Game developer RedLynx has been exploring a novel marketing technique for its products. Instead of trying to get all its titles removed from torrent sites, the company itself is distributing ‘hacked’ copies of the games, hoping to convert torrent site users into paying customers.
Last summer the gaming company RedLynx decided to market its new game Trials 2 on various BitTorrent sites. Instead of worrying that the game might end up being pirated, the company decided to upload the bike game themselves as a promotional tool.
“Piracy is here, so how can we take advantage of that? What we did actually, on day one, we put that game immediately on all the torrent networks ourselves,” RedLynx CEO Tero Virtala, told a panel discussion at the Develop game conference.
The company didn’t upload the full game, but a slightly altered version which excluded the leaderboards that are required to play against other users on the Internet, hoping that it would convert some ‘pirates’ into paying customers.
“That game relies really heavily on the server side – the leaderboards are the soul of the game,” Virtala said. “I don’t know if it’s helped, I’d assume so because even though the version that we put on the torrent networks wasn’t the full version, it’s the version of the game without the actual soul, without the leaderboards to play against other players,” Virtala said.
Unfortunately the company has no way of knowing whether the free marketing on torrent sites has paid off. Thus far RedLynx has sold almost 150,000 copies of the game, but unlike the CEO claims, it is also available on torrent sites in a version where the leaderboard functionality is hacked.
It is good to see that companies are recognizing that giving away games on torrent sites can actually help to market their products. Making demo versions of a game available to the public is not necessarily a novelty, but uploading these onto torrent sites is an opportunity that only a few have taken advantage of.