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I could write lots and lots of words about the super-cool, super-violent new PC game Hotline Miami. In fact, I've already kinda done that.
The game is: Awesome. You should: Play it. But if you're still unsure what it's all about, check out this playthrough of the first level, uploaded by JereHakala. This guy/gal is waaaay better at the game than I am, but that makes it pretty fun to watch just how quickly and crazily a level can go down.
Also, go listen to the whole soundtrack, because it is killer.
Earlier this week, Hotline Miami released and very quickly became the indie flavor of the minute. Then the story emerged that the game's maker went into the forums at The Pirate Bay, home of, well, pirates, and provided technical support to people who were, technically, stealing the game.
Naturally, Jonatan Soderstrom reaped some goodwill for this stance. It's an extremely sympathetic position in which to find yourself, large-size developer or small. For starters, you haven't done anything wrong, someone is taking your hard work and refusing to pay for it. Two, you get major props from pirate sympathizers, some of whom may actually act on the principle of paying for a game if they play a pirated version and like it. Three, you're not punishing the anti-piracy contingent, who may loathe the practice, but loathe DRM even more.
Soderstrom is by no means the first one to discover this. McPixel's creator was the latest high profile case of a developer embracing piracy and picking up an enormous PR boost for it—and even more: sales from the pirates themselves. After McPixel showed up on The Pirate Bay, Mikolaj 'Sos' Kaminski said "no biggie," on Reddit, expanded on that with some enlightened views of piracy, and tossed in some free codes for the game. The Pirate Bay responded by, wait for it, holding an event where they asked people to actually pay money for a video game (after downloading the full version anyway). [Update: Here's another example, from the creator of Mark of the Ninja, in an interview on Thursday.]
It's an almost unassailable position to be in (and, argumentatively, shows the power of not considering yourself a victim). Gamers love it because, technically, they're sacrificing sales not to inconvenience legitimate customers. Pirates love it because they don't consider it a lost sale. I'm not sure big publishers or their lobbyists love it, but anyone who comes out to rip an indie developer over his policies on his own product is going to look like a corporate dick of the first magnitude.
So what do you think? Is this an effective strategy for all? An effective strategy for some? Is it Stockholm Syndrome with digital hostages? In the past, the cynic in me would dismiss it as a shrewd PR move. (Though Gabe Newell at Valve proffered a compelling argument about why it's a service issue.)
Whether this policy of engagement actually works on its own is one issue. But I think it's clear it works better than DRM. If you can find anyone applauding that, let me know. But the contrast is clear; instead of trying to recover a lost sale, they're trying to make up for it with new ones, and keep legitimate customers happy.
What are you dressing up as for Halloween? I'm going as Medal of Honor: Warfighter's Metacritic score. No, make that Sexy Metacritic Score for Medal of Honor. Because the real one is ugly enough to make a freight train take a dirt road. Some civilian critics didn't see it that way, though, so we begin with a couple of 10 scores given to it.
Released: Oct. 23
Critic: GameInterpretor (Metacritic)
• "Looking forward to DLC and even a sequel!"
OK, now back to the hating.
Critic: Hurricane 9 (Metacritic)
• "If there were not an EA logo plastered all over the place, you might think it were a F2P indie game."
Holy shit, slamming both EA and indie devs? That is coldblooded and backhanded.
Critic: GamesMaster4Life (Amazon)
• "This game is not to be recommended to anyone,no matter how much you hate them."
Score: 1 star.
Critic: NinjaTwin (Metacritic)
• "Save your money and buy yourself a new shirt instead of wasting it on this rubbish."
Released: Oct. 23
Critic: kasparov5 (Metacritic)
• "It is good but the graphics are lacking compared to modern fps games like Call of Duty."
Released: Oct. 23
Critic: UnbiasedOne (Metacritic)
• "It would have been a hit in the year it's taking place in (1989) but for 2012, the eye strain, the aggravation and the urge to drive to the developers and beat them within two inches of their lives is not worth it, and $9.99 is defiantly not worth it. Again yet another pile of trash that will go straight to the top of the charts."
Take note folks: No matter how much you insist on Hotline Miami being worth it, it will refuse. For it is defiantly not worth it.
Jonatan Soderstrom, one of the duo behind the fantastic Hotline Miami, should be the last person on Earth giving advice to people pirating his games. So it's weird/nice to see him actually being one of the first.
On the game's thread at torrent site The Pirate Bay (and spotted by PC Gamer), Soderstrom has dropped in to address complaints—yes, pirates complain about the product they've stolen—and give advice for people on how to get the game running.
I'm Jonatan Soderstrom, me and my friend Dennis Wedin made this game. We're working on an update that hopefully will take care of any/all bugs, and we'll try to do some extra polish in the next few days. Would be great if you could update the torrent when the patch is out! It'd be great if people get to play it without any bugs popping up.
Hope everyone will enjoy the game!
For the "Error defining an external function." problem, try restarting your system and play again, it can pop up when your computer has been running for a while. We'll try to figure out if there's more to it than that.
While helping out pirates may seem a fairly counter-productive thing to engage in, seems that unlike someone who makes a six-figure salary, he can at least sympathise with the plight of the broke freeloader:
And now, can now listen to the entire soundtrack on Soundcloud:
So. Hot. The best thing about Hotline Miami is how the music fits in with the game, the tension and release of every level, the way they each tie in with the accompanying tunes. But it's also just a killer set of tracks. I can't even deal with how much I love Jasper Byrne's "Miami."
Listen, and enjoy. And hey, pick up Hotline Miami! You won't be sorry.