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Pirates force Project Zomboid offline

Minecraft's Notch wades in.

Zombie survival role-playing game Project Zomboid has been forced offline after a particularly damaging pirated version of the game hit the internet.

Pirates have made a version of the game that auto-downloads Project Zomboid from developer The Indie Stone's server whenever the player clicks an "update" button.

"These 'auto updating' versions of the game could screw us completely," said the developer on the Project Zomboid website.

"We have a cloud based distribution model, where the files are copied all over the world and are served to players on request, which means we are charged money for people downloading the game.

"Whether piracy actually amounts to lost sales we're not going to get into. The possibility that it raises awareness and promotes the game cannot be ignored, but the difference is offline versions on torrents, which we've been largely unconcerned about, do not cost us real money, only potential money, and even then we can't really guess at what the net effect is.

"Likewise people who download the game through our website only download it when there is a new version, so once every week or so. These new pirate copies have an 'update now' button which will download the game every time it's clicked, potentially every time the game is run by everyone using it."

The Indie Stone apologised to all who purchased the game, "but this has the potential to cost some of the development funds we've made so far, and we can't risk it".

"We may be overreacting. But we have no idea of the numbers that could be involved and since an auto-updating pirate version effectively removes any need to buy the game and suggests they are 'in it for the long haul' if they are playing the version for numerous updates, we can't count on 'try before you buy' sale conversions from them.

"Sorry for the inconvenience."

Project Zomboid's troubles sparked Minecraft maker Markus "Notch" Persson into action. "Everybody stop pirating this game, please, it's very cool," he said on Twitter.

Following taking the game offline, The Indie Stone released the Project Zomboid public demo "so our paid customers have something to play".

Project Zomboid will be released "Minecraft style", where there will be continual updates adding new features, weapons, game-play and locations.