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PCGA on Piracy's Benefits

The PC Gaming Alliance Interview on Big Download talks with Randy Stude of Intel and the PCGA about their new membership options, and progress of their various committees looking at various aspects of PC gaming. His answer to a question about the approach Valve and Stardock take to DRM and piracy yields an answer with an unusual point-of-view from someone in his position:

If you ask both of the publishers that you mentioned here about the rate of piracy for their games you may find that one has rampant piracy and the other has almost none. The PC Gaming Industry's history is littered with examples of startups (including Stardock and Valve) that actually benefitted from wide spread piracy to grow a market for their future titles. Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating piracy... However, how would Quake, Doom, Starcraft, Counter-Strike, or Half-Life have been able to grow widespread brand recognition without a widespread network of gamers openly sharing these games. These titles (and many more) defined the industry. Personally, my first experience with a first person shooter was with Doom (back in the day) and I did not pay for it. Id Software turned the corner and has a very successful business built on the back of the early free/open source exchange of their games...

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57. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 14, 2009, 15:05 Kosumo
 
Hey Jerykk, Thanks for you reply, I do enjoy and agree with alot of what you say often (even re:pro-piracy at time) but I hope that you now stop saying that World of Goo had no advertising just because you did not notice it. (Yes, I know, if you did not notice it, then to you, there was no marketing )  
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56. Re: PCGA on Piracy's Benefits Feb 14, 2009, 14:31 Bluesfanboi
 
Z9000 made some quite excellent points often ignored and overlooked in the discussion.

Forcing the 'issue' via DRM has made people stop and think before a purchase, where there was no hesitation before. That hesitation alone diverts dollars.

It has impacted me to the point where I no longer financially support intrusive DRM, where it was not an issue prior.

"What is the 3rd word on the 4th line of page 54?"

Oh, how far we haven't come.
 
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55. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 14, 2009, 06:42 Jerykk
 
I just now typed in "world of goo ads" into google and look -
http://video.aol.com/video-detail/world-of-goo-ad/133579308

This is not the ad that I seen thought, that would have been a banner ad that got my attention after seeing it on and off over a week or so on a little website call Bluesnews.

Where would that World of Goo video ad be seen? Does AOL show it when you sign on or something? Or do you have to google "World of Goo ads" in order to find it..?

As for World of Goo being advertised here on Blues, it's quite possible. I don't remember it being advertised here but I usually forget banners and whatnot. In any case, as I've mentioned numerous times already, World of Goo's marketing is minimal at best. Mainstream marketing = TV spots, press conference demos, exclusive previews, developer diaries, teaser trailers, gameplay trailers, video walkthroughs, etc. The kind of stuff that the big games like Gears of War, Halo, etc, get. That's the kind of marketing that a small indie game like World of Goo doesn't get and why the exposure it received from piracy helped compensate for this.

I could say that a fact is that piracy leads to less games on the market therefore there are less games being played by people.

Yeah, you could say that but it wouldn't mean much unless you back it up with actual facts. Are there actually less games on the PC market? From what I can tell, the issue isn't the number of games being made. There are more multiplatform games now than there ever were before. The problem is that the PC versions of these games are usually half-assed ports. Consoles simply have a much larger install base and PC piracy doesn't change that.

Fact - Pirates are the dead weight that hangs around the neck of hardworking people. You are just as likely to sell less copies of your work than more if people can get it for nothing. That is the real truth.

Sigh. You are completely missing the point. All games get pirated. Games with tons of hype get pirated a lot more than games with little to no hype. However, the hyped games still sell many more copies. Why? Exposure. I know you're morally righteous and all that but try to use logic here.

If there is a sequel to World of Goo, I'd bet good money (that I earn, not steal) that the whole no-DRM is reviewed.

You should probably check out this post by one of the actual World of Goo devs: http://2dboy.com/2008/11/13/90/

Here are some tasty quotes for you:

"one thing that really jumped out at me was his estimate that preventing 1000 piracy attempts results in only a single additional sale. this supports our intuitive assessment that people who pirate our game arenít people who would have purchased it had they not been able to get it without paying."

"in our case, we might have even converted more than 1 in a 1000 pirates into legit purchases. either way, ricochet shipped with DRM, world of goo shipped without it, and there seems to be no difference in the outcomes. we canít draw any conclusions based on two data points, but iím hoping that others will release information about piracy rates so that everyone could see if DRM is the waste of time and money that we think it is."

 
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54. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 14, 2009, 05:46 Kosumo
 
I just now typed in "world of goo ads" into google and look -
http://video.aol.com/video-detail/world-of-goo-ad/133579308

This is not the ad that I seen thought, that would have been a banner ad that got my attention after seeing it on and off over a week or so on a little website call Bluesnews.

Fact: Piracy lets more people play more games.

I could say that a fact is that piracy leads to less games on the market therefore there are less games being played by people. Your facts are often really just you putting your hand down your pants to make yourself feel good, I'd say.

The fact is that piracy creates exposure, something which obscure games need

Fact - Pirates are the dead weight that hangs around the neck of hardworking people. You are just as likely to sell less copies of your work than more if people can get it for nothing. That is the real truth.

If there is a sequel to World of Goo, I'd bet good money (that I earn, not steal) that the whole no-DRM is reviewed.
 
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53. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 23:09 Jerykk
 
Oh boy, super long rebuttal post coming right up.

@theyarecomingforyou:

If piracy did not exist then the majority of people that have played it wouldn't have been using the pirated version.

This is true. However, the number of people playing the game at all would be greatly decreased. Knowledge of the game's existence would also be greatly decreased, as the game wouldn't have headlined various gaming sites with the whole 90% piracy announcement.

It is up to the publisher to market the game, not pirates. Full stop.

Again with the ideals. As I said before, this isn't about what should be. It isn't about right or wrong. It's about what is. The fact is that piracy creates exposure, something which obscure games need. Ideally, everybody would know about every game, no matter how small or indie. Ideally, publishers would market all games equally. But that's not reality. The awareness that piracy creates is a reality.

What a lovely rosy picture you paint, a world where piracy leads to more sales and everyone benefits. Do you honestly believe the nonsense you type? I'd rather remain in the land of the non-glue sniffers.

Okay, let's look at the facts.

Fact: Piracy lets more people play more games.
Fact: Piracy let World of Goo get headlined on every major game site.
Fact: At one point, there were more people playing Tribes than copies sold.
Fact: Tribes was a new IP and an innovative game that lacked the marketing and mainstream exposure of its competitors.
Fact: Tribes received two sequels because it had a large and dedicated community.
Fact: Most people are more likely to buy a game that's familiar than a game that's not familiar.

So what can we derive from all these facts? Well, for one, piracy gave World of Goo far more exposure than it would have had otherwise. If more people know about your game, more people are likely to buy it. The sales of heavily marketed games compared to obscure games attest to this fact.

Secondly, piracy was the foundation of Tribes' community since most players had, at one point, pirated the game. I myself only played the game because a friend gave me a pirated copy. I eventually bought the game and its two sequels (though I sincerely regret buying the last one). In any case, this community created a demand for sequels. This demand would not exist were it not for piracy because the community would have been far smaller without it.

Once again, this isn't about morality or idealism. It is about reality and the reality is that piracy can lead to long-term profits by creating exposure and establishing a fanbase willing to buy future games.

I'm sorry but do you think it's more or less likely that someone that grows up pirating games will continue to do so?

It varies. Some people here have confessed to pirating in their younger days and no longer do so because they can afford to buy games. I myself grew up pirating games and I continue to do so to this day. However, I also end up buying many of the games I pirate if I think they're good. Pirates and customers are not mutually exclusive.

Either way, it doesn't really matter what you or I believe. It only matters what we know and we really don't know how many pirates buy games.


@Kosumo:

I would have, because I had seen an ad for it (you make out like there where none) and then I downloaded the demo, which I enjoyed, so I then purchesed the full game over Steam.

Call me old fashioned, but that now I thought I was sposed to do it.

Since their was (still is) a demo for World Of Goo, I fail to see why anyone should feel they need to pirate it to check it out? Maybe some people cant brake their habits.

Where did you see this ad? How often did you see it? Did you only see it in one place? I browse a lot of gaming sites but I don't recall ever seeing a World of Goo ad. Perhaps I did but I just forgot about it, which doesn't really speak well for the effectiveness of its marketing. In any case, the marketing for World of Goo was minimal at best and could hardly be considered mainstream. The exposure they received from piracy was far, far greater.


@Ruffiana:

In a perfect world, where gamers would actually fairly reward developers for doing a good job, giving a game away for free in order to build a brand/franchise that might possibly work.

Every new IP is a risk. Most publishers are fully aware that sales of new IPs will likely not meet expectations. However, they are also aware that sequels tend to sell much better. That's why they take the risks necessary to start new franchises. Piracy isn't a risk, it's an inevitability. However, if you make a great game, there's a very good chance that piracy will expand your audience and make your fanbase grow.

On a side note, CS is a great example that refutes your logic. CS began as a free mod. Eventually, Valve started offering it as a retail product but even then, you could obtain it for free. However, people actually bought CS in spite of their ability to get it for free. Hell, people still buy WoW, even though you can download it for free. You still have to pay monthly fees but you can download the core game off Blizzard's site.

Great games that don't sell don't get sequels.

In some cases, yes. In other cases, no. Beyond Good & Evil sold like crap and it's getting a sequel. Why? Because it has a large fanbase, much of which likely consists of pirates. Tribes didn't sell well and it got two sequels. World of Goo will probably get a sequel.

Fact is, the vast majority of people who pirate games have no intention of ever paying for a game.

How did you discover this fact? Are you omniscient? Are you monitoring the buying habits of every pirate in existence? Or are you simply making an assumption based on limited anecdotal evidence?

That's something the pro-piracy people always seem to overlook. You're not entitled to a game.

This is something that always confounds me. Anti-piracy people constantly bring up notions of rights or entitlement when they very clearly are irrelevant. Piracy is illegal. This is a fact. Everybody knows that. No pirate claims that he has a legal right to copyright infringement. At least, no pirate in the U.S.
 
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52. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 22:14 wallace321
 
You're not entitled to a game. If you're not happy with the price, lack of demo, non-returnable policies, etc. (all perfectly valid issues)..then you do not buy it and you do not get to play it.

I had a guy on steam forums once tell me that waiting until a game got a little cheaper was as bad as stealing. comments?

Don't mistake anti-DRM people for pro-piracy people, nor should you make the mistake of believing that people who think that some efforts to curb piracy have had an overall detrimental effect on gaming don't find piracy an abomination.

BRAVO SIR!

This comment was edited on Feb 13, 2009, 22:15.
 
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51. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 22:10 Prez
 
That's something the pro-piracy people always seem to overlook.

Don't mistake anti-DRM people for pro-piracy people, nor should you make the mistake of believing that people who think that some efforts to curb piracy have had an overall detrimental effect on gaming don't find piracy an abomination.
 
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ďThe greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.Ē
- Mahatma Gandhi
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50. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 19:53 Ruffiana
 
Holy shit wow, propaganda bullshit at its finest, seriously. This is the argument I remember hearing from PS2 game pirates years ago, they said the PS2 was successful because of all the piracy. Dreamcast was easier to pirate games on, and that system did not do so well. Xbox was easier to pirate games on by the end, but that didn't help Xbox either.

I expect future internal strife within the PCGA as hardware manufacturers like this Intel fool argue with software makers like id over if they should use 'piracy is good' in future propaganda messages...

I have to agree with this general sentiment. In a perfect world, where gamers would actually fairly reward developers for doing a good job, giving a game away for free in order to build a brand/franchise that might possibly work. Most of the examples he listed...Doom, Quake, Starcraft, etc. were all good games that also sold well enough to allow their makers to continue making games. Piracy didn't help them...it just didn't hurt them enough to keep them from moving forward.

Great games that don't sell don't get sequels. Often the developers don't even survive to create more games. It's that simple. Making a game is not free. It's a huge investment of time and resources, and that risk/reward ratio is becoming more and more skewed with every generation and with the slow spread and acceptance of piracy as something that's okay.

Fact is, the vast majority of people who pirate games have no intention of ever paying for a game. Even if they liked the game or had fun playing it...there's always a ready excuse as to why they're entitled to free entertainment. Or they're simply apathetic enough to not care.

That's something the pro-piracy people always seem to overlook. You're not entitled to a game. If you're not happy with the price, lack of demo, non-returnable policies, etc. (all perfectly valid issues)..then you do not buy it and you do not get to play it.
 
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49. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 15:42 Ichi
 
Holy shit wow, propaganda bullshit at its finest, seriously. This is the argument I remember hearing from PS2 game pirates years ago, they said the PS2 was successful because of all the piracy. Dreamcast was easier to pirate games on, and that system did not do so well. Xbox was easier to pirate games on by the end, but that didn't help Xbox either.

I expect future internal strife within the PCGA as hardware manufacturers like this Intel fool argue with software makers like id over if they should use 'piracy is good' in future propaganda messages...
 
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48. Re: PCGA on Piracy's Benefits Feb 13, 2009, 14:55 Kosumo
 
How many people do you think had heard of World of Goo until it got pirated to hell and became a headliner as a result? If piracy did not exist, most people would not know that World of Goo exists.

I would have, because I had seen an ad for it (you make out like there where none) and then I downloaded the demo, which I enjoyed, so I then purchesed the full game over Steam.

Call me old fashioned, but that now I thought I was sposed to do it.

Since their was (still is) a demo for World Of Goo, I fail to see why anyone should feel they need to pirate it to check it out? Maybe some people cant brake their habits.

What your answer to that then Jerykk?
 
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47. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 14:33 wallace321
 
Heh, too right. Even Left 4 Dead seems overpriced in comparison.

By the way, L4D is 50% off this weekend! $24.99!
 
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46. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 14:31 wallace321
 
Are you saying that this friend of yours was using Daemon Tools in a legitimate capacity (i.e. not for pirated software)?

No clue how he pirates his software. But does it matter? All it took to get around it was a cd crack. Remember it didn't tell him the reason it crashed, I just recognized it from previous experience. I'm not sure how you can not have any sympathy for the guy. He bought the game for a change and THIS is what he gets for it? Is that the lesson they want to teach people like him? "Dont' bother buying our software, we won't let you run it"? Or better yet, "we don't need your money, pirate" lol! The people I don't have any sympathy for are the people who think THAT is a good idea!

Ok so that guy is a pirate and developers don't want his money. (right? or do they think he can't get around something that stupid? we did pretty easily with a cd-crack) Fine. But it gets worse. Daemon tools is popular software for piracy, true. There was a bad incident for Securom when Lego Indy was being reviewed for PC Gamer by Kristin Salvator. Securom refused to allow the game to launch because of something as simple as Nero Express which, as pointed out in the review, came preinstalled on the system. Ouch.

This comment was edited on Feb 13, 2009, 15:21.
 
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45. Re: PCGA on Piracy's Benefits Feb 13, 2009, 14:24 Ruffiana
 
I still maintain that DRM is not about curbing piracy -- it's about completely abolishing the second-hand market.

The 2nd hand market is as damaging to the developers and publishers as piracy.

A game is only worth the experience of playing it. The physical media can be infinitely duplicated, distributed, shared, traded...but the experience of playing the game is the only commodity with any value. By having a reseller step in and intercept they're taking the money directly from the customer and keeping it for themselves. Not only do the developers and publishers not receive money from a legitimate user who's willing to pay money for a game experience, but the reseller is even taking less money then said customer would normally pay.

That whole cycle can be repeated multiple times. The individual customers get a huge discount on their entertainment expenses (first from a reduced 'used' game purchase, then a refund when they resell it), the reseller gets all of the profits, and the developers/publishers end up with nadda.
 
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44. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 14:13 theyarecomingforyou
 
Steam in particular puts a huge selection of games at your fingertips, old and new. In the past the main games you had an easy time buying where the new games, and the older games were handled on ebay, craigslist, and odd retailers. Now with everything getting mixed up people are spending money on older titles that are still great by today's standards and the newer titles have to fight harder than ever to get noticed.
Exactly. And I hope the interest in X-Com (the bundle has been at or near the top of the Steam charts on many an occasion) will lead the publisher to make a sequel to tap the demand. It's the same with services like iTunes on the music industry - why put up with shit modern music when you can buy an album by The Beatles or David Bowie? It also makes it more likely that you'll be able to play games going into the future. Games have already been updated to support Vista 64bit and I imagine we'll see the same with Win7 (if there are any problems with compatibility over Vista). Potentially, and we haven't actually seen this happen yet, we'll be able to play all the games on Steam on Win7 and the next version of Windows after that whereas before we couldn't.

I picked up the X-Com bundle, the id bundle (Commander Keen!), the GTA bundle (I love GTA1 and GTA2), the Unreal bundle (great memories of Unreal and the original UT) and even games like Deus Ex and the original Far Cry. I like my newer games as well but that doesn't stop me enjoying older games every so often. More importantly Steam has got me buying casual games for playing when I don't have time for a proper game. My gaming experience has expanded dramatically since Steam and definitely for the better. Steam also allows me to keep in contact with people, where I use it for talking to my brother and even people in different continents.

Browsing GOG.com the other day was reminiscent of trips to Eggheard Software and Software Etc in the 1990s. I'm so glad a new generation of gamers can play classics like Fallout 1 & 2, Gothic II, Capitalism, and Freelancer at affordable prices sans DRM. Good games stand the test of time
Indeed. I really hope to see GOG expand its catalogue to games more to my liking, games like: Tie Fighter, Grim Fandango, the original Warcraft, Fury Of The Furries, The Chaos Engine, Lemmings and the Worms games. Currently the collection is far too limited. Also, they have games like Simon The Sorcerer 2 but not the original. Bizarre. GOG has a lot of potential and I really hope they aren't simply snapped up by a bigger player like Valve.
 
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43. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 13:51 RP
 
Agreed Tumbler.

Browsing GOG.com the other day was reminiscent of trips to Eggheard Software and Software Etc in the 1990s. I'm so glad a new generation of gamers can play classics like Fallout 1 & 2, Gothic II, Capitalism, and Freespace at affordable prices sans DRM. Good games stand the test of time. Hell, I could spend the next 3 years playing nothing but sub-$10 from GOG and be totally happy.

Digital distribution is slowly changing everything. Like you said, games will no longer have finite lifespans. Valve updates its games for free because it keeps them "alive" years after release. Then people can buy them over Steam without worrying about whether or not a retailer will have it in stock.

Why pay $50 for a new game when I can buy 5 great games from GOG for the same price?

Edit: Meant Freespace not Freelancer

This comment was edited on Feb 13, 2009, 14:15.
 
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42. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 13:39 Tumbler
 
Not only that but they drop in price dramatically quicker than ever before - Bioshock (a top tier title) was £4 in the winter sale on Steam, whereas games used to command £20+ price points for several years and wouldn't drop below £10 for at least 3yrs.

Services like Steam are making it even harder for developers by bringing old high quality games back into the eyes of consumers and offering discount prices. I picked up Bioshock, Xcom, Titan Quest, and a few others recently because I wanted to play some PC games again. Those are dollars I would likely have used to spend on newer games in the past.

Steam in particular puts a huge selection of games at your fingertips, old and new. In the past the main games you had an easy time buying where the new games, and the older games were handled on ebay, craigslist, and odd retailers. Now with everything getting mixed up people are spending money on older titles that are still great by today's standards and the newer titles have to fight harder than ever to get noticed.

It's not fair, but that is the way it is.
 
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41. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 13:29 theyarecomingforyou
 
After patching up to the level of my steam copy, how embarassing was it when we had to download the no-cd crack for us to play it because it wouldn't run on his system with daemon tools installed? Good thing I recognized it for what it was and knew to get the crack.
Are you saying that this friend of yours was using Daemon Tools in a legitimate capacity (i.e. not for pirated software)? I agree that no copy protection should dictate what software is installed on your system but I find it hard to have sympathy for someone being told to uninstall a program used for piracy (by what must be over 99% of its users) because they happen to this time have bought a game (not that they even bought it as you bought it for them).

The prices of software are too high right now. (In general) There are WAY too many games coming out, way to many people dieing to make games, and WAY WAY WAY too many old games for discount prices to support a market where every new game coming out will sell for $60 to consumers.
To some degree, sure. But games for the PC are actually much cheaper than ever when you factor in inflation and having more quality games to choose from can't be considering a bad thing. In fact games coming out now are usually around £25 and I paid £35 for the original Half-Life back in the day. Not only that but they drop in price dramatically quicker than ever before - Bioshock (a top tier title) was £4 in the winter sale on Steam, whereas games used to command £20+ price points for several years and wouldn't drop below £10 for at least 3yrs. But pricing seems to be more opportunistic. Call Of Duty games always command full retail price (£30) for well over a year and commercial games like The Sims and Spore do the same, yet the new Prince Of Persia was on sale for £18 (now £24) and Far Cry 2 is £18 (40% off after 4 months).

Maybe Valve just spoiled us with The Orange Box, arguably one of the best gaming deals of all time. Post-OB, everything seems absurdly overpriced, especially 6-hour games like Mirror's Edge that somehow command a $50 pricetag.
Heh, too right. Even Left 4 Dead seems overpriced in comparison.

This comment was edited on Feb 13, 2009, 13:30.
 
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40. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 13:20 RP
 
Ya, expecting lots of people to pay $60 for a brand new game during an economic crisis is kinda stupid. Development costs go up, but games can only be realistically sold for $60 max. What happens when the sales numbers aren't there?

Maybe Valve just spoiled us with The Orange Box, arguably one of the best gaming deals of all time. Post-OB, everything seems absurdly overpriced, especially 6-hour games like Mirror's Edge that somehow command a $50 pricetag.
 
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39. Re: PCGA on Piracy Feb 13, 2009, 13:13 Tumbler
 
What a lovely rosy picture you paint, a world where piracy leads to more sales and everyone benefits. Do you honestly believe the nonsense you type? I'd rather remain in the land of the non-glue sniffers.

I think if you look at the 2 extremes:

Developers/Publishers want you to pay for everything, get nothing free. (Or only what they want you to have)

Pirates: Everything should be free, and money will somehow get to the creators...trust us!


Reality is somewhere in the middle. As long as piracy is kept in check and consumers see value in spending money on your products things will continue to grow. (And that doesn't mean devs/pubs control everything with a vice like grip and set prices)

The prices of software are too high right now. (In general) There are WAY too many games coming out, way to many people dieing to make games, and WAY WAY WAY too many old games for discount prices to support a market where every new game coming out will sell for $60 to consumers.

I think devs and pubs are slowly learning to live with this and all the nashing teeth and bellowing about the industry collapsing is just their way of saying they don't want to make less money.

No one does, but it happens.
 
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38. Re: PCGA on Piracy's Benefits Feb 13, 2009, 13:06 Tumbler
 
You sound like arrogant pricks when you start preaching to the quire.

I assume you meant "choir" - a company of singers, especially employed in church service - rather than "quire" - a set of 24 uniform sheets of paper? Sorry, I had to pick that one out.

Yes, spell check fucked me on that one. I knew something looked off there...

But I had no idea a quire was a set of 24 uniform sheets of paper...so thanx!

This comment was edited on Feb 13, 2009, 13:14.
 
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