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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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  • 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.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:23PM (#33180760) Homepage

    Just so we can compare...

  • Re:DRM does work (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Count Fenring (669457) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:42PM (#33180902) Homepage Journal
    Your belief that only a minority can pirate is bizarre. Once one person with technical skill cracks a game, generally it's a low-to-zero effort for piracy.
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:42PM (#33180906)

    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.

  • Made Up Numbers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ArcaneAmoeba (1873770) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:50PM (#33180966)
    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.
  • by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:55PM (#33181008)

    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.

  • 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 @01:11PM (#33181144) Homepage

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:18PM (#33181206)

    The other 75% are pure fabrication!

    So the "90% piracy" quote is attributed to a person who pirated then bought World of Goo, contacted the publisher and told them that 90% of the users pirate their game. Well, if that isn't just the most reliable number out there, they add that they found 500 seeders and 300 leechers on Bittorrent. No word on what those seeders were seeding.

  • by Teknikal69 (1769274) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:19PM (#33181222)
    Everyone always says Stardock is DRM free but I'll never buy another game from them but only time I ever bought from them it was Galactic Civilization 2 dreadlords unplayable with bugs and it wouldn't let me patch it. It justtold me the serial on the box was invalid and my efforts at resolving the issue through emails basicly ended with them basicly calling me a pirate and refusing me a working serial, the game was bought in a shop still shrink-wrapped at Game UK and returned. I've actually never had as much trouble with any other PC game so in my eyes their a shoddy company and not to be trusted.
  • 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:Missing the point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Derosian (943622) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:50PM (#33181542) Homepage Journal
    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, and then play it. I actually bought the game the article is about because it was on sale for $5 before the Slashdot article came up. I personally choose not to pirate Indie games, because I know how tight their profit margins are, I heard excellent things about this game, and felt $5 was a good deal. After playing it I can say it was a good deal. In general I would not spend $20 on a game like this, maybe $10 but my budget is rather tight as a college student who works only part time and goes to school full time. $20 is sometimes more than I spend on food in a week. Now as to pirating industry games, I have done it yes. The great games though, I end up shelling out the cash for after I've pirated it. Games like Oblivion, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, these games are worth 40-50 dollars, because of the enjoyment I get out of them and the quality of the product, on top of that I REALLY want them to make sequels because I had so much fun with the first game, so I show my support with my money after I know a game is good, not when I think it might be good or when I've heard it could be good.
  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:06PM (#33181690) Homepage

    Point-and-Click adventure games may have dormant, but I wouldn't call them dead.

    TellTale Games [telltalegames.com] is starting to push them back to the fore. I would say "LucasArts and TellTale," but LucasArts reentering the Adventure game business was due to LucasArts President Darrell Rodriguez, who resigned back in May. Thus, LucasArts may leave the market again, without having produced anything new (only the 2 Monkey Island remakes).

  • Paradox (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cfeedback (467360) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:19PM (#33181838) Journal
    Paradox Interactive [paradoxplaza.com] has a great system where users have to register with their serial number in order to post in or view certain areas of their vBulletin forum. There's no in game DRM. It's completely unobtrusive but there's a lot of peer pressure to register games (anyone posting in the General Discussion areas for support almost immediately gets told to register their game and post in the support area). I'm not sure how piracy rates are figured but I'd be curious to see what theirs is--I'd imagine they do better than average.
  • by SETIGuy (33768) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:31PM (#33181952) Homepage

    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 xwizbt (513040) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:31PM (#33181956) Homepage

    A few things about me: I originally pirated World Of Goo as someone had ported it to the Mac before 2D Boy got round to it. When the Mac version appeared, I bought it. In fact, I own four copies now - I purchased it, and it was also featured in three separate bundles of software I've bought, and a friend also sent me a download for World Of Goo as they didn't want it in their bundle. Also, I don't have a fixed IP address, so every time I play World Of Goo it looks as though another (and why not assume it's pirated?) copy has been stolen...

    Is it so unthinkable that other people may be in a similar situation - how are these developers so sure of their figures that they can proudly spurt that only 10% of their users are honest? This is nonsense...

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

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:33PM (#33181972)

    The problem is with the argument that DRM does not increase sales while decreasing value.

    You can still be against DRM for other reasons, but games like Machinarium and World of Goo are providing some evidence against that particular argument.

    (neither World of Goo nor Machinarium are crappy games and so the argument that crappy games don't get legit sales isn't very applicable)

    That seems reasonable, in a vacuum. But there is solid evidence that DRM has no positive effects on the sales, and it absolutely has a negative effect on the cost to produce the game. Ricochet Infinity is another popular casual game that did have DRM and has a 92% piracy rate, which is the same as Machinarium's 92% rate and significantly higher than World of Goo's 82% piracy rate.

    With just these three games as samples, it seems that the piracy rate for DRM games is as high or higher than that of non-DRM games.

    Obviously someone needs to take a serious look at the numbers - comparing similar games of similar quality and popularity and see if the DRM is actually doing anything for the revenues of the game. Also, how much piracy can be mitigated by lowering the price of the game? I for one would never pay $20 for Machinarium or World of Goo, no matter how good they are. I might pay $10 though (emphasis on 'might'). How much of the piracy is just an indication that the price is too high?

    There is still no real evidence to suggest those who pirated the game would have bought it instead if they couldn't get it for free. It makes sense to assume that at least some portion of the people who pirated the game would have found a way to purchase it instead, but how many? There's no telling, and that's the real problem with the DRM debate.

  • by korthof (717545) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:41PM (#33182040) Journal
    I went to the website, never heard of it. Played the demo. It has such a high rate of piracy, because quite frankly it is terrible. Monty Python meets Monkey Island/Sam & Max, with none of the humor or fun. It was fine when it was 8-bit. Not so fine when its 256bit and 5 dollars.
  • 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.

  • Never heard of it... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:44PM (#33182072)

    Never heard of it but I downloaded first and purchased later with Mass Effect and X3.
    With Mass Effect I missed the first one but heard about the second. I downloaded the first one, played it and liked it a lot. So I went out and purchased Mass Effect 1 and 2.
    With X3, I used to play X3 a lot and never payed for it. I purchased X3 Terran Conflict, saw the original during checkout and purchased it as well.

    So my point is, if your game does not suck then people will pay for it.
    Looking at Machinarium's website gives me a headache and I have not learned anything about this game except what I found under "About". I personally like screenshot or gameplay footage. If your marketing is as bad as your webdesign then it is no surprise that your game does not sell.

  • 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.

  • 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 D J Horn (1561451) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:41PM (#33182500)

    I have a close group of friends. One of them is an avid pirate. He pirates everything he can, even though he has a job and plenty of expendable money. If he can't pirate something, he just never plays it. None of his downloads have been a lost sale. (not saying that justifies it! just that it's a measurable fact)

    The rest of us have stopped pirating in our old age, finding actually buying games to be much less of a headache, due in big part to Steam.

    There have been numerous times, where our pal has pirated a game and then told us all about it, leading to several purchases that we may not have made without his recommendation. World of Goo being a recent example. I had heard of it but didn't pay it any attention, I never buy puzzle games so I never gave it another though. Then my friend told us he knew we would love it, with its gameplay and art style and music all being perfect for us. I, as well as a couple other people in our group, picked it up on Steam and thoroughly enjoyed it. So in that particular case, his download led to multiple sales that wouldn't have happened otherwise. That's not the only time that has happened. (of course the inverse is true, he's pirated games we've considered buying and warned us that they aren't worth it - Borderlands for instance)

    Does that justify it? Is that a morally acceptable alternative to review sites? No, piracy is still piracy. However it just goes to illustrate some of the key things about the whole issue:

    * Your game will be pirated whether it has mega-DRM or none
    * Not every pirate is a lost sale
    * Some pirates lead to further sales
    * It is impossible to measure accurately as everyone's individual experience is exactly that, their own individual experience

    I don't think this helps find some grand solution or anything, I just believe that anyone arguing piracy issues in black and white is doing it wrong, regardless of which side they stand on. Though I find myself feeling that way about almost every issue..

  • by masmullin (1479239) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:52PM (#33182574)

    You're side-stepping the question. How many of those 90% would have bought it if it had had unbreakable DRM (and, on a related note, how many of the 10% would have not bought it if it had unbreakable DRM)?

    I think you're STILL side stepping the question.

    If you could eliminate piracy from ALL games, how many people would start buying?

    If a single game is uncrackable DRM'd, pirates will simply move to a different game, but if ALL games were uncrackable DRM'd, well they'd either have to stop playing or start paying.

  • by Fumus (1258966) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:13PM (#33182732)

    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.

  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @05:10PM (#33183116)

    Many cheapskates will pay if they can't get it for free, especially if they really want that game. However, given the choice of paying or not paying, they choose not paying.

  • by Barefoot Monkey (1657313) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @05:43PM (#33183350)

    You do know World of Goo had a "pay what you want" day right? where most people paid less than one dollar for it.

    According to 2DBoy's sales figures, the opposite is true: only 40% paid less than 1 dollar for it. Granted, almost 69% paid less than $2 though.

    The sales figures have some interesting results:

    • about 30% paid 1c, and almost as many paid $1-$1.99 (I presume that most of these were $1)
    • roughly half that paid %5-%5.99
    • roughly half that paid %2-%2.99
    • roughly half that paid %10-%10.99

    We can draw some very useful conclusions from their data:

    • Lots of people (although far fewer than I had expected) will pay a token minimum price. For this purpose, it appears that a cent is as good as a dollar, so you may as well set the minimum to $1 so you at least make a profit.
    • How many of those 1c/$1 buys were from people who wanted to try it out before buying (why try the demo when you can test the real thing?) and would have paid more later if given the chance? We don't know - so next time you do a pay-what-you-want, why not allow customers to increase their contribution at a later date? That way, you get more money and your statistics become far more informative at the ever-so-important low-end.
    • Nobody likes the original asking price of $20. People seem willing to pay $10. But even if they have the option of paying less, the vast majority of customers who are willing to pay anything significant at all will happily choose to pay $5-$5.99 entirely of their own volition. If you're selling games at a fixed price, this looks like the sweet-spot for maximising your revenue.

    If only 2DBoy had more-detailed histograms on the most interesting price-ranges ($1 exactly and $5-$5.99), but their experiment is invaluable to the industry.

    One thing the author doesn't take into account, the way the monitor pirated copies is how many IP addresses access their stats server (at least for WoG), this is kind of fubar as whenever I power cycle my router I get a different IP, not to mention when I take my laptop on the go and play it (with touch screen, WoG is amazingly better with this) every time I change access points its a different IP.

    Agreed. Piracy figures are generally hugely inflated due to their nature, and IP addresses are especially useless for measuring them. If you're using high-score systems to measure piracy, then I suppose one could get an accurate measurement if every game gives itself a unique ID upon installation and this is sent to the server. Then IP addresses don't matter.

  • by Jack9 (11421) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @06:11PM (#33183542)

    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.

  • by L0rdJedi (65690) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:30PM (#33184112)

    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 can spend hours playing at a time, they see as simply a waste of several hours a day.

    Some of these same people work with very high tech development projects and would rather just go outside and play frisbee or something else in their free time. The idea of playing a game on the computer that they just spent hours doing productive development work on sickens them.

    This is exactly why having a "forced government pool" is a stupid idea. We don't need the government involved. What we need are people that consider pirating a game to be "no big deal" to stop doing it. You even said yourself that you know someone that makes six figures and still pirates because buying the game is "stupid". That person is in fact ruining the industry for the rest of us. He gets entertainment value out of all those games, but isn't funding the necessary R&D to bring new games to market. He probably pirates all of his movies too.

  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:32PM (#33184122) Homepage Journal

    ``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 that many people don't see the point in paying for it when they can also not pay for it. Both of these views are entirely rational. Which is why there is something to your idea of a forced government pool: that way, entertainment can get funded without those who voluntarily contribute footing the entire bill.

    A problem I see with a mandatory pool is that when you do that, people who don't consume the entertainment are still forced to pay for it. Since I don't consider entertainment as something the government should provide, I would be against people who don't consume it paying for it (and that includes paying for it through taxes that go to creating, exporting, and enforcing things like DMCA and ACTA). I also feel that entertainment would still be produced even in the absence of government stimulation (through direct funding from a pool, or copyright, or otherwise), even if it wouldn't be as abundant and impressive as it is now. I could live with that, though - I only consume an almost immeasurably small fraction of all entertainment that has been produced, anyway. In fact, I would probably be fine if the whole entertainment industry disappeared and all I that was left were what has been produced and preserved so far.

    Smarter minds than I have probably thought about this a lot more, so I would be interested to hear what other people think about all this. I'm sure economics students have done studies on the effects of various ways to stimulate creation of entertainment. Perhaps a better system has been devised already that I haven't heard about yet?

  • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@gmailPASCAL.com minus language> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:33PM (#33184134)

    You wanna know why there is so much piracy? it is because developers are retarded! As another poster recently said it is like the entire games industry has decided that Buggati roadsters are the ONLY way to go, and they are cranking out games that are $60+ in a world economy that is so dead I'm surprised peasant revolts aren't breaking out. Nobody has any money, those that do are using it to keep the roofs over their head, and they expect folks to shell out $60+ for a 5 hour game and THEN shell out another $25-$50 for the DLC which they ripped out the game in the first place to "maximize their profit potential". Yeah right!

    Except that as this article, and many others, illustrates, you're wrong. Machinarium was $20 and has a 90% piracy rate. World of Goo was $20 normally and had an 80-90% piracy rate. When the Humble Indy Bundle released their games for whatever price you wanted to pay (starting at $0.01), 25% of people downloading it from their servers were pirating it! And that doesn't count out-of-band pirating like TPB or whatever. And you could pay a penny.

    No, cost is not why piracy rates are so high.

    You could argue it's convenience -- you need a credit card to order the Humble Indy Bundle for example -- but not price. Personally I think it's just 'cause a crapload of people are selfish jackasses.

  • I bought it (Score:1, Interesting)

    by PenguinGuy (307634) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:58PM (#33184318) Homepage

    I bought this game after playing the demo. I also bought the soundtrack as well. The reason I did this was to support this publisher and help them keep making great games. Most of the crap coming out of the big game houses is not worth it these days and I would rather keep an independent going then make anyone at EA richer.

  • by RsG (809189) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @08:04PM (#33184366)

    While part of me wants to agree with you, I feel I must point out a serious flaw in your logic.

    The hardware needed to run 3/4 of the games offered on GOG is incredibly cheap. You could pick up an Internet capable PC able to run most old games they offer for less than the price of a Wii, and less still if you already had a monitor lying around to use.

    For anyone who can run those $60 new releases, cost isn't going to be a problem. If you can drop a grand on hardware, half a hundred to buy a game is a drop in the bucket. Moreover, given the current length of the recession, and the average lifetime of PC hardware, most gamers will have upgraded since the recession began. I know I have.

    As an appreciator of classic games, I applaud your efforts to use grand old games and keep yourself amused with gameplay rather than shiny graphics, but I can't agree with the logic you put forward re: new games piracy.

  • by badboy_tw2002 (524611) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @08:19PM (#33184450)

    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 something that actually requires it instead of games, which are "free" and easy to obtain. Again, probably not true for everyone.

    The problem with all these things in piracy and DRM and people who sit on both sides of it is that there's no great way to run a controlled experiment and say "Look, 20% sold with DRM, 40% sold without" because you'd need to release the same product at the same time to identical but separate markets, one with DRM, one without. And that's just not happening. So here's reality: people will continue to pirate games, and PC games will continue to be sold as they always have. It was a small niche market before, it can continue to be that in the future. With complete, locked down hardware the console market will continue to be the leader in the big budget single player games, but you can still make enough to get along with 90% pirate rates if you can make a good product and make it cheaply. Despite all the pirates, the market is still there, its just not the market that some want it to be. Continuing to deny reality or find some technical solution where there is none won't change that fact.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @08:26PM (#33184478)

    I loathe DRM, I haven't purchased any UBIsoft title since the Assassins Creed 2 online DRM (No Civilization V for me either with Steam). But to be honest I don't think we reflect a large portion of the purchasing population. I know quite a few people who earn considerably more then me that don't purchase software because it doesn't make sense if you can get it easily for nothing. I got Starcraft 2 as a birthday present and so I decided since it cost me nothing (and to of course give respect to the gifter) to give multiplayer a go with the gifter and one of my friends who can afford to but NEVER buys software..no LAN play, no way to play it together online with a cracked version...so for the first time he dished out cash on this game. As much as I hate to admit it, an online DRM system does work to convert pirates to paying customers.

    And as to bring up an already mentioned point, if you can afford the hardware to run the game, you can afford the game itself.

    However this may not be a popular opinion but I think my personal experience with purchasing indie games is that they are too expensive. Part of this is to do with how you can get very good quality and cheap games for the iPod touch/ iPhone , usually under $10 and sometimes cheaper then the PC version (for example Plants vs Zombies). I spent probably about $25NZ for World of Goo and the same for Torchlight, but I can purchased A rated titles brand new for similar pricing if I wait a year or so; whereas indie games tend not to decrease in price.

    Personally my opinion is to increase the overall value of purchasing the software (so this really applies to boxed versions); include things in the package that have real physical value, like art books, soundtrack CD's, posters, especially big full game manuals (check out the Civilization series). I love that stuff and when I don't have to worry about DRM I feel like the software is really mine whereas DRM makes me feel like I'm renting and so should pay a whole heap less.

    I recently paid $530NZ for Adobe Lightroom 3 and I swear that pirates could make a replica easily by how cheap it is...at that price I was hoping for a full manual but was disappointed with DVD with a paper label with the serial number on the back, no holographics....at least Microsoft put more effort into protecting their serial numbers.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @08:50PM (#33184642) Journal

    Lets see, I can buy this indie game I never heard of for $20, or buy the entire Freespace collection at GOG when it was on sale for $12. Which will I do? I would argue that $20 is too high, and the reason that "pay whatever" was a big fail is the kinds of folks that play indie games are the DIY types and frankly many of them just don't pay squat if they can help it.

    I mean look at how many enterprise admins had a royal living shitfit when it looked like CentOS was going tits up, why? Because these DIY types were running enterprise servers on a unsupported OS that's why! It is like how I was arguing Linux on the desktop is doomed to fail. The people that Linux appeals to, the geek hacker DIY types, simply would go somewhere else if Canonical started charging for Ubuntu, yet without serious money spent on R&D and bug fixes there simply won't BE any Ubuntu.

    It all comes down to finding an audience that will consider your product worthy of purchase and then giving them a good value. Hell I bought MoH: 10th anniversary even though I heard Airborne sucked! (which BTW it does BAD) Now why did I do such a thing? Because for $25 EA gave me MoH Allied PLUS both expansions, the directors version of Pacific Assault PLUS an interactive timeline of the Pacific War PLUS Airborne PLUS the music of MoH...all for $25. So it all comes down to perceived value for your dollar, and I would argue that if some indie guy isn't getting $20 for his game then the people he is marketing to simply don't consider it worth $20. Black markets will ALWAYS pop up where folks feel the price is too high, piracy is NO different, but sites like GOG and Steam have shown you can make money on goods that can be pirated, you simply have to give the user good value and make it convenient for them to pay.

  • $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.

  • by MakinBacon (1476701) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @10:23PM (#33185148)

    But here's the problem: If I were to pirate a game, and then decide that it's so good my friends should all play it, I'm not going to go to them and say "Hey, this game is pretty good, you should go buy it". I'm going to give them a link to the same torrent that I got it from.

    Assuming that most of the people who pirate games and then recommend them to friends will employ similar logic (I see no reason why they wouldn't), the percentage of people who actually payed for the game will go down, and there will be no increase in customers.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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