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Piracy Games

Sometimes It's OK To Steal My Games 438

Posted by timothy
from the eternal-debate-continues dept.
spidweb writes "One Indie developer has written a nuanced article on a how software piracy affects him, approaching the issue from the opposite direction. He lists the ways in which the widespread piracy of PC games helps him. From the article: 'You don't get everything you want in this world. You can get piles of cool stuff for free. Or you can be an honorable, ethical being. You don't get both. Most of the time. Because, when I'm being honest with myself, which happens sometimes, I have to admit that piracy is not an absolute evil. That I do get things out of it, even when I'm the one being ripped off.' The article also tries to find a middle ground between the Piracy-Is-Always-Bad and Piracy-Is-Just-Fine sides of the argument that might enable single-player PC games to continue to exist."
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Sometimes It's OK To Steal My Games

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  • by BitHive (578094) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:04PM (#33077516) Homepage

    Me, I prefer the moral clarity that comes from seeing everything in black and white. If the founding fathers had taken the "middle ground" we never would have ended up with the Constitution, the most error-free and infallible document ever created.

    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @08:44PM (#33078808)
      I'm glad this at least got modded Funny rather than Insightful. So what would it be like if any government of the moment had the power to change the constitution easily like in some other countries? President won't sign some law - easy, change the constitution to remove the veto power. Supreme Court making some inconvenient ruling - easy, change the constitution to get around it. President is stil thirsty for power after two terms are up - easy, change the constitution to allow a third term. Take a look at Russia, Belarus etc for example. The US Constitution is not perfect, though as far as constitutions go it's pretty damn good and farsighted, but its value lies in it being above the government and very difficult to change. Nation of laws, not men.
  • Or... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by supersloshy (1273442) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:09PM (#33077558)

    You can get piles of cool stuff for free. Or you can be an honorable, ethical being. You don't get both.

    Why not? [flattr.com]

  • Exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:09PM (#33077566)
    Much like indie music producers, many love to have their music 'pirated' because it means exposure. Like the old shareware days. Remember when Radiohead [telegraph.co.uk] did that pay-what-you-want scheme? Not a bad idea. The sooner the content producers adapt to the new distribution models, eliminate the middle-men cartels that get all the cuts (old-school mentality), the sooner the gangsters of profit are shown that information generally wants to be 'free', finding a way to make people pay for it through their own generosity and good-will obligation, as to arm-twisting and draconian DRM, the sooner quality information can flourish, the sooner garbage that keeps our current signal-to-noise ratio so low begins to become weeded out.

    Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there needs to be a front company to sell the work of somebody else. But I believe this should only be true for circumstances in that the producer(s) can't maintain the quality of their work, nor the channels of distribution in a manner that maintains the quality of the original product. But something that is self-contained awesomeness that has a fairly hands off approach, well, find ways to monetize it other than arm-twisting and litigation. This guy seems to get it.
    • Re:Exactly. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:33PM (#33077796)

      Radiohead is not really a good example. They had already achieved success inside the context of the music industry, not to mention critical acclaim and a huge fanbase.

      • Re:Exactly. (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheEyes (1686556) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @07:06PM (#33078094)

        Okay, how about the Humble Indie Bundle then? They made over a million dollars in a month, with basically no advertising other than word of mouth (which turned into news coverage), despite the fact that the games have no DRM and were--and still are--easily pirated.

    • by Weezul (52464) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:39PM (#33077832)

      All those middle men are not ripping off their artists. They are ripping YOU off.

      In the arts, powerful middle men sell fame to artists, and sell product to consumers. Artists get an acceptable deal if they reach the end of their contract while remanning creative, as they'll sell more shit for vastly more then.

      Yet *some* artists would achieve fame anyways, maybe very different artists. YOU are deprived of them because some middle man made another choice about who becomes famous.

      And middle men are ripping off the best artists by preventing an egalitarian competition for fame, obviously.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kiddygrinder (605598)
        to be fair, i think they're ripping everyone off. getting an acceptable deal at the end of a draconian contract that puts you multiple hundred thousand dollars in debt is not cool.
    • by Draek (916851)

      We do need front companies, bands like Radiohead already have thousands of fans reading their website daily but Google isn't good enough for finding new music to listen to.

      However, as Magnatune [magnatune.com] and Jamendo [jamendo.com] prove, there's no need for that company to be evil either.

      Dunno how that'd extrapolate to the videogame market, however. The thing about copyright is that it covers such drastically different areas that a "one size fits all" solution would necessarily be as flawed as copyright itself already is.

    • "Information wants to be free." That's a fine statement to make if you already know what's being discussed--that is, you know the difference between free-as-in-speech and free-as-in-beer, but it's not a statement that is at all productive when speaking to an adversarial or even a divided crowd. Part of the problem is that the default meaning of "free" to most people is the "free beer" version. Put quite simply, most people spend far more people in their day to day lives thinking about money than they do abo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cpt kangarooski (3773)

        Instead I try to use the acronym "CPT"--for Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks--as a more accurate, and shorter, qualifier.

        Meh. I don't use 'IP' either, but it contains some other things too, like trade secrets, publicity rights, hot news, and other even more obscure fields. Given that most of these have nothing at all to do with one another, and it's fairly rare for them to all arise in conversation, I suggest not trying to glom them together, and just using whichever one is appropriate at the time. Plus

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by FooAtWFU (699187)

        I try to use the acronym "CPT"--for Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks--as a more accurate, and shorter, qualifier.

        Mmm. If you ever happen to encounter any CPT violations, contact your local theoretical physicist, and keep an eye out for rogue muon neutrinos.

    • Maybe there needs to be a front company to sell the work of somebody else. But I believe this should only be true for circumstances in that the producer(s) can't maintain the quality of their work

      Given what is known about console game developer qualifications [warioworld.com], Sony and Nintendo appear to be under the impression that micro-businesses "can't maintain the quality of their work".

  • Aleks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chih (1284150) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:10PM (#33077570)
    For those that read it (yes, I'm new here...), I liked the article and the reply by a user named Aleks. I did the same exact thing a long time ago with Commander Keen. Although I never payed for that game, I got all my friends playing it, and many of their parents eventually payed for the game for them. Would they have played and purchased the game without my prodding? Who knows. I'm no saint, but I pay for games that entertain me, even if it's just a dinky flash game on the interwebz.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kanto (1851816)
      Pfft... people should just stop giving the dinky flash people money so we'd get our interwebz back.
  • Uhm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:22PM (#33077710)

    You can get piles of cool stuff for free. Or you can be an honorable, ethical being. You don't get both.

    http://www.fedoraproject.org/ [fedoraproject.org]

  • by Rix (54095) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:25PM (#33077732)

    Reasonable people recognize this and go through life without calling people names.

    You may feel piracy is wrong, and that's fine. We can agree to disagree. The Amish feel cell phones are wrong. We can agree to disagree. Tom Cruise feels psychiatry is wrong. Ok, he can go fuck himself.

  • One Indie developer has written a nuanced article on a how software piracy affects him, approaching the issue from the opposite direction. He lists the ways in which the widespread piracy of PC games helps him

    It helps *him* because otherwise very few people would play his games, as very few people would pay money for them.

    Seriously, if people are not *PAYING* for your games, any distro is good distro. On the other hand, if you sell your games for money, obviously if people are pirating your games, you're not making money on them, and this is not good for you.

  • by r3xx3r (1358697) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:36PM (#33077820)
    a few of my buddies pirate games sometimes. but they usually end up buying the games because very often it is either very hard or impossible for them to get it to work online, which is where they play most of the time. so, basically, they pirate the game to see if they like it, and how well it works on there system, than, if it works well, and they like it (which is usually the case) they buy the game. so basically, it seems that if game companies made a demo (and a usuable demo, that was basically the full game with restrictions of some kind), they could cut down on some of the piracy. Like, Planetside, they had the entire game free for a while, but u could only level up to a certain point (level 6 if i remember, which isnt much, but it worked). and my friends and i played it for a while, and loved it, so we decided to pay for it so we could do more in the game, it just seems like a much smarter idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zalchiah (914703)
      I have a "friend" who is exactly the same as well. However there are some games out there that will allow you to play the "full version" of the game for a limited period of time. Several months ago, my "friend" "borrowed" Sacred 2 from the internet and was able to install without activation which ran the game as a full trial. 2 weeks later my "friend" went out and bought the game full price and played happily, being able to load the save games from the "trial" version.
  • by LordZardoz (155141) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @07:34PM (#33078300)

    You cannot look at top grossing games (or movies or music) to get an idea of the economic impact of software piracy. You have to look at the not so successful games.

    The kinds of games that are going to have problems from piracy are the games that are good but not great. Think of any game that you do not ever see a commercial for on television. The impact of piracy on a high profile title is probably the difference between making 50 million dollars and 40 million dollars profit. Significant, but not really that damaging to the company that made that title.

    The impact of piracy on a low profile title is probably the difference between making a modest profit and having to shut down the studio that made it.

    An indie title is probably not going to be popular enough to attract that much piracy.

    END COMMUNICATION

    • by Cruciform (42896) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @08:47PM (#33078820) Homepage

      You'd be surprised.
      We put an app out on the app store. We saw 1600 pirated copies that weekend. We know because that's how many more submitted scores to the scoreboard than we had in sales.
      1600 people went out and pirated a 2 dollar game the weekend it was released. That was pretty surprising.
      We made it free for a weekend, and 25,000 people grabbed it.
      But at 99 cents it pulls in maybe 2 to 5 dozen sales a week.
      Indie doesn't matter if people have easy access to it for free.

  • by metacell (523607) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @08:07PM (#33078560)

    Copyright is just an arbitrary social convention. Three hundred years ago, composers were happy when their music was used by others. Today, the staff at restaurants can’t sing the Happy Birthday song to their customers because it would constitute an unauthorised commercial use.

    Copyright was a legal construct the printers (not the writers!) lobbied for in order to increase their profits, and soon, people got used to it and started seeing it as a god-given right. Perhaps in the future it will be possible to copyright individual sentences, and speaking them without the permission of the originator will be seen as ”stealing”. Perhaps there will be moral outrage, like the one over piracy, when people insist on speaking any sentence they like without paying the appropriate fee.

    There are some morals which are very basic and vital to society, like the taboos against murder or theft, but copyright is not one of them. Copyright is a legal construct which gives priveleges to some (primarily large media corporations) at the expense of others (consumers). Copyright should be judged on how beneficial it is for society as a whole. It is an economic instrument meant to stimulate the production of literary and artistic works, not to ensure the income of writers and artists.

    • err... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Otis_INF (130595)

      I, as a professional ISV owning developer, can only pay my bills because of copyright. This way, I can write software for a living and sell licenses of my work to my customers. What you wrote is IMHO one of the most stupidest things I've ever read about copyright: why would someone who created something NOT own that work? You seem to think that person doesn't own that work, 'society' does.

      Sorry, but that's just an excuse for ignoring the fact that you don't own the hard work of other people, they do.

  • by The_mad_linguist (1019680) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:41PM (#33079076)

    Some people make games for the love of making them.

    I doubt that many would disagree that Cave Story, Iji, Knytt, Dwarf Fortress, or Seven Days a Skeptic are excellent examples of their genre.

    All of them are given away free.

    The article implicitly assumes both that game developers only make games for the money, and that a front-loaded payment model is the only way to go; both of which are not necessarily true. For example, Tarn Adams (Dwarf Fortress) earns his living entirely through donations. People torrenting his game actually help him by decreasing the bandwidth cost of his website.

    So no degree of piracy or lack of piracy is ever going to cause good single player PC games to cease to exist, and, similarly, you'll be able to get piles of cool stuff for free... well, as long as net neutrality holds out, at least.

  • by dollarwizard (1806856) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:12PM (#33079520)
    Here's why. Every individual has two commodities they own: 1. Time. 2. Money. People with #2 tend not to have #1, and vice versa. So for someone with a good income, it's just not worth the time involved to locate a torrent, download it from the few people seeding it, etc., etc. (Even if YOU could find it quickly, there's still a learning curve involved for the average person.) The people who pirate software almost always are those who wouldn't buy it in the first place, simply because they don't have any money. But by getting your software, a certain tiny percentage will help you via word of mouth, which in the end helps your bottom line.
  • Mr Vogel (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crossmr (957846) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:41PM (#33079656) Journal

    I knew as soon as I read the title this was going to involve him.
    He's been around forever. I can remember when I first found exile so many years ago. Floating around a BBS.
    It was probably one of the greatest games I played in the early 90s. I probably spent most of time between it and Curse of the Azure Bonds.

    I hope some day he turns around and writes a book about how he did it. I don't know that you could duplicate what he has done now. He started at a time and built up his fanbase when the world was a very different place.

To restore a sense of reality, I think Walt Disney should have a Hardluckland. -- Jack Paar

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