Why The Pixel Piracy Developer Apologized To Its Community, And How It Bounced Back



Pixel Piracy has been making waves the past couple of years due to its open world pirate simulation that lets you create your own ship, block by block, and attack others with a crew that you hired. It also helps that it was published by Re-Logic, the creator of Terraria.


Overall, the reception of Pixel Piracy in and out of Steam Early Access seems to have been positive. But on April 23rd, Quadro Delta (the game’s creator) issued a “formal apology” to its community with an Enhanced Edition of the game available for free to every owner of the game. It suggests that something wasn’t quite right.


Siliconera decided to talk to Quadro Delta producer Alexander Poysky to talk about why he felt issuing this apology was necessary. He also talks about what he learned from going through Early Access as well as the next game game that Quadro Delta is working on, Pixel Privateers.


First of all, for those who don’t know, how would you sum up Pixel Piracy? What’s the appeal?


Alexander Poysky, producer: Pixel Piracy could be summarized as a rogue-lite open world pirate RPG. The appeal is long term gameplay and managing a captain and his crew in an attempt to kill the four legendary pirates and explore the sea.



What were the most valuable lessons you learned from going through the Early Access process with Pixel Piracy?


The most valuable lesson is to NOT do Early Access again. I’m not bashing on it, it’s just that we aren’t in a position to abuse that system any more. Sure we gained traction and it helped the two of us found Quadro Delta and fund the first game, but it’d be unethical of us to make a second game and use Early Access as a crutch. Early Access should be used by first time devs who have modest means, as we once did. It’s embarrassing how much it is abused nowadays by huge name developers and legendary old school producers.


You recently released an Enhanced Edition of Pixel Piracy to all owners of the game? In brief, what did it add to the game?


Enhanced Edition (which we formally just call Pixel Piracy now, since EVERYONE has it and we are completely against DLC), is the result of an uneasy feeling we got when we launched Pixel Piracy last year. We felt it wasn’t up to snuff with our standards. We launched with very little money, earned more, and invested it back into a series of comprehensive patches to the game that bring it much further than we could have done without the sales we had had up to that point. It contains seven months of work from 14 individuals (to put this into perspective, Pixel Piracy was developed solely by Vitali Kirpu and later on Mikko Arvala (maintenence development)). With a whole testing team, additional support from Re-Logic, and constant balancing and tweaking, we added thousands of changes to the game.



You wrote a long post explaining why you made the Enhanced Edition free to your players. You referred to is as a “formal apology,” so why did you feel that one was necessary?


Enhanced Edition is our way of coming through for our fan base. We did what we could with the funds we had when we started, and brought the game to a place where we feel we can safely say it’s a quality title with great charm. Some of the new additions are languages, factions, hundreds of tweaked items, weapons, skills, and a completely reworked A.I. The reason we felt an apology was necessary was because we launched the title in what we determined “an uncomfortable state” due to our poor financial situation. All this extra work is to show we aren’t like the dime-a-dozen early access titles that take the money and run. We aren’t earning more money off of these new updates, we are making amends and proving to people who support our studio in the future that we won’t go down that road again. In fact, our next title completely eschews Early Access and will launch only when we believe it’s in pristine shape.


How would you measure how much of a success and how much of a failure Pixel Piracy has been? Do you feel it has been a success, and on what grounds?


Pixel Piracy has been quite an adventure. Vitali and I both worked at different companies when we met, we had a shared dream and we fought to achieve those goals. We dropped the ball on launch, picked it back up, dusted it off, and have the support of hundreds of thousands of fans as a result. We now work doing what we love best, making games. I’d say that is a resounding success, and we’ve only learned from our mistakes in order to provide even better titles from now on. Piracy was just the start!



You ended up getting the support of publisher Re-Logic, the creator of Terraria. In what different ways did this help you out?


Re-Logic was the reason I got into the industry in the first place. It’s a funny story actually. I was a soldier in the Spanish Armed Forces and read about Terraria years ago. I saw that the developer, too, had been in the military and had done what he could to achieve his goals. This inspired me to try my hand at game PR. Teaming up with them has been amazing, not only are they some of the most professional people I have ever had the pleasure of working with, but they are also humble, kind and down to earth people who simply love life.


How did this help us out? Working hand-in-hand with them to bring quality to a product that had potential only brought out the best in it, and we as professionals have learned a great deal from them. Everything from marketing to quality assurance and design are things they help us with, and the game wouldn’t be where it is now if it hadn’t been for their looking out for us.


What’s next for Quadro Delta? What can you say about what you’re currently working on?


We announced Pixel Privateers in January, released a very early alpha look at the game for free instead of charging for it. It is a sci-fi “loot em up” we are making. Here at Quadro Delta we are huge fans of Borderlands and Diablo and have found something cathartic in those types of games. Privateers is being handled by three developers, three artists, and myself as producer, with Vitali acting as supervisor. It’s development cycle is already over that of Piracy, and we’re looking at an end of the year(ish) launch. Obviously the game is going to be much grander in scale, quality, and playability. I’m not bashing on Piracy, we simply have more means, and are using the funding to create a game that will show our evolution as a studio.



How much longer do you plan on supporting Pixel Piracy, then – in terms of adding anything new, and maintaining the demands of the community?


We will support Piracy for as long as it remains financially reasonable to do so. At the end of the day this is a business, and sad as it may seem, products have a rather short life-span. It won’t be SOON, but it will eventually happen. I’ve noticed that multiplayer games tend to have a much longer life-span and would someday like to make one. Food for thought! As for when we’ll stop supporting Piracy, well, it won’t be anytime soon. We’ll add new content (albeit not in as huge and sweeping of changes as these past seven months), address issues that may arise, and provide support for the foreseeable future.

Chris Priestman