Op Ed

The Bottom Feeder: Sometimes It's OK To Steal My Games. By Jeff Vogel (Spiderweb Software). Thanks Verno.
I admit to being a little bit nervous about writing this. The sad truth is that, these days, it is so easy to pirate single-player PC games that most gamers only have to pay for them if they want to pay for them. And there is strong evidence (links below) to indicate that they usually don't want to pay for them. So giving people ammunition they can use to convince themselves that they shouldn't pay for my games seems perilous, especially since they are, after all, how I support my family. But I got into the blogging game to write about the reality of the game biz from the viewpoint of my shadowy little corner, and piracy is a huge part of it, so here we go.

The Game Beat - How game publishers Captivate journalists with junkets. Thanks GamePolitics.
While many outlets somehow disclose when coverage comes as a result of a publisher-funded junket, Grant worries that gamers don't really understand what goes into the game previews they read. "From what I can tell... readers do not realize the nature and frequency of events like these and, even more disappointingly, most of them don't seem to care," he said. "It's not a matter of whether or not I trust my writers to remain impartial in the face of gifts and free trips; it's more a matter of whether readers can continue to place their trust in us if they know we accept those things."

Extra Credits - Video Games & Bad Writing. Thanks Morris.
Daniel Floyd's new show debuts, discussing "video game writing and the importance of narrative."

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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 10:35
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 10:35
Jul 30, 2010, 10:35
 
Jeff Vogel : smart guy.

Game Beat : Don't worry, poor little game reviewer. Nobody already trusts you anymore, whether you go to junkets and accept free shit or not. Everyone knows that your review scores are bought by ad money.

Creston

This comment was edited on Jul 30, 2010, 10:42.
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 10:43
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 10:43
Jul 30, 2010, 10:43
 
He probably senses that piracy helps indies a lot more than it hurts them in the end thats what keeps him up at night....But at least he gets satisfaction from his job which is to entertain people. Most people are in it for the money though. Thats where it all starts to fall apart in any enterprise, especially one as lucrative as this one.

Is Piracy wrong? Compared to what? Thousands of stockpiled H-Bombs? The Oil-industry's chokehold on the US government? The ever growing wealth of certain countries at the expense of most others? "Defense" contractors selling weapons to most of those indebted countries?

I dunno about that.....hard questions those.....

I have a nifty blue line!
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 11:18
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 11:18
Jul 30, 2010, 11:18
 
The torrents are akin to advertising if you pay for the games you play. Wouldn't you rather have a DRM-free copy for your money?
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 11:36
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 11:36
Jul 30, 2010, 11:36
 
Bill Borre wrote on Jul 30, 2010, 11:18:
The torrents are akin to advertising if you pay for the games you play. Wouldn't you rather have a DRM-free copy for your money?

I don't think Jeff's games ship with any kind of DRM, though. Or did you just mean in general?

Creston
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 12:01
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 12:01
Jul 30, 2010, 12:01
 
I think the people who steal games are not relevant. They are not the marketplace. If you are not willing to pay people to create products you enjoy, then no one has any incentive to create things you enjoy and you do not effect the decisions on the types of things that are developed for the marketplace. Dollars are votes.
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 12:19
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 12:19
Jul 30, 2010, 12:19
 
I view it in a similar way. Piracy exists outside of the system, it simply mimics the existing market. It has its own version of everything from distribution to even Q/A. The difference being of course money. So to me, piracy doesn't directly affect the market. It can have influence on consumers but overall the existence of piracy isn't something new or even necessarily threatening.

People like to point to singleplayer RPGs as an example of an endangered species that piracy is killing. I think piracy hasn't helped the situation but the people who grew up with singleplayer RPGs on the PC are also now getting married, having kids and maybe don't have 80 hours to spend on those same types of games anymore.

On the other hand there is a lot of commercial piracy, some of it based around advertising and some even in direct sales in countries like South America, China and etc. Commercial piracy directly competes with a traditional market because it is providing an identical product at a lower price point and can even be found side by side legitimate products in some places. That kind of piracy is a more direct threat to markets.
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 12:55
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 12:55
Jul 30, 2010, 12:55
 
Bill Borre wrote on Jul 30, 2010, 12:01:
If you are not willing to pay people to create products you enjoy, then no one has any incentive to create things you enjoy and you do not effect the decisions on the types of things that are developed for the marketplace. Dollars are votes.

Best post of the month.
This is so true. It's not a matter of being 'in it for the money', game developers have bills like everyone else. If game X sells well and game Y does not, guess which game will get a sequel, or expansion packs?
Every time someone buys a game they are saying to the free market "we like this, make more stuff like this". This is why casual games had such a boom. People who liked them, tended to buy them, and a whole bunch of hardcore game devs started making match-3 puzzle games as a result.
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 13:03
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 13:03
Jul 30, 2010, 13:03
 
Piracy is a parasite. It weakens the market in exchange for a very low return - if any. When enough people pirate, there is no market. The host is killed. People who think that it's okay need to remember that.

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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 13:14
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 13:14
Jul 30, 2010, 13:14
 
Silicon Avatar wrote on Jul 30, 2010, 13:03:
Piracy is a parasite. It weakens the market in exchange for a very low return - if any. When enough people pirate, there is no market. The host is killed. People who think that it's okay need to remember that.


That's a fair point but with the market continually getting bigger instead of smaller I don't think non-commercial piracy is the giant threat that its made out to be. Certain genres are more vulnerable than others but genres have been coming and going for a long time without any assistance from piracy.
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 14:22
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 14:22
Jul 30, 2010, 14:22
 
ever heard the expression "any publicity is good publicity"? piracy may do this for some indie games.. its not a justification just an observation

but i do get a kick out of all the hyperbolic moral outrage people like to put on display.. with their torches and pitchforks
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 15:45
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 15:45
Jul 30, 2010, 15:45
 

ever heard the expression "any publicity is good publicity"? piracy may do this for some indie games.. its not a justification just an observation

"May" is a good word there, as it's iffy.

With music it's pretty clear. Music has become incredibly cheap to produce, getting rid of much of the need of labels. Musicians tend to make their money not from sales but from merch and live shows. So pirated music tends to mean there's a larger base of people to buy that merch and go to those shows, but since recording is so cheap there's no threat of it being harder for newcomers to enter the industry due to lower sales.

Video games, movies and books don't work the same way.
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Re: piracy
Jul 30, 2010, 15:57
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Re: piracy Jul 30, 2010, 15:57
Jul 30, 2010, 15:57
 
When I was in 4th grade we would copy c64 games. All the popular kids did this. We still bought games to the degree we could afford or get as presents. Copying was rampant those days, the amiga days, early PC days until now. Games are still made and usually are cheaper now than they used to be so I don't think sharing is going to kill anything anytime soon. With all the people I shared games with I never met anyone who didn't also buy as much as they could afford. Because of the rise of demos I cannot remember the last time I downloaded a pirated version of a game. But I do remember the last several were all to make games I had payed for be playable without the DRM (no CD hacks, etc.). I say make demos easily available. Put donation buttons on your website. Don't sweat non-commercial copying / sharing. Talk to your fans and do other things to encourage people to spend money. DRM and the like doesn't stop your game from ending up cracked and shared as soon as it is available so don't piss off your customers if you can help it.

-Karl
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 17:42
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 17:42
Jul 30, 2010, 17:42
 
And that is why Battlefield 3 is on consoles.
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 30, 2010, 19:11
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Re: Op Ed Jul 30, 2010, 19:11
Jul 30, 2010, 19:11
 
space captain wrote on Jul 30, 2010, 14:22:
ever heard the expression "any publicity is good publicity"? piracy may do this for some indie games.. its not a justification just an observation

Of course I've heard it. I didn't believe it -then-, either.
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Re: piracy
Jul 30, 2010, 19:41
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Re: piracy Jul 30, 2010, 19:41
Jul 30, 2010, 19:41
 
We still bought games to the degree we could afford or get as presents

Well yeah, because one person in your group needed it for everyone to have it, as opposed to now, when one person needs it for hundreds of thousands to have it.

And most games had DRM. Just lame DRM. Stupid manuals or turn wheels.



I agree to an extent with the piracy-isn't-too-big-a-deal camp. I think a large chunk of the pirates wouldn't purchase it, anyway. At the very least you can't assume they would.
With used games, though, I don't think it's too hard to assume that most would be able to pay the extra $5.
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 31, 2010, 00:15
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Re: Op Ed Jul 31, 2010, 00:15
Jul 31, 2010, 00:15
 
And that is why Battlefield 3 is on consoles.

Sigh. No. BF3 is on consoles because consoles have a proven market for shooters that's larger than on PC. If piracy were the cause of the industry's general focus on consoles, Starcraft 2 and Shogun 2 would be on consoles. After all, both titles are going to be pirated to hell on the PC. But neither game is on consoles. Why? Because PC has a proven market for strategy games that's much larger than on consoles, regardless of piracy. This isn't exactly rocket science.

If piracy completely disappeared, publishers would still focus on consoles because that's where they can make more money in most genres. Without piracy, publishers might be inclined to put more effort into their PC ports but if you honestly think that they'd go back to using PC as the lead platform, you're smoking crack.
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 31, 2010, 01:12
Prez
 
17.
Re: Op Ed Jul 31, 2010, 01:12
Jul 31, 2010, 01:12
 Prez
 
cliffski wrote on Jul 30, 2010, 12:55:
This is why casual games had such a boom. People who liked them, tended to buy them, and a whole bunch of hardcore game devs started making match-3 puzzle games as a result.

That's why I pirated Zuma and Bejeweled - someone needs to balance this stuff out!
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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Re: Op Ed
Jul 31, 2010, 05:54
18.
Re: Op Ed Jul 31, 2010, 05:54
Jul 31, 2010, 05:54
 
cliffski wrote on Jul 30, 2010, 12:55:
Bill Borre wrote on Jul 30, 2010, 12:01:
If you are not willing to pay people to create products you enjoy, then no one has any incentive to create things you enjoy and you do not effect the decisions on the types of things that are developed for the marketplace. Dollars are votes.

Best post of the month.
This is so true. It's not a matter of being 'in it for the money', game developers have bills like everyone else. If game X sells well and game Y does not, guess which game will get a sequel, or expansion packs?
Every time someone buys a game they are saying to the free market "we like this, make more stuff like this". This is why casual games had such a boom. People who liked them, tended to buy them, and a whole bunch of hardcore game devs started making match-3 puzzle games as a result.


Well said.

Except one point. There's no free market. It's a market, yes, but not a free market. Picking nits, perhaps. The failures of central planning have affected the games industry. If it were a truly free market, the industry would be isolated from the global economic collapse. Don't make me lecture! As long as collectivist currencies like the Dollar and Euro are forced upon us, we aren't free.


Perpetual debt is slavery.
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