Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Genuine call for emails from pirates

Having read the Rock paper Shotgun coverage of this (different prices for games on PC vs Console) and the recent complaining about the price of braid, best characterised here…┬á added to the torrent of blog comments I get from people annoyed at my attitude to piracy, I thought it was about time to do this:

I want to know why people pirate my games. I honestly do.

This is not some silly attempt to start a flamewar, it’s not at attempt to change anyones mind about anything. I don’t want to argue my side of it, and there is zero ulterior motive. I’m not looking to ‘catch’ anyone, or prove any points.

I know what I don’t know. And what I don’t know is WHY people pirate MY games. I might be able to get a general idea as to why people pirate stuff *in general* from reading warez forums, and every other story on digg, but I’m not interested in the general case. I want to improve my business, and ensure I stay afloat, and to do that, it would be mad to sit in the corner and ignore the opinions of that section of the public who pirate my games.

Is it 10%? is it 95%? I don’t know. Are they generally kids, or adults? I don’t know. And most vitally of all, WHY do they not buy them, but pirate them. This is what I want to be told. More information and insight is never a bad thing.

So this is a public, genuine, honest request for opinions. Preferably by email, or you can comment here, but wordpress isn’t known for handling that many comments well. You can email me at cliff AT positech dot co dot uk. It helps if you put ‘piracy’ at the email subject.

What I will NOT do:

I won’t publicise who emailed me, or even store the addresses, share them, tell anyone them, or make any use of them whatsoever. I’ll just read them, nothing else. It will be entirely off-the-record and effectively anonymous. I won’t hand any email addresses to the RIAA, MPAA, BSA or anyone at all under any circumstances ever.

What I WILL do:

I will read every single one, and keep an open mind. I will listen to what you have to say, and how I can use that to make games that sell more, sell more copies of what I have, convert more people to become buyers, and generally make everyone happy

I will post a summary of the emails I got, without identifying anyone.

I will give genuine thought to what I could or should change about my business, me, my games, everything, in order to address the issues raised.

Please email me, and please be honest. Don’t try and use any justifications you think may just be self-justifications that you know aren’t true. If you did it just because you knew you wouldn’t get caught, say so. if you did it because you think the games crap, say so. This is only helpful if everyone is 100% honest. It would be nice to know how you made the decision to pirate. Did you look at the price? did you consider buying it? under what circumstances would your choice have been different etc etc. Please make sure its about MY games. If you pirate photoshop because of X, that’s no help. if you hate the MPAA and RIAA, and you pirate music, but haven’t pirated my games, that’s no help.

if you are one of the thousands of people reading this who bought my games. THANKYOU. I really appreciate it. without you, I’d be working as a boat builder, an IT support engineer, an guitar teacher, or something else that I wasn’t very good at. Thankfully I get to do what I love, which is design games. My company would not exist without you, and the last 4 games would definitely never have got made (Democracy, Kudos, Rock legend, Democracy 2).

Final note:

Please don’t post any links, suggestions or hints as to WHERE to pirate my games in any comments. Despite being genuinely interested to hear from you, I do NOT think it’s acceptable, and for obvious reasons (not least rising fuel and food bills in the UK) I want people to BUY the games, not pirate them.

If you came here from a link and think What games? Look here.


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302 thoughts on Genuine call for emails from pirates

  1. Gotta confession to make. Sometimes I pirate quite a lot of stuff… feel a little guilty about it, but I justify it to myself because “i wouldn’t pay anyway so it doesn’t really matter”. Most of the games come from big companies (TES, from bethesda) but theres some music from small bands and a couple random songs. I find I don’t really have a reason to pirate things except for the convenience (don’t have to search music/game stores for items) and of course, the cost.

    Some hesitant advice, because this is the first time ive thought about this, really.
    The “humble bundle” and other “pay what you want” things make me uncomfortable about pirating, in a good way (you know what I mean). I’m only guessing, but I think I would pay around 10 dollars (AUS) for a game (doesn’t matter if its indie or big company (though if it has like 3 levels then ill pay less)). Even though I know this isn’t actually enough to pay within reason, I am a student and have no job, so…

    I think that one of the reasons people pirate so easily is because they don’t see the effects.


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