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

Response to pirates

Ok, I did a lot of thinking about it, and rather than post it as a blog post, with all the inevitable crashing and website burning that would involve, I’ve posted my response


Feel free to comment here though…

57 thoughts on Response to pirates

  1. I did copy games in the 1980’s, but don’t do that any more. I thought about posting my thoughts about pirating, but maybe I’ll just stick to what makes me buy games.

    I’m currently buying PC games mostly from Steam, and mostly non-hardcore titles. For more costly games, I think I’d still go for boxed versions, since typically they’re better value for money (often less expensive than the downloadable version, and they come with physical stuff).

    I think I’m unlikely to buy indy games outside Steam, just because Steam is accessible. It advertises games to me, it lets me search a pretty big catalogue, and it’s quite easy downloading demos and then buying the games. All uses the same interface, lets me use PayPal, …

    I only buy games with demos. How much demo is required depends on how quickly the game grabs me and the price. I bought Sam & Max seasons 1,2 because an episode was given for free, and I liked it, and because there was a sale at one time (before that I tried to buy Season 1 in a box, though the store just ran out of them after my order).

    I bought The Wonderful End of the World and just bought Trials 2: Second Edition because the demos were enough to convince me that I’d enjoy playing more, and because their price is under $10. Their demos are not that long, but under $10 is in my “impluse purchase” range, and I’m actually actively looking (on Steam) for enjoyable games in that price range.

    Regarding DRM, it depends. I think the main issues are the hassle and feeling of ownership. If DRM causes me problems with my computer (as StarForce did), then I definitely don’t want it. If it prevents me from doing things I feel are legitimate (such as installing on more than one PC), or makes them hard, then I don’t want it either. Steam is a form of DRM, but it lets me do most of what I want without too much hassle (though it’s still a bit of a hassle sometimes), so I’m generally okay with it.

  2. Not all pirates are thieves. I do not believe in stealing someone else’s work; everyone should be compensated for their sweat and blood. In fact, given how some companies treat their customers it should be seen as a form of boycotting.

    Given the irregularity with the entertainment industry in general, they can only blame themselves for this kind of backlash. Look at the lack of creativity when it comes to TV, music, movies and games. Sequel after sequel, same old formulas used time and time again. Now tack on lack of money, time, etc.

    How can anyone trust games from companies like EA, who’s games fall somewhere between miss and barely passable hit?

    With games costing $40-$60 a pop (with the “good” ones typically being in the $60 category) people can’t afford to drop money into something that will entertain them for 3 days, or be a complete bomb altogether. This is especially true for the college student demographic; they’re broke yet they’re the ones who indulge in such media the most. Older gamers tend to pirate less due to money not being as big an issue.

    Even with the introduction of digital purchases, consumers rarely see the benefit in lower prices or otherwise. EA for example, only let’s you download a game you purchased and registered for 6 months. You need to pay them $7 extra in order to have access for a full 2 years. The default 6 months is of course absorbed, so it’s only a 1.5 year extension. Ironically their games are actually cheaper to buy in hard copy. (I totally feel you with Steam, Valve continues to pleasantly impress me)

    People want quality. People may bitch and moan that they want earlier release dates, but in reality most people want to have a quality product; why bother otherwise? The majority of gamers I know honestly care very little about graphics and deadlines; the two aspects big companies tend to focus on. Gamers want more quality games with less frequency; it seems like you can never enjoy a game more than once anymore because there is no depth to them, no replayability. Consumerism at its worst; buy one mediocre game after another, because the fun keeps running out.

    There are those of us out there that realize the problem that exists between trying to stick it to the man and giving developers their fare share.

    I have been known to test full versions of games as many others, but there is a distinct difference. I only acquire games I would otherwise not risk buying. If the demo doesn’t tell me enough of the story (I’ve been burned trusting demos before) then full version here we come. If the game proves to be a good one I *will* buy it, no questions asked even if it means the box will gather dust. If it turns out to be crap as I expected, the company doesn’t lose a sale because it never had one in the first place! It is because of this mentality that companies are actually making more sales, and more money. Their numbers are based off the prediction that every pirated copy would have been a sale which is a very flawed perception! The number of sales they may have lost due to people being cheap would have happened anyway; if people are determined not to pay for something they won’t.

    Take solace in the fact that there are those of us out there who buy software that deserves buying. Boycotting shitty products is not stealing!


  3. Hi,

    I bought nearly all of Positech games – except DII (Democracy 2), which I duly pirated. Let me explain why:
    First, I was surprised that an upgrade to DI cost me MORE than DI itself. I don’t think of DII as a completely new game as much as only the improvement of DI.
    Second, the demo was so short it ran out even before the first election. The friend of mine told me his DII crashes every election and that it couldn’t be resolved. I don’t have time nor patience to resolve serious issues, especially not after paying 20 bucks.
    Third, I actually wasn’t able to buy the game at the time, because the MC transaction could not be completed due to unidentified (system) error. This was the only time I had problems buying a game. I didn’t want to wait again…
    Fourth, I had many, many difficulties downloading the demo and other games (server error after 30 minutes, and with my 128kbps connection I need that time). It is so easy to look up for torrent versions – and guess what, I can’t find any legal way to obtain full games via torrents, only pirated… time to think…
    Therefore, I tried the (more or less randomly obtained) pirated version (determined to pay if I was satisfied with the game), and I found out the game kept crashing when elected, and that it failed to offer completely new experience to DI. It got boring (because I played DI that long months before) very soon and I stopped playing the game the same day. If Positech’d had offered better (lasting) demo, I could have discovered that sooner and saved myself the trouble of pirating…

    Later, I did buy Rock Legend (a very frustrating game, but it taught me something). I don’t feel guilty pirating DII at all. After all, other game developers offer discount prices for game upgrades similar to the savings with pirating DII (but buying other Positech games including DI). And I have to try hard every week to save 20$ to reduce my debts…

    Anyway, good luck with selling all your “in average above-average” games, especially with Kudos 2, which I definitely will buy if half the promises about the game are met!

  4. hi,
    I read off this post from a chinese website (dunno if they got ur permission or not) I know you have drawn a conclusion but I just want you have have more think of it and I am sure it can help you in future.
    I have a ps2 for about 5 years or more now, and I can say I have at least over 50 of these pirate copies game. I know it sounds a large amount of number but I also myself owned 23 real game. Most of which I have already got the copy. The reason is for me, buying real games are not necessarily a way to play game but rather, it is a way for me to keep playing in the future (I take very good care of my real game) and also as a respect the production team.
    So for me, it is a ‘whole-game’ demo and if I like it, I will buy it. May be even special edition, I bought metal gear solid 2 in jap and eng version simply because the eng ver. have a second fan disc.

    I can suggest a good solution to this problem. PS3, it still doesn’t have sale of pirate copies, the psn store is rilli nice, I bought 2 games on it, and lastly, because ps3 can play online game for free, if you can manage to figure a way to stop the private copy to play online, it would rip off big reason to buy copy.
    To compare with xbox360 and wii, they have the problem of pirate copies, xbox360 need to pay to play online and wii don’t rilli have any online gaming.

    I know this sounds silly but for many of my fds who owns both ps3 and xbox360, ps3 free online gaming is so much more appearal.

    so, have a think about it ^^

  5. The ‘bug’ where the game crashes during the election, is in fact a bug in the crack that the idiots who tried to crack my game put in. Read my forums and you will find that the full version works perfectly.
    Why people expect a game that has been hex edited by Russian kids to work as well as the original amazes me. Of course cracked games are buggy.

  6. I just wanted to say thanks for making this post, and in general your whole attitude. Yes, I’m a bit late to the party, but hey.
    I love it that there’s some developer(s?) that isn’t just going “ARRRR THEM DAMN PIRATES, ARR” and actually thinking of how to improve the situation instead of just assuming they’re (well, me too) bastard criminals and nothing can be done about it.

    Personally, I pirate games occasionally because I don’t have that much money, since I’m just a student. So it’s pretty much exactly like one of those types you listed. I have much free time to spend playing games but not enough money to pay for all of them. I do buy lots of games too, though.

    I’ll try the demo of DII now, since the game seems quite intriguing. And most probably buy it if I like it, since it’s just ~15 euros.

    Best of luck to you with future games :)

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