Please Fix the Road is a lovely, laid back-looking puzzle game about—in case the title wasn’t enough of a giveaway—fixing roads. The goal is to move and manipulate tiles of various sorts to ensure that cars, boats, trains, and even animals can get from where they are to where they need to be. It’s set to come out in June, and will be available on Steam, GOG, Itch.io, and various pirate torrents.
Games are inevitably pirated, it’s true, but this is actually an “official” pirate release, complete with special pirate version features. Not a murderous scorpion, dunce cap, or anything else that would mark or punish pirates for their transgression, though: Developer Ariel Jurkowski said on Twitter that there will be “no strings attached” to the version of Please Fix the Road released to torrent sites.
“Pirate version will have all of the launch levels, but no updates,” he wrote. “No strings attached. There’s an extra pirate themed song at the start, altered intro sequence, a pirate face instead of the cogwheel options icon and a request in the options menu to buy the game. Cheers!”
This isn’t the first time a game developer has effectively given piracy a green light. The makers of Hotline Miami, Darkwood, Danger Gazers, and Loop Hero have all done the same thing in years past, and generally for similar reasons. “It would be pirated anyway and I don’t blame anyone for it, it is what it is,” Jurkowski said in a follow-up tweet. “I hope at least some people will appreciate the gesture, maybe I’ll get some PR points from this.”
Pirate version will have all of the launch levels, but no updates. No strings attached. There’s an extra pirate themed song at the start, altered intro sequence, a pirate face instead of the cogwheel options icon and a request in the options menu to buy the game. Cheers!May 5, 2022
Jurkowski said in a DM conversation that he has a clear recollection of Game Dev Tycoon’s infamous anti-piracy system, which tricked pirates into publicly outing themselves. “I also enjoy watching gaming related YouTube videos with easter eggs, developer secrets and such,” he said. “In these videos content creators often show weird stuff the developers implemented for the pirates, so I think the general idea for a pirate version came from this.”
“Gamedev is hard, making money from it is even harder. I’m simply trying to show myself and my game to people. I think a developer pirated version is not only an interesting and surprising thing to do, but also very consumer friendly.”
For those who don’t want to be reminded of their misdeed, the DRM-free release on GOG and Itch.io means the “non-pirate” version of Please Fix the Road will likely show up on torrents almost immediately after release. But Jurkowski said he doesn’t care if people pirate the game, and doesn’t want to demonize anyone who does.
“I’m not interested in getting angry at people playing my game without paying for it,” he said. “I used to pirate games as a kid, I understand ya!”
Naturally, there’s hope that at least a few people who pirate the game will eventually purchase it to support the developer, but there’s “no worries” for those who don’t: “I don’t feel like people steal from me if they do it. You can use it as a demo, you can use it as a full version, you are a pirate and you don’t need stinky permissions!”
Pricing for Please Fix the Road isn’t listed yet but Jurkowski said it will sell for $10, with a 10% discount during the first three days of release—”or, you know, free if you pirate it. :)”