Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
PC Games (Games) The Internet Entertainment Games

An In-Depth Look At Game Piracy 504

Posted by Soulskill
from the share-and-share-alike dept.
TweakGuides is running a detailed examination of PC game piracy. The author begins with a look at the legal, moral, and monetary issues behind copyright infringement, and goes on to measure the scale of game piracy and how it affects developers and publishers. He also discusses some of the intended solutions to piracy. He provides examples of copy protection and DRM schemes that have perhaps done more harm than good, as well as less intrusive measures which are enjoying more success. The author criticizes the "culture of piracy" that has developed, saying. "Fast forward to the 21st century, and piracy has apparently somehow become a political struggle, a fight against greedy corporations and evil copy protection, and in some cases, I've even seen some people refer to the rise of piracy as a 'revolution.' What an absolute farce. ... Piracy is the result of human nature: when faced with the option of getting something for free or paying for it, and in the absence of any significant risks, you don't need complex economic studies to show you that most people will opt for the free route."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

An In-Depth Look At Game Piracy

Comments Filter:
  • by gardyloo (512791) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:17PM (#26184969)

    Piracy is the response of all good, thinking people to an epidemic of Ninjas.

  • saying. "Fast forward to the 21st century"

    I'm already there, you ignorant clod!

    People will pirate when it's overpriced. When it's right-priced, most people will gladly pay for it.

    • by ccguy (1116865) * on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:29PM (#26185075) Homepage

      When it's right-priced, most people will gladly pay for it.

      Yes, but that's subjective. For me, no game is worth more than $5. Not because I'm cheap, but because I hardly ever play, and if it do, it's only for a while. So if you want to get $50 from me you are going to let me play like 10 different games or so. Note that I would still play less time than most gamers.

      It's possible though that the model that they'd need to make me a regular customer is just not viable. I don't really care as these days I can live without games. But when I played a lot I couldn't really afford all the games I wanted, and now that I can -within reason- I just don't feel like playing.

      • That's what calculus is for. It's so that the people selling the software/music/media/stuff/whatever can graph the people willing to pay against the price. Then they plot their expected profits for each price against that in order to find the optimal price.

        People like you and me and anyone else who thinks the products are overpriced are not going to buy them. Either the companies making the products will be forced to lower the price to a more optimal one, or they will be able to keep it at the same price.

        The problem is that they are claiming loss of sales for piracy done by people who never would have bought the game in the first place since the price is not right.

        Granted, I am not a gamer and don't even bother to download these things since I don't have the time to play them, so take my gaming specific claims with a grain of salt.

        • by aj50 (789101) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @07:43AM (#26190605)

          People like you and me and anyone else who thinks the products are overpriced are not going to buy them. Either the companies making the products will be forced to lower the price to a more optimal one, or they will be able to keep it at the same price.

          The problem is that they are claiming loss of sales for piracy done by people who never would have bought the game in the first place since the price is not right.

          However if people pirate the game now, then they're never going to buy it later, even if the publisher reduces the price.

          Additionally, if you're used to getting games for free, suddenly any cost seems "overpriced" in relation to what you've previously been paying.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TomHandy (578620)
        But isn't that kind of like saying "No car is worth more than $2000 to me, because I hardly ever drive"? It doesn't seem like the general value of something (as opposed to the individual value you would place on it) should be dictated by what the smaller minority of people who wouldn't use it regularly would be willing to pay for it.

        Not saying you're wrong - I actually agree with you in general. As I've found myself playing less games, I've really cut down on paying $50 or $60 for a game when I know I wo

        • by Paltin (983254) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:38PM (#26185625)

          Except.... you can get a car for $2000.

          If no car is worth more to someone then $2000 , that person may very well end up with a car.

          Back in ye olden days, things were released to the public domain after a reasonable number of years--- effectively allowing the price to change over time.

          Nowadays, with copyright extended effectively indefinitely (few things that are made within my lifetime will have copyright expire within my lifetime.... ) there is a massive problem in how our culture is disseminated. File sharing has arisen partially as an effort to fulfill that gap.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:59PM (#26185771)

          That's where the second hand market comes in. Need a cheap car? Buy a used junker. Don't want to pay $50 or $60 for a new game that you'll only play for a couple hours? Buy it used. Oh wait, they want to use DRM and activations to shut down that market too.
          Fuckers.

      • by melikamp (631205) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:25PM (#26185939) Homepage Journal

        For me, no game is worth more than $5. Not because I'm cheap, but because I hardly ever play, and if it do, it's only for a while.

        You, sir, are a terrible consumer, and should be ashamed of yourself. What is next? Christmas becoming a holiday of the spirit, with no shopping involved? People like you doomed USA.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Bobnova (1435535)

      saying. "Fast forward to the 21st century"

      I'm already there, you ignorant clod!

      People will pirate when it's overpriced. When it's right-priced, most people will gladly pay for it.

      That's my view. The last entertaining game i found that was decently priced ($20, rather then $60) also happened to be free of copy protection/drm, so i bought it. The fact that it was made by a couple of independents in various coffee shops on their laptops is a bonus, but the low price, addictive gameplay, and lack of DRM is what sold me on it. (In case you can't guess, this'd be World of Goo)

    • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:20PM (#26185489)

      saying. "Fast forward to the 21st century"

      I'm already there, you ignorant clod!

      People will pirate when it's overpriced. When it's right-priced, most people will gladly pay for it.

      It's simple - you don't like the price, don't buy it. Wait for the price to drop. Simply because you don't like the price doesn't mean you can copy the item for free and somehow think it's not stealing.

      • by decoy256 (1335427) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:49PM (#26185695)
        I would actually tend to agree that video games should not be pirated, but other products I do not have so much of a problem with. For instance, music and movies... Have you seen the commercial they put at the beginning of some movies where it has the stunt coordinator or some such schmuck talking about how piracy could cost him his job and make his kids go hungry. I don't buy it. Movie studios still own the copyrights on movies made 50, 60, 80 years ago. That is FAR too long for anyone to hold a copyright.

        The Constitution gives Congress the power...

        "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries"

        But when people can "renew" these copyrights indefinitely, progress is not being promoted, but stifled.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by schlick (73861)

          Also I'd like to debate that music and movies qualify as "useful arts" and therefore do not warrant protection under copyright.

          Additionally, it says "to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right" not distributors. When did that right become transferable? This is the problem. Once the big media distributor were able to obtain these "monopolies" on products, it was only logical for them to seek to strengthen their power by extending the monopoly.

          The system is flawed, and I don't think our laws reflect the

          • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @06:56PM (#26187307) Homepage

            Also I'd like to debate that music and movies qualify as "useful arts" and therefore do not warrant protection under copyright.

            Well, that's actually a fairly common misconception. When the Constitution was written in the mid-18th century, the 'useful Arts' meant applied technology, and 'Science' meant knowledge, generally. Thus, the useful arts are the subject of patents, not of copyrights.

            This is clear if you look at the construction of the clause, which always goes copyright, then patents: The Congress shall have power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

            There are some other remnants of that meaning of art: Patents are concerned with state of the art technology. But a patent can't be issued if the invention is already disclosed in prior art. And the patent has to be written so that it can be understood by a person having ordinary skill in the art.

            So music and movies don't have to be useful, they just have to contribute to the corpus of human knowledge, which is very difficult not to do.

            When did that right become transferable?

            It has always been transferable, all the way back to the first real copyright law, the British Statute of Anne, in 1710, and in the first US copyright law, the 1790 Copyright Act. Remember, copyrights are not directly valuable to authors. They're basically publishing monopolies. The author makes money by selling the right, or licensing the right, to a publisher. And generally, publishers would prefer to buy rights, rather than merely license them. So they pay more for the former than the latter, and often enough, won't even bother with the latter. Since there are plenty of authors hoping to get published, the market favors the publisher. Authors can always self-publish, but they may find that unappealing.

            The system is flawed, and I don't think our laws reflect the true sentiment in the Constitution.

            I agree, but I think the real problem is that Congress is more attentive to the wealthy publishing lobbies (e.g. MPAA, RIAA), rather than to the public good, which is what copyright is supposed to promote. Still, this is a general problem of political misfeasance and malfeasance, and not at all limited to copyright.

      • In general, if something is priced right, I don't mind paying for it. What this means is that I'm a bit of a sucker for sales. The idea behind sales is - "sell to the general public at the retail price, then sell what's left at a sale price to maximize profits." It means that those who ae willing to pay a "premium" to have it right away buy it, and those who aren't in a rush can still become customers at the sale price.

        So yes, I agree that high prices don't justify copyright infringement. Then again, how much is there out there that's even worth the cost of a blank dvd?

        As to games or songs, I simply can't be bothered. I don't have time to play games (I'd rather read a book, and guess what - I buy them, I don't pirate them) and I got sick of listening to mp3s a long time ago. I want *QUIET*. That's why I prefer my laptop to my desktop - no fan noise.

        Software? gnu/linux distros do everything I need it to do, both at work and at home.

        As for the people who claim that all pirated game are lost sales, they are wrong. Many of those "lost sales" would never have been made, just as Microsoft can't count me as a lost sale since I use a different OS. I'm simply not their customer, just as many of those "lost sales" would never have taken place if piracy prevention were 100% effective. This is similar to their problem with people selling used games. People sell their used games mostly so that they can buy new games, so it's not like the money doesn't get to them anyway, and the used games "grow the market", same as selling a used car.

        The industry is finally seeing the light in a few, rare, instances, and switching to different revenue models - in-game ads, online content, subscription models, etc. In other words, there are solutions that bypass the whole "piracy" problem, rather than treating the customer like a thief.

        • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:18PM (#26185881)

          As for the people who claim that all pirated game are lost sales, they are wrong. Many of those "lost sales" would never have been made, just as Microsoft can't count me as a lost sale since I use a different OS. I'm simply not their customer, just as many of those "lost sales" would never have taken place if piracy prevention were 100% effective. This is similar to their problem with people selling used games. People sell their used games mostly so that they can buy new games, so it's not like the money doesn't get to them anyway, and the used games "grow the market", same as selling a used car.

          I agree - most of the pirated software would not be bought; so saying we loss xx billions/year to piracy is simply wrong. All their seeing is there is a large demand at a free price point - demand that goes away as price rises.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Znork (31774)

      People will pirate when it's overpriced. When it's right-priced, most people will gladly pay for it.

      Overpricing is an intrinsic function of monopoly pricing. Revenue is maximized when raising the price would result in so many fewer copies sold that the extra per-copy income no longer outweighs the loss of copies sold.

      That means that prices will simply be raised until many consumers simply cannot afford it (arguments like the original articles claims about economies of scale simply indicate lack of economic

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by abbamouse (469716)

        That means that prices will simply be raised until many consumers simply cannot afford it (arguments like the original articles claims about economies of scale simply indicate lack of economic understanding; less piracy would mean _higher_ price, monopoly pricing limits are completely driven by customer dropoff, economies of scale apply to competitively enforced pricing).

        Yup. The claims that piracy results in higher prices are generally false. It results in lower prices for any given piece of software. I

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        What kind of pseudo-intellectual babble is that?

        There is already a competitive market for creative works - if you don't want to play Spore you're welcome to play another game instead, and get your entertainment that way. Your whole argument is ludicrous, it suggests that a specific apple in the fruit store would have an infinitely high price because the fruit store has a monopoly on that specific, shiny, juicy apple ... unless you steal it, in which case the price becomes more reasonable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ijakings (982830)

          An Apple isnt infinatelty replicable within a short space of time. Every piece of software (Or the software categories) becomes a market within itself.

          Stop using bad analogies. Spore isnt an apple, and the guy you are flaming is using sound business knowlege to make a valid point. You are using a bad analogy about apples and getting theft and copyright infringement mixed up.

          Your post couldnt be more wrong if it claimed that the earth was flat.

    • by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:42PM (#26185655) Homepage

      After seeing indie games on bittorrent that cost 5 bucks if purchased I don't think your reasoning holds through. Some people will not purchase at any price, and will pirate it. Price is completely subjective and rarely dictates the quality of the product,, but the perception of quality. The iPhone App Store is a great representation of this. There are a lot of programs that are free, so people start to get the impression that all apps should be free. There are useful apps for $1 that some reviewers consider overpriced. You can't find an app on the app store, no matter the price, that some people will say is overpriced, when these are the same people who will go and buy a $60 game for their XBox, play it for less time than the iPhone app's usefulness, and not think anything of it. If games drop in price to, say, $20. People will find any higher variation of that price "overpriced" as their perception of the price of games now will be worth $20 instead of the $60 they're paying now.

  • by pm_rat_poison (1295589) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:21PM (#26184997)
    What does gaming have to do with piracy? [filesavr.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're a couple decades late if you're trying to stop this new definition of piracy. It's too late, just accept it into your vocabulary.

    • by MtlDty (711230) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:32PM (#26185097)

      It has always been called piracy. File sharing is a new term that has come into use with p2p software. File sharing is arguably distinctly different, and you probably dont want to muddy the waters between legal filesharing, and illegal piracy.

    • by mr_matticus (928346) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:35PM (#26185127)

      O RLY?
      "The unauthorized reproduction of another's work." -- Oxford English Dictionary (2006).

      "The unauthorized and illegal reproduction or distribution of materials protected by copyright, patent, or trademark law." --Black's Law Dictionary, 8th Ed. (2004).

      Lest you think this is some modern invention:

      "[T]he test of piracy [is] not whether the identical language, the same words, are used, but whether the substance of the production is unlawfully appropriated." --Drone's Treatise on the Law of Property in Intellectual Productions (1879).

      "It's being Printed again and again, by Pyrates" --Daniel Defoe, (1703).

      "Pirated works may be seized on importation into those countries of the Union where the original work enjoys legal protection." --Berne Convention Art. 12 (1886).

      It has been referred to as piracy in court cases dating all the way back to the 1830s, and notably for scholars of copyright, used in the landmark Folsom decision as well.

      • by theaveng (1243528)

        Thank you. I am tired of those who try to deny what they do.

        I have been pirating games since 1987, and I'm proud of it because I feel it's justified. Why? Because any other product you buy, you can return if it turns-out to be crap, even cars (lemon law). But not media. It is wrong for companies to refuse refunds - it's poor customer service. If a company is proud of their products, then they should be willing to stand by that product, including refunds.

        But the entertainment industry does not, t

        • by theaveng (1243528)

          P.S. If the time ever comes that I cannot use Bittorrent or Hulu or some other source to try the new Jurassic Crap Part 20 DVD, then I will be forced to buy the DVD.

          I suspect I will be making lots of mail order returns & filing lots of chargebacks. I will not be ripped off by trashy product.

      • by JPLemme (106723)

        First, I didn't realize the use of word "piracy" to describe copyright infringement was that old. +1 Informative.

        But I also think that continuing to use the word "piracy" in place of "copyright infringement" only conflates a category of things that are clearly wrong (e.g. making 10,000 copies of a DVD and selling them in local flea markets) with a category of things that are benign (e.g. making a mix tape to give to a friend or posting a video of my toddler dancing to a Prince song). The less pejorative the

  • by ccguy (1116865) * on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:22PM (#26185011) Homepage

    when faced with the option of getting something for free or paying for it, and in the absence of any significant risks, you don't need complex economic studies to show you that most people will opt for the free route."

    Well, there's always a third route: Not getting that something, meaning that having these three options:

    - 1. Play for free
    - 2. Play at a cost
    - 3. Don't play at all

    Many people will sort it 1,3,2.

    Also, some people will happily do 2,1,3 as long the price is reasonable and so it what they get.

    So... stop trying to get money from people who just don't value your product if it isn't free, because it can't be done. You can piss them off though, and that can hurt your business.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rrcipolla (948799)

      So... stop trying to get money from people who just don't value your product if it isn't free, because it can't be done. You can piss them off though, and that can hurt your business.

      If they're only going to use your product for free, how is it hurting business to piss them off? As you stated, they're not going to buy it anyway.

      • by ccguy (1116865) * on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:34PM (#26185113) Homepage

        If they're only going to use your product for free, how is it hurting business to piss them off? As you stated, they're not going to buy it anyway.

        Because using your product for free is not the worst scenario. Just because they don't play it doesn't mean they don't know people who do, or spend time in forums bashing you.

        Take slashdot (not literally please): Many people here won't waste a chance to criticize Spore's DRM, even if they don't really care about Spore and wouldn't buy it even if it didn't have any DRM at all. Still, we are _pissed_ at EA for the DRM, and let everyone know.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by floodo1 (246910)
          Most people care about EA's DRM as a rights issue. Makes sense that you don't have to be affected to be concerned about how the loss of rights for someone else could potentially lead to the loss of your own rights.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      No, Most people sort it like this:

      2 - if reasonably priced
      1
      2 - if unreasonably priced but not available free and still within budget
      3

      If 'most people' sorted things your way, almost nobody would ever buy a game.

      • by ccguy (1116865) *

        If 'most people' sorted things your way, almost nobody would ever buy a game.

        Actually most people start with 3, for games and for everything else that is not essential. That's a fact, people usually have one or two hobbies they can/want assign a non trivial budget two.

        So in your business model, consider the fact that no matter how good your product is, some people will only want it free. And if they can't get it, it's fine by them, they'll just forget it exist.

      • by theaveng (1243528)

        I don't know if I'm "normal" or not, but I like to think most people do what I do:

        1 - try it free

        2 - buy it if it's good (24, Heroes)

        3 - don't buy it if it's trash (Terminator Chronicles) and erase it from the hard drive

    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:13PM (#26185441)

      So... stop trying to get money from people who just don't value your product if it isn't free, because it can't be done. You can piss them off though, and that can hurt your business.

      Heh yeah. Gotta love their logic: "We'll fight piracy by strengthening the 'copy protection' and increasing the value of pirated copies!"

    • by g_adams27 (581237) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:26PM (#26185535)

      > So... stop trying to get money from people who just don't value your product
      > if it isn't free, because it can't be done.

      Your premise is flawed. Pirates obviously do value the product even if it's not free, which they show by taking the time and effort to get it.

      You seem to be quite confident that huge companies with highly-skilled marketing, accounting, and product research divisions "just don't get it", as if the ideas you present have never crossed their minds. But in fact the article spends a whole section or two discussing the issues that you refer to. For example:

      The argument [of economic loss] is straightforward and both intuitively and logically sound: for every pirated copy of a product, there is some potential loss of income to the producer of that product. This is not the same as saying that every pirated copy is a lost sale. What it actually means is that firstly some proportion of the people who are pirating a game would have bought it in the absence of piracy. Equally as important however is the fact that even those who would never have paid the full purchase price for one reason or another may still have paid some lower amount to purchase and play the game which they pirated. This is because by the very act of obtaining and playing a game, they've clearly demonstrated that they place some value on that game. After all, if something is truly 'worthless', consumers won't bother to obtain or use it in the first place, regardless of whether it's free or not. Even if a game only gives the pirate a few hours of enjoyment, that's still worth something. In the absence of piracy they may have purchased the game at a discount several months after its release, or bought it second-hand for example. So the existence of piracy results in some loss of income to PC game developers, publishers, retailers and even other consumers.

  • BULLSHIT. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:29PM (#26185071)

    If i buy the game. They treat me like a thief. Install things that may or may not fuckup my computer or game. Require the disk to be in the drive. Require activation and other bullshit. Limit the number of installs i can do. Tell me what programs i'm not allowed to use like daemon tools. And costs a shitload for a semi-beta game.

    If i pirate the game. I don't have any of that. AND it's free.

    Piracy. Better product, lower price.

    You're kinda foolish not to pirate anymore...

    • Re:BULLSHIT. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Renraku (518261) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:37PM (#26185149) Homepage

      I remember when just having the disc in the drive was a step up from having to look up codes on page x line y in some book that came with the game. I remember after that, when copy protection was added, and there was a chance it wouldn't work on your computer, even if you bought it fair and square. I remember when they started adding physical programs that would use memory and make things unstable..sometimes refusing to run if some other legitimate programs were open in the background.

      I remember loading up Steam and playing games without any of those, but I lost the ability to sell off my games.

      I look back at all that and kindly request a damn code sheet or book so I can get to looking up those codes again.

      • by theaveng (1243528)

        I agree 100%. The problem is that technology has advanced. Books were hard to pirate in the 80s so codebooks were effective, but in today's world I can download 3000 pages of Harry Potter directly scanned, and the same is true with a codebook. It's no longer a viable deterrent.

        Perhaps those old spinning codewheels would work, but I doubt it.

    • More Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by maz2331 (1104901) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:56PM (#26185307)

      Some of the copy-protection schemes are also designed to try and kill the secondary ("used games") market off by locking out copies from being reactivated.

      The mindset of some of these companies is that a game (or other software) has to generate revenue for them each time it changes hands. In other words, they refuse to accept the "first sale doctrine" at all.

      Buying one copy and distributing multiple copies to others is piracy. Uninstalling the thing and giving the disk and key to someone else is not.

      It all boils down to greed and control, really.

    • Re:BULLSHIT. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cliffski (65094) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:54PM (#26185729) Homepage

      As a game developer that does not pull any of that shit, if you have the attitude that it means you should pirate ALL games from ALL developers, where is my incentive to try and meet pirates half way?

      If pirates treat all developers as evil corporate scum, why are they then surprised that developers adopt the same attitude in reverse?

      If people are foolish to not pirate, them I'm foolish to keep making games for the PC. So I'll go work as a plumber instead.
      great solution...

  • Morals (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:36PM (#26185143)

    Piracy is the result of human nature: when faced with the option of getting something for free or paying for it, and in the absence of any significant risks, you don't need complex economic studies to show you that most people will opt for the free route.

    Right, there's also moral values in the balance. To some people piracy is all bad, to some people everything should be free, to some other people it's fine to pirate from big studios but not from small developers who try to make a living out of it. It's called moral values. It varies from people to people, with also varying degrees of importance in the role it plays in decision making.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:38PM (#26185157)

    The OP suggests that "most people will opt for the free route" simply because the product is free. I would argue that due to overly restrictive DRM, people prefer the free route because "hacked" or pirated products are better. I buy DVDs, but I wouldn't buy DRMed movies because it's effectively wasted money -- one day those movies will be unwatchable.

    Also, in the field of ebooks, often it is possible to find an ebook that's been pirated when no legal copy exists for sale. In this case, the publishing companies are not servicing a demand that is clearly present. Sure, I could scan in my own paper copy of the book, but why go to the trouble when someone else has already done it?

  • DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kranerian (1427183) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:39PM (#26185175)
    The article goes on an extensive analogy about DRM equaling Door Locks, and it completely misses the point. Yes, DRm prevents the majority of hackers from being able to do anything to the actual, hard copy of the game. This is worthless, though. All it take is for one person to break through the protection and upload it to a torrent site, and then everybody with internet access can have the game for free. It does not matter that most people couldn't break the encryption themselves. They don't need to, because somebody else already has.
  • by critical_point (1430417) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @01:42PM (#26185189)
    The bottom line is that the Scene provides better long-term support then most game companies ever have, and I only like to buy the games that I can and will indefinitely far into the future, which usually requires some variety of cracks and emulators, which is why even the games I have bought in the past are not installed in favor of the infringed+enhanced versions.
    • If that's true, then why does the article assert that a non-trivial portion of the people calling support lines for games are using pirated copies?
  • Something missing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xbytor (215790)

    I know there are people like myself who purchase games, don't install them, but do install a downloaded copy that has the DRM restrictions removed. This may or may not be viable with Steam-related DRM, but I'm anti-social enough that online multiplayer doesn't really hold a whole lot of appeal for me. And if I did decide that I absolutely had to play something online, I setup an account just for that game so that I could resell my original copy (with the account info) when I was finished with it.

  • You'll often hear these companies say something like, "$100 billion is lost to piracy ever year," but when you ask for a source, then cannot provide one. Sure they might say something like "I copied it from XYZ document," but that document doesn't list a source either. It's a factoid that comes from nowhere.

    A society that holds itself to embrace science, rationality, and logic should ignore numbers that have no sources. Do not accept numbers that came from no place.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:02PM (#26185353)

    Piracy is the result of human nature: when faced with the option of getting something for free or paying for it, and in the absence of any significant risks, you don't need complex economic studies to show you that most people will opt for the free route."

    The article summary includes the following quote, but it doesn't actually seem to be the case if you actually study the issue. In many studies it has been shown that "honor systems" result in fewer thefts than systems where there are technological or potential criminal penalties. In many, many cases building a system of trust and relying upon people's morals and ethics is the most effective solution.

    I scanned this article and then gave up because it seemed unoriginal and completely one-sided. If you can't even understand the perspective of people on one side of an issue, how can you rant for so many pages about your perspective on it?

    • by yoshi_mon (172895)

      Furthermore I'd argue that I'm willing to bet the author does not even consider that some software is just plain bad. Couple that with the return and very questionable status of the First Sale doctrine it's no surprise that some people choose to look at software 1st before plunking down virtually nonrefundable monies on it.

      I'll grant that of course there are those who are going to opt for getting stuff for free no matter what. If the author had any integrity he'd mention how software piracy is used often

    • by Geof (153857) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:50PM (#26186129) Homepage

      Piracy is the result of human nature: when faced with the option of getting something for free or paying for it, and in the absence of any significant risks, you don't need complex economic studies to show you that most people will opt for the free route.

      When we talk about piracy, we say the desire to get less for more is a moral failing that must be fought and punished. When we talk about the market, this same desire is used as a justification: there's no point fighting human nature. So we have piracy, a practice driven by greed, coming up against a system, the market, also driven by greed. How do we know which greed is good and which one is bad? If this fellow really thinks piracy is human nature, then he should stop trying to fight what can't be changed and instead find a system that works with it. But that rules out moral indignation, and it can be more satisfying to pronounce on good and evil than to seek workable solutions.

      Now I don't think satisfying one's greed is admirable, and I'm skeptical of claims for some immutable human nature. Adam Smith argued not for outright greed, but for enlightened self-interest. Too often in this debate, all the enlightenment is expected to be on one side, while all the self-interest is on the other.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vexorian (959249)

      The article summary includes the following quote, but it doesn't actually seem to be the case if you actually study the issue. In many studies it has been shown that "honor systems" result in fewer thefts than systems where there are technological or potential criminal penalties. In many, many cases building a system of trust and relying upon people's morals and ethics is the most effective solution.

      You know, you are missing the point, that's the reason he said that "you don't need complex economic studies"

  • Instead of... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:06PM (#26185387) Homepage Journal

    Instead of debating whether or not piracy should be called piracy, how about we discuss that actual issue of how piracy affects games, and what effect DRM has on piracy.

    Honestly, I think the solution is to provide benefits to paying for the game. You're not going to stop piracy through DRM. And DRM may chase off paying customers. So about instead of pushing people away, you attract customers with benefits?

    For instance, online play that is only accessible to paying customers might convince pirates who downloaded your game to start paying for it.

  • Try before you buy. Why is it that we have to pay for a game before we play it? Why don't trials or evaluation periods exist for all games like they do for other applications? Don't say short-sighted demos or one-sided reviews do any justice. They don't. The gaming industry has coasted far too long on the "pay first, be disappointed after" system and is in need of an adjustment; this is why piracy is rampant. Why would anyone want to pay for a game not worth the money? Only good game developers that have fu

  • Free Riders (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hhallahh (1378697)
    Until people understand basic economics, people will simply conceptualize piracy as stealing from "the Man" or whatever rather than recognizing that it both drives producers out of the market and drives up prices for the paying customers who have to be responsible for recouping the development costs. Undoubtedly a lot of anti-piracy measures taken have only made things worse, but that shouldn't obfuscate the fact that piracy is a huge problem. Unfortunately, the impact of piracy on markets is largely invis
  • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:37PM (#26185615)

    What is needed for culture to evolve and flourish is hat the creatives make a decent living. That does mean enough people have to be willing to pay. For music, this is clearly the case, if you expect "normal" earnings and stipulate reasonable talent. Same for other areas.

    For business however, piracy is a problem. Cultural business aims at dominating and creating a mainstream, were a relatively low-quality product is sold in high numbers. People realize the low quality level and are often pirating or not interested at all. Ftom the point of view of evolving culture, the business apporach is very harmful. should it fail permanently and go away, at least todays networked world with very low publishing cost can expetc culture to get richer and more interesting.

    Of course the people that get rich on the talent of others will say everything, lie, cheat and steal in order to keep their revenue flowing.

  • by CharonX (522492) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:40PM (#26185639) Journal
    The article is quite biased anti-piracy, pro DRM.
    Instead of taking a balanced close look at the causes of piracy the same old (pro-piracy) arguments are assembled into strawmen and then quickly ripped apart. When the focus turns to DRM there is a lot of handwaving and chanting "if I don't want it to be true it will not be".
    A shame really.
  • by Kneo24 (688412) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:17PM (#26185871) Homepage

    I'm sorry, but Titan's Quest had a lot of problems that were not piracy related. Even those with a legitimate copy had severe issues getting the game to play. Trying to cite that as an example for negative perception underscores the fact that the developers, or maybe even the producers, rushed the game out before it had proper QA testing.

  • Just my opinion... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bert64 (520050) <(bert) (at) (slashdot.firenzee.com)> on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:29PM (#26185955) Homepage

    I got into piracy because as a child i wasn't terribly well off...

    If i saved my weekly allowance, it would take me several months to be able to afford a legit game, and i may be able to get one or two at xmas or a birthday.
    I started off buying games, quite a few in fact, and i found that a lot didn't live up to the hype, the demos/reviews were often very different from the actual game, like a demo that would include the first level which was quite good, and then the remaining levels were extremely poor and you couldn't save your progress, so you would do the first level, get to the second, die, and have to start again from scratch (the lion king is an example of a game like this)...

    So for my stack of 15 or so games, i had 2-3 which were good and got played a lot, and was finding that the newer games performed poorly because my hardware was now out of date... I still had all the advertising hype and peer pressure pushing me to want the new games, but not only could i not afford them but i now couldn't run them adequately either.

    So i started pirating games, and spending what little money i had on hardware upgrades. I was better off, i no longer had to be bombarded with commercials for games i couldn't afford to play, which is a very unpleasant feeling for a kid.

    I think all the heavy advertising is extremely unpleasant for the poorer kids who cant afford all the latest stuff (not just games, but most things you cant get for free so easily), games are overpriced especially seeing they mostly target kids...

    While on the subject, people are always complaining about the level of crime among teenagers and younger kids these days, but is it any wonder why?
    When i was that age, the average kid would be walking around with maybe $5 worth of stuff not including clothes, hardly a worthwhile target for robbery... Now, kids have ipods, cellphones and all kinds of other valuables for thieves to target.

  • by Kneo24 (688412) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:42PM (#26186067) Homepage

    Outright lies. After being half way through the second page wall o' text, I did some skimming and found certain things to just not ring true. Quoting 2D boy's erroneous numbers, further more quoting the old erroneous old figure over the newer, lower erroneous old figure? Equating DRM to a door lock? Saying that STEAM doesn't work in offline mode? Citing Titan's Quest when that game didn't work right even if you had the retail version? Figures where there's a lot of "unknowns"?

    Sure, copyright infringement, which is what I prefer to call it instead of some term to denigrate people, is indeed a problem. But you know what? There's fuck all you can do about it. You can try to slow down the crackers, but when they get the game two weeks before release, you've already failed. When you purposely put in measures which makes the game crash to piss off pirates, you've also failed. When the game doesn't work at retail, guess what? You've failed again!

    I suggest to Slashdotters, who typically don't RTFA, to not read it. It's not worth the time or effort.

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @03:49PM (#26186121)
    I call bullshit on this article, from a number of different angles!

    One of the biggest reasons is lack of logical coherence. The author cites lots of numbers, but then does not actually put them together in an objective way to actually support his conclusions. In fact, his conclusions appear to be foregone. He seems to have ignored a good body of evidence that would lead to different conclusions.

    For one example, he cites an article about game piracy on Macs. The article mentions the "pirate's argument" that it is okay to pirate because that person would not have bought the product anyway, therefore there is no lost sale. However, the article only discusses this topic from the point of view of whether it makes a valid moral or ethical argument.

    The cited article (and main article too) ignore that several university studies have in fact shown that somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of piracy occurs when there would not have been a sale anyway. (In most cases because there was insufficient money to purchase the product, but there are several other reasons this occurs.) That may not be a sound ethical argument in favor of piracy, but that is irrelevant. More to the point: it is an economic reality. Economic realities are; they exist. Simply putting them down as unethical is to ignore the actual causes, and possible solutions, for the situation. Further, trying to prosecute -- and especially fine -- people for not buying a product they probably could not afford to buy anyway is completely counterproductive. It offers no societal solutions to the actual problem; it simply fosters fear and antagonism. And backlash, as the RIAA and MPAA are finding out, probably too late to do them much good. They were warned by the society of their customers, but they did not listen.

    In another example of faulty logic, the author indulges in the classic logical Post Hoc fallacy argument to conclude that piracy causes DRM, not the other way around. (For those not familiar, this is the argument that because one thing happened after another, the earlier event must have caused the later event. This does not follow: in fact it is just as likely that some third event caused them both.) In particular, he states that a game that was released with no DRM resulted in lots of downloads, then claims that "The evidence is overwhelmingly clear: DRM does not cause piracy, piracy results in DRM." When in fact his "evidence" shows nothing of the sort.

    As a systems manager and tech (and now Software Engineer) with many years experience, I can testify that there are a great many cases where, in fact, DRM causes piracy. One example is when I worked for an engineering company, which used quite a few proprietary programs for certain involved, specialized calculations. Many of those programs came with various forms of DRM. And I can tell you this in complete honesty: every one of the programs that used DRM failed on us. Almost always at an important point in the project. And I mean that literally: every single one of them failed, without exception. And in every case, the cause of the failure was the DRM. Further, our calls to support for the software were almost always unproductive: "You must not have installed it properly." or "You must have been tampering with the copy protection". Nonsense. We had paid a lot of good money for the software and were not about to treat it so casually.

    In such cases, we were forced to either try to break the DRM ourselves, or to try to find a cracked version of the software, just to get the functionality we had already paid for! Which technically made us pirates. But it was DRM that forced us into piracy, not the other way around. Keep in mind that this was specialty software for which there was often no alternative product available. But just FYI, the invariable DRM failures did cause us to look for alternative products. Our official company policy became (this is true): "If there are alternative products available,
    • Re:Bullshit^2 (Score:5, Informative)

      by MaulerOfEmotards (1284566) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @05:21PM (#26186727)
      Agree with the above poster. The article is a classic example of tendentious writing. It wouldn't stand even the most basic requirements for an entry level university essay.

      It is written arrogantly and from an pro-industry perspective. Point by point, it consistently takes sides but continuously claims it is not doing so. There is no underlying theory or methodology other than "examine every aspect of game piracy". :rolleyes:

      1) The article starts with the author claiming neutrality and utter non-bias
      2) The article seems to have been laid out beforehand, written as intended and fleshed out with quotes and references where found as supporting his theses
      3) Sources are quotes selectively to further his preconceived conclusions
      4) Alternative interpretations are ignored or dismissed
      5) There is no source criticism
      6) Frequent hand waving and usage of weasel words 7) Interjected unsubstantiated strong conclusions, as "The evidence is overwhelmingly clear: DRM does not cause piracy, piracy results in DRM."

      Also, you gotta love an author who writes a long article, POS as it is, proves a "printable" link, which takes you to a page which says "if you want to print it, print each page, schmuck".
  • Quote... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bert64 (520050) <(bert) (at) (slashdot.firenzee.com)> on Saturday December 20, 2008 @07:43PM (#26187563) Homepage

    Why is copyright necessary? Why can't all information just be distributed without restriction? Copyright falls under the banner of a range of laws controversially referred to as Intellectual Property laws. The aim is to provide intellectual property a similar type of protection as that afforded to physical property. For example, whether you spend your life building houses or writing books, you should be equally entitled to reap the rewards of your labors and have the same sorts of legal protections against people seeking to unfairly benefit from your work without contributing appropriately towards it. It's argued that without protection against such theft, both the builders of houses and the authors of books would have much less incentive to invest their time and money into their respective outputs, particularly because they would stand little chance of earning appropriate income from their work.

    "have the same sorts of legal protections" - This i don't have a problem with... The problem is profiteering, when people will produce something once and then produce infinite copies of it for virtually nothing. Someone who builds houses can sell each house they've built once, and then have to go to the same time and effort to build another one. If they stop building houses, they no longer have any houses to sell and stop making any money.

    The two things are completely different, and thus should not be afforded the same level of legal protection at all. It sickens me to see greedy people continue deriving revenue from something they did many years ago, and for that matter deriving obscene levels of short term profit.

    There should be a cap on the level of profit, after which copyright should lapse... What makes these people so special that they can work for a year or two and then have a life of luxury while the rest of us have to work for 50+ years.

  • by Trixter (9555) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @08:28PM (#26187789) Homepage

    The author mistakenly thinks that the TPB's infrastructure must not cost a lot simply because the website is spartan. The Pirate Bay is a tracker, and the author should look into what a bittorrent tracker does, and then multiply that by the millions of people that visit TPB each hour.

The typical page layout program is nothing more than an electronic light table for cutting and pasting documents.

Working...