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Zeno Clash Devs on Piracy, Demo Plans

Ars Technica has an interesting article on the reaction of developer ACE Team to finding their recently released combat game Zeno Clash available for illegal download. Carlos Bordeu of the Chilean developer commented on BitTorrent Sites explaining the impact of piracy on an independent developer, saying in some cases they were surprised to find a positive reaction: "We've received several mails and posts in our own forums of people who pirated the game that decided to buy it because of the message. I don't know if it is a significant percent, or whether this is good strategy as a whole... but it has sparked some very positive reactions in the community." Here is the statement they made on the torrent sites, indicating a demo is in the works:

Iím one of the developers of Zeno Clash. I would appreciate you read this if you are about to download this file.

Zeno Clash is an independently funded game by a very small and sacrificed group of people. The only way in which we can continue making games like this (or a sequel) is to have good sales.

I am aware that at this moment there is still no demo of the game, but we are working on one which will be available soon.

We cannot do anything to stop piracy of the game (and honestly donít intend to do so) but if you are downloading because you wish to try before you buy, I would ask that you purchase the game (and support the independent game development scene) if you enjoy it. We plan on updating Zeno Clash with DLC and continuing support for the game long after itís release.

Thanks for taking the time to read thisÖ hopefully it will make a difference.

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93. Re: Zeno Clash v. Piracy May 2, 2009, 18:05 Jerykk
You have done a great job making it sound completely cool and OK and not at all stealing from struggling developers, but that's exactly what it is.

"Struggling?" If all developers were poor indie developers, you might have a point. But I don't think companies like Epic are on the verge of bankruptcy because I pirated Gears of War, played it for an hour and then got bored of it.

If I go to a restaurant I have never been to before, you bet your ass I would like to eat the meal, then decide if it was good enough to purchase. I can't do that though, because I ate the meal either way and need to pay for the privledge.

I already went through this exact analogy. You aren't paying for the privilege of eating food. You are paying for the sustenance that food provides. That's why fast food is cheap and healthier food is expensive. Likewise, I'm not paying for the privilege of playing a game, I'm paying for the entertainment that a good game provides. Paying for a shitty experience doesn't make any sense and only serves to reward crappy developers.

If you play a game and never pay anything for it, you stole the game... the problem with your "moral middle-ground" is that you miss the obvious moral absolute sitting right in front of you.

So if you played TF2, L4D or UT3 during any of Steam's free weekends, you stole the game? Or if you play a demo, you are stealing the game? What if you play a game at a friend's house? Or borrow a game from him? The act itself is exactly the same: you are playing a game without paying for it. The only difference lies in legality which really doesn't mean anything to me.

If you really want to never pay for anything you don't know for certain you enjoy before hand, only buy games with demos. No demo? No sale. And tell the publisher why. Or just buy games praised by trusted persons, which is what I do, and I am rarely dissapointed (f'ing Saint's Row 2!).

Few problems with that approach. Firstly, demos are not always reliable representations of a game's final quality. The Hitman: Blood Money demo used the training mission from the full game and completely misrepresented the game as a whole. The Dark Messiah of Might and Magic and DX2 demos took parts from different levels and mashed them all into one level. I really loved the NOLF1 demo and played it many times over. However, the full version just couldn't hold my interest past the first few levels. The full game is a better representation of the full game than a demo. Secondly, you'll miss out on a lot of good games that don't have demos. You punish the developers for the stupidity of the publisher. Finally, I am never disappointed with any games I buy because I always know exactly what I'm getting and how much it is worth to me. And yes, customers do establish value. This is why people often wait until prices drop before buying stuff. The only difference is that I'm not assuming that a game isn't worth full price. I know it's not worth full price because I've actually played it.

All you're doing now is adding to the piracy statistics, adding seeds to pirated games for those who will NOT buy them, no matter what, and most importantly, to me anyway, contributing to the low opinion of PC game sales.

As I've explained numerous times before, I don't contribute to piracy statistics because I don't use torrents which are used for such statistics. Also, publishers have a low opinion of PC game sales because PC game sales ARE low compared to consoles. This has nothing to do with piracy. Piracy could cease to exist and consoles would still be far more mainstream than PC gaming. If every PC game sold millions of copies, nobody would care about piracy even if the numbers were much higher.

This comment was edited on May 2, 2009, 18:07.
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