The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 12
Piracy is something you hear about
quite often in gaming, especially on the PC side of things. It's
hard to go a week without someone trotting out those discouraging
statistics showing that far more people will steal a game than pay
for it, or just how much internet traffic is dedicated solely to
piracy. It's not a fun topic, to be sure.
Piracy tends to get a little divisive,
too. Ordinary gamers on the receiving end tend to feel like they're
being accused, like they did something wrong. Anti-piracy advocates
can be a little strident sometimes. Who can blame them, though?
Developers put a ton of work into a game and people blatantly take
it. Game studios quite literally cannot function if they don't get
paid. They don't develop games out of the goodness of their heart.
They have to eat just like everyone else.
Solving piracy has proven elusive. Some
developers try to ignore it and release their games without any sort
of copyright protection software (DRM). Unfortunately, those games
get pirated pretty heavily. Other publishers, especially Ubisoft, try
to release games with as much DRM as possible. Those games get
pirated pretty heavily anyway, and they irritate legitimate
Seriously, guys. What the hell.
It kind of looks like there's no
solution for this sort of problem. If games get pirated with and
without DRM, how does an honest developer boost sales? It's a tough
question. Unfortunately, the discussion about piracy often denigrates
into name-calling and personal insults. A lot of that is due to
frustration over not finding a solution, I think.
To be honest, I lied in the title. There is no magic bullet
for piracy. It's far too large a problem to ever be tacked easily. There is, however, one thing that greatly
decreases piracy. It's absurdly simple but surprisingly powerful.
The average gamer (myself included)
does not have a ton of patience. We don't like to jump through
hoops and fight against stringent DRM just to play our games. One of
the most commonly-cited reasons for piracy is that it's just the
easiest way to play a game or watch a television show. Probably the
best example of this is a very persuasive comic (warning: profanity) from The Oatmeal
summing up why so many people (including myself) have turned to
For example, Game of Thrones.
HBO's Emmy-winning drama is probably the best fantasy series of the
past decade. Geeks such as myself love the show. It's gritty,
realistic, sweeping, epic... and only available to HBO subscribers.
No problem, right? Geeks will support something they love (even Star
Wars in 3D). Surely HBO included another way for us to watch the
show other than paying around $100 a month for an HBO subscription.
Oh wait, no they didn't. Game of
Thrones was available (legally) to only HBO subscribers for an
entire year. The first season didn't release on DVD until
around the start of season two. That's ridiculous. Fans don't
want to wait an entire year to watch an amazing show. This leaves us
with two options: a ridiculously expensive HBO subscription, or
Editor's note: It has been pointed out that this paragraph might be a teensy bit illegal. It has been redacted.
Hm. Looking back over this blog, that
last bit sounds a little entitled. It's not like we geeks
have some right to the show and HBO has to bend over backwards to
On the other hand...
what should happen. Companies should actively work to give us
convenient ways to buy their stuff. Is that whiny and entitled? Yep.
However, if HBO wants my money, then they should give me a reasonable
option. That's called customer service.
The same lesson could really go for
game developers. If a publisher wants to cripple their game with
intrusive, annoying DRM, then gamers won't bother with the legal
copy crippled with copyright protection. They'll just steal the
game. Nobody understands this lesson better than Valve. Their online
game service Steam is a superb example of how to cater to your
customers' every entitled need. Steam is successful because it's
actually more convenient than piracy.
power of convenience should never be underestimated. I browse Reddit
quite often, and one of the most common themes in discussions of
piracy is "I would buy it if I could." People who live in other
countries (e.g. not the United States) often don't have any legal
way to access movies or TV shows or games. When that happens, piracy
is literally the only option.
That's really the point here. People
who make games or music or movies, don't hamstring legal customers
with rules and regulations. When given a chance, a surprisingly large
number of people will do the right thing and pay for a game. Just
give them the chance.