World Of Goo Piracy Rate: “82%”

By John Walker on November 15th, 2008 at 12:03 pm.

Too much effort went into this one.

The post yesterday reporting World of Goo’s 90% piracy figure drew a surprising response. The P-word regularly generates comments threads that scare our hosts, but this one was odd. It became a discussion about whether one could disprove the 90% figure, and then extrapolating this to reach peculiar conclusions. Some could see this as people claiming there were far fewer stab wounds than first predicted and therefore there hadn’t been a murder. Others might suggest that fighting over the exact number is completely irrelevant, as that’s not the point of the issue. Now 2D BOY have responded with new look at the figures.

In response to the vociferous arguments that dynamic IPs and multiple installations could be responsible for a lot of the 90% of registered IPs against sales, 2D BOY dug deeper. While it’s true that a dynamic IP, or second installation, would appear as a unique user, that doesn’t take into account the player IDs. The majority of those whose IP rolls around with each connection would still be using the same player name. So based on player names, 2D BOY discovered that there are 1.3 IP addresses per player – not the figures that many were spuriously claiming.

The stats are these:

76% of players have contacted the server from 1 IP
13% from 2 IPs
5% from 3 IPs
3% from 4 IPs
1% from 5 IPs
1% from 6 IPs
1% from more than 6

Of course it will be pointed out that each game has room for three player IDs, and they took this into account too.

“we also looked at how many players IDs were created (rather than used) from each IP address. given that the vast majority of player IDs are associated with only a single IP, this is a fairly accurate measure of how many profiles the average user created. on average, a player has 1.15 profiles per installation.[Their emphasis]

It then completely nerds out to get the figures. I’ll not summarise, but paste their maths:

when we take the total number of player IDs (which is smaller than the number of unique IPs from which leaderboard entries came) and divide it by 1.15 (the average number of profiles per installation) the number of estimated unique installations drops by about 35% as compared to the estimate based on unique IPs. let us further say that the average user installs the game on 1.25 computers with different IPs (i.e. not behind the same router), which i think is a high estimate. that lowers the estimated unique installations by another 20%. after factoring both of these in, the piracy rate would still be 82%, and we should keep in mind that this number doesn’t include those who never opted to submit scores to the leaderboard (it’s an option that’s off by default). so while it’s possible that the actual piracy rate is lower than 90%, it’s unlikely that it’s significantly lower. 2d boy hopes this satisfies the more rigorous number crunchers out there :)

A drop from 90 to 80% makes one difference: it means there are twice as many legitimate copies out there as previously thought. But twice 1 out of 10 is 2 out of 10 – it’s not the most enormous leap.

I’m sure that many will pick at the maths above and argue their reasoning why they think this number might be lower (or even higher), but I’m not sure that’s relevant. Unless there’s a dramatic proof out there that slashes this figure into a quarter, it strikes me as a distraction. If one can’t destroy this number, and therefore the 82% figure is close enough to accurate, given that it might be slightly lower or higher, what then? That’s the interesting discussion. Is this piracy a problem?

2D BOY certainly don’t believe that adding DRM to their game would have made any difference. (I would argue that logic dictates this – something that is always cracked on Day 0/1, and only affects the legitimate customers and not the pirates, is going to do nothing realistic. But clearly very few publishers agree, so there’s still much debate to be had). But have they been robbed of 86% of their sales? Again, the implication from the company is they think perhaps 1 or 2 of every 1000 of those pirated copies could have been a sale. But there’s still tens of thousands of people with a copy without paying for it, far more than those who did pay.

Here’s another question. If piracy figures don’t represent lost sales, what do they represent? Is it an indictment of humanity? Are they free advertising? Could 2D BOY have benefited in any way from them? Or are they causing active harm?

Whatever the significance of the PC’s piracy rates, the results from 2D BOY make one thing very clear: While some of us are paying for our fun, a lot of us are not.

Edit: A rather significant statement from 2D BOY’s Ron Carmel appears below in the comments. It’s helpful to put it up here:

“by the way, just in case it’s not 100% clear, we’re not angry about piracy, we still think that DRM is a waste of time and money, we don’t think that we’re losing sales due to piracy, and we have no intention of trying to fight it.”

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614 Comments »

  1. Dan Lawrence says:

    @Rev

    All report the same crime, all report a different crime the hypothetical still falls down in its statistical improbability. I thought them all reporting the same crime was just slightly more possible so I used that to make the best of your example. Given that this is a question of how people should act then the statistical unlikelyhood of loads of people all calling the police at the same time makes it a very, very small factor in a decision you make via the categorical imperative. You can still wish as a general rule that people should call the police to report a crime. Just as you can still wish as a general rule that people don’t pirate their games as if eveyone did the opposite of these the consequences are bad for everyone. Thats the Categorical Imperative.

  2. Paul Moloney says:

    Rev: “As before: do you mean “people” as in “individual persons”, or “people” as in “the collective mass of all humans”

    Individual persons.

    Sam:

    “Well, in psychological tests where people are given the choice of cooperating or not, there are a surprising number of people who are prepared to “take one for society”. (”

    Of course; to apply to this particular instance, this would be the group of people (an estimated 18%, in the case of WoG) who choose to pay for the game instead of the vast majority who choose not to. In that case, 18% is a surprising number.

    P.

  3. Duoae says:

    Do you think that people never act in a way detrimental to the group as a whole, or not?

    As before: do you mean “people” as in “individual persons”, or “people” as in “the collective mass of all humans”?

    I think it can be effectively argued that both cases have and will continue to happen. There is no point in trying to split the difference when there is no difference if we’re taking a look at a distribution of human actions on a personal, group or societal scale:
    A person can and will act against the good of the entire group/society. A person or persons can direct a group or society to act in against the good of the entire group/society.

  4. cullnean says:

    why argue here? all people do is grasp at a word or a sentence and ignore what is being said.

    and both sides of the fence im sitting on are guilty of this.

  5. Dan Lawrence says:

    @Jon
    Yes Jon, if everyone knowingly posted here all at once in the knowledge that the site would crash then it would be unethical for each individual to participate.

  6. Sam says:

    @Paul Moloney:
    Precisely. So, we can guess that that’s probably a reasonable figure to use for our guesses about the fraction of (physics game playing) humanity who would pay for stuff in general, if you could get it for free.
    It’d be interesting to know what fraction of humanity in general would do so…

  7. Duoae says:

    All report the same crime, all report a different crime the hypothetical still falls down in its statistical improbability. I thought them all reporting the same crime was just slightly more possible so I used that to make the best of your example.

    Actually there are known cases were people reporting the same crime/incident has completely overwhelmed the emergency services due to them not being able to handle the volume – just as has been shown for ISPs oversubscribing their service and phone mobile phone communications going down around new year’s eve.

    Anyway, back to the point, those times were 11/9 in New York and 7/7 London. Once the system is down it causes a lot of harm and police are unable to respond to new incidents that may occur.
    One thing that has come out of those experiences is that the emergency services prefer that not everyone start phoning their relatives, loved ones or the police etc until after the event…. if they do get bogged down then they simply curtail everyone’s ability to do so, allowing emergency communications to override/have priority over everything else.

  8. Kieron Gillen says:

    JonR: People have picked up on it, thankfully. Hope you get it now. I’m deleting your post though because it doesn’t include anything relevant and is just an insult. Catch up with the thread and see if there’s anything you want to argue with.

    KG

  9. Rev. S Campbell says:

    All report the same crime, all report a different crime the hypothetical still falls down in its statistical improbability. I thought them all reporting the same crime was just slightly more possible so I used that to make the best of your example. Given that this is a question of how people should act then the statistical unlikelyhood of loads of people all calling the police at the same time makes it a very, very small factor in a decision you make via the categorical imperative. You can still wish as a general rule that people should call the police to report a crime. Just as you can still wish as a general rule that people don’t pirate their games as if eveyone did the opposite of these the consequences are bad for everyone. Thats the Categorical Imperative.

    To be honest, I’ve utterly lost track of whatever point is under debate here.

  10. Jon R. says:

    No more bright ideas about the whole thing being like chewing gum in class, where the teacher asks if you brought enough for everyone? Because that was really productive to put forth.

  11. John Walker says:

    Tom, people are making reasonably sophisticated arguments, and taking a lot of their time to address your points, and you’re behaving very peculiarly in response. I’m not sure what people are saying quite warrants your outbursts.

    Others, there have been plenty of warnings about personal insults. They won’t survive.

  12. Kieron Gillen says:

    Jon: We had a funny metaphor about the legs on a stool in the RPS room we argued for ages. I could bring that out.

    I’m sorry about offending you by bringing considerations of morals into an argument about parasitism.

    KG

  13. Duoae says:

    To be honest, I’ve utterly lost track of whatever point is under debate here.

    I think that it was about humans (individuals and groups) not all doing the same thing or doing the same thing to positively or negatively affect themselves through acts that are concurrent but not coordinated.

    i.e. It stemmed from the argument that although all people (plural) could pirate a game not everyone would because some would assign value to the product and thus pay the developers for it and that even with everyone not acting in unison, we would never reach a situation where piracy was universal unless actively encouraged by governing bodies and content producers.

    I think.

  14. Heiocentric says:

    I’ve been trying to follow this thread but to be honest the topic here is a clash of ideologies.

    My take: Group 1 believes the system is stable and right or wrong, the other group believes it is instable and unsustainable.

    In truth a golden age can be killed by a removal of economic motivation especially in a system with economic requirements. Looking at games as an “industrial art-form” “money makes the world go round” means that ideally commercialization will support the higher level art by raising the general understanding and expectation in the average user and allowing the user base to expand itself.

    Need these users all be “customers”*? I’d suggest no but should ever too many not be paying customers the system would falter and the aspect of the industrial art-form would fall.

    I’d suggest that all the people who “know” the answer to this quandary are arrogant, and also wrong, yes I mean you angry internet man!

    *ad clicks make a person a customer too, television support this model almost to the exclusion of other means of income. So web games, and the likes of Battlefield: Heroes and Company of heroes: online destroy the concept of theft just as you cannot “steal” the profit from web space (except, block the adverts and you can), but its a layer of abstraction which seems to improve the model of industrialization in the face of low entry capacity users.

  15. Heiocentric says:

    By “system” i refer to the current economic structure of game production, and by unsustainable i mean the potential that piracy could actually cause a dark age in game production by taking big business out of the development. As a side, the implication that those big companies on any level are a requirement for even “some” of the games within the art-form which carry merit (even if just economic merit).

  16. Dan Lawrence says:

    @Heiocentric

    I think that recently in the last 100 or so posts the discussion has actually drifted to morality. There also seemed to be some debate as to whether piracy was compatible with Kant’s Categorical Imperative which seemed to confuse people in the end. I still contend that Piracy is not compatible with it and if you want to accept piracy as a morally right action you have to reject the Categorical Imperative.

    Then again all philosophers are just a bunch of drunks right :)

  17. Duoae says:

    Jobless drunks!

    ;)

  18. pepper says:

    I find it interesting that people say no more games will be made eventually if piracy would continue, but then the industry couldnt be growing either. and the last time i heard those numbers it told me it should be bigger then the music and video industry by now? What does this tell us about the pricing of games? For i believe there heavily overpriced when new in stores. As a lot of other products are to. Maby this is why the industry is still able to grow and find new markets.

  19. Pags says:

    And no-one pays any attention to Kant anyway unless they’re knocking him. Nietzsche is so much trendier.

  20. Subject 706 says:

    Eh…well this thread is now 568 posts long, but I simply couldn’t resist chiming in, even though I’m kinda late to the party.

    I actually wonder about the 90% figure being true for most games. If that’s the case, Crysis which sold 1,5 million, would be played by 15 million people. Civ 4 which sold three million, would be played by 30 million people. Are those really believable figures? Because if they are, and if publishers really think 1 pirated copy = 1 lost sale, then I’m amazed that DRM is still as primitive and cumbersome as it is. I mean for fucks sake, they’d have 15 to 30 million potential customers out there. You’d think that’d warrant some serious research.

    But, I’m more inclined to agree with thiefsie. PC gaming is much more of a niche than console gaming, with the exception WOW of course, which is more like a social virus…
    Then again, then you’d think that more publishers would latch on to what Stardock did with Sins. Niche title with a small budget (reportedly around $ 1 million), which sold around 500k. 100K were digital downloads. The price was still for a normal game, i.e. around say $40. You do the math for that.

    Still having comparatively large markets in the consoles, hasn’t exactly opened up the major publishers to especially much risk taking. The absolute majority of new titles are still FPS:es or FPS derivatives of some kind. The simple fact is that most publishers want not only profit, but maximum profit. And sad as it is, shooters work very well for that, and the largest market for shooters are consoles.

  21. Dan Lawrence says:

    @Pags

    Personally I’ve a lot of time for both philosophically, there is a reason its possible to divide philosophy between pre-Kantian and Post-Kantian. As writers? Nietzsche hands down. Says in a few words what many can’t say in three weighty tomes.

  22. Sam says:

    Several things I was thinking about on the train:

    1) The value of games, as agreed by society, is a wee bit confused anyway. There are tons of free indie games (some of which are better than the games in the other categories), and then lots of games of varying quality and investment with varying prices from £5 all the way up to £35+ for commercial titles. At the lower end, in particular, you could forgive the market for being confused about the fairness of pricing when you can get Dwarf Fortress (for example) for free, but have to pay money for games which are much less ambitious.
    I’m not sure this justifies piracy, but it does further confuse the issue of what a game is worth.

    2) Ingroup vs Outgroup. When people are being altruistic, studies suggest that they generally think about the benefits to what they consider to be “their group”. People are much less likely to be altruistic towards those outside their group (and this disparity is more intense in men than women). Piracy can be modelled as “cheating people outside your group” – thus, the best approach for a games producer is for them to make themselves better at “being part of a group”. Thus, we expect piracy to be worse for those who actively dissociate themselves from the customer group (using distancing approaches like DRM), and better for those more personable and personal (the small teams of Indie developers, as long as they’re friendly – cliffski’s angry comments probably increase the rate of piracy on his products because he comes across as angry and aggressive, although he’s probably a lovely chap otherwise).

  23. Larington says:

    Apparently the reach of Top Gear (Admittedly not a game) is 350 million, so, I dunno, maybe it is possible for millions of copies of a single game to be pirated. More importantly, which regions are the pirate downloads most common/numerous/significant in? – Poorer regions? Richer?

  24. The Apologist says:

    I want to first say thanks to those people posting so thoughtfully. It has helped me clarify what I think, though I am nervous posting as some of the arguments seem needlessly harshly put. If I have done the same further up, I apologise.

    Anyway, while it seems to me that while Rev has a point about piracy existing for many years, as Heiocentric points out, without some serious analysis it is hard to know whether it is a stable situation or not.

    The relaxed view about piracy hasn’t been able, in my view, to answer either of two important points:
    1) Because it seems fair to say that if we all behaved unethically by pirating games, few if any games would be released. It we commonly become relaxed about piracy and think it is not a problem for us, the behaviour may become more widespread and thus become a (greater) problem.
    2) That the relative prevalence of piracy of some kinds of games (e.g. AAA single-player games) vs others (e.g. subscription MMOs) means the market will skew heavily to products which can design out piracy

    I should also point out that a part of my passion on this is that I am one of the 18%, and piracy just plain upsets me.

    I think at the end of it all, my honest conclusion is that we should protect the commons like we do in television, and have a license fee for games and set up a British Gaming Corporation. What do we think?

  25. Jim Rossignol says:

    a British Gaming Corporation

    Awesome.

  26. Larington says:

    A good start would be for developers to pay more attention to the concerns of a games player-base, particularly with sequel development where certain players have spent more time playing the game from a players perspective than the developers (Not to say that the player-bases views shouldn’t be taken with a pinch of salt, but theres still got to be nuggets of truth there that shouldn’t be ignored).
    Sometimes it almost seems as though theres an arrogance in terms of a we’re right and the world is wrong attitude and it seems I’m not the only person mulling over this one either:
    http://www.igda.org/columns/clash/clash_Nov08.php

    Other times its a case of the ‘engineers have to tinker’ principle where so many changes are made that it doesn’t even seem like the same kind of game anymore.

  27. Sam says:

    @The Apologist:
    In response to your points:
    1) People already are pretty relaxed about piracy – the under-30s group don’t really see much wrong with it, judging from conversations at work and on the internets. And, yet, people still buy lots of games. I’m an optimist and would like to believe that enough people are like me (and you) and will remain like me and you to support the industry.
    2) It’s possible, yes. As mentioned before, though, that assumes that piracy has a strong effect on lost sales. If it doesn’t (which may be the case), then people being relaxed about it, including developers, would lead the pressure to produce unpirateable or less pirated games to evaporate.

  28. Tom says:

    Sorry. I do have an odd sense of humour. I’m not trying to offend, just messing around is all. Doesn’t translate translate well in text form, needs the accompanying actions and accent i guess.
    I think this thread is an amazing thing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it anywhere else. Well administered RPS.

  29. The Apologist says:

    @ Sam –

    re 1) I hope you are right! And I think the arguments here about the rights and wrongs might help…

    2) I personally think that Valve’s view on Steam’s impact on zero-day piracy several products in (HL2 notwithstanding) and the huge numbers paying for WoW would reasonably seem to have a bearing, though of course it is far from the only factor in the success of these games. But even the perception in the industry that designed in features or business models can improve the profitability of their games would surely be enough for a publisher?

    The BGC would help protect single player games, just like they protect obscure classical music! :)

  30. AbyssUK says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the BBC did indeed realise that gaming is a decent medium and started producing AAA games. A decent doctor who game would be very welcome.

  31. Klaus says:

    C’mon people, let’s break the 1k barrier! This is an awesome thread though, and I’m proud/ashamed/amazed to say that I have read every post here… and I’m still a fence sitter.

    I don’t think anyone here or anywhere really, can move me to any extremism. Piracy is how I found Baldur’s Gate 2, which I pirated and then bought and generally think as one the greatest games ever.

    I didn’t buy it to support the makers, I just bought it to own what I consider to be excellence. So I think instead of focusing a wealth of time on piracy it would be more effective to just make an awesome game. I don’t particularly have a problem with DRM as I crack everything anyway.

    I don’t think there is a time I played BG2 without the crack, so the ‘Disc in the drive’ never upset me.

  32. Meat Circus says:

    WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?

  33. PHeMoX says:

    WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?

    Ten points for trying! ^^

  34. Greg says:

    Two things, 1) Chris Delay of Introversion has also estimated a 1 in 10 sales per copies being actively played of their games. So this figure seems to be near constant for most developers.

    2) while I agree with the general sentiment of DRM == Bad. I disagree that this means that developers should not be able to protect themselves in a straightforward manner. Games in the 1980’s to present have practiced simple protections such as a player serial number or even clever and hilarious gimmicks like a decoder wheel (Starflight), or having to look up a phrase from a certain page of the manual. I think these things are totally fair to use, and go down much smoother if they are clever and funny.

    In a world of intellectual property, digital or otherwise, it is still the creators prerogative to do whatever they can to control the flow of their creative output, just as it is the prerogative of the casual pirate to download, crack or what have you. It’s a free world, and these forces should be seen as in constant battle with one-another. It’s the natural way of things. You release stuff, you try to get the guy’s money, the guy trys to thwart your efforts. It’s a time honored back-and-forth as old as commerce itself.

    I’m still not advocating SecureRom or heaven-forbid, Starforce. That shit is unforgivable and deserves to be broken with the utmost fervor. It remains to be seen if the trusted computing initiative or other hardware based consortiums take hold. but if they do, they will surely be broken, rightfully so.

  35. Allen says:

    I ended up pirating the game to see what it was all about after I started playing on my friend’s computer. Now, I may not have bought the game, but I am thinking this game would make a great Christmas gift for 4 or 5 of my friends. Really I could see this game given to a 5 year old or 40 year old… it is fun for all ages. The best thing about a Christmas gift is you really can’t give someone a pirated copy of something for Christmas… so I would expect lots of those people who did pirate it and love it, may buy this game for 1 or many people on their list this Christmas. I know I will…

  36. D says:

    >500 posts. Someone really thought they could solve piracy by debating on the internet?

    My take on this thread: I agree with everyone so far. Kantian ethics is fine, theoretically, but not real-world applicable because it’s ‘substance’ is completely subjective. Utilitarianism, same problem. A better representation is Hegel’s idea of using history as the substance to Kant’s form.
    So that would be saying: peoples will pirate because pirating is morally acceptable, until piracy destroys our medium (or not), and only then will the morality change. Maybe for some generations.

    In the mean time, piracy will be fought with technology, to the detriment of the paying customer.

    “If your market has a piracy problem, your company has a market problem” was said by a clever guy about music industry piracy. Unfortunately it means the inevitable downfall of entertainment gaming as we know it, but hey, I’m sure we’ll find other ways to apply ourselves.

  37. malkav11 says:

    I cannot possibly read the entirety of this discussion and do anything else productive, but I’ve noticed a couple of people making the point that WoW’s server software must have been pirated to allow private servers (and yes, other MMOs, though certainly not all of them, have similar efforts out there.) But no one pointing out that this is not in fact true. There are full pirate copies of the client software floating all over, but the server software remains sacrosanct. Private servers are best guess attempts to engineer something that behaves like WoW based on what people can see from the client end, including sniffed data from the server-client transmission. The result is something that looks like WoW and allows basic combat, but gets none of the more complicated back-end stuff right, and frequently doesn’t implement it at all. It’s a poor clone at best. To play WoW for real, you have to shell out for the real thing.

  38. Crispy says:

    Stop Press!

    Can we please have the RPS folks summarise this thread because I’m sure it has some genuinely interesting opinions but I and most other people who aren’t reading it every hour of every day are finding it fairly inpenetrable having to sift through counter-counter-arguments, semantics debates, snide remarks, +1 posts, Wikipedia entries on topics of philosophy and plain repeition.

    What are the actual main camps here, what are the main arguments and what are the main counter-arguments?

  39. Klaus says:

    Ah, Crispy. Wading through all this is what makes it fun, especially the counter-counter arguments, and counter-counter-counter-arguments.

    The philosophy just just added a light touch to it.

  40. pepper says:

    This must be one of the most chaotic and yet structured debates concerning piracy i have ever seen, i think were writing history here people! This will go down as the RPS piracy day!

  41. Pike says:

    A late addition. It might be a good idea to not assume that the theory about how intellectual property rights drive innovation is uncontroversial. As a matter of fact it’s a highly contentious issue among economists these days. The linked article is a decent primer, and the critics have moved their positions forward quite a bit since then.

  42. neofit says:

    “Asbestos says:

    What do the piracy figures represent?”

    They represent that 2DBoy made a game people want to play. I know that’s not much of a consolation but no one pirates garbage.”
    No, they show a number of people who submitted 1+ maps. Before we can conclude anything we need to see a histogram detailing the number of maps submitted per account or IP. If 90% (or 78%) only played 1-2 maps then there were no lost sales, those hordes of pirates only used the release as the demo, because the former was as easy to get as the latter. Now if the P90 is 10 (i.e. 90% have submitted 10 maps) then yes, Houston we have a problem.

  43. Duoae says:

    I think that’s a good point, Pike, and one could easily draw a comparison with software patents and innovation. Since the introduction of software patents governing specific applications of mathematics those patents have been used to stifle innovation in games technology (such as the famous Doom 3 sound issue with Creative). In cases where there are no patents that technology has proliferated: e.g. decals with a depth function, dynamic lighting etc.

    Conversely, you can see that gameplay mechanics are largely not patented or protected and we have seen over the 20-odd years of game design the number of gameplay mechanics explode and proliferate throughout the industry. There are the odd exceptions such as Capcom (i think it’s them) holding a patent that allows a user to play a minigame while the main level of the game is loading thus stopping other developers from alleviating boredom or lulls in the pace of their games due to loading screens.

    I’ve long held that software patents are bad and a completely ridiculous extension of physical property laws because they take a universal absolute (such as maths) and try and tie it down to invention. IMO you can’t patent a discovery in a known system… but i guess companies would prefer that i was wrong.

  44. Rob K-L says:

    This has been a good thread, despite the stridency of some contributers. I personally find strident presentation of points off putting. It is not the best way to persuade. Even if you are right.

    A few interesting questions have been asked that have not been addressed though and I bring them up again because think they rest near the core of the issue.

    I think it was Meat Circus that argued intangibles have no worth. Is this position justified? You use money and believe it has worth (I assume). Money is intangible. What is different there? Are you inconsistant in your argument or is it morally justified to counterfeit cash? This may be presented argumentatively which is not my intent. I just want to understand if there is a consistant philosophy here that reduces intangibles to worthless.

    I find the arguments for a donationware model persuasive but it has something in it that I cannot see a way around too. How should those donating, assess the worth of what they played? Most people’s assessment of value will contain a substantial element of by marking to market (not the only contribution to value assessment I know, but it is always a significant one). If the market value is zero, does this not diminish the percieved worth of something? Is this good? Does this diminished perception of the worth damage the donationware idea?

    And one point I will make is that making piracy harder or riskier (not punishing paying customers but inconveniencing pirates) does increase sales, although purchasing needs to be easy to benefit from this. I know this because it has resulted in me paying where I may not have. When trying to find torrented copies of occasional use utilities, I have been put off by repeatedly downloading torrents with keyloggers in the keygens. Eventually I just went and paid for the official download. I doubt I am alone here. Inconvenience of piracy resulted in a sale to me. I do not doubt that it has resulted in others too. I know pirates will work out new ways to circumvent any inconvenience put in place, and that this will be followed by devs finding new ways to inconvenience the pirates. I see this as just part of the Host/Parasite arms race. (Pick which you want to be, it matters not.) It will just go on and on, but if one side stops evolving they are both doomed.

  45. Jon R. says:

    @Kieron because he can’t be bothered to even implement a quote system to aid in the one aspect of RPS that isn’t completely dense: Yes, and i thank you sincerely for introducing the concept of morals to a conversation in which it was an intrinsic part from the beginning. You really are a revolutionary writer.

    “I didn’t buy it to support the makers, I just bought it to own what I consider to be excellence. So I think instead of focusing a wealth of time on piracy it would be more effective to just make an awesome game. I don’t particularly have a problem with DRM as I crack everything anyway.”

    This is actually an interesting aspect of the whole deal, that people can in fact buy something because — get this — it means something to them. There’s something in it being not a copy, but your copy that’s a small but important part of connecting with a work you like. In other words, it’s worth it to most people to buy things that are worth keeping.

    But, gaming pubilc, why can’t you connect to complex masterpieces like Gears of War and Crysis? Oh no, AAA games might disappear despite all the money we spend on writing and gameplay!

  46. Miskanthrope says:

    A request for opinions from the less-invested reader was made a while back. Here goes:

    Incremental production costs, interpretation of international law, deep philosophical arguments, and strident blather have no impact on my opinion of the intrinsic value of a particular game. Or the intrinsic value of anything, for that matter.

    I assign value to an item that provides entertainment based on the level of entertainment that it likely provides. If that compares favorably to the asking price, and I can afford it, I buy it.

    If I can’t afford it, I don’t buy it. This is the crux of the issue for me. I am not entitled to it because I can safely take it without paying for it. I am not entitled to it because I know other people will pay for it. I am not entitled to it because I’m poor. I’m not entitled to it because I’ll tell my friends it’s great. I’m not entitled to it because the provider’s personal philosophy or business practices enrage me. I’m not entitled to it at all.

    And neither are you.

  47. malkav11 says:

    Absolutely. No one is entitled to free stuff that wasn’t explicitly made free by the person who made it.

    But if that something can be trivially obtained for free through legitimate channels, and some other circumstance prevents one from legitimately acquiring it, be it lack of funds, lack of availability in one’s country, or what have you, *and* (this is key) doing so does not deprive anyone else of legitimately acquiring it, I don’t feel inclined to cast too many stones. Whereas I might if the person could easily get it the legit way but just doesn’t feel like it.

  48. malkav11 says:

    Entitlement, to me, would be *demanding* that it be made available trivially for free if it’s not, rather than simply shrugging and continuing on one’s way until it’s available to you one way or the other.

  49. Chris says:

    If there are 150k copies in “circulation” with an 82% piracy rate. You can’t assume that 120k+ people would have actually played the game. There will always be a percentage of people who dont like the game. So, even though they paid their 20 dollars or whatever the price may be, they probably feel ripped off and either never sell the game or sell the game and another person buys it used. Since its on steam this may be a bit harder. Also, if these 120K users have no intentions on buying the game, maybe they were never sales anyhow? So is piracy really the evil doer? or is it just picking off people who buy something and arent happy with it? I dont know. Pick that apart, call me names or whathave you, but 82% is a bit ridiculous as being a factual number when there are other factors in product decision and happiness.

  50. Jochen Scheisse says:

    600 GET! However, I have learned nothing from this thread.