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Acid Wizard Studio would rather see players pick its survival-horror game Darkwood up for free than see people turn to key resellers.
In an Imgur post detailing the game’s five-year long development cycle, Acid Wizard Studio noted that it had received an unexpected surge of emails in response to the game’s release, but that many of those messages were scam emails seeking to solicit free keys.
“That key then gets sold through a shady platform,” explains the post. “To be honest, we're fed up with it. This practice makes it impossible for us to do any giveaways or send keys to people who actually don't have the money to play Darkwood.”
That, combined with a handful of refund requests from players who couldn’t afford the game at $15, prompted the dev to release the full, unaltered game for free as a torrent.
“There's no catch, no added pirate hats for characters or anything like that. We have just one request: if you like Darkwood and want us to continue making games, consider buying it in the future, maybe on a sale, through Steam, GOG or Humble Store,” says the Acid Wizard team. “But please, please, don't buy it through any key reselling site. By doing that, you're just feeding the cancer that is leeching off this industry.”
Meanwhile, nefarious key-resellers and email scammers have become so widespread that Steam itself is eyeing ways to cut down the number of illegitimate key requests developers receive. Valve detailed a change to its Steam Curator program a few months back that would give developers a quick way to verify the identities of streamers and content creators through the platform itself, though that update has yet to go live.