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

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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:25PM (#33180768)

    All his problems can be explained economically. The low conversion rate is because it's a POINT AND CLICK ADVENTURE GAME. You know, the long dead genre? Only games making a profit in that are using pure nostalgia and low budgets.

    It's a new IP, It's a point and click adventure game, and it's indie. That just screams "Will only sell at dirt-cheap prices"

  • 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 Elbereth ( 58257 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:26PM (#33180780) Journal

    Hellgate:London (the next game from the developers of Diablo 2) didn't have a LAN play mode, which made a lot of gamers really pissed off (including me). The single player version of the game was treated like crap. It frequently lagged several patches behind the online server (which was essentially an MMORPG). The final patch, before the game was abandoned, didn't even get ported to single player.

    I don't think that anyone is even going to bother with a single player version, if they can get away with it. There's still a market for games like Civilization, but they'll probably get DRM'd to hell, like Sacred 2.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:26PM (#33180784)

    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 at what you HAVE.

  • 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 Hatta ( 162192 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:40PM (#33180890) Journal

    The numbers here really aren't in debate. The piracy rate is around 90%, so what? Deterring pirates is not the same thing as earning customers. DRM puts the former over the latter, when the latter is the only thing that matters.

  • The price is right (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:43PM (#33180916)

    I've been waiting for a while now for this game to be in my price range. I did not pirate the game and I'm not buying it now out of guilt. It's just that I think this flash game is worth $5. I decided that from playing the official demo.

    It just finished downloading now. I'll go exercise those neurons.

  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:44PM (#33180922) Journal

    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 in every time we play? I probably have a dozen games that I bought but cracked via download that they would count as "pirated", even though I have the box. This is the main reason why I try to use Steam for all my games now. I don't mind paying, but I don't want to have to keep up with all the disks and boxes, etc. just to play something I already paid for.

    Part of the piracy problem IS the DRM. Pirates deliver a better product than the distributors of the game, as it takes less hassle to simply start the game.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • Re:Pointless stats (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:51PM (#33180978)

    Saying over and over does not make it true.

    You act as if everyone given a choice between buying it and getting it for free would have bought it legit instead.

    I counter your argument with the equally plausible hypothesis that SOME people who pirate the game would buy it, if they were not able to pirate the game easily.

  • 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 nnull ( 1148259 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:56PM (#33181014)
    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 game companies made your games more enjoyable like these publishers I've listed, I might buy your game.
  • Language barrier (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @12:57PM (#33181030) Homepage Journal

    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 Medgur ( 172679 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:00PM (#33181058) Homepage
    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 other people who have hacked the client and server, without any match making support for finding such servers
    2. Playing alone
  • 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 sonicmerlin ( 1505111 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:03PM (#33181092)
    I don't think you understand that people have a relatively stable budget for spending on media and entertainment. Whether they spend it on movies or games, whether they pirate or not the same amount of money is going to go into the industry. Not to mention pirating allows them to indulge in the game industry without the constraints of a limited budget. If a person can only afford to play 1 game every few months due to budget and time constraints, how likely are they to maintain their interest in games in general?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:07PM (#33181116)

    The only thing lacking from the pirated game is multiplayer, which has traditionally never been part of pirated games anyway.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • Define pirates (Score:2, Insightful)

    by edelbrp ( 62429 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:23PM (#33181262)

    I bought World of Goo and let a few of my friends copy it. I wanted to be nice and give some payback to 2D Boy, so I bought some 2D Boy tshirts (they are fairly expensive, btw). That way they got some payment for the 2-3 friends who I let borrow the game, but I get something practical instead of a few more useless discs and packaging. Technically, though, I guess I still pirated the game (or at least let my friends pirate it)?

    I'm guessing that most of the 'pirates' who really are downloading the game for free and not giving anything back are folks who played about 10 minutes of the game and junked it. Or gave something back in some other way. Still though, 90% seems high. Where did they get that number from?

    Anyways, it's the same old argument that's been kicking around for years. Because somebody downloaded it for free means it is a 'lost' sale? Hardly. I know friends who got obsessed with downloading gazillions of MP3s off the 'net, most of which they probably will never listen to. They never would have purchased most of them anyways.

  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:26PM (#33181288)

    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 "NFL How To Watch Pro Fotball" []

    Due to the high prices and poor selection, my lifetime collection of Laserdiscs is still in the single digits. Anybody want to buy a laserdisk player?

    On the flipside my collection of under $10 DVDs number in the hundreds.

    Many PC games are priced like Laserdisks. They are not priced, then lowered in price a year later like DVDs. Some DVD movies are classic films. Some I didn't remember if I replaced my VHS copy with a DVD, so some titles I have purchased twice.

    Just think, who sold to me? The $65 copy of Fiddler on the Roof, or the two $5 copies?
    At over $15, I'm unlikely to buy a movie or game. At under $10, good ones are considered. At under $6, it becomes a possible impulse buy.

    Are you pricing to sell many copies, or are you charging the price of a new bicycle for my grandson?

    More quality games need to be priced for mass markets instead of selling a few at boutique pricing of over $10-15 per copy. A small selection of a couple dozen games is a serious budget buster. Due to the average selling price, I no longer browse the game isle. This is the same reason record stores closed. The didn't price for mass market sales and impulse purchases.

  • Piracy and Price (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Datasage ( 214357 ) <Datasage@t h e w o r l d i s g> 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 Andorin ( 1624303 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:34PM (#33181364)

    Ladies and gents, let's play Let's Count The Fallacies:

    1. The tired comparison of piracy to theft of physical objects. Don't do it.
    2. Implication that piracy is killing the industries because "everybody" just downloads instead of buying. That's not happening until someone comes up with indisputable proof that it is.
    3. What is "100% DRM"? Are you in favor of a certain amount of DRM? Are you aware that -all- DRM by nature is customer-hostile and ineffective? It doesn't stop people from sharing.
    4. "I buy all my DVDs and buy all of my music because I want to support those actors or musicians I like." If you're mostly buying mainstream, which I assume, then you're supporting the record labels and movie studios that make digital life hell by pushing for stupid copyright provisions and by suing people... but you're doing practically nothing for the actors or musicians.

  • 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 Spad ( 470073 ) <> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:18PM (#33181820) Homepage

    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.

  • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:19PM (#33181832)

    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:That's cute (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:21PM (#33181860)

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

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

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

    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 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.

  • by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:59PM (#33182208)

    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 because a highschooler from BestBuy told them that that computer will totally help them with photos, and movies, and homework...

  • by MakinBacon ( 1476701 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:15PM (#33182316)
    Popularity doesn't pay the bills when 90% of your players aren't paying for the game.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:37PM (#33182468) Journal
    You seem to be arguing against yourself. Why would cheapskates pay if they couldn't get it for free? Wouldn't they be more likely to just play a different game that they could get for free / cheap?
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:41PM (#33182492) Journal

    preventing cheapskate pirates with a sense of entitlement from playing things they didn't pay for is still a worthwhile cause.

    If you feel that way, then please feel free to spend your money on it, but don't be surprised when I decide to give my money to a company that will spend it on producing a better product than on a moral crusade against freeloaders.

  • by bieber ( 998013 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:43PM (#33182510)
    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 that commercial copyright infringement and person-to-person file-sharing are not the same thing, you're making the completely unfounded assumption that GPL defenders and file-sharers are all one-and-the same. I write and use free software, and I don't download or otherwise use proprietary software, or "pirate" other content. Sorry to poke a hole in your carefully constructed fantasy world, there...
  • by smallfries ( 601545 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:50PM (#33182554) Homepage

    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 how old or popular it is. I know that there are no trojans in the download, something that you can never be sure of with a torrent.

    Blaming DRM is an excuse, it's an excuse to make your conscience feel better about ripping off the developer and taking their work for free.

  • by flowwolf ( 1824892 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:23PM (#33182808)
    We're talking about software not performing artists. How would game developers tour? Most people wouldn't pay to see these guys, especially those that wouldn't pay to buy their development
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:30PM (#33182852)

    Probably the reason for the low pirate-first-buy-later rate is that the game isn't that good and people weren't impressed. You can't complain that people aren't buying your game if your game sucks.

    Blow it out your ass. Seriously. The game won multiple awards. The game sold a ton of copies via Wii-ware. They eventually realeased a free trial version with the first few levels, and that prompted it to sell a pile more. If you don't like it, fine. If you didn't think it was worth X$ fine. But singling World of Goo out as a "game that sucks" is just trolling.

    The reality, is that there isn't a single game on the market that has a HIGH pirate-first-buy-later rate. Go ahead, name one, name just one!

    Bottom line, by your logic there isn't a single game on the market that is any good and that impressed people. And that's patently absurd.

  • by monkeythug ( 875071 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:58PM (#33183056) Homepage

    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.

    If there were such a mythical beast as uncrackable DRM (and publishers have been searching for that since the 80's when we had things like LensLok and that coloured card thing for Jetset Willy that you used to copy with your felt tip pens in class) - then you might be right that some extra people might start paying - but certainly not 90%, most of whom don't have the disposable income to buy every $60 game that comes out. If in addition this perfect DRM was completely transparent to users and didn't piss them off by doing things like requiring you to be online all the time even in single player mode and killing your session if there's a glitch in your internet connection ... then you might not lose any of your existing customers either.

    It's just a shame that it's actually impossible for DRM like that to exist...

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @05:28PM (#33183242) Journal

    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!

    What they SHOULD be doing to "maximize their profit potential" is taking a page from Good Old Games [] and taking those games that are 6 months old and no longer getting shelf space, or simply not selling at all, and offer them at GOG prices. I have bought more games from GOG in the past 6 months than I had in the 3 years before I heard of them, why? Because they are cheap ($10 max price, often sales below $6) they have NO DRM (which means no jumping through hoops or starforce fucked drives) and they make it EASY to buy from them! With their fast bandwidth I can click on a game from my account and purchase and have it installed before I finish my morning coffee.

    And before they think consoles are the magical cure, they may want to look around. Console hacks and mod chips are selling like mad, just look at all the banned x360s floating around Craigslist loaded with hot games. Make it easy, make it fast, make it cheap, don't kick them in the nuts with DRM. But $60 a game in a dead economy is just asking for a fail.

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:06PM (#33183944)

    The reason there hasn't beem any peasant revolts is because of those damn socialist liberals and their medicare, unemployment wages, and host of other socialist ideas that keep people from losing their homes, and all of their income the moment they are laid off.

    This recession proves that those policies work. Of course you will never have that point of view on Fox news ever.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:14PM (#33184006)

    You rarely need the CD to play a game anymore. Most game publishers let you purchase and just download the game. They may still require an Internet connection to play, but this isn't a problem for the majority of gamers.

  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @08:13PM (#33184408)

    If I can play and beat the game in three hours, and it has no replay value, then it sucks.

    Did you enjoy those 3 hours? I find it telling that this didn't even factor into the equation of whether the game was good or not.

    Judging a game based on its length or replay-ability is as idiotic as judging a movie by its running time or the content of the DVD/blu-ray special features.

    And I can only assume you despise movies and books too which tend to have no "replay value" either, and which also only deliver a few hours of enjoyment for the cost...

  • by capebretonsux ( 758684 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @08:33PM (#33184550)
    If I can play and beat the game in three hours, and it has no replay value, then it sucks.

    Crysis anyone?
  • by Cabriel ( 803429 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @09:29PM (#33184904)

    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 just not true. Why should they pay for it and worry about their next purchase when they could have both it for free AND the next purchase?

  • by omglolbah ( 731566 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @09:48PM (#33184986)

    To give a real world example of the issue of DRM....

    I love the Command and Conquer games. To such a degree that when the "First Decade" collectors box came out I wanted to get it even though I have all the games sitting -somewhere-. Couldnt find discs etc as I've moved several times since I bought the games... mess...

    I downloaded the pirated version just to have a convenient archive of isos.

    A few months later I found that my local gaming store had dropped the price by almost 30% for the pack. I didnt hesitate. I bought it and have it sitting in my collection now.....

    Onwards to the issue that arrose:

    I deleted the pirated versions and wanted to install completely clean versions. And I did.......

    What happened? "Please insert the Red Alert 2 play disc" or somesuch.... It would not detect the disc regardless of what I did. I tried a multitude of things but ended up giving up and re-installing the cracks.

    THAT is why I hate DRM. And THAT is why I will continue to wait for a crack to come out before I buy a game (steam games being an exception as they just -work-). I will not be left holding the bag on a shitty DRM scheme that breaks due to unrelated software installed on my machine. If I pay the 90 bucks for a game (which they cost here..) then I bloody well expect the fuckers to work when installed...

    Meh... "it is just an excuuuuuse" and "people are cheap" are also the default comebacks used for the past 10 years. Come up with something new will you ;)

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @10:25PM (#33185156) Journal

    Who in the fuck modded this a troll? Do you HONESTLY think that in what may be one of the worst financial meltdowns in recent history, where unemployment has to be extended over and over simply because there ain't jobs to be had, where whole blocks of houses are abandoned all over the place and cities like Detroit are being torn down, that cranking out $60+ games is a WINNING strategy? Really? Because I got some nice swamp land to sell you buddy.

    As for the one who said "those with $1000 PCs capable of playing modern games can afford to buy" where the hell are you shopping at? You can build a nice AMD dual that'll play just about anything you throw at it for under $400, and that is with a legal copy of Win7! I personally thought I went a little overboard with mine, upgrading to a quad and getting 8Gb of RAM, but I still got away with less than $600 after MIR and again legal copy of Win7 HP. While the HD4650 I bought certainly isn't cutting edge, with its 1Gb of RAM it plays Bioshock II and everything else I throw at it at my LCDs native 1600x900 just fine. I have built decent gaming duals for folks for under $500, PC parts are cheap as hell if you hit a sale or two, and by the time you figure in the fact you can use it for jobs besides gaming I'd argue its cheaper than a console! Just because you have a PC capable of playing games doesn't mean you have money dripping out your pockets friend.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday August 09, 2010 @02:33AM (#33186214) Journal

    Hey I gotta agree with you there buddy. I have a friend that knock on wood will be benefiting from this last unemployment extension. Is he "sitting on his ass, taking drugs and not looking for work" as I saw one conservative put it? Fuck no! But after the company he was working for downsized (managing to hit just about everyone who had been there awhile and was making a decent wage, natch) Terry found out quickly that at 50 his job prospects in this economy are slim and none.

    Now his wife has had to get on unemployment because she has carpal tunnel so bad in her right hand she can't even lift a glass with it and if things don't pick up I'll be amazed if they'll be in their home this time next year. I seriously think those conservatives screaming about the "lazy unemployed" need a fucking reality check and ought to have to spend 6 months working a real job instead of sitting on their asses and collecting bribes...err I mean campaign contributions.

    I live in one of the rural states (AR) and people are shopping at Goodwill and working 2 jobs just to stay alive, if they are lucky enough to find a second job that is. I think everyone in America should be fucking ashamed that we have had 7 old folks die this year simply because they were afraid to turn on their AC for fear they couldn't pay the bill. I'm only glad my grandpa who fought and suffered in WWII and Korea isn't here to see this, because frankly you could probably power half the state with the amount of revolutions that man is spinning in his grave. This is NOT the country he and so many of his generation fought and bled for!

  • by EvanED ( 569694 ) <evaned@gmail. c o m> on Monday August 09, 2010 @02:52AM (#33186294)

    *sigh* You don't get it. First off, the reason so many people pirate today is because of DRM.

    No, that's not "the" reason so many people pirate today. You're fucking posting in a story about how a DRM-free game is holding a sale because of 90% piracy rates, and this is not the first time a similar story has come up on /. The Humble Indy Bundle was distributed without DRM and letting people pay whatever they want (down to a penny!), and a quarter of the people who downloaded the games from their servers were pirating it!

    The numbers don't add up to match your anecdotes.

    Except that every major studio has switched to DRM to kill used games and to nickel and dime people.

    People say the intent of DRM is to kill the used game market, and while that is a fortunate-to-the-studios side effect, I'm not convinced it's the main reason. Look at consoles... the used market in console games is healthy enough.

    No, I actually think that, in most cases, the people who decide to use DRM actually think it will help the piracy problem.

    The fact that you're defending them for putting it in there makes you a defender of DRM.

    Where did I defend them for putting in DRM? I said it's their right to make that decision, and that it's not your right to decide that you're going to play anyway, but I never said that them using DRM was a good decision or that they should do it.

    If every car dealer started putting a credit card reader in the dashboard and you had to swipe your credit car and pay to start the car, would you really support the car dealers and say "if you don't like it, don't buy a car"? I doubt it.

    So first of all, your analogy doesn't quite line up in a very important aspect. Assuming what you're getting at is that, in your car analogy, you would hack your car, then the analogy is more like "I'll buy the game but try to hack it so that the DRM doesn't do its job." And that I will say is ethical, assuming that you don't then distribute the hacked version. (Distributing instructions on how to do the hack is fine.) But that's not what you're trying to justify doing.

    Second, in the analogous world, not every car dealer has installed the interlock, just all the big ones. There would still be a few out there, including some dealers that sell quite nice cars at affordable prices, that don't. And in such a world, why would you go to the big dealers that use the interlock? (Of course this hints at another big problem, which is that you'll probably only have one or two cars, but many games.)

    The fact that no DRM has ever stopped piracy is a pretty glaring point that it's not designed to fight piracy.

    That's not a very good point considering that (1) DRM by its very nature is essentially impossible and (2) there have been reasonable successful DRM schemes short-term. I mean, consider Assassin's Creed 2, mentioned elsewhere in the comments to this story. That DRM went for about a month before being cracked. If you buy the popular lore that a substantial proportion of the copies of a game are sold shortly after release for most games, then that DRM was actually reasonably successful.

    I'll leave you with a quote - "We must all fear evil men. But there is another evil that we should fear most - and that is the indifference of good men". You, my friend, are indifferent. I choose to fight those who desire is to harm and take advantage of people, all while making a profit while their customers lose.

    I am not indifferent -- I have passed over games because of their DRM (e.g. Spore, C&C 4). However I don't pretend that I have some right to play the games that I choose simply because their publishers implement unreasonable DRM.

    To be snarky, I'm actually usually willing to accept some inconvenience for my principles, unlike you.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday August 09, 2010 @02:57AM (#33186304) Homepage Journal

    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 to, even if they could.

    Why should they pay for it and worry about their next purchase when they could have both it for free AND the next purchase?

    Mostly, because people are people and on average a lot more honest and moral than, say, corporations which do not have to burden themselves with such things as culture and emotions.

    I thought the financial crises would've served to drive that point home. Banks are "afraid" of people defaulting on their houses, and yet it turns out that a) banks themselves are a lot worse in handling money and risk than home owners (on average) are and b) rich people default on houses a lot more often than poor people.

    It is not about money. It's about honesty and values. Funny how capitalism ignores some of the most fundamental elements of humanity. Maybe we should have realized that it is a theoretical system to describe economic interactions in an idealized thought-world, not a religion.

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Monday August 09, 2010 @06:13AM (#33186924) Homepage

    For the GPL to have the power of sharing, it requires copyright law.

    Actually, no, that's a myth often repeated. GPL uses copyright law because it enables its purposes, but you don't need to keep all copyright law to enable the GPL.
    GPL just needs a law that says "if the author of the software wants it, all derivatives must release their code". You could scrap copyright law and enact a new law like this.
    There is a nice post by a lawyer (iirc) about this, but I've misplaced the URL.

    Saying sharing isn't bad, piracy is sharing, and therefore piracy isn't bad is a leap in logic. Piracy is directly ripping artists and other content creators off, making sure they don't get paid while you still enjoy the fruits of their labor. It's the OPPOSITE of sharing.

    Of course it's sharing. John has a song, he shares it with Steve, now Steve has the song too. How did he not share?
    The question isn't if it's sharing, it's if it's moral to share in certain cases. But the logic is solid. If the person considers sharing to be always good, then both file sharing and GPL are good.

    By the way, file sharing isn't always "ripping artists and other content creators off". Sharing music of Charlie Parker (dead for 55 years) is still illegal, but hardly "ripping off artists".

  • by dgower2 ( 1487929 ) on Monday August 09, 2010 @04:28PM (#33194824)

    "You'd be a Homer Simpson if you paid after that."

    No, you'd be HONEST! Great! people associate honesty with being dumb. The end is near - lol.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama