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. cliffski says:

    It makes a big difference to me (as an indie dev) if my sales go up 10%. What most people forget is that game development is 95% fixed costs of making the game. Especially if you sell on-line, with small games and thus no collossal bandwidth.
    So say You need to sell 4,000 games to break even, and earn £10 a copy(normally less). If you sell 5,000 then you have made £10k. Not much. If you sell 6,000 then you have made £20k, and your income for that product just doubled, even though your sales only rose by 20%.
    This makes a BIG difference to any analysis of the figures.

  2. Duoae says:

    @ Clifski
    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.

    Okay, i’m going to try and nip this in the bud but either i wrote it badly or people clearly need a lesson in reading comprehension.

    I do not pirate games.
    I do not pirate movies.
    I do not pirate anything because i think that by pirating something content producers infer that there is a demand for their product that isn’t necessarily there. I’m using it as an argument against piracy.

  3. jalf says:

    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?

    Mindshare, perhaps?
    The amount of people who are aware of the game, have some interest in playing it? Perhaps they represent 12-year olds who quite literally can’t afford the games they want, but who, when they grow up, will become good customers because they’re already old fans of 2DBoy? (No, I’m not saying that makes everything ok, or anything like that. Consider it a thought experiment, but the more people *played* your game, pirated or not, the more people obviously pay attention to your games and are interested in them. In the long term, there might be advantages to this widespread piracy. At least it means people are playing your game)

    How about Blizzard? How many people do you think played pirated copies of the first Warcraft or Diablo? And how many of them do you think are Blizzard fanatics to this day, buying *everything* they make? Probably quite a few. Could that (another hypothetical example) be a reason why they’re so popular today? That so many people grew up on their (usually pirated) games?

    Just a thought.

  4. Y3k-Bug says:

    I dont have an issue that they have a positive outlook on humanity, but you have to admit it is hilariously naive. So if you put out a product that people want, and don’t put any systems in place to stop them from stealing it, they’ll steal it?

    Shocking.

  5. Jochen Scheisse says:

    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.

    No really, that’s being naive IMO, and I don’t think 2D assumed that a lot of freeloaders would be impressed by their move to not use DRM and buy it because of that. These people are no rebels with a cause who want to send a message to anyone about anything. These people just don’t want to pay. Even assuming that 5% of pirates do so because of an ideological motive would be bold IMO, most people who are saying so are just bullshitting themselves and using a pathetic defense when confronted with the immorality of their actions.

    Even the assumption that if the game would cost 2€, all the people or even more than half of the people would buy it if they can simply download it and save 2€ is bold.

  6. Duoae says:

    @Duoae

    Oops in my annoyed state of mind at this i forgot add this in (damn no editing function!)

    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.

    Same way the content producers always do – they look at torrent numbers. Sure they aren’t the total of all pirated copies played and they aren’t the most accurate measure of even torrent numbers but if you’re telling me that all those articles and developer rants about 100,000 pirated copies circulating out there (derived from torrent numbers) never happened then i guess you’re right.

  7. Y3k-Bug says:

    I really should learn how to use blockquote code properly one of these days…

    Anyway:

    @jalf
    But in order to fully use Diablo, you had to be on Bnet. In order to be on Bnet, you had to pay for the game. So through piracy, you STILL had to pay for it if you wanted the full experience. So Blizzard still came out ahead.

  8. Dan Lawrence says:

    @SuperNashwan

    In cases like these since evidence of peoples future intentions is impossible to actually obtain we just have to go on a most likely assumption. You are assuming that pirates, or at least devil’s advocating that pirates, will not continue to play games at any ‘significant’ rate I am assuming that they will. I make my assumption based on the ‘evidence’ that they put a lot of time into playing and downloading PC games at the minute and so are likely to want to continue playing games were piracy to stop tommorow. Jim already posted a story about how Introversion increased their sales by cutting off pirates as one anacdotal real world example for you.

  9. jalf 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.

    Because it won’t work. Every torrent site I know of allow users to write comments on a torrent. What kind of comments do you think will show up there once the first user has finished downloading the game, and finds out it’s a fake? At a wild guess, I’d say something like “It’s fake, guys, don’t bother. Try this *insert url here* instead.”

  10. rabbitsoup says:

    84% is a lot for any developer, 2d Boy must be pissed, and to be honest i think they are taking the new bloody well. It must be time for smaller games like world of goo to go add sported i’m not saying they should have to but It seems to me that it would be nicer for all to provide your game for free and get paid for it. it would also allow developer to spend time developing the game and expanding it rather than leaving it in the finished pile. hopefully battlefield heroes (as rubbish as it looks) will pave the way.

  11. jalf says:

    But in order to fully use Diablo, you had to be on Bnet. In order to be on Bnet, you had to pay for the game. So through piracy, you STILL had to pay for it if you wanted the full experience. So Blizzard still came out ahead.

    True, but don’t you think a lot of people still pirated it just to play on a LAN? Anyway, I’d say Blizzard came out ahead no matter what. I mean, they’re pretty damn successful today, don’t you think? ;)
    I was just pondering if piracy might translate into a larger customer base in the long term? I think it’s fair to say that young kids more often pirate than adults, simply because they don’t have as much money to spend (and they may have more time to play games). But doesn’t that imply that once they grow up, they’ll start paying, and if they grew up on *your* games, the chances are good that they’ll start paying *you*.

    As I said, I don’t believe this in any way justifies piracy, of course. Just pondering on John’s quite interesting question. :)

  12. endorphine says:

    I’m a student. I’m poor. I payed for the game. Everyone should. It was only 20$ and I had some fun. I also encouraged some independant dev.
    People are dumb. These guys deserve to make money out of their game.

  13. cliffski says:

    @jalf.
    There is nothing to prevent the people seeding fakes commenting either. Both saying the fake is real, and the real is fake. How do you know who is pro-piracy and anti-piracy on a torrent site.
    Besides how many downloaders read all the comments before downloading?

  14. Dan Lawrence says:

    @Y3k-Bug & Jochen

    I’m not naive enough that I didn’t think World of Goo wouldn’t be pirated at all, I just didn’t think that the sort of folks (i.e. RPS sorts of folks) who would want to play World of Goo would be the same sort of folks that would want to steal it. I mean some utter cretin had to buy the game, read the pleading entreaty from the developers not to pirate it and then upload the game to the torrent sphere anyway. It just saddens me that people could play an anti-corporate, vibrant and original game like World of Goo and not feel a little stirring somewhere that the people who made this, perhaps should get something back or else why bother even getting up in the morning?

  15. Dan Lawrence says:

    Oops! I said steal when I meant to type the much longer and clumsier copyright infringement. My bad.

  16. SuperNashwan says:

    I make my assumption based on the ‘evidence’ that they put a lot of time into playing and downloading PC games at the minute and so are likely to want to continue playing games were piracy to stop tommorow. Jim already posted a story about how Introversion increased their sales by cutting off pirates as one anacdotal real world example for you.
    http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17350

    Giving up with you now.

  17. rabbitsoup says:

    y3k-bug
    “But in order to fully use Diablo, you had to be on Bnet. In order to be on Bnet, you had to pay for the game. So through piracy, you STILL had to pay for it if you wanted the full experience. So Blizzard still came out ahead.”

    very good point blizzard make there games now so that they can make money good for them i say. great business model

    ]

  18. John Walker says:

    A thing I’d like to stop seeing is people implying that piracy is justified because of the delayed Euro Steam release.

    The game has always been available from the developer’s website, where they would get 100% of the money, and you’d have been able to download it directly. It is complete nonsense to cite unavailability from Steam in this. Steam takes credit cards and Paypal. The 2D BOY site takes credit cards and Paypal.

  19. Y3k-Bug says:

    @Jochen
    Bingo. This isn’t a morality issue. People steal games because its incredibly easy, with zero chance of being caught and prosecuted for a crime. DRM attempts to make it harder and thus dissuade people from “casual” piracy, like what is happening with WoG where people can just sent their friends copies of the game through the IM client of their choice.

  20. beetleboy says:

    It’s easy to get into a mood of “damn those pirates, I want to lay my hands on one of them, show him a fistful of what I think!” – but like internet trolling, if that was possible, then there wouldn’t be a problem in the first place.

    Meaning, perhaps it would be more productive to start looking at where we go from here? DRM seems an abject failure: similar piracy rates, and you annoy only the paying customers. There has been companies out to seed with bad torrents for years – please remind me of a single game where this has stopped piracy.

    On the other hand, WoW etc MMOs are more or less immune to piracy – unless you want to play on a pirate server, in an unstable, resetting world, where many things do not work, etc. It also seems that if the pricing and availability is right, you can sell for quite decent sums – see the example of Nine Inch Nails selling drm-free digital downloads for 7.5 million dollars in one week. Some complained that people still pirated this album, but it was in fact impossible to pirate it… since copying and distribution was fully allowed in the conditions of sales. Somehow, NiN still managed to earn a buck.

    So if you, like me, think that 2D Boy deserves support for a great game – perhaps our best support would be ideas or thoughts on how best earn revenue from their games? I agree that we can and should tell friends that pirate WoG to be ashamed, but surely, there are more ideas out there?

  21. John Walker says:

    Okay, here’s something I want to ask:

    Do most people see playing a copy shared by a friend as the same as bittorrenting the game?

    Something I’ve noticed happening with DRM-free products is the producers encouraging customers to share with their friends. Magnatune, the superb record label that provides DRM-free music for the price you choose to pay, suggest that you give away three copies of the mp3s you’ve downloaded. They’ve no means to stop it from being more than three, but ask that you don’t. But they *do* encourage sharing.

  22. pkt-zer0 says:

    I dont have an issue that they have a positive outlook on humanity, but you have to admit it is hilariously naive. So if you put out a product that people want, and don’t put any systems in place to stop them from stealing it, they’ll steal it?

    Shocking.

    It’s not as if DRM was a system that’d stop people from stealing the game. After all, Spore was available on torrents even before release, at least World of Goo was not.

    Also, lol @ the Kudos 2 fake torrents. Doesn’t seem particularly worthwhile for a title that only twenty or so people would want to play for free (read: pirate) in the first place. Try creating fake World of Goo torrents instead, for example, if you intend to make some sort of a point.

  23. Hypocee says:

    Thanks for doing some sensible analysis, 2DBoy. Next time, let’s do that first.

    Taking this number as gospel for the sake of argument: My own reaction is that if I created a piece of digital content and got 1 in 5 users to pay for it I’d be over the moon, at least until I started worrying that the high adoption rate meant the product was underexposed :) As I said (well, implied) in the earlier post’s comments, the 90% figure surprised me by being so low given the initial methodological flaws. Prior to this whole deal, I’d have planned for a 90% piracy rate as the indicator of a well-chosen price point.

    To a first approximation, everything online is either a gift or booty. Has been from the start. All you can do is plan on that, take the Stardock approach and target those few who have the motive, means and opportunity to support you. Some of the guys here seem to picture a ‘pirate’ as some twentysomething in a darkened room, snickering at the chump on the other end of the line. I think we may tend to forget how many time-glutted, cash-poor students there are in the world…or how many jerk teenagers; go on XBL sometime! All you can do with those demographics is make sure they know your name when your next thing comes out. They can grow up into responsible gamers with disposable income, I’ve seen it happen.

    I view this as something of a triumph for social engagement as a ‘DRM’ mechanism. Two of my favourite games of the last couple years – WoGoo and Armageddon Empires – have been super-indie, unadvertised, unscrambled games that fit on a keyring, and both have (so far) paid their authors enough to keep chuggin’ along. Both did it by using personal contact and transparency to inspire loyalty in consumers. I’d obviously prefer that they each had a money hat, but when you look at the survival rate of developers of any size, this sort of revenue is a sign that someone – including RPS and friends in the gaming journosphere – is doing something right.

  24. ron carmel says:

    hey all, john recently asked me whether we want people to share the game with their friend, mum, etc.

    we actually hadn’t considered the sharing question until recently, and i wish we had. margaret robertson gave a talk at GDC earlier this year called “treat me like a lover”. by “me” she means the player. it’s one of the philosophies we follow in game design… if something is fun, if players like or want it, it should be in the game. i think the same can be applied to distribution. if players want to distribute the game, that’s great, the game should make it easy for them to do that. maybe a “share this game” button that lets you enter a friend’s email address and have the demo sent to them. would you guys want something like this? would you consider it a privacy concern?

    do you have other ideas on how, in the future, we could facilitate sharing without promoting piracy?

  25. cliffski says:

    I don’t make world of goo. I made Kudos. What do you want from me?

  26. Dan Lawrence says:

    @SuperNashwan

    …I’m not sure you could read that article and come away with the impression that the authors of it didn’t think Piracy was a problem. They stated that their attempts to stop met with only limited (though some) success, but that the battle to stop it goes on. If they though it was insignificant why would they have bothered in the first place? And why would they finish the article:

    ” Certainly in casual games the issue of piracy isn’t going away anytime soon. As the casual games industry continues to combat piracy, there are many battles still to be fought. The question most of the portals ask themselves isn’t whether or not to fight piracy, but what is the best way to fight it.

    Casual games is an industry still in its adolescence, and certainly as it matures, more and more lessons will be learned about what the best approach is to fighting piracy, and what the realistic returns are of doing so. ”

    Certainly doesn’t sound like someone giving up just yet and the article itself hardly says ‘we stamped out piracy across all games to see what the impact would be on our sales’

    If as in this article one game is made temporarily harder to crack then I’m sure that pirates would also temporarily shift to easier to obtain games or wait briefly for a new crack to come out, why would they not think that a new crack was coming for this game? They always have in the past. In short your article while illustartive on the general futility of DRM in todays market says nothing on the question of whether or not the complete elimination of Piracy would increase PC game sales by a significant enough proportion to be of benefit to developers like Cliffski.

  27. Chris Evans says:

    John

    Do most people see playing a copy shared by a friend as the same as bittorrenting the game?

    I don’t see it as the same thing, I don’t quite know what I think it is, but it certainly isn’t the same as bitorrenting. I guess that when you play a friends copy you are more likely to buy it knowing that they went to the trouble to do so. Well that is for me I guess anyway :P

  28. ron carmel says:

    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.

  29. Y3k-Bug says:

    @pkt-zer0
    You’re absolutely right, current DRM schemes hardly do anything to stop piracy. But that why EA and the like keep paying companies to develop new schemes, in the hope that they one day hit upon the DRM system that can’t be beaten, or is extremely hard to beat.

    Here’s another interesting question that can be asked out of all this:

    How many of the unpaid for copies were from “casual” piracy [guy pays for a copy, then sends copies to his friends through his thumb drive, or IM, etc], and how many were stolen copies from bit torrent?

  30. Y3k-Bug says:

    I was just pondering if piracy might translate into a larger customer base in the long term? I think it’s fair to say that young kids more often pirate than adults, simply because they don’t have as much money to spend (and they may have more time to play games).

    Why do you assume that most people who pirate games are young kids?

  31. Chris Evans says:

    Ron said

    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.

    I hear ya Ron, don’t think many other people (not necessarily on here) have gotten your message though, I think many people are simply of the mindset ‘urgh they are complaining about piracy yet didn’t put any DRM in, idiots.’

    They are the idiots for not understanding where you and Kyle are coming from.

  32. Andrew Wills says:

    I’m with cliffski on this one. Fake torrents are the way to go. If I wasn’t afraid of registering on Pirate Bay, I would comment saying the torrent was real in an effort to drive the scum away.

    I wonder if someone can answer this though:

    Is there a reason why someone like Cliffski, or a larger developer couldn’t put up more fake torrents on Pirate Bay, but include some kind of automagical tracking code inside it, which returns as many details as possible about the end user/pirate? Or something a little more… drastic?

    All you have to do is muddy the waters enough to make pirates think twice… Just like misinformation during war time. A concerted effort by even a small group of anti-piracy gamers could make the waters for each torrent so murky, so fast that it would become frustrating and pointless looking for them in the first place.

  33. beetleboy says:

    Ron Carmel – I understand if this is not something you’d want to discuss here, but I’d just throw out my earlier question to you: are you in the black or the red? Are you doing ok from this game?

    Aaaand, of course, do you have any thoughts on the “where do we go from here”?

    I understand if you prefer to do some work or play a game instead of discussing things on the internet, of course! We all know it can easily get heated and a bit fruitless. However, it would be very interesting to hear some thoughts from “the inside”, so to speak! =)

  34. Hoernchen says:

    Yes, there is a big difference between arbitrary numbers like over nine thousaaaaaaaand !!!!, err, 90 percent, and actual values like 82% which are at least based a bit more on facts than on wild guesses.

  35. Mman says:

    It is interesting to see an actual percentage for the “pirated” amount. But this has no bearing on DRM if you cannot compare it to a similar value for a game with DRM. If 80% of people still pirated the game with DRM, then obviously it would be useless. But if it actually decreased piracy then you could make an argument about effectiveness.

  36. Klaus says:

    I’d wager he meant 13 – 17-ish? I didn’t have all this access to the wonderful net, so honestly, if I was that age I’d pirate the shit out of everything. But I wasn’t interested much in computers then and I bought used console games.

  37. cliffski says:

    people on the internet in misunderstanding and misplaced rage shock!

  38. beetleboy says:

    Andrew Willis, now I am a bit lazy to go google, but a least one company has been trying to sell that as a form of copy protection – i.e., they will distribute fake copies of your product, to combat piracy. Far as I can see, it does not seem to be a huge success – can anyone name a game where this has stopped piracy? Or a movie? Or music?

    I think it could also easily lead to backlash – if anyone remembers the whole Madonna debacle with the “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

  39. Y3k-Bug says:

    Is there a reason why someone like Cliffski, or a larger developer couldn’t put up more fake torrents on Pirate Bay, but include some kind of automagical tracking code inside it, which returns as many details as possible about the end user/pirate?

    First off that would be rather pointless. You can’t prosecute a guy for copyright infringement if he downloaded a fake torrent. Where’s the actual copyright infringement?

    Second, the real torrent already supplies you with the IP address of every person you’re receiving/sending data to. You wouldn’t need a fake torrent, the real one supplies you with the amount of data an IP has given you, the IP number, and even the country and ISP of tha IP address if you choose to resolve it.

  40. beetleboy says:

    And let me be clear – I’m just making a case that this method doesn’t seem to work. This would hold true whether you love piracy or hate it.

    I mean, anyone that could invent a device that enables people to stab trolls thru the internet would obviously be a rich man, but can it be done? Then, of course, it would probably be pirated..

  41. Andrew Wills says:

    @ beetleboy

    I see your point, and I think charging for a service like that would generate a backlash, but if it was something that gamers took upon themselves to accomplish, as an independent group, then surely any backlash would come only from the people pirating the game… Which just underlines the point of doing it.

  42. pkt-zer0 says:

    I don’t make world of goo. I made Kudos. What do you want from me?

    I hope that’s not supposed to imply that you’re only interested in this as long as it’s to your personal benefit. As that would be quite hypocritical, considering that’s exactly the behaviour you fault the pirates for.

  43. Y3k-Bug says:

    I’d wager he meant 13 – 17-ish?

    I meant why assume pirates are in any age group? There’s no evidence to suggest what age they are in either direction.

    A few studies have said that gaming is primarily dominated by males in the 25-40 age group. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to assume that the age of pirates correlates roughly with that?

  44. The Apologist says:

    @ Y3k-Bug – How is this not an issue of morality? It is because of their morality/ethics that people think it is acceptable to make a copy of a game without paying the producer for it. It seems to me it is due to a widespread failure of ethics amongst gamers that the market that we have known and enjoyed and benefitted from is becoming unviable.

    In other areas of life it is incredibly easy for me to do the wrong thing with little consequence, but I and most other people don’t because they have empathy and because our collective life would become impossible.

    Practically, I think we need to look at two approaches at once. One is the kind of thing that the behavioural economist Richard Thaler talks about in Nudge – designing systems so as to help people do the right thing. He would, I think, argue that DRM is usually exactly the wrong thing to do. Instead, Battlenet or subscription systems like WoW has might be a reasonable example of this. Also, incidentally, giving consumers the information 2D Boy would release to inform their decisions are helpful.

    But we also as a community need to be persuasive about it, and to deal with it as a moral/ethical issue, because the pirates will always stay one step ahead of any anti-piracy measure. Something a bit similar worked for, for example, drink driving in the UK. The problem was largely solved when it simply became regarded as wrong to drink and drive.

    That’s the reason I think that Cliffski’s solution is potentially a good one. On one level, seeding torrents make it harder to do the wrong thing (and it should be commensurately easier to do the right thing). But if each download contained a message from a gamer arguing that torrenting is wrong and asking them to think again, then that might have some effect precisely because it is not a company, not a publisher taking the steps to make piracy more inconvenient, but a member of the gaming community.

    It needs not just to be difficult to pirate, but unacceptable.

    Sorry for the long post.

  45. Nuyan says:

    I just took a look at the World of Goo discussion on the Pirate Bay. What struck me is that 1 in 4 comments there went like:

    “Awesome game, after completing the game I send the developers 15 euros with PayPal.”

    or

    “If you can afford it, BUY THIS GAME. It’s just two developers that made this game.”

    or

    “going to buy it when the box is coming to europe…”

    or

    “C’mon people! pirating indie games is just wrong!”

    or

    “Going to buy this game when I have the money”

    Plus a huge discussion on piracy and indie games, of course. I thought it was quite funny, I also think it’s better to comment there and inspire people to buy the actual game than to spread viruses or pull of other cheap tricks.

  46. beetleboy says:

    A.W. Yes, the backlash is probably the minor side, even though Madonna probably thought it annoying that her site got hacked by AIMs. However, the bigger issue is, it doesn’t seem to work. Of course, even if it is only a stone in the shoe for the pirates, a slow-down but not a stop, it’s not a bad thing per se. I just wonder, is this the final solution in how companies like 2D Boy turn a healthy profit on their products? So that they can keep making wonderful stuff for our enjoyment?

  47. cliffski says:

    I know it (fake torrents) works a bit. At least, there are hundreds of people who unknowingly download fake torrents. I know it because I can see them right now downloading in my copy of utorrent :D.
    I’m sure most of them will grab another torrent once they realise its the demo and not the full version, but maybe it helps add to the fact that they wasted their time trying to pirate it, whereas getting it from me guarantees a legit full and up-to-date version.
    I do my tiny 0.01% to remind people that there is inconvenience associated with pirating, that you won’t get by being legit. It’s like the house of Lords (“It doesn’t do any harm, and it may even do some good”).

  48. I don't understand this comment system says:

    Pretty sad. This is what is going to kill PC gaming people. Developers are just going to move on to the greener pastures of console.

    The problem with DRM, beyond its intrusiveness, is that it currently doesn’t work. Which begs the question, if new DRM came out that actually worked, would you re-evaluate your stance on DRM?

  49. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Concerning the piracy numbers, I bet ron&friends did it because they have recently finished a great game and now have too much spare time on their hands, yet not enough income to just vanish to an island with white sand and blue ocean for some weeks. Also, publicity is good and will probably bring them another 100 sales, which might hopefully translate to another month of paid rent and reasonably priced alcohol, or whatever floats their boat recreationally.

    So, if you really want to do 2D a favour – spread the word! Start a discussion about the WoG piracy numbers on two of your favourite newsboards. Give them the spin an indie developer urgently needs to sell games. Link to the site where the games can be pir…purchased. Purchased. That will help them far more than us theorycrafting about the future of DRM, although that is of course a highly interesting topic.

  50. SuperNashwan says:

    @Dan Lawrence
    the complete elimination of Piracy
    Ahahahahaa! The WHAT now? Did I not ask people to avoid the typical piracy straw men up-thread?

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