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DRM-Free Game Suffers 90% Piracy, Offers Amnesty 795

Posted by Soulskill
from the arrr-me-hearties dept.
bonch writes "Independent game Machinarium, released without DRM by developer Amanita Design, has only been paid for by 5-10% of its users according to developer Jakub Dvorsky. To drive legitimate sales, they are now offering a 'Pirate Amnesty' sale until August 12, bundling both the cross-platform game and its soundtrack for $5. Ron Carmel, designer of DRM-free puzzle game World of Goo, stated that his game also had about an 80-90% piracy rate, claiming that the percentage of those pirating first and purchasing later was 'very small.' He said, 'We're getting good sales through WiiWare, Steam, and our website. Not going bankrupt just yet!'"
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DRM-Free Game Suffers 90% Piracy, Offers Amnesty

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  • by odies (1869886) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:18PM (#33180732)

    The 90% piracy rate is quite much the norm with PC games. The sad thing is that PC gamers will destroy their own gaming platform by doing so. Good example is Modern Warfare 2 which was heavily "consolised" and you have to admit, not having dedicated servers and everything else sucks.

    This also shows that the usual argument that warez versions of games are good to get to know the game before you buy it or that you would rather support indie developers and "small guys" are mostly bullshit. These indie game developers also have a 80-90% piracy rate.

    But you know what the next step to prevent piracy will be?

    Fully online games. You can already see this with the Ubisoft's DRM, the recent Starcraft 2 and the movement to multiplayer, co-op (left4dead), and mmo games. Personally I actually enjoy playing with other people especially in a good co-op game, but there are those who prefer single player games. I prefer with games like Civilization too. But ultimately this piracy will lead to most serious developers just to publish fully online games like World of Warcraft. While you can play it freely with piracy servers, it's really far from the real experience. Game developers will also look more into console development, because for example you still can't pirate games for PS3.

    • by rotide (1015173) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:25PM (#33180774)
      All I want to know is, how many copies of this game has the company sold? Now, how many copies would they have sold if there was 100% unbreakable DRM? Obviously that data is impossible to gather... But I'd bet that most people who pirate games weren't going to buy them anyways. I have a job and when I want something, I just go to the store and get it. I don't bother with Warez anymore as it really is just kind of a pain. But those with no financial resources to buy whatever they want? Piracy is sometimes their only choice. I'm not saying that's right, but if my fictional next door neighbor who lives paycheck to paycheck and has no disposable income pirates a game, I don't consider that a loss to anyone.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:49PM (#33180958)

        90% of the copies were pirated. NINETY PERCENT. If only 10% of people who pirated the game would have bought it instead, this small consumer-friendly company would have almost DOUBLED what they made from the game. ... and piracy is not their "only choice". Since when are people entitled to have whatever they want no matter their ability to pay - especially things that are merely entertainment?

        • by morari (1080535) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:00PM (#33181642) Journal

          Since when are people entitled to have whatever they want no matter their ability to pay - especially things that are merely entertainment?

          Exactly! Especially entertainment! Entertainment has no inherent value, as it is not needed to survive. Thus it cannot command a price.

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:03PM (#33181660)

          You've missed the point: did they sell more than they would have without the piracy, or less?

          It's nearly impossible to answer. I've never heard of Machinarium, but I've heard "World of Goo" is incredibly addictive. Still, how many, if any, of the 82% who pirated World of Goo would have bought it on their own?

          The World of Goo guys had an 82% piracy rate, and it's pretty much expected. Another, similar class game with DRM had a 92% piracy rate. So what's the difference? 10% lower piracy rate and none of the cost to implement the DRM.

          Frankly, the piracy rate doesn't seem to change at all unless the DRM is insanely complicated. Implementing such a DRM scheme is incredibly expensive, and still won't eliminate the piracy.

          World of Goo also has a $20 price tag. How many of those pirateers would have bought it instead if it were only $10? Valve showed that by dropping the price in half on the right game you can quadruple the sales, doubling your money.

          It's a tough call to make, but it's my gut feeling that the high piracy rate is an indication that their prices are too high, not that non-DRM games are doomed to failure. I'll bet with a $10 price tag they'd have gotten more than a 100% increase in legitimate sales.

          • by SlurpingGreen (1589607) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:08PM (#33182260)

            I personally feel DRM is kind of a side issue. The real problem here is a cultural expectation of free media. People think it's trivial to copy and therefore the cost should be zero.

            I know a guy who makes six figures and refuses to buy any games because he doesn't have to. Furthermore he makes fun of me for buying games. To him the norm is pirating and you're stupid if you don't.

            The consequences of this attitude will be bad for gaming, whether it's in the form of DRM, micro-transactions, or other schemes companies use to force people to buy their product.

            What we need is to get closer to the root cause. We need stuff like student prices and lower prices on older games. There needs to be some education that games cost money to make, even indie games. Maybe even some kind of forced government pool. I personally want there to be a huge investment in games and other entertainment and I think if people understood the whole process they'd agree.

            • by Belial6 (794905) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:35PM (#33182914)
              Your not entirely wrong. But there is more to the story than that. The culture of fee media is propagated by business. How often do you hear that something is "Free", only to find out that it really isn't. The classic example is the age old "Buy one, get one FREE!" Obviously to those of us that have a decent grasp of logic and language know that if you have to pay, it isn't free. We read it as "Two for the price of one." or "Half off when you buy two." A huge portion of the population doesn't get that though. They really think they are getting something for free. The common practice of businesses convincing the naive that they are getting things for free when they are not needs to stop if you ever want to get away from a culture that expects free stuff. The software industry is particularly bad about claiming things are free in an attempt to fool people.

              Another problem is that copyright law has gotten so unbalanced that many people have simply gotten used to dismissing it. Even worse, big media will encourage people to dismiss copyright on one side, and and then cry about it on the other. A good example was a commercial that Nickelodeon (owned by Viacom) was running a few years back. They would run commercial showing 'cool kids' talking about what they do in their free time. They had a 10 to 12 year old girl, showing off her room. Her poster. Her bookshelf. Her CD wallet full of copied CDs...

              Lower prices for older games would be a start. If I could buy new PS1 games at a dollar a pop, I would probably buy literally every one ever released. Certainly, a CD in a paper sleeve can be sold at a profit for $1. Unfortunately, copyright is more and more frequently NOT used to make sure that the author get paid enough to encourge further work, but instead is used as a means to make desired products unattainable. This in turn pushes people to dismiss copyright, and consider it to be a bad thing.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by L0rdJedi (65690)

              Maybe even some kind of forced government pool. I personally want there to be a huge investment in games and other entertainment and I think if people understood the whole process they'd agree.

              Here we go again trying to get the government involved. Why do people on Slashdot always see the need for the government to get involved in everything these days?!

              I think the reality is that there is a huge portion of the population that doesn't give a shit about game (PC, console) development. To them, and I know some of them, they would rather see it all go away. To them, it's a huge waste of time. I may enjoy it and you may enjoy it, but they don't enjoy it at all. A game like Day of Defeat, which I

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

              ``What we need is to get closer to the root cause. We need stuff like student prices and lower prices on older games. There needs to be some education that games cost money to make, even indie games. Maybe even some kind of forced government pool. I personally want there to be a huge investment in games and other entertainment and I think if people understood the whole process they'd agree.''

              I think that people do agree that there should be enough funding to produce the entertainment they want. I also think

          • by tepples (727027) <tepplesNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:15PM (#33182758) Homepage Journal

            Valve showed that by dropping the price in half on the right game you can quadruple the sales, doubling your money.

            Doubling your revenue doesn't necessarily mean doubling your earnings. In some cases, the licensor of an underlying work (such as music, characters, a setting, etc.) wants a fixed royalty in dollars per copy, not as a percentage.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Spad (470073)

          Hypothetically, what if NONE of those 90% would have bought the game if they hadn't pirated it?

          The problem with a "90% of copies are pirated" statistic is that there's absolutely no way of knowing, as was pointed out by the GP, how many people would have purchased the game were it not piratable.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by badboy_tw2002 (524611)

            Its hypothetically possible but probably not true for everyone. If I only had $20 and wanted to play two games that cost , one with no DRM and one without and available from a d/l site, I'd spend the money on the first and get the second one free. So its possible that the money went to some other game with stronger DRM. Possible, but probably not true for everyone. Its also possible that the people would have purchased no games ever, and just pirated whatever because they'd rather spend money on somethi

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SETIGuy (33768)

          Maybe if they had reduced the price of the game to 1/2 what they were charging then the piracy rate might have gone down to 60%. That would earn them twice as much as well.

          There is an optimum price that delivers maximum profits in the face of piracy. I doubt anyone in the gaming industry has tried to find it.

        • by Nadaka (224565) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:43PM (#33182060)

          In my experience the vast majority of pirates will pirate almost everything they hear about and buy virtually nothing, ever.

          Consider this thought experiment:

          There is a community of 10,000 gamers, half of them only buy games, half only pirate.

          There is a pool of 100 games for these guys to choose from.

          Each paying customer buys about 5 games per year.

          Each paying customer has a ~5.1% chance of buying your game for an average of ~255 sales.

          We will pretend the unrepentant pirates will pirate half the games out there.

          That is ~2500 pirates for your game.

          Or about 90% of your player base.

          This is all completely unsubstantiated conjecture.

          But it might help put things in perspective.

          Even if every unrepentant pirate would buy games if they could not be bought, that wouldn't mean that you would get 10 times more paying customers, it would mean that at best your would get 2 times with these numbers.

      • by bjourne (1034822) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:52PM (#33180990) Homepage Journal

        You enumerate only two of three concievable groups of customers; those that buy games because piracy is a hassle (you) or do it out of the kindness of their hearts. According to the article, only 10% of all those who aquired the game are like that.

        The second group are those who pirate the games because they have no money. They are a large part of the games audience. The third group are those who have money, would have bought it but preferred to warez it instead. Those two groups together are 90% of the games market. If the game had strong DRM, so that you could not pirate it, people in the third group would be enticed to buy the game. Assuming as little as 10% are in the third group, using DRM would almost double the number of sales the game makes.

        Ergo: it makes perfect sense for game publishers to use DRM.

        • by rotide (1015173) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:57PM (#33181028)
          Then you are forgetting another group, those of us who purchase games but will _not_ purchase games with stupid DRM schemes. I was excited for Spore and chose not to get it because I didn't want to support their DRM. Again, impossible to tell, but who comprises the bigger group? Those of us who won't purchase draconian DRM'd games or those that would purchase games (directly or indirectly) because it _has_ DRM? If those two groups are roughly the same size, what's the benefit to the DRM? Now calculating in the cost of implementing the DRM, what is the benefit? I don't have the answers, but I have and will continue to personally boycott games with overly intrusive DRM perceived, or real (hey, I'm human).
          • by Tridus (79566) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:07PM (#33181126) Homepage

            And you think that group is bigger then the group who would buy a game if they couldn't get it for free from a warez site instead?

            I call bullshit. Most pirates are just cheapskates, nothing more.

          • by onefriedrice (1171917) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:12PM (#33181166)
            Good point, but I don't think your group is nearly as large as the other. Your anti-DRM group is comprised mostly of us nerds who have a problem with our computers not being completely under our control. Most gamers, I've found, are not nearly as savvy or idealistic. While DRM issues are becoming more and more publicized, it's still very unlikely that your average Joe is going to forgo the latest shoot-em-up or whatever just to try to make a point about DRM.
            • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:36PM (#33181380)

              Your anti-DRM group is comprised mostly of us nerds who have a problem with our computers not being completely under our control. Most gamers, I've found, are not nearly as savvy or idealistic.

              DRM is inconvenient. At the minimum, you have to insert a disc to play a game that's already taking room on your hard drive; as the infection worsens, you start getting software that refuses to work if a CD burner or CD emulation software is installed, then installs malware (hello Sony!), then finally requires a constant connection to DRM servers.

              By contrast, the Pirate Bay Edition has been disinfected and works just like any other program in your computer. It's superior value and as an added bonus costs nothing. So, the coldly rational choice is to never buy from the store, since you don't know what trouble you might be getting, and only foolhardy ideologist would do that.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by smallfries (601545)

                DRM is inconvenient. At the minimum, you have to insert a disc

                Nah, doesn't work like that. It used to be the case that DRM had to work that way, but then Steam came along and changed things. I've always preferred to buy games than pirate them, but then I value something that wasn't on your list of features: honesty. I prefer to make sure the developer gets paid instead of ripping them off.

                Steam is convient and reliable: I can find the game that I want instantly and it downloads at line-speed regardless of h

        • by rve (4436) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:17PM (#33181200)

          The second group are those who pirate the games because they have no money. They are a large part of the games audience.

          I call bull poopie on that. Someone who built a $2500 overclocked gaming monster has the money, and someone with a $300 PC from Walmart probably doesn't know where to get pirated games. The average gamer is over 18 and has a job. Even a school kid without a job could buy a few games a year by cutting down on candy.

          • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:45PM (#33182082)

            Even a school kid without a job could buy a few games a year by cutting down on candy.

            nom nom nom nom...

            But without my gold-leafed hershey's kisses, I won't have enough energy to fight the zerg! ...nom nom nom nom

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Tibor the Hun (143056)

            Why is it always assumed that people who spend $2500 on a computer have an unlimited amount of money?

            We hear far too often, "If they have money for a hummer, they have enough for gas" too.

            Maybe they got a $3000 check for tuition and they blew it on a computer, and otherwise don't have a dime to their name.

            Sure, a small minority of people have an unlimited supply of $$, but I wouldn't be surprised if vast majority took out some line of credit to buy a $2500 "multimedia" PC for their college kid, simply becau

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        So why do you pay? Convenience? Or guilt?

        Long-term, money wins out over both - people would rather have beer than pay for stuff on the Internet. Long term, I'd say that the people growing up with the Internet and knowing that everything is there for the taking will just take and long after the "payers" are gone the Internet and warez will still be there.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Technician (215283)

        To support that argument, I bought a Laserdisk player when VHS movies were about $40 each. Laserdisks were promised to be cheaper than VHS because they could be stamped out like records.

        The high quality of the video was attractive along with true NTSC video wouthout the jitters and rolling from Vidoeguard and Macrovision copy guard.

        Due to the high quality, studios were afraid to release onto the format for a long time. What few movies were released were boutique priced. Affordable titles were things like

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jaymz666 (34050)

          > Many PC games are priced like Laserdisks. They are not priced, then lowered in price a year later like DVDs.
          No, games generally come down in price 6 months later, on the PC anyway. Then a while after that you get the game, all the expansions and patches for $20.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192)

      The sad thing is that PC publishers will destroy their own gaming platform by breaking their games, instead of catering to their paying customers. Good example is Modern Warfare 2 which was heavily "consolised" and you have to admit, not having dedicated servers and everything else sucks.

      • by LingNoi (1066278)

        I just made the decision not to buy BF 2 bad company because:

        - There are no dedicated servers so I wouldn't be able to get a good ping in my country
        - I read the forums, saw the tons of problems people were having
        - Read some devs post about how they can't even make a patch system that works

        A combination of the three made me decide not to buy it. I still want to play a battlefield style modern warfare game though so if anyone has an idea for alternatives please reply.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tridus (79566)

        With a 90% piracy rate on DRM free games, clearly catering to your paying customers is working out pretty well. What was the successful piracy rate on these very locked down games again?

        These excuses don't hold up in the market anymore. The data is conclusive: people are cheap and will pirate it if there's an easy way to do so.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Hatta (162192)

          With a 90% piracy rate on DRM free games, clearly catering to your paying customers is working out pretty well. What was the successful piracy rate on these very locked down games again?

          Making a game attractive to paying customers makes it attractive to pirates as well. The piracy rate tells you nothing important. A super effective DRM could reduce the piracy rate by 99%, but if it costs you one paying customer it's worthless.

          These excuses don't hold up in the market anymore. The data is conclusive: peop

    • I have to agree with the top level post's stand on what piracy means for game developers. It's funny that it mentions fully online games as a means to prevent piracy just now though. I was at a party last night where I met one of the QA guys for this company:

      http://www.onlive.com/ [onlive.com]

      They're trying to effectively stream games rather than have any local game installs at all. I have no idea how well this works, but it would seem to be very difficult to pirate a game where you never actually possess the code. ..

    • civ 5 will have steam drm and open moding but online only still along way away with the usa poor high speed ISP and caps.

      DSL low speeds and comcast's caps will kill onlive also. My only choices are ATT DSL or comcast cable. I also can get wow cable but there tv line up and hd line up sucks. NO MLB NETWORK, NO NFL NETWORK, NO CSN + HD and more.

    • Starcraft 2 lack of LAN was to control pro gameing. I think there was some kind of legal case in south korea over pro gameing and blizzard.

      • by Seth024 (1241160) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:48PM (#33181516)
        Yes, Korean law states that (in non legal terms): You may do what you want with what you bought.

        Kespa (korean e-sports association) ran SC:BW tournaments for many years on LAN and Blizzard couldn't do anything about that. Now that they would have to connect to the blizzard servers to play, Kespa would need to have authorization to host tournaments (which they won't get because Blizzard has already chosen GomTV to organize the tournaments)
        • by Vaphell (1489021) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:33PM (#33181976)

          needless to say, Koreans are in the right here

          you don't pay royalties to the manufacturer of the hammer you used to build a house and sell it with profit. You paid for the hammer - that's it.
          KeSPA did all the legwork to set up everything and now blizzard comes in and says 'pay up, bitches, you use our game'. Yeah, but they don't sell a game, they sell competition between players. Game is merely a tool, 50 bucks a pop.
          It's distasteful because greatly Blizzard benefited from increased sales for years thanks to the tv coverage and didn't have to pay a dime for that. Easy money. They got the best marketing possible for free and now they want the cut on top of that.

          Someone needs to step in and smack the software industry hard. They do anything they want because they can put whatever in their EULAs and ToSes and with no resistance circumvent common sense, basic user rights, first sale doctrines and whatnot.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Jack9 (11421)

            Isn't blizzard in the right as well for SC2? Bliz made a game people will play, under terms blizzard wants. They didn't patch SC1 to this (although I'm sure that's been considered). New game, new rules. Nothing Bliz has implemented in sc2 is lighting up my "do not play or buy" alarm.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pharmboy (216950)

      How many of those "pirates" live in places where $20 is a more than a whole day's wage? I know it is impossible to get a metric on it, but piracy by people in countries entirely too poor to ever pay retail for games is a wholly different animal than a much of middle class kids living in the burbs of the U.S., and there are plenty of computers in these countries. Also, what about those of us that download cracks or entire cracked games that we actually purchased but don't want to have to insert the damn CD

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        How many of those "pirates" live in places where $20 is a more than a whole day's wage?

        Probably not many. Since they also probably won't have an internet connection or a PC in the first place. Think about it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Fumus (1258966)

          Try Poland.

          $20 is 60 PLN. Minimal monthly wage is roughly 600 PLN. Your average job a young person can get out of school will pay maybe 1200 PLN. If you count that a month has 22 working days you end up with a requirement of 1320 PLN a month in order for $20 to be less than a day's wage. Add taxes to that and that the dollar is oscillating between 3 to 4 PLN in vaule and you end up with Poland being a country where your average person doesn't have an Internet connection by your standards.

      • Language barrier (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        How many of those "pirates" live in places where $20 is a more than a whole day's wage?

        That depends. Into the native languages of how many such places have the games in question been localized?

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      The 90% piracy rate is quite much the norm with PC games. The sad thing is that PC gamers will destroy their own gaming platform by doing so. Good example is Modern Warfare 2 which was heavily "consolised" and you have to admit, not having dedicated servers and everything else sucks.

      Don't worry, people heavily pirate xbox 360 games too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      The 90% piracy rate is quite much the norm with PC games.

      Oh? And exactly how do you know this? We have the word of game developers, like this Jakub Dvorsky and that's about it.

      Assuming that they are correct (which I'm not willing to do), how many of those "90%" would have bought the game if it had DRM?

      I get the feeling that a lot of these claims from developers arise out a mediocre game (though in this case, a good-looking mediocre game) not doing as well as the investors hoped and the developer wants to

  • That's cute (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:23PM (#33180756)

    And yet Paradox Interactive has managed to build a thriving company releasing buggy games with no DRM at all. Oh, they do get around to patching the bugs eventually, and their games end up pretty darned good if your into the strategy genre. But the only difference between a legitimate, registered owner and someone with a pirated copy is that the legitimate user can use a "metaserver" to hook up for multi-player. That's it. No copy protection.

    For a company that's only 12 years old, they've produced or published over 50 titles.

    Or wait, maybe the companies that whine about piracy hurting their sales refuse to admit that their games are crap, and that's what's hurting their sales.

    Disclaimer: I don't work for Paradox. But I do enjoy their games.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If their games are shit, why are so many people pirating it? Don't answer that.

  • Just so we can compare...

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:31PM (#33181946)

      And ya, that's the real question. We know people pirate games, both with and without DRM. The question is does DRM make a statistically significant difference in piracy rate? If it doesn't then it is de facto worthless. After all the only reason to have it is to reduce piracy rates so if it doesn't why have it?

      Now, if the answer is it does lower the piracy rate by a non-trivial amount the next question is does it increase sales? Less copies being pirated doesn't mean more being sold. You have to check it both ways. Unless you are generating more sales, it doesn't do you any good either.

      So assuming it does increase sales, then the final question is does it increase sales enough to cover the costs of DRM. There are three main costs:

      1) The cost of the DRM itself. Off the shelf DRM solutions cost money up front, and generally royalties per copy sold. If you develop your own there is the cost you pay developers to work on it. In both cases, there is implementation costs.

      2) The cost of support. People will have trouble with it, you'll have to have support staff for it. You cannot very well sell someone something that doesn't work due to DRM and say "Oh, sorry, nothing we can do."

      3) Lost sales due to people who don't like it. I don't know how big that is, but it does happen. I personally will not buy any new Ubisoft title. Both Settlers 7 and Assassin's Creed 2 were on my list until their new DRM came out. No, I haven't pirated them, I just play other games (I've got about 40 games on Impulse 50 on Steam and more in boxes).

      So for DRM to be worth it, it needs to cover the costs of implementation and then some in terms of a sales increase. What I would like to know is if it does this. I don't know that any company has studied it. they mostly seem to take on faith that DRM works.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's 90% piracy for DRM'd stuff too. Wasn't there something a while back about iPhone apps having about 10x as many users as people who paid? That was DRM'd.

    Same thing with Stereophonics too: large numbers of downloads, proportion of sales: less than 10%. But they still made a whopping big profit.

    The question becomes "did I make my money back?". IF you did, then everything beyond that's just gravy. And enjoy it. Don't look at what you "could've won" because you'll only see that as how much you've lost. Look

  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tassach (137772) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:31PM (#33180824)

    Let's say you release a DRM-free game and it attracts 1,000,000 players, 100,000 of whom pay you. The question you should be asking isn't "how can I get money out of the 900k people who are playing but not paying" but "how many of my 100,000 paying customers would I have lost had I released it with DRM". DRM reduces the value of your product; getting rid of intrusive DRM adds value. I can't tell you how many games I've bought at full retail and then promptly downloaded a crack or no-cd patch because the DRM got in the way of me enjoying the game I just paid for.

    DRM is a fantasy. Snake oil. It doesn't work. It's been proven time and time again for the last 25 years. EVERY copy protection system ever devised has been defeated quickly. You can't stop people from copying software by any means short of crippling the hardware, and (as the jailbreakers and console modders have shown) even THAT doesn't work in the long run.

    • by dnaumov (453672)

      DRM is a fantasy. Snake oil. It doesn't work. It's been proven time and time again for the last 25 years. EVERY copy protection system ever devised has been defeated quickly.

      Tell that to Blizzard. Sure it can be "broken". But what will that give you? Not a fully functional product, that's for sure.

    • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:47PM (#33180944)

      I have to disagree here, I think the first question is correct. You know why? Because most people don't give a shit about DRM, even if they know it exists. If everything comes together just right, there might be a shitstorm of complaints and this might have an effect (like Spore, but being a bad game certainly had a greater effect), but mostly the games are sold just fine with DRM. Look at the consoles, and look at Steam - in many aspects it's actually worse than traditional CD copy protection, but people line up to get their games from Steam because it downloads updates automatically or some such shit.

      • Re:Missing the point (Score:5, Informative)

        by twidarkling (1537077) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:40PM (#33181430)

        Actually, I use Steam because
        a) They regularly have sales, even on relatively new titles.
        b) My games follow my account, not my computer, so I don't have to worry if I'm using some random computer for some reason, just so long as I can log on to the internet for about 5 minutes (using the local backup ability means I just need to log on to the Steam service to get my list, not download the entire game).
        c) I don't need to keep CDs/DVDs around. I literally don't know how many games I can't play because I lost the disc or it's damaged just barely enough, and it's not sold any more.

        Downloading updates automatically wasn't even on my list, since most games have a "check for updates" feature built-in, either automatically on start, or through a menu, whatever. In my opinion, Steam is DRM done *correctly.* It offers various value enhancements to the user, rather than simply restricting rights. If you're against DRM on principle, it's not going to win you over, but if you only worry about the intrusiveness level, Steam is probably the most gentle scheme out there.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Derosian (943622)
        Not only does it download updates automatically, it also saves the fact that I bought the game and allows me to uninstall the game and reinstall it via download later. It is incredibly freeing, to not have to worry about a DVD, also on top of that, sometimes I don't want to have to go out and buy a game, sometimes I'm just sitting at my computer and feel the urge to play an RPG, so I go buy something off of steam download it in the time it takes to watch an episode of Family Guy or American Dad from Hulu,
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by IICV (652597)

        Most games are also pirated just fine with DRM. It really doesn't do much either way.

        And I buy stuff from Steam because they frequently have the best prices. $7 for Gratuitous Space Battles + all the expansion packs this weekend? I'm sold!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Medgur (172679)
      DRM is working fairly well for Steam.
      IIRC, when connecting to a game server with full Steam integration the Client first requests an authentication packet, based on a pub key from their client ID. The server then requests an authorization key from Valve, if that's provided, the user may begin connecting. On the client end, this dance is played directly with the Valve auth servers to even launch the game.
      Yes, both avenues have been hacked, but in doing so you're left with either:
      1. Playing only with oth
  • The ratio of how many people pirate the game is irrelevant. This is not lost sales, this is people who wouldn't have bought the game anyway.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:45PM (#33180932) Journal
    As with many things game related, Penny Arcade says it best [penny-arcade.com]. In the struggle between pirates and game-makers, only the pirates win.
  • But gets a front page story on Slashdot and Ars Technica. Not sure what the advertising value is of that but I have to believe it's pretty substantial. Hopefully it puts a dent in however many actual lost sales that 90% piracy rate translates to.
  • Made Up Numbers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ArcaneAmoeba (1873770)
    From what I understand, this game has absolutely no internet functionality and no DRM. How would they be able to get the percent piracy rate if they have absolutely no idea how many copies of the game are out there, only how many people bought the game? This story has appeared on every tech site I visit regularly. It's clear that they just pulled the 90% rate out of their @$$ so that they could generate interest and sympathy.
  • I see game companies continue to use piracy as an excuse for the lack of sales of their utterly crap games. I can't wait to see Sega claim no one wanted to buy Alpha Protocol because of piracy. UBI claims that pretty much 99% of the time now with the utter crap Silent Hunter 5 is (It couldn't be because of the bad reviews on forums and all. NO WAY! It was piracy!). So I call bullshit on this. Yet, somehow Valve doesn't seem to have this problem nor Paradox, or even the Russian publisher 1C. Perhaps if you
  • by KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:03PM (#33181078)

    Is there an online part to this game? Can they see 10-20 times as many players online as how many have paid?

    Or did they just find it on some torrent site and multiplied the number of downloads by a 1000 (and assumed they all liked the game and are still playing it)?

  • Slashdot Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamesbulman (103594) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:03PM (#33181080) Homepage

    Follow the logic...

    Piracy = !Bad
    Piracy = Copyright Infringement
    GPL = Copyright
    GPL Infringment = !Bad

    Well, I'm off to infringe the GPL as it's not bad to do that apparently.

    • by mooingyak (720677) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:56PM (#33182178)

      Follow the logic...

      Piracy = !Bad
      Piracy = Copyright Infringement
      GPL = Copyright
      GPL Infringment = !Bad

      Well, I'm off to infringe the GPL as it's not bad to do that apparently.

      I've heard this argument a few times, and while it's not completely wrong, it does oversimplify.

      The focus is more around for profit vs not for profit activity, and the scale of the individual activity. Very few people here will defend someone who runs a commercial scale piracy ring, copying movies or whatever, pressing the CDs and DVDs en masse and selling them on street corners for $5 each. And in reverse, there won't be much uproar over a guy who stole some GPL code and sold it to two friends for all of $30 profit. When both scale and motive combine in the wrong way -- essentially, profiting off of someone else's work repeatedly, no one sticks up for the offender.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bieber (998013)
      Well, if you're willing to start with a premise as flawed as "Piracy = Copyright Infringement," you should be able to derive just about any absurdity you want.

      Ignoring that massive untruth, though, you're still repeating an all-too-common fallacy. "You espouse this view, which I disagree with. Other people who I connect you with because I'm incapable of separating different groups of people I disagree with hold a seemingly contradictory view. Therefore you're all hypocrites."

      Aside from the fact tha
  • Supply and Demand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:19PM (#33181218)

    It's called a price versus demand curve. As the price tends towards zero the demand increases infinitely. Since there are practical limits, demand at free plateaus at about 10x demand at the original price. This isn't about people being able to afford the games. They just don't value these games at their original prices. There's nothing you can do about it. DRM'ing the game to high heaven won't make those people who don't value the game suddenly purchase it. You're not going to suddenly increase your sales by an order of magnitude. You likely won't even increase it, unless you lower your prices. That's why those ridiculous sales on Steam are so popular. Highly rated games for incredibly cheap prices on holidays or whatever other special day comes up attracts lots of customers.

    I'm not saying game prices are too high. In fact based on the rate of inflation I'm worried that the gaming market will bottom out as publishers are unable to raise their game prices to even match inflation, let alone the increasing costs of game development. But that "90% piracy rate" is totally misleading. These are not people who would have bought your game had DRM been implemented.

  • Piracy and Price (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Datasage (214357) <Datasage@nOsPAm.theworldisgrey.com> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:28PM (#33181306) Homepage Journal

    When I was younger, I pirated a lot of games. I had little spending money and a lot of free time. Now for the situation has reversed, I have money to buy a lot of games, but little free time to actually play them. So with the exception of games from a couple studios (Blizzard and Valve), I only buy games when they pass my impulse buy threshold. That way if I am more likely to get value out of the purchase even if I don't end up playing it that much.

  • by Tom (822) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:25PM (#33181904) Homepage Journal

    So what?

    The "piracy rate" is a totally bogus number. It doesn't mean anything. Most importantly, what it definitely not means is "lost sales". You can't do mathematics with an illusionary number. It's like me saying the Bogeyman number is 12.5 - it doesn't mean anything. You can't say "oh wow, that means for today (8h), I earned (8*12.5 = 100) a hundred dollars!" Uh, no. Same thing, taking a "piracy rate" number and multiplying it by another made-up number (say, "potential conversion rate") and then multiplying it by an arbitrarily set number-with-unit (sales price) to arrive at a totally made-up number and then call that "loss due to piracy" is just dishonest.

    I'll be interested in the results of this guy, but my guess is any additional sales have nothing to do with piracy and everything with advertisement.

    Do yourself a favour and step away from this movie-and-music-industry created phantom that piracy == lost sales. There is something called "structural unemployment", to use a non-car metaphor. What it means is that you can never, ever, have 0% unemployment. There are always people without a job, even if there are a hundred open positions for every person looking for one. You have people on the move, people who just quit and haven't yet signed up for a new one, some people are just impossible to employ, and so on. You always have some unemployment that you can not get rid of no matter what you do (aside from playing statistics tricks).
    Same thing with piracy, just on a different scale. No matter what DRM you use, no matter how low the price, no matter what else, there will always be people who don't pay for your game.

    I've said this before. Think about your players as being in three groups:
    1.) the ones that will certainly buy your game
    2.) the ones that may or may not buy your game
    3.) the ones that will certainly not buy your game

    where 3.) includes the pirates. People who download your game from a torrent have all sorts of reasons to do so, most of them you can't do anything about. My advise is to ignore them and focus on the undecided bunch. The ones who may buy the game if you can catch their interest. Which you more likely do with more polish than with better DRM.

    And yes, I do sell stuff online. I don't care about pirates. The extend of my "anti-piracy" measure is that you get the download link after paying, and that's it. Any and all DRM is a waste of time and money.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cabriel (803429)

      In group 2, why would any of them pay for a game when they can have it for free? Isn't that the capitalist way? Paying the least for the greatest enjoyment?

      The common argument is that this is a self-correcting system in that developers won't make good games, anymore, but the that always ignores the other obvious effect that we, actually, are witnessing right now: the birth of DRM. You suggest a false claim that those who may or may not buy the game would definitely do so if the game were good, but that's ju

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tom (822)

        In group 2, why would any of them pay for a game when they can have it for free?

        Because it's the right thing to do, because it's more convenient, because they buy it as a gift for someone else, because they want you to make another game, because they don't care about getting it as cheap as possible, there are other criteria besides price, because they want the nice, printed manual or the CD or whatever, because because because.

        Just the way people have a hundred reason to download a torrent even though they have enough disposable income to buy it, other people have a hundred reasons not

  • by pantherace (165052) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:36PM (#33181990)

    http://2dboy.com/2008/11/13/90/ [2dboy.com]

    I haven't played the game, nor purchased it, but I have a big problem with their statistics: They basically took the unique IPs and divided by the number of sales. That might have been somewhat accurate in the 1980s.

    It's utter rubbish. People often have laptops. Today, my laptop will have at least 2 IPs. There are days that I've had 5 different ones, from different locations. (Actually probably more than that, considering that the university likes to subnet by building, which probably means that there are another 2 IPs. (possibly per day, unless their DHCP assigns the same one))

    So if I'd purchased the game, and played it on my laptop at various times throughout the day, over a week, I could very easily account for 10 IPs alone. The same methodology applied to Steam, could easily lead to Steam being well over 50% pirated.

  • by SETIGuy (33768) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:58PM (#33182194) Homepage

    Most piracy losses are imaginary. Most pirates are people who wouldn't buy the game even if it were a nickel.

    However, the economics of piracy are simple. For any game there is an optimum price for maximizing income. If the game is priced too high, people won't buy it. If it is priced too low, the additional sales don't make up for the lost income. This price is going to be different for any game, though, depending upon demand.

    DRM isn't going to change that. Piracy rates on games with DRM are no lower than those without.

    The problem is that indie developers look at the prices that the large developers get for games and say "Ultimate Modern Warfare Battlefield Premier Edition" is $70 so I'm going to price "Bouncing Crystaltris Supreme" at $20 so it will be cheap in comparison. The problem is that the optimum price of UMWBPE is actually around $15, but LubiArts can't charge that because everyone knows new games go for $70, and $15 is for the bargain bin. Assuming the ratio of price holds, that would put the optimum price of "Bouncing Crystaltris Supreme" at $4

    Unfortunately it appears that nobody in the gaming industry ever took an economics course, so the only solution to piracy you'll get out of them is higher prices and additional DRM.

    The best way of pricing, might actually be an auction scheme. Where price is associated with demand, with the seller limiting daily or hourly supply.

  • $5 is about right. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bi_boy (630968) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @09:32PM (#33184910)

    I saw this article a few hours ago, bought the game, and finished it just a few minutes ago.

    $5 seems about right. While yes the music and art are very beautiful and the narrative intriguing $20 seems to be asking a bit much for a game of such short length and non-existence re-playability.

  • once again, bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nyder (754090) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @09:33PM (#33184916) Journal

    So basicly they are saying, that of the 100 people that downloaded the game, only 10 of them actually decided to pay it.

    Cool. But that doesn't mean that 90 of the people that downloaded are playing it. How many of them tried it, didn't like it, and deleted it?

    Here's a quote from the article:

    "We released the game DRM-free which means it doesn’t include any anti-piracy protection, therefore the game doesn’t bother players serial codes or online authentication, but it’s also very easy to copy it," Amanita's Jakub Dvorsky explained. "Our estimate from the feedback is that only 5-15 percent of Machinarium players actually paid for the game."

    They ESTIMATE, which means, they are fucking guessing.

    Getting tried of this shit that is passed around as an excuse for journalism.

    First off, piracy isn't news.
    Second off, this isn't even news, it's fucking speculation. Shit, it's worse then that, the companies is using piracy to promote their game. They are trying to lay a guilt trip on people to buy their game.

    Ya, let's propagate that piracy is really bad on PC's, so we can sell our game, even though piracy isn't hurting our game at all. Nothing bad can come out of that, right?

    They just lost any future sales from me for this marketing stunt.

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