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…  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.


DIGG this story

Students, piracy and HITLER (yes really)

I read about a law going through in the USA that attempts to cut down on student piracy on US college campuses.

One of the aspects of all this which makes me despair a bit is the attitude of the students that they are somehow entitled to free everything, music, movies, games etc… Be warned, I’m about to sound like an old man…

I think this is part of a general trend in the west, and I think it’s because of adolf hitler. Here is why…

My grandfathers generation, and to some extent my fathers, lived through World War 2. My Grandfather was a soldier fighting in Africa and Burma. They put up with a serious lack of everything. No cod during the war, no decent meat during the war, no bloody anything basically. You ate what you were given, and you were thankful. People put up with a lot, make-do-and-mend etc etc.

That kind of attitude sticks with you for life, and when that generation had kids, they drilled it into their kids too. The value of a hard days work, respect for the law, making do with what you have etc etc.

But that next generation grew up without any disasters or wars to speak of. They lived relatively happy, prosperous lives, without fear of invasion, war, or serious food shortages or poverty. People got used to enjoying entertainment without seeing it as a luxury, but part of life. When it was time for them to have kids, they stopped drilling the military drill-sergeant attitudes into their kids.

Those are the kids now at college.

I noticed it recently whilst food shopping. There was a woman with her young kid (maybe 6? 8?) accompanying her on the weekly grocery shop. The mother was constantly subservient to the child. “would you eat this?” “do you want one of these?” “what would you like to eat?”. I couldn’t help but want to vomit. Maybe *we was poor but honest* when I was young, but I never had all that crap. I ate the food that was available. My parents bought it, so it was up to them. The idea that everyone else would work around my desires, when *they* were paying would seem farcical.

Yet this is how families operate now. Kids are the decision makers. They get to eat what they like, watch what they like, play what games they want, listen to what they want, and it’s all paid for by someone else. If mommy has to get into credit card debt to buy little jimmys xbox 360, she does it. End result: Kids who know the value of nothing, and expect everything to be given to them.

Complete bollocks? Who knows, but I certainly think there is a grain of truth here. Part of me does worry that if and when the current generation gets a serious shock (world war 3, or severe climate disaster), we just aren’t cut out to deal with it. Rather than all coming together with ‘the blitz spirit’ we will become feral and confrontational, hating to consider even the tiniest sacrifice in our own standards, regardless of how much it is needed. Just looks at how people resist even changing a light-bulb to literally save the planet. We live amongst the ‘everything for nothing’ generation, and I’m pretty sure it’s a bad thing.

Cue summaries of this post that say “game developer links piracy to hitler”. Feel free, It’s all publicity for me :D

Yes, That was me on ‘the today program’

If you aren’t from the UK, or are not over 30 you might not know what the today program is. It’s the early morning weekday news program on BBC radio 4. It has a lot of listeners, but it’s impact is way bigger than that, because it’s the #1 place that politicians get grilled by journalists, and news stories are often broken by it.

Famously, it’s also used by the captains of british nuclear submarines to detect nuclear war. A sub under radio silence listens for the today program each morning. If it doesn’t hear the program for several days running it assumes the UK has been destroyed.

No I’m not kidding.

Anyway… this morning they were discussing music piracy, but seemed incapable of calling a spade a spade, and kept calling it ‘file-sharing’ instead, which anti-copyright kids think makes it sound cuddly and harmless. So I emailed them, and they read out my email on the air. bwahahahahah. here it is:

I see you have swallowed the anti-copyright crap wholesale. It’s not
‘file-sharing’ its theft, or piracy. Are you now going to call shoplifting
‘food-sharing’? is car theft ‘car-sharing’?
Stop dancing around the issue. File-sharing is theft and the people doing it
should be prosecuted.

Made me feel better :D

Imaginary Property!!!111111ONEONEONE

It’s popular amongst anti-copyright dorks to use the phrase ‘imaginary property’ when they are ranting about Intellectual property, usually as some juvenile method to rationalise pirating music, movies and games. Apparently, IP is just ‘imaginary property’, so why should they pay for it?

Lets make a deal, I’ll let you pay for my Imaginary property using that imaginary money in your bank account. Both exist purely as strings of numbers, agreed? But of course, if you don’t think that trivially copied strings of data have any value, please email me your sortcode, account number and bank login details. I’d like to ‘share’ your bank balance. Sharing is caring right?