Czech-based indie developer Amanita Design is giving guilt-ridden pirates a chance to make amends.
The studio on Thursday announced a "Pirate Amnesty" sale. Anybody who downloaded the critically-acclaimed point-and-click adventure game illegally can buy the Windows, Mac or Linux game and its soundtrack
for $5, 75 percent off of the normal $20 tag.
Of course, anybody, including pirates or new players, can buy the DRM-free game for the low price. But Amanita is just trying to make a statement -- only 5-15 percent of people who downloaded Machinarium
bought it legitimately, according to designer Jakub Dvorsky. The rest of the copies were pirated.
Dvorsky told Gamasutra that he expected to see piracy of the game, but not to that extent. "We expected that our game would be soon available for free on torrents and other services, but the number of download links which emerged on the web almost immediately after the release really surprised us," he said.
"On the other hand it also did some good PR work for us, many people contacted us that they pirated the game, loved it and decided to pay for it afterwards."
Amanita didn't include DRM on their game as a matter of principle. Anti-piracy measures can be a technical hassle for gamers, and the three letters "DRM" can raise immediate resentment among the staunchest DRM opponents.
Despite the high level of piracy for Machinarium
Dvorsky doesn't think anti-piracy measures would have really made a difference. He said, "I believe DRM wouldn't reduce piracy, it would only make the legal version less comfortable than some free hacked illegal version."
He added, "I hope more and more people understand the situation of developers and want to support them, especially when they know that the money go directly to the developers and not to the pockets of publishers, distributors and retailers."