While free video games are nothing new to The Pirate Bay, a popular Swedish file-sharing website, this weekend marks the first time it has actively encouraged you to pay for one…but you still don’t have to.
For this weekend only, the front page of The Pirate Bay has been rebranded into “The Promo Bay” and is inviting people to download McPixel, a point-and-click-style game in which you must solve a series of 20-second WarioWare-esque puzzles. What makes this different from most games available on this and similar sites is that the developer, Mikolaj Kaminski — who goes by the name Sos Sosowski — wanted it there. He hopes that by letting people download the game for free, those who like it will choose to return to his website and give him money. It is essentially the now-common “pay what you want” business model, but presented by a website whose cofounder was recently arrested for evading a copyright infringement-related prison sentence.
The PC version of McPixel, which is also available on iOS and Android, had already been posted to torrent sites before this weekend, as reported by Kotaku. Sosowski was so excited over people being interested enough to download the game without his permission that he decided to partner with The Pirate Bay and organize a promotion.
The past few years have seen indie game developers trying lots of new strategies to advertise their games. The new Steam Greenlight service (which McPixel is a part of) is bringing attention to hundreds of games that might not otherwise get noticed, and sites like the Humble Indie Bundle have popularized nontraditional pricing. Now, we have The Pirate Bay — a place where anyone can illegally get anything for free — sponsoring the sale of an indie game. Whether this endeavor is successful for Sosowski or not, it’s definitely not the last time an indie developer will use an unorthodox tactic to get his work out there.
We’ve reached out to Sosowski to ask what will happen to McPixel’s pricing once the weekend is over, but we have yet to receive a response. From now until Sunday night, though, you can grab the torrent from the official site without having to pay for it (unless you choose to).