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:

    @pkt-zer0
    Not at all. I am 100% behind 2DBoy who have made one of the best games this year. The thing is, it’s not my place to seed fake torrents of someone else’s game. I wouldn’t do that unless Ron was OK with it. I would consider it cheeky to take it upon myself to act for him. I would, however, happily do so if he asked me. That’s all i meant.
    I’ll happily seed anyone’s fake torrrents :D

  2. beetleboy says:

    The Apologist – Yes, I do believe some old Chinese lad (it may have been Confucius) said on account of laws, that they should not work on fear of reprisal, but rather on honor and shame. I really like Nine Inch Nails, lovely live concerts. I see on one of the blogs I daily read that I can get their latest album in excellent quality with no hassle (no DRM) for five dollars. Minutes later they sold another album and I’m listening to it, and feeling good for having supported an artist I like, in a time where it seems some artists struggle for income. Everyone wins, nobody loses.

  3. ron carmel says:

    @I don’t understand this comment system:
    no, we wouldn’t use DRM even if it worked. we made world of goo because we want people to play and enjoy it. if someone would play it for free but is not willing to pay for it, we’d rather they play the game and enjoy it without paying, as long as you don’t take this as our blessing to pirate world of goo :)

  4. jalf says:

    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?

    And who can make the most comments, do you think? The pirates or you? ;)
    For that matter, wouldn’t the torrents just get removed once it’s clear they’re fake? I don’t see how your idea could work. It’s too easy to spread the news once someone finds out that a torrent is fake. Even if you tried, and you managed to poison the comments as well, people would just start looking at the checksums of the files when starting the torrent. It’s naive to think that pirates can’t communicate. They live in 2008 too, they have internet access.

    Re. the sharing issue, no, I don’t think it’s quite the same as “normal” piracy. Legally, of course, it is, but I think there’s a difference in how and when you do it. If I let a friend borrow my game for a week, does that make him a pirate? Or me, perhaps? Or am I just trying to get him hooked on an awesome game?
    It reminds me of a post on Soren Johnson (the Civ4 guy)’s blog, where he said that it was a conscious decision to let Civ4 work in LAN games with one single disc shared between the players. It might get more people hooked on the game, and, people would be unlikely to buy 4 copies of Civ *in advance* just so they could play a LAN game together.

    As for how you can facilitate sharing, how about making it easy for people who bought the game to download it onto other computers? Let’s say I bought the game (I haven’t yet. Didn’t pirate it either though), and I’m going to visit a friend today. Ideally, I should be able to download the game to his computer, completely hassle-free, so I can show him how awesome it is, although with one important restriction. He shouldn’t be able to play it after I’ve left.
    Perhaps the version I downloaded require my userid/password every time it launches, so we can play it while I’m there, and afterwards, it’s locked. Or perhaps it’s some kind of time-limited “guest pass”, which expires after, say, 6 hours.
    Yes, my friend *could* crack it, but he’s my friend, I trust him (and he could have pirated it anyway), but something like this would facilitate your legit users getting their friends hooked on the game, without giving the friends immediate and unrestricted access to the game (because then they wouldn’t buy it)

    Just a thought.

    Y3k-Bug: Believing that DRM *can* be successful just shows a complete ignorance of pretty basic software development. They might as well look for the philosopher’s stone or the fountain of youth. People *can* look at the files on their harddrive. Once they can do that, they can open them in a hex editor and change the bytes they don’t like. It’s not hard to do. Until you get some kind of hardware-support for preventing the user from editing the files on their own harddrive, DRM will not work. (Games with a strong online component, like WoW can of course lock pirates out from their server, but even that doesn’t stop people from playing on private servers)

  5. Klaus says:

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

    Well, adults have money, mostly. Also, when you look at the comments on most torrent sites it gives you the impression that most of these people can’t be over 20 years of age.

    It’s conjecture. They might be adults, it’s just difficult to imagine.

  6. nikos says:

    Exactly what is the difference between fake torrents for MP3s and for games? It hasn’t worked for MP3s despite lots of money being thrown at it by the RIAAs of the world, and it won’t work for games.

  7. Duoae says:

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

    I’ve never had a DRM free digital copy that i would share around with friends. I’ve shared around my bought retail copies of discs though these generally had disc/cd-key copy protection which meant that i was unable to play them at the same time.
    If i was being honest i would probably only burn one CD copy and use that with maybe a backup on an external HDD. That CD copy could be used by myself or friends…. of course that would also require the disc be in the drive so i guess it’s still not DRM free….
    From a logical standpoint sharing a DRM free game when you can both play the game independently is piracy. From a human perspective, as long as the game wasn’t shared exponentially then i don’t think i’d have a problem with it.

    Sharing it with my immediate family is another matter. I would happily share a DRM free game with my mum, dad and siblings just as we all sit down and watch the TV and movies together. Only one of us pays for each experience but we all share it.

    Regarding the fake torrent issue. I think it’s a terrible idea – not because it can be used to fight piracy but because it opens up a whole ream of legal ramifications for those doing it and these are the reasons why the big publishers do not partake in the practice.
    First off there’s such a thing as entrapment…. then, if you’re planning on adding in some tracking software or something, you’re venturing into the realms of illegal monitoring of people which at best requires a license and at worst can only be allowed by government-sanctioned bodies such as the police. If any of your software can be linked with any system problems experienced after installation then there’s going to be one hell of a legal backlash against the people who spread this because legally, the downloader has done nothing wrong by downloading something that was not an actual game… though the intent may have been there. Not sure where intent comes in on this but i wouldn’t want to touch that can of worms.

  8. ron carmel says:

    @cliffski:
    thanks, but we really don’t want to fight it… fighting piracy leads to frustration, frustration leads to anger, anger leads to… the dark side of the force!

  9. Klaus says:

    The dark side is awesome though.

  10. Y3k-Bug says:

    @The Apologist

    I don’t think its an issue of morality because it really has no baring on anything. I really don’t think people download games from bit torrent because they don’t know that its wrong. Or that it hurts developers. They are fully aware of the fact, they just don’t care. So I say it isn’t a morality issue because the people involved are quite aware of what they are doing. Winning their hearts and minds is pointless.

    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.

    But Bnet is DRM though. Its an online system that checks your CD Key and verifies that its legit. All multiplayer games are a form of DRM. Its why really popular ones like COD4, Counter-Strike, Diablo, WoW do well.

    The real problem is dealing with single player games. Steam tried that with having single player games have to check in, pirates merely turned that functionality off. So the challenge is stopping piracy in single player games.

  11. SuperNashwan says:

    Well the bandwidth cost for games is significantly higher, not many people have unlimited connections.

  12. The Apologist says:

    @Beetleboy – Thanks – it is a good illustration.

    In a world where laws cannot be enforced, it is up to us to do the right thing. People can laugh and say it is naive, but t’was ever thus.

    It is important to design systems to help people do the right thing (WoW seemingly being the best example). But ultimately if most people don’t choose to do the right thing, we all – developer, publisher and pc gamer – are screwed.

  13. beetleboy says:

    This also reminds me where NiN earned the other half of the 15 million in that first week of sales: selling super-exclusive collectors edition boxes with all sorts of extra doodahs for 300 dollars apiece. I’m not sure that kind of pricing would work for WoG, but it does seem that some people go to lengths to acquire limited edition boxes of their favorite games, e.g. Fallout 3 or WoW. Now, unfortunately, I’m not sure if this is really something applicable for indie devs. Maybe instead selling some nifty t-shirts with WoG prints? Physical swag, and if done tastefully, would be walking advertising yet look indie.

    Just throwing it out there, dunno if it’d work?

  14. Sam says:

    @I don’t understand this comment system:
    Wait, what? ron carmel himself has already noted that he doesn’t think the 82% piracy figure translates into significant lost sales (I guess he did the same “1:4 sales/total copies”*”1000:1 pirated copies/lost sales” = “250:1 acheived sales/lost sales” calculation that others prepared to actually think about the issue did). It’ll only lead to the death of the PC industry if people get reactionary about numbers without thinking about them rationally.

  15. jalf says:

    cliffski:

    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.

    That doesn’t mean they work, even a bit. It means someone are downloading your fake. That is not the same as “someone who would otherwise pirate your game decided to buy it instead”, which is the one meaningful measure of whether your idea “works”. If it doesn’t convert pirates to legit users, it doesn’t work, no matter what other effects it may have.

    And it’s naive to think you can outwit pirates. That hasn’t worked for the last 15 years, and I don’t see why it’d work now. Yes, even if we all massively seeded fake torrents, even if so many people did it that it actually *did* make people give up on pirating the game, and even if those who gave up then decided to buy it, that might give you a respite of, say, 2 weeks. After which the torrent sites and the warez groups would adapt, coming up with new and better measures to tell the real deal from the fakes.

    Unlike 2DBoy, I think you’ve lost sight of the goal. The goal is to make people *buy* your game. In itself, preventing people from pirating it is worthless. It’s only interesting as a means to increase your sales.

  16. Sam says:

    @beetleboy: definitely. Limited editions have value because, precisely opposite to digital media, there’s a limited number of copies of them ;). I’m sure people would buy WoG merchandise for similar reasons…

  17. The Apologist says:

    @ Y3k-Bug – sorry, I don’t really understand the point you are trying to make. I am not suggesting people aren’t aware of the harm they do. To knowingly cause harm to others for personal gain is absolutely an ethical issue.

    By your definition, so crime would have any moral or ethical component.

  18. The Apologist says:

    Sorry that should read ‘no crime’

  19. Andrew Wills says:

    OK, there’s a lot of people shooting down suggestions made by others about the best way to deal with piracy… What about those same people suggesting ways TO deal with it?

    There must be some solution, and the best I’ve seen so far is cliffski’s “fake torrents”. The more fake torrents there are the better. It’s like coding and hacking.

    A coder accepts that their work isn’t foolproof, so they put as much in the way as possible to prevent non-legitimate users gaining access to their system, in the hopes that they’ll give up and go away.

    What about seeding the ACTUAL game, with tracking code and some kind of memory leak program, slowing down their computers to a crawling pace, making the game unplayable after 20 minutes? I have no idea about the laws of this kind of thing.

  20. jalf says:

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

    I already explained my reasoning. They typically have less money to spend, and they have more time to play games. That means they *want* to acquire more games, and they’re able to buy fewer. That makes piracy an obvious option, I’d think. Apart from that, it fits my personal experience. Most people I know at my own age (26) buy their games. The people I know below, say, 18 seem to pirate game much more commonly.
    But no, I don’t have numbers to support it. Like I said, I was just musing on John’s question.

  21. beetleboy says:

    The Apologist – pirated WoW is such a terribly inferior product, well, I fumble for likenesses. It’s like using a car made out of cardboard, it’s a bad idea even if it’s free. This is only what I’ve heard from friends that tried pirate WoW servers, but apparently the world (server) frequently crashes, your ten hours of work in a day on the character evaporate into nothing, and 2/3 of the world doesn’t even work at all. If you can afford non-pirated WoW, I think you will want that instead.

    This type of persistent online content is however also not something that I’d see as easily applicable for e.g. WoG. However, I don’t doubt for a second that Blizzard absolutely loves it.

  22. PHeMoX 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.””

    At least they are far more realistic about the issue.

    The problem is the mentality of pirate-copy-using gamers must change, not the games or security. In a perfect world, we shouldn’t even have to protect our games with DRMs.

    To be honest, the DRM protection of Fallout3 is starting to get on my nerves as my virusscanner picks it up each time I start the game. I have a feeling it’s slowing the game down also.

  23. The Apologist says:

    @Andrew Wills – I agree, but it would be good to have people understand that it is a gamer that seeded, not a company (big or small)

    Personally, I would draw the line at seeding a programme that shared information about them without their knowledge, but maybe I am just too soft

  24. jalf says:

    What about seeding the ACTUAL game, with tracking code and some kind of memory leak program, slowing down their computers to a crawling pace, making the game unplayable after 20 minutes? I have no idea about the laws of this kind of thing.

    That has happened before (I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but where the pirated versions of the game contained major bugs).
    What do you *think* happened?
    Of course the pirates all went “what a sucky game. There’s no way I’m going to buy this crap”. Once again, the goal is to make people buy the game. Making the game look bad does not achieve that.

  25. Sam says:

    @Andrew Willis: I’m suggesting that you shouldn’t try to deal with it, with technological solutions. You deal with it by making a game and being a company that people want to give money to so they can make more cool stuff – yes, people will still pirate your stuff, but that’s irrelevant if the people who love you and want to give you money are sufficient to fund your development. Heck, like beetleboy suggested, decouple the “giving money to the developers” thing from the “download a copy of the game” thing, by offering merchandise and other limited physical goods as well (or, if you’re running an online game, by moving to a service-based subscription model).
    And, considering the 1:1000 lost sales/pirated copies figure, stop obsessing over every torrent losing you millions of pounds…

  26. The Apologist says:

    @beetleboy – yep, that makes complete sense to me, but you can see developers making online key to their games not because that’s their vision for the game, but because it helps the consumer do the right thing.

    Not an idea I like, but maybe it is inevitable?

  27. Y3k-Bug says:

    @The Apologist

    Maybe I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying. I got the impression you were saying that [to use your own analogy] the rates of drunk driving in the UK diminished when an ad campaign made the case that it was wrong to drink and drive. So by making pirates aware of their wrong-doing, you would have less piracy? If that isn’t what you meant, I apologize.

    It is important to design systems to help people do the right thing (WoW seemingly being the best example).

    But that’s DRM though. You just called it “a system to help people do the right thing” instead of calling it “DRM.”

  28. PHeMoX says:

    ” At a wild guess, I’d say something like “It’s fake, guys, don’t bother. Try this *insert url here* instead.” ”

    Yeah, fake torrents definitely will fire back if people post comments. Which they will eventually. Meaning instead of one evil torrent in a sea of many torrentsites, you might end up with 10 fake torrents pointing to the single evil torrent in a worse case scenario making it actually much much easier to find. So it’s actually helping spreading the torrent.

    As developer I’d stay away from trying to influence all that, it won’t matter anyways.

  29. Andrew Wills says:

    @ Sam: I agree that getting people to buy the game is more important than stopping people pirating, but I see them as seperate issues, both of which should be focussed upon.

    2DBoy focussed upon providing gamers with plenty of incentives to purchase their game, as did Cliffski, but both have had their games pirated in huge numbers, despite their efforts (no DRM, low price, good demos, availability).

    So what more can they do to improve matters? The fact is there are still people out there who wanted to play World of Goo and Kudos 2, but didn’t pay for it, so they pirated it instead.

  30. Y3k-Bug says:

    I think the CD Key verification system is adequate for multiplayer games. The challenge for PC gaming is finding an decent enough DRM scheme for single player games.

    @jalf You’re right, pirates will always be a step ahead of anti piracy measure, but you still have to take steps to protect your investment. I completely agree that any system created will be beaten eventually; thats the nature of software development. My point is that there needs to be a system for single player games where defeating it’s DRM scheme leads to diminishing returns. I know there’s definitely pirated copies of WoW out there, but there is no way you can tell me that the experience is in any way comparable to that of the legit copies connected to the vast virtual world they have created.

    Single player game’s don’t have that same luxury however. And THAT is the heart of the issue of PC piracy. In my opinion anyway :D

  31. Hypocee says:

    @John: I’m not really sure I understand the point of the question, so here’s my best shot: Yes. But! Aside from any moral questions, in a playground piracy/LAN scenario there are additional empirical obstacles over the BitTorrent scenario – remembering to buy a licence, and indeed knowing that the thing’s not free in the first place. Let’s take three hypotheticals – Death Worm, World of Goo and Armageddon Empires.

    Assuming Death Worm was a commerical product – maybe at a a $10.00 price point – if I were exposed to it at a LAN party or a browse through a campus share (and liked it) I’d probably have mostly exhausted it by the time I got ‘home’. Whether I initially knew about the shadiness or not, sad to say it probably would have fallen off my radar by the time I got back in a buying phase.

    Assuming I’d been introduced to World of Goo at a LAN, I’d still be playing it the next time I had a browser open, and it’s obvious from the amount of content and polish that it’s unlikely to be a freeware game. High probability of purchase.

    If I hit Armageddon Empires at a LAN, I’d still be playing it later…but in terms of the interface, the board art and mechanics, it gives off the vibe that maybe some beardy fellow could have just holed up in his basement and hammered it out for the good of the world. Only the card art and the credits listing cue you that this product is probably somebody’s mortgage.

    I give those three examples for a reason: I don’t tend to think about this from the consumer side, I always think about it as a pusher: How can I help this good game get more revenue? These three examples illustrate what I consider the three aspects most important to personally pushing a game. 1. Size – I think there’s a certain minimum conceptual ‘size’ below which people can’t sell face-to-face. You can make the best particle toy in the world, but if it only lasts five minutes you’ll need an octopus sales model and it’ll fail to earn anyway. Sad but true. 2. Polish/Variety – it helps if your game makes it obvious that it’s a product. Some games don’t fit this kind of ‘show of force’ like World of Goo, but there are other things you can do, like including unobtrusive credits/website on the menu screen – things that freeware authors tend not to do. As mentioned, this would have helped sell me Armageddon Empires in the absence of knowledge about its status, which brings me to… 3. Make sure consumers know it’s shady. Yes indeed, I am a naughty Blackbeard and I have pushed full games – games that I wanted to succeed, and with the best of intentions. Case in point, cracked Battlefield 1942 installations for Desert Combat at a LAN party, with the cheerful admonition that ‘next time we play I’d like to see a CD OK?’ If there were no demo of AE I’d aggressively pass it around with a text file entitled ARMAGEDDON EMPIRES $30 crypticcomet.com in the same folder. There’s no such thing as a bad sale of a good game. In the BitTorrent scenario, I’m one of the people who responds to those ‘please buy the game if you like it’ announcements; yes, we really do exist folks! I check out the developer, publisher, price, DRM status etc. as long as I’m aware it’s commercial in the first place.

    Fortunately, this all reveals the number one factor that didn’t enter in – representative demos. I don’t need to push full versions of WoGoo or AE, because they have generous demos that I can say are indicative of the full experience. I’ve sold 1.5 copies of WoGoo that I know of, maybe a couple more in time, by sending around the demo and my endorsement. It’s an area where (many) games really have an advantage over things like movies and music face-to-face, because you can’t really push ‘part’ of a song.

    Well, that got big. Hopefully it’s information you’d like to have.

  32. beetleboy says:

    Well, giving an online key doesn’t stop piracy in itself – see all the recent games that have tried it. Name one where pirate versions are unavailable.

    What does work is to, like WoW, have the content so inextricably online and so hopeless to run by pirate servers, that bought WoW is the only decent show in town. The key is a side issue, so is honor and shame, so is physical swag. You simply cannot get a decent game of WoW except on the Blizzard servers, and that’s that.

  33. The Apologist says:

    @Y3k-bug – my example was misleading, because you are right, in the case of drink driving the change did begin by raising awareness of the harm. But what I was trying to say was that, to my way of thinking, it was when people collectively stopped finding the behaviour morally acceptable that they started walking home from the pub or paying for a taxi instead of just jumping in the car.

    Well, I guess you could count online components as DRM, and my technical knowledge is limited, maybe that is how they are written. But it seems to me there is a difference between something like SecureROM which only functions to check the validity of the title, and ultimately seems a negative thing for users, and WoW. In WoW the online component of the game is a fundamental part of the game design, and is something its users love. Blizzard maintains good servers, and provide a service that is difficult for anyone else to offer, meaning that a (literally) vast number of users make, in my view, the right choice.

    You might regard it as DRM, but either way it is about the game and gives value to the player.

  34. cliffski says:

    @ jalf

    “And who can make the most comments, do you think? The pirates or you? ;)
    For that matter, wouldn’t the torrents just get removed once it’s clear they’re fake? I don’t see how your idea could work. “

    I’m doing it right now. The torrents don’t get removed. they are downloading the fakes right now.
    It works.

  35. Sam says:

    @Andrew Wills:
    Yes, but the 1:1000 ratio implies that most of those people aren’t lost sales. So, what you’re saying isn’t “how can we make more pirates buy the game”, but effectively “how can I make sure no-one gets a hold of my game without being made to pay for it?”. The deeply communist soul of me thinks that this is sort of missing the point.
    2DBoy have the right attitude to this, in my opinion – don’t worry about the pirates, they’re background noise freeloaders. You can’t turn them into sales, so why make effort to stop them from playing the game – at best, someone seeing them playing it might be encouraged to actually buy the game… or donate money to you, or buy one of your promotional t-shirts.
    After all, you made the game because you love it, right? As long as you *are* getting enough paying customers to be comfortable in your lifestyle, why are you begrudging other people the chance to love it as well?

  36. Rev. S Campbell says:

    @cliffski

    “How does the producer even know you played it unless there is a highscore table you submit to? ”

    That doesn’t normally stop the industry spewing out screeds and screeds of made-up figures about how much piracy they’ve suffered.

  37. Y3k-Bug says:

    There isn’t a single game out there that doesn’t have a pirated version. The thing is that with online games with key verification, you’ve instantly made it less worthwhile to pirate due to not having it be a part of the full game world greated by owners of the legit copies.

  38. Premium User Badge

    Down Rodeo says:

    I get annoyed at one “excuse” made by pirates – those people saying “I can’t afford it”. Really I would like to build a decent gaming PC. I could, in theory, afford it right now. But I’d be out of pocket later on. So, I could steal all the components and make myself a PC – but that’s illegal (uh, obviously).

    One might argue that these are rather different situations – WoG is $20, a PC would be $1000 – $1500 (I’m guessing here). So instead consider a RAM upgrade. Looking on Amazon UK I can see Kingston RAM for just over a tenner; the same price as WoG. Roughly. I can’t be bothered fiddling with exchange rates. So am I justified in attempting to steal RAM from a store because I can’t afford it but want it?

    It really pisses me off, in short. Economists would talk about “opportunity cost” here… I only did a Standard Grade in Economics but I know enough to say that you have to choose what you use your limited resources on, financial or otherwise. For instance: buy WoG or have an extra few drinks on a night out? Or, even, have food for the next few days? I’ve not been in that situation but not having the money to eat and buy a game would not give me the right to download it illegally.

    Actually, I’ve been putting off purchasing this game for no real reason so I’m buying it now. I hate people sometimes, they are such a problem.

  39. Y3k-Bug says:

    @The Apologist

    You just nailed it right there. While Blizzard’s system is definitely DRM, its DRM that has value; connecting millions of people to a rich game world.

    Steam is the same case. It’s DRM through and through but has definite value besides the fact. IM client, the ability to instantly find and join your friends in any game you both own, a built in store to purchase more games, etc.

    But can a DRM scheme add value in a single player game? Is it even possible?

  40. jalf says:

    I’m doing it right now. The torrents don’t get removed. they are downloading the fakes right now.
    It works.

    Did you read my post? “People downloading my fake torrent” does not equal “people are going to give up pirating and buy my game”.
    All you’ve proven is that some people will download a fake torrent if they don’t know it’s fake. You have *not* proven that:
    - A single one of those would-be pirates are going to pay for your game when they realize the torrent is fake, and
    - That it would work on a large scale as you’re suggesting.

    I’m curious about what makes you think that the rest of the world is going to stand still while you poison all the torrents. You don’t think that maybe people will adapt to this? Either use other torrent sites than yours, get your IP banned for uploading fakes, or just beef up the site’s rating/comment system, or share information about the “proper”MD5 hashes for the torrented files, so people can easily see for themselves if a torrent is fake or not.
    There are literally dozens of ways to tell a fake torrent from a real one. Don’t you think they’ll get used if fake torrents becomes a serious concern among pirates?

  41. cliffski says:

    “After all, you made the game because you love it, right? As long as you *are* getting enough paying customers to be comfortable in your lifestyle”

    This isn’t the point. In order for any marketplace to deliver the BEST games, the market *signals* have to work. That means that good games need to make good money, crap games need to make crap money, and awesome games need to make awesome money.
    If World Of Goo made $4million, then developers would make more awesome games like WoG. That’s a GOOD thing all round.
    Like it or not, industries work around money. If Hidden Object Dash IX makes more money than WoG, you will get more cloned casual-game sequels and less original masterpieces like WoG. This is a bad thing.

    I want WoG to make tons of money because it’s a GREAT game, and I want the industry to make more games like that. Whether or not 2DBoy want or need the money is, in effect, not the point.

  42. Jochen Scheisse says:

    The Rev is back! Will we break 500 posts this time?

  43. cliffski says:

    jalf why are you so pissed off that I might seed fake torrents of my games? Unless you torrent all your games, how does what I do and suggest bother you in any way at all?
    If I’m wasting my time then fine, it’s my time to waste. I don’t like seeing game developers ripped off, especially me. I don’t get why people get so annoyed at me for suggesting ways to prevent that *shrug*

  44. Y3k-Bug says:

    I think his point is that you aren’t really preventing them from ripping you off.

    When they realize the torrent is a fake, they’ll just be more cautious and make sure that when they pirate your game again, that its the legit copy.

  45. Andrew Wills says:

    @ Sam: Whilst in principle I agree with you, as you’re completely right, they ARE background noise, they aren’t worth the time and effort, but making it easier for them, and removing the consequences and difficulties of pirating, will only make people paying for the game frustrated.

    If 2DBoy were to ever say “Fine, I give up, pirate away, or buy my game, it’s up to you, but don’t worry, I wont press charges, or put any obstacles in your way!” then what’s the point of buying the game. You get no advantage as a paying customer.

    If there are no consequences for breaking the law, no downside and no difficulty, then more people would turn to piracy.

  46. The Apologist says:

    @Y3k-Bug – yep, I take your point about the challenge to create effective DRM in a single player game. It is a design challenge to create a single-player game where the design that enhances the game in such a way as to pushes players to use only a legit copy of the game.

    I agree with you that such a development would be valuable, but we may need to accept that it is either impossible or just so complex and costly that there isn’t the incentive for a developer to do it.

    That’s why I argue that we need a combination of a design that works, but also a community that collectively changes its behaviour (which I see as related to their ethics). Without both, piracy will skew the market towards products where it is possible to design out the problem (like MMOGs).

    I say this as someone who very rarely plays multiplayer games. I always want the prospect of playing the next Deus Ex…

    *goes misty eyed*

  47. Y3k-Bug says:

    @The Apologist

    I hear ya man. With the way things are looking now, Epic single player titles like Deus Ex and Bioshock are gonna go the way of the dodo.

  48. The_B says:

    I think his point is that you aren’t really preventing them from ripping you off.

    When they realize the torrent is a fake, they’ll just be more cautious and make sure that when they pirate your game again, that its the legit copy.

    Which reeks a little of double standards, if you ask me. It’s as if pirates should be allowed to protect their business but not games developers…

  49. Sam says:

    @Andrew Wills (and cliffski, really):
    What’s the point of giving to charity? It doesn’t give you any advantage, compared to not giving to charity.
    Effectively, 2DBoy *have* said what you’ve suggested they could say. They’re not pressing charges, they have no DRM, ron carmel himself has said that he’s not interested in trying to punish the pirates.
    And, yet, 15,000 people, so far, have bought their game. Stardock did even better, with basically the same message.
    The advantage you get as a paying customer is knowing that you’re helping out the people you like, who make the games that you like, and that your money is going to them to help them do more things like that.
    That’s why I buy the games that I buy. That’s why I’ve effectively bought X-COM three times now, and Deus Ex twice, to get them in different formats (and on Steam, etc). That’s why if Introversion, 2DBoy, etc, all had “donate to us now” buttons, I’d have used them to give them more money than the price of the game allows (it’s why I like the idea of a Radiohead style “choose the price you want to pay for this download” system, so I can pay more if I want to).
    That’s also why I don’t care if people pirate those same games. Why should I be frustrated? Why should I be sad that someone else gets to play a game, for free, that I chose to pay money for? I like those games, why do I begrudge other people also getting to play them?

  50. jalf says:

    cliffski: Pissed off? I’m simply pointing out that you won’t achieve anything. I’m not pissed off. If anything, I’m depressed that so many game developers are so blindingly naive in their way of dealing with such a major issue as piracy. It’s about as effective as EA’s belief that “even though our DRM got cracked before release, and even though it’s making every gamer hate us, DRM is still boosting our sales”.

    Most sensible businesses have some kind of business plan behind anything they spend resources on. Anything that doesn’t end up benefiting their business gets cut. If that business plan is based on complete nonsense, they only end up hurting themselves, spending a lot of money on something that’s never going to improve their bottom line.

    Yes, your time is yours to waste, but you posted about it here, said you thought it would be a good way to combat piracy, and I said I think it’d be completely ineffective. If you didn’t want feedback, why did you post it here? Why are *you* getting pissed off that you get feedback on the ideas you post on a public forum?

    I simply pointed out that there are countless ways to work around fake torrents. I’m sorry that this upset you, but it doesn’t change the facts. If you want to keep campaigning for this, feel free. But perhaps you’d achieve better results in your fight against piracy if you actually considered the flaws in your strategy that people point out.

    I’m starting to think that what’s killing PC gaming is not piracy, but developers who let their kneejerk reactions guide them in dealing with piracy.