. The only issue with the club is that there are some states where the club itself is illegal, which he's already noted which states those are on the website.

Lennard Feddersen
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Thanks Scott - this has been on my mind lately. I've got a game coming out later in the Spring that I plan to have monthly digital download prizes for strong play which is why this article caught my eye.

Maria Jayne
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Does it really promote free advertising though? I can see it's a talking point due to it being relatively unique but I can also see anybody serious about winning that money, not wanting to increase the competition for it by talking to others outside of those that already know.

Money is a tricky thing, it divides friendships and makes enemies, what people will do for the smallest chance at increasing their wealth can be quite shocking at times. It's certainly an interesting avenue to explore, I just wonder at what point does a games competitive nature start to damage it's own player base. We see plenty of that with games like LoL or Halo already. Not everybody sees it as harmless fun!