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. Caiman says:

    I think the solution is simple. Companies should forget about pirates, assume those people will never buy a significant portion of their software anyway, and concentrate instead on giving legitimate users the best experience possible. Piracy is an endemic problem that simplistic DRM is not ever going to solve – it’s an arms race that the pirates will always win.

    Therefore, if you ignore pirates that means the success of your game comes from its success with legitimate purchasers, and DRM is clearly something that will reduce that success. Give your legitimate users rewards for buying your game, extra downloadable content, whatever… just ignore the damn pirates, it’s a waste of time thinking about it.

  2. MeestaNob! says:

    @Page
    The European release was pushed back originally to very early next year for reasons unfathomable to mere mortals, so I’m wondering if European users are in the majority responsible for the piracy. Even Aussies out in the internet boonies like myself could buy it online if they wanted to.

    The situation was corrected a week or so later I think, however the horse had no doubt well and truly bolted by then (early piracy, then semi honest European gamers being overjoyed that they could now buy WoG, but having played it to death just saying “Sod it, I’ve already downloaded, why bother.”)

  3. Dan Lawrence says:

    I think that is a flawed proposition when the pirates are massively in the majority of your userbase. Also as a game developer, especially an indie developer, most of the ‘rewards’ you can give legitimate consumers can also be pirated.

    Just ignoring piracy seems to me a non-solution in that you risk normalising it and therby increasing that percentage ever upwards. I mean sure you still get the cash of the lawful good paladins but sometimes that just not enough to support a risky game idea.

  4. Capital-T-Tim says:

    Maybe piracy is a social problem, maybe not, but it will be solved – *is* being solved – through technical means. Games will increasingly be tied to online services, even those for which doing so is not technically necessary. You will no longer buy games; you will pay for the privilege of playing them, but you won’t own them.

  5. Dan Lawrence says:

    @MeestaNob:

    Only the retail and steam releases were delayed all us europeans were able to play the direct downloaded version the same time as anyone else.

    No regional excuses.

  6. awear says:

    “Here’s another question. If piracy figures don’t represent lost sales, what do they represent?”

    The fact that the main market for computer games is kids and the unemployed?

  7. Dan Lawrence says:

    @Capital-T-Tim

    If the game doesn’t need an online component the pirates will just sever the connection as they have doen with single player steam games.

    If it developers should only make games that do need an online connection you have just condemned single playier games to die. Also a non-solution in my mind.

  8. Dan Lawrence says:

    @ awear

    Thats not the market research I’ve seen with the average gamers age being listed as well over 18 and if there were that many unemplyed people with powerful computers and broadband internet I’d suggest that they have their priorities slightly wrong.

  9. Tom says:

    Well, I take back what I said. I know of a BitT search that searches multiply sites. WoG got ripped to pieces torrent-wise. From what i can tell BitT probably makes up the majority of that 82%.
    I still say TPMs could be the way forwards. People say xBox gets it as bad as PC but that clearly isn’t true. I’m using uSniff as a basis by the way. Take a look at the results for dead space for example. The list for PC dead space goes on, and on. console rips though aren’t even on the first page. Surely that says it all. Consoles use hardware as part of the DRM. PCs don’t. Simple as. I’d bet a lot of money that in the end all motherboards will come with TPMs as standard. The reason hardware works is because you have to spend money and risk messing up your console in the first place in order to use ripped copies.

  10. SuperNashwan says:

    To the people once again saying that an 82% piracy rate doesn’t represent any lost sales I say that is just wrong headed madness.

    No one has said that! Man. The piracy debate is tired enough without invoking ridiculous standard straw men as well. People are rightly sceptical about the quantum of damage piracy accounts for, particularly after one (and only one let’s not forget) publisher came up with a 1:1000 ratio for lost sales.
    For the people who think that maybe 2DBoy should’ve but DRM on after all, you’re spectacularly missing a very easy to grasp point: it would’ve made no significant difference to the piracy rate AND would’ve inconvenienced people who’ve legitimately paid. It’s totally illogical to defend such a position.

  11. Jochen Scheisse says:

    The biggest problem is that there is no copy protection. The only possibility is to make it like WoW and construct the game so it’s mechanisms do not work without a connection to a server. Otherwise, it will be cracked. And the more a game is advertised and published through the cool new channels of the intertubes, the more it exclusively reaches the ears of people who at least know, if not use, methods to pirate.

  12. Paul Moloney says:

    I queried the methodology originally; not out of any desire to mitigate or justify piracy but because there’s enough doom and gloom as it without putting out wrong figures. 82% is still obviously very bad, but “4 copies out of 5 pirated” bad rather than “9 copies out of 10″ bad. The next question is – what to do? I’m not an anti-DRM zealot like some .

    P.

  13. Dan Lawrence says:

    Such a hardware solution would require hitherto unprecedentended cooperation and coordination between all hardware vendors and risks a lot of unintended consequences.

    I’d be amazed if we see it, though it would udoubtably help if all pirates had to solder a widget to their motherboards to get their free game fix. Any news reports of such mass coordination taking off?

  14. Dante says:

    The unfortunate problem with these figures is that they take place in a vacuum. We can say that 82% is despicable, but we can’t really say if it’s above or below average, or if DRM would have helped.

    What is truly needed is for more developers to follow 2D boy’s example. Only then will we get a real picture of what’s going on.

  15. Lemming says:

    I’m surprised its that high, but not surprised that it’s happening at all. Remember that whole thing with being on Steam, then NOT being on Steam just because of some pointless deal? That’s the reason I don’t own the game yet. I’m waiting for it on the one service it should have been on from day 1.

  16. SuperNashwan says:

    The reason hardware works is because you have to spend money and risk messing up your console in the first place in order to use ripped copies.
    The reason hardware protection works for consoles is they’re a proprietary platform only locked down to run signed, authenticated code. The PC isn’t and never will be. Any hardware protection you come up with, piracy groups will eventually either break with a mod chip as with consoles, or else code emulators for, whichever proves easier.

  17. Conlaen says:

    I can imagine there is some people out there that pirated because of the delayed release in Europe.

    Little anoyed myself that I am still waiting for this one to come out. No reason to pirate still, cause I can be patient, but I can imagine there is people out there that didn’t want to wait for something that their neighbours across the ocean have been playing for quite some time now.

  18. Dan Lawrence says:

    @SuperNashwan

    Maybe you read “Conclusion: They didn’t lose potential customers” in a different way to what I did, but it sure looked like someone was saying that. Not that I was defending applying the sort of customer inconveniencing DRM anyway, just commenting the proposition that Piracy has no or even no significant impact. Piracy is clearly having a significant impact on the sales of PC games, if anyone wants to continue to avoid that I think you have to be very selective in your reading and interpretations of reports we’ve seen from real games.

  19. Dan Lawrence says:

    @ Conlaen

    The delayed European release only applied to steam sales and retail so is no excuse for pirating an indie game you could have bought direct from the developer.

    @SuperNashwan
    I imagine Piracy would be much reduced with a hardware modchip required on all PC motherboards, of course it would still happen but reducing piracy to a minority possiblty from mainstream acceptability should clearly be a goal of anyone who cares about indie PC gaming continuing.
    Currently it seems the main way that PC gamers get their indie games is through Piracy. That should stop.

  20. SuperNashwan says:

    Piracy is clearly having a significant impact on the sales of PC games, if anyone wants to continue to avoid that I think you have to be very selective in your reading and interpretations of reports we’ve seen from real games.
    That’s a conclusion I’ve seen no evidence of. Link me up! :) And I mean to the significant impact on sales data, not base piracy rate.

  21. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Nash is correct. I remember that there were dongles on the Atari, and even those were cracked through software means. DRM is a waste of time. You either make the software virtually uncrackable through the game mechanisms (like every MMO does), or you don’t.

  22. Dan Lawrence says:

    @ SuperNashwan

    If you want to tell me that of the 82% of people pirating games like World of Goo a large portion of them would stop PC gaming altogether were Piracy to be stopped dead in its tracks tommorow then I think it is you that needs to provide some support for that conclusiion.

    @ Jochen
    The 360 currently requires a hardware dongle to play cracked games if the same level of security could be implemented through PC hardware manufactures it would require the same level of hardware trickery to crack no? Not saying it is likely to ever happen mind, just that it is feasible in principle.

  23. Klaus says:

    @Pags
    I think it’s unrealistic to say they could be millionaires when little to nothing points that way. Perhaps if they were more vigilant about protecting their work I could entertain the idea.

    It looks from here like they used this game as some sort of social experiment. This is what I believe to be true, and selling easily replicable versions of your work with little or no enforcing of any regulation does not seem like an awesome way to become a millionaire.

    But still I guess we could still lynch the evil pirates for depriving 2D Boy from their potentially wondrous bling. It’s just obvious they missed out on potentially becoming nouveau riche.

    Of course, if they were doing their damnedest to protect WoG, then just ignore my rambling.

  24. Cooper says:

    As seems to be clear ‘what those figures represent’ is a pretty nebulous grouping ranging from those who gave the game free to family and friends to the few hardcore pirates who take digital media in all forms for free.

    WoG was always going to be pirated. The same way any game is, ever. It’s almost a fundamental of the Internet, that anything which enters one end will work its way through all sorts of interweb tubages. You can’t stop that filtering.

    In that way, I don’t think pirating can be seen as ‘active harm’, it’s more a by-product of the nature of the internet.

    Introversion’s experiences seem to indicate the possibility of potential customers. They’ve mentioned the added sales each time they crack down on pirate keys. That answer doesn’t bode well for a game which doesn’t rely upon a central server, however.

    What would be interesting, would be if 2Dboy’s release of Chapter 6 was somehow limited only to people who could prove original purchase. The problem seems to be in providing that proof and securing the product, hence nonsense DRM. (In fact, Stardock’s patches-only-to-customers approach is a form of DRM. Just a much better one.)

  25. Dan Lawrence says:

    @Klaus
    I realise 2DBoy are not exactly a charity but you certainly seem to be looking on them as if it is their fault that they, to use one of the RPS editors analogies, got stabbed repeatedly. Why weren’t they walking around town in a stab vest? Why didn’t they drive around in an armoured APC?

    If 2D Boy’s flaw is that they had a positive outlook on human nature then it is the rest of us that should be ashamed and not them.

  26. Jochen Scheisse says:

    There are some differences between consoles and PCs. For one, I guess, it’s harder to access and manipulate the OS on a console. Secondly, while modding your console is something you rarely do if you’re legit, the case is very different with a PC. These things get worked all the time. Even assuming some dongle could not be bypassed through software, you could probably walk into your PC hardware store (or at least into half of them) and say: “One motherboard, premodded please.”

    And that’s assuming you won’t just simulate a virtual dongle, just like you now simulate a virtual drive. I’m not very proficient with that stuff, but I just can’t imagine it would pay off in terms of money invested vs. games sold.

  27. Dan Lawrence says:

    @ Cooper while patches and additional content are a help in reducing the piracy rate as each one usually has to be cracked anew again, they are not a final solution. For a start you are closing the door after the horse has bolted, as most piracy happens immediately on release and many pirates will be finished with a game before the first patch even hits. Secondly, if the patch is worth having it will be cracked anyway just like the original game. Thirdly it is more of a solution for bigger companies with largert markets and marketing than an indie company already at the limits.

  28. Sam says:

    Let’s also look at the assertions about the value of things: entities have value because of the effort invested in their production, the value of their raw materials, and the ratio of demand to supply for the product.
    For digital copies, two of these things tend to zero – copies are require essentially no effort to make, and also essentially no time – so the invested effort is zero, and the effective supply is infinite.
    So, the only value that a digital copy has is that due to its “raw materials” – which, for this case, we can consider to be a cost associated with the effort required to make the master.
    If we assume that the cost of the master is recovered across all of the copies in existence, that implies that the value per copy is effectively (value of master / number of copies), and that the value of the master is (sum of total value of copies).
    Using the latter equation, we determine that the value of “World of Goo” in total is about £150,000.
    Since there are apparently around 75,000 copies in existence, the value per copy is around £2. No wonder pirates don’t want to pay £10 for a copy ;)
    (While this sounds like I’m being facetious, there’s a valid point here – that, as others have noted, the intrinsic cost of a copy is small, and can be small while still allowing the total value of the “existence” of the product to be large. I suspect pirates are subconsciously doing a similar value analysis when they decide that they’d be better off pirating stuff – more people pirate things than steal physical items, for a start.)

  29. cliffski says:

    “Actually, it’s the opposite. If you pirate something you’re sending the message to the producer that you want that product,”

    bullshit.
    How does the producer even know you played it unless there is a highs core table you submit to? the people who make singleplayer games generally have zero way of knowing you pirated it.
    Pirating games you enjoy is stupid. It just kills off any desire by producers to make more games you might like. Like most people who make games for a living, I have to make games that sell. If everyone on earth pirated Starship tycoon, I still wouldn’t make a sequel. Why would I? The game didn’t make any money. It’s that simple.

  30. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Also, stop assuming 2D are naive or something. What I was getting from their statements is that they consciously decided to not DRM their game, because of the nonexistent payoff of that. Why give everyone from your group a vest if you decide to run into a meteor shower? You just have to hope some get through.

  31. Alteisentier says:

    Speaking as a European, I know my self and many of my friends are waiting for the European release before getting it.
    While I could get it from his website.. I’d much rather have a steam copy that I can use anywhere rather than a serial key or downloadable exe copy in the email.

  32. Sam says:

    @cliffski:
    On the other hand, if everyone pirated Starship Tycoon, except one guy, who payed you a million pounds, I bet you’d make a sequel…

  33. nikos says:

    Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: *ISPs*. It was mentioned earlier that the problem of piracy (from the standpoint of the developer/publisher) is that no money changes hands when a game is pirated. But it does! Every pirate pays a hefty sum to the ISP for the privilege of teh interweb.

    It has been mentioned left and right in the music industry, that the only economic, non-technical, solution is to close the circuit and bring the ISPs in the loop. ISPs charge quite large sums for a product that would be meaningless without piracy (you can watch youtube/do email/browse web, fine on a 1mbps connection). So a deal between content providers (music, movies, games etc) and ISPs might help: pay a fixed sum per month and download as mush as you want. The ISPs + content providers hash out a plan for translating downloads to popularity or whatever index is required for splitting the profits.

    Just a thought!

  34. Dan Lawrence says:

    @ Jochen
    I agree with what you are saying (though I’m unsure about the possibility or not of crafting a hardware block that cannot by bypassed by software) and the likely results but I suspect if the effort were coordinated enough and the hardware retailers willing to sell premodded and sell mod chips, shady enough then it would have some effect on the top line piracy rate. Torrenting is a lot easier to get to grips with than significant messing around inside a PC case. Though as I mentioned before and you covered securign such a world wide cooperation from manufacturers without any clear incentive for them seems highly unlikely. The console manufacturers take a cut of ever game sold for a reason.

  35. Martin Ganteföhr says:

    If piracy figures don’t represent lost sales, what do they represent?

    They represent the conversion rate commericial developers can expect from commercial media products.

    It would seem likely that without any measurement of purchase control or product protection taken, the rate will continue to approach that of shareware and similar free-will, donation-based revenue models.

  36. cliffski says:

    I still don’t see why there are not fake torrents. If you can persuade 100 people to seed a fake torrent on release day, you make it twice as inconvenient to get a pirated copy. Do this with 10 torrents and its 10 times as inconvenient.
    People pirate because its easy and risk free. That needs to change.

  37. Klaus says:

    If 2D Boy’s flaw is that they had a positive outlook on human nature then it is the rest of us that should be ashamed and not them.

    I agree, I’m not saying should be weary of people. But if this was their attempt to be millionaires (which I don’t think it was with this game), then they could have tried harder.

    So if my attempt was to definitely make it to age 40, as opposed to just living and see what happens like everyone else, I’d be wearing some sort of vest or protection for sure.

  38. Klaus says:

    There should be a ‘they’ in there.

  39. The Apologist says:

    The thing is this is a question of values. I’m absolutely not a Daily Mail reading old man. But the fact is that markets have to run on trust.

    This proves what publishers have been saying for some time. Collectively, pc gamers are not worthy of a producers trust. That’s our collective fault. Collectively, our values are so impoverished we can’t even transact together such that the market can function.

    That’s why, I’m sorry, I don’t care that some people don’t like Steam. I don’t care if they complain about in-game ads, or subscriptions, or micro-transactions. The fact is publishers have no choice, because, in sum, they simply can’t trust their would-be customers.

    It’s incredibly depressing, but I think we need to start by preaching at pirates, talking to them, ruining their communities, ostracising them, or whatever it takes to change the self-centred people who cause this problem.

  40. cliffski says:

    So you reckon they should have used DRM?

  41. SuperNashwan says:

    If you want to tell me that of the 82% of people pirating games like World of Goo a large portion of them would stop PC gaming altogether were Piracy to be stopped dead in its tracks tommorow then I think it is you that needs to provide some support for that conclusiion.
    I haven’t drawn any conclusions, I say I don’t know but scant existing evidence (the 1:1000 figure and indications from mp3 piracy studies) points to, at worst, insignificant impact. You however take the 82% figure and without any evidence whatsoever assume that a significant proportion of that is lost sales. Please tell me you can see the difference between these two positions? Yours suffers the logical fallacy of intuiting your result.

  42. The Apologist says:

    @cliffski – what a good idea. The campaign starts here!!

  43. cliffski says:

    It’s incredibly depressing, but I think we need to start by preaching at pirates, talking to them, ruining their communities, ostracising them, or whatever it takes to change the self-centred people who cause this problem.

    Agreed.
    Please seed:
    http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/4455354/KUDOS_2_FULL_LATEST_(1.05)_Patched

  44. Dan Lawrence says:

    @ Jochen

    I don’t think I said that they were naive anywhere, if they were so was I. I would never have thought that the piracy rate for a game so clearly designed as anti-corporate and putting its trust in the gamers could be so brutally attack by those into whose trust its fate was left. If they anticipated such a large piracy rate then I doubt it is something that they think of happily as they go to bed at night.

    @ Alteisentier

    You can use the website copy anywhere you like just like steam you just redownload it from the link provided when you buy it. There is little to know difference functionally between the steam download and the website download except in the website download you are giving most of the money to 2D Boy and with the steam download you are giving a percentage of it to Valve. The ease of downloading it on multiple computers is the fact some people are blaming for the piracy rate.

  45. The Apologist says:

    @ Cliffski – I think it is sad to say it, but yes, Steam if it helps, or change the game they want to make to be a platform, a flashgame on a site that can carry advertising. That would change the product, and I hate that idea, but what choice do they have.

  46. The Apologist says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but without wanting to sound like an idiot, I have never used a torrent site.

    How do people seed?

  47. Dan Lawrence says:

    @SuperNashwan

    Maybe we are disagreeing on vague words like significant. I think significant means it is a large enough problem to be worth adressing and taking some action over as Cliffski and The Apologist suggest, maybe you don’t and ar lookig for me to assert that all game sales will rise by 50% if piracy were stopped. I’d guess that even if the sales of most indie games rose by just 5-10% it would make a significant difference to the lifes of indie developers, no?

    @cliffski
    I’ll gladly download a torrent program and seed that false torrent for you tommorow (currently stuck at work). More of this sort of thing I reckon unless some kind of pirate figure head wants to work with the indie game scommunity.

  48. SuperNashwan says:

    I’d guess that even if the sales of most indie games rose by just 5-10% it would make a significant difference to the lifes of indie developers, no?
    You’re deliberately ignoring what I’ve said, right? All we have to go on is basically anecdotal evidence that in one case the impact was ~0.1% If you’d like to call that significant then yes, we just disagree.

  49. Chris Evans says:

    I still don’t see why there are not fake torrents. If you can persuade 100 people to seed a fake torrent on release day, you make it twice as inconvenient to get a pirated copy. Do this with 10 torrents and its 10 times as inconvenient.

    People pirate because its easy and risk free. That needs to change.

    So what do suggest then cliffski? Should developers such as yourself upload a false file named as your game which will thus be downloaded by people thinking they are getting the game? What then, I am just rambling here, but how about once this file is downloaded/installed a little message is sent to the developer keeping track of how many times it has been downloaded?

  50. Duoae says:

    @ Jim. I disagree – and while i join you in not condoning piracy, i think that publishers would have less of a problem with torrenting and lending if they themselves weren’t picking a message of their own choosing. I don’t think piracy really has any positives apart from giving execs an excuse for poor sales and tightening restrictions….. but they aren’t a positive for us users.
    @Gap Gen
    Duoae: No, my point was that the money you spend determines the products that you want to exist. If no-one bought toothpaste, toothpaste would cease to be sold. If no-one buys from a given developer, that developer won’t make games any more.

    But, in the world of the games industry or the entertainment industry, do we really have a voice like this? Think about it toothpaste is a disposable – we might not like the flavour but it’s not going to cost us £35 to get a new tube considering we can’t return the original one. Then there’s the fact that the hardcore gamers – the people on this site and others like it – account for less than 10% of the overall gaming market. Nothing our purchasing decisions do will greatly affect the outcome of spending money on a given title and since copies can’t be returned, the general public will buy a copy, not like it and either let it sit on a shelf to rot or head straight to the used market stall (aka Gamestop/GAME). It’s purely because of the way the industry is set up that making an economic choice alone will not have any effect unless it’s taken up by a sizeable portion of the available games’ consumer market.

    Personally, i don’t buy games i don’t agree with. I also write emails and letters to game companies stating that i’ve cancelled my preorder when it applies and why i’ve taken the steps to do so. Generally i get a polite reply saying that they hope i change my mind and they hope that my business can be re-caught down the line somewhere. Simply not buying a game will not have this same effect because, as i stated above, the industry protects itself from purely monetary fluctuations by blaming it on piracy, spreading cost out over a broad, uninformed customer base and over multiple development titles and teams (as is done at EA, Activision, Take Two etc.). Any independent developer has a much harder time of it because they can’t market their game to the masses nor can they spread the cost/losses across multiple games and development teams. This is where the withhold your money/purchase comes into play because that can affect smaller developers. It’s been the same way in the movie industry for a lone time now and see how that has turned out. I’ve been the cinema once in three years because i don’t want to pay for massively expensive seats for a movie that i’ll have no option to get a refund from in an environment that more than likely will ruin the whole special cinema experience anyway.

    I guess it seems obvious to me that the answer is don’t pirate things and don’t buy them but also make sure the company knows why you’re not buying the product. I still believe that pirating a product is sending the wrong message to the producers of the content (one that i think the evidence of their concerns and tactics supports) that more of the same is wanted, just that it needs to be controlled more strictly.