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How one developer sold a “no cheating” pledge for $35

By on June 23, 2016
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Gamasutra alerted me to this marvellous piece of DLC: a $35 “no-hint pledge” certificate.

Yes, that’s right. One game developer, Zarfhome Software, is selling its game, Hadean Lands, for $12 and alongside it, it is selling a pdf that you can print out and sign, stating that you will complete the game with no hints, walkthroughs or cheats of any kind.

The description is a masterpiece:

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This DLC pack contains a high-quality certificate saying that YOU, the player, solemnly promise to finish Hadean Lands without looking at any hints or walkthroughs on the Steam forums or anywhere else on the Internet.
That’s all! You print out the certificate, sign it, and hang it on the wall. This is strictly on the honor system. The DLC does not change the behavior of the game at all.
I’m sure you have questions…

  • The DLC is just a certificate? Really?
  • Yes. You get the certificate in PDF format and, what the heck, I’ll throw in a JPEG too.

 

  • Does it unlock new puzzles or rooms or other game content?
  • Nope. Just a certificate.

 

  • Where?
  • Look in the Certificate folder in the game directory.

 

  • I don’t need to buy your silly certificate! I can just make that promise for free!
  • Absolutely. But… it might be easier to stick to that promise once you’ve laid down some cash on it. Just a thought. It’s up to you.

 

  • You can’t stop me from looking at hints anyhow!
  • Yes, that’s true. It’s between you and your game-playing conscience.

 

  • What if I get really, REALLY stuck?
  • You’ll have to decide that for yourself. Maybe you could work on the puzzle with a friend.

 

  • Can I look at the game map?
  • Yes, that’s a freebie. It doesn’t spoil any puzzles.

 

  • What about the in-game tutorial?
  • The tutorial only covers the first puzzle in the first room. You get a pass on that too. If you really want to skip it, use the TUTORIAL OFF command to silence it.

 

  • You can’t be serious about this.
  • I assure you, I have never been more serious in my life.

 

It’s a marvellous piece of marketing, and invention, and DLC strategy and Curve-like thinking. I’ve no idea if it will work, but I hope it does. I applaud it in every way.

About admin

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and forthcoming Penguin title The Curve.