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. Jelly says:

    Surely Piracy = Annoyed Developers = Less or no games?

  2. Meat Circus says:

    @Jelly:

    Developers will learn to stop being annoyed eventually.

    The sooner everyone stops believing the universe owes them a living the better.

  3. Jon R. says:

    Cliff, you are right and always have been. Whatever you think about the issue, keep on it. I want you do protect your profits in whatever way you see fit, and i say this with the sincerity of someone who genuinely wants you to starve if it means you no longer get to put out games that only technically allow you to believe you can speak with the voice of a game designer.

    I like the idea that it matters one way or the other what message it sends to the industry. The industry follows its own retarded notions, then generates whatever rationale for it after. Did you fuckballs honestly forget how long we had to bitch about co-op before developers stopped whining and bothered to start including it again?

    In general, god fucking forbid anyone should have to create something that anyone would actually want to buy instead of desperately trying to shoehorn “You break it, you bought it” into applying to something that intrinsically cannot be broken.. Such an alien concept for an industry built on AAA obsolescence.

  4. Rev. S Campbell says:

    Surely Piracy = Annoyed Developers = Less or no games?

    It hasn’t worked like that for the last 25 years, why would it suddenly start now?

  5. Jelly says:

    @ Rev. S Campbell

    Faster Broadband and greater availability of pirated games will, surprisingly, result in an increase in piracy. Couple that with considerably less piracy on alternative platforms, and PC Developers will begin either decreasing the priority of PC ports or just forgetting them altogether.

  6. Rev. S Campbell says:

    Faster Broadband and greater availability of pirated games will, surprisingly, result in an increase in piracy.

    Nonsense. Games have expanded to fill the capacity of internet connections and beyond. What downloads faster, a 9K Spectrum game over 56Kbps dialup, or 5GB* of Call Of Duty 4 over a 2MB ADSL line?

    Even if piracy is increasing over time – a claim which there’s absolutely no evidence for – it’s done nothing to shrink the games industry, which gets bigger and makes more money every single year.

    *I have absolutely no idea what size Call Of Duty 4 actually is.

  7. Jelly says:

    Not just download speeds, but availability: back in the day, you’d have to be part of a comparably small community to have access to free copies of the latest games. Nowadays, there are massive warez forums with thousands of members and torrent sites with millions.

    COD4 is about 6.4GB.

    :3

  8. Rev. S Campbell says:

    Not just download speeds, but availability: back in the day, you’d have to be part of a comparably small community to have access to free copies of the latest games.

    Also inaccurate. Playground pirates could and did swap games 30 at a time on C90 tapes, and the practice was universal (at my school, anyway). Availability was huge.

    Here’s a fact snippet I just picked up:

    Time taken for the Gameboy Advance to reach 2782 game releases, on a userbase of roughly 80 million: 7 years 1 month.

    Time taken for the Nintendo DS to reach 2782 game releases, on a near-identical userbase: 3 years 4 months.

    DS pirating devices cost roughly a tenth of what GBA ones did, for 20 times the capacity or more, and are much more widely available, being found even on respectable sites like Amazon.

    The evidence doesn’t seem to suggest that increased piracy reduces the number of games released, does it?

  9. Robert says:

    I’m a student in New Zealand, and each week, I live on $160NZD, which is $90USD or £60.50 (go,go xe.com). I spend $100NZ on rent, and $30NZ on power, phone, etc and then I need $5-10 for bus fares. This leaves me with $30NZ, which mostly goes on food. If I shop from the Asian Warehouse, I can make food down to $20NZ a week.

    $160 a week is fairly standard for a student here in NZ.

    Games in New Zealand cost $100NZ, $110 for a “AAA” title. So if I live on noodles, ignore my girlfriend and friends and bike rather than bus, I can buy one game every 3 or 4 months. Luckily, my girlfriend is very understanding, and almost every fucking cent I can claw away from my meagre food budget goes on games. However, there is a large shortfall… I can’t play one game solidly for 4 months, not at the rate I go. So I pirate some games, and buy what I can.

    When I was young enough to not have (and not need) any income at all, I pirated nearly all of my games (and bought all the ones I could over birthdays and Christmas). When I worked full time in-between high school and uni two years ago. I bought a new game, with real money, from a shop, every week, and pirated nothing.

    I know, I know, “wah wah fucking sob story, just pay for them.” I do feel awful about it; as soon as I have any money, I spend it on games. It’s almost like a subscription, rather than a product-purchase. I pay 90% of my “spare” income, and I can play all the games I like. Sometimes that 90% is pittance a week, and sometimes it’s fifty quid. If only the game industry worked as a whole, if I paid money for one game, but pirated another, somehow both would get a share of that sale.

    Did I pirate World of Goo? Nope, even though I loved the demo. Since ‘Audiosurf’ came out, and I saved up for it for a month and a half, and from reading RPS so much, I’ve always felt the incorrect feeling that indie game developers are “on my side” and big companies aren’t, and that’s what’s stopped me downloading World of Goo and others. Of course, EVERYONE who makes a game is on my side, I very much doubt that there are any game developers (outside of the Russian guys that made that Truck Game) that aren’t in it out of passion.

    So, I suppose to summarise. 100% of the people I know who pirate games, do it because they’re poor, and would otherwise go without. And 100% of the people I know who pirate games, go without food quite often just to buy games. 85% of games are just priced too high for me, but 100% of games are priced WAY below anything representative of how much effort went into making them. “We” aren’t a bunch of people who think that somehow, downloading games and not paying the authors is “yeah, cool, anarchy… or something!!”, fucking hell how I’d dearly love to be able to buy games, and in a few years, I’ll be able to.

    ~

    P.s. Only game which is available on Steam that I have ever pirated was Half Life 2 (because fucking Steam was a piece of crap, and I was on dialup), which I now own. Nearly every single game I have bought in the past 2 years has been on Steam (because Steam is really, really awesome, and I am on cable).

  10. Larington says:

    Yarrrrr
    http://www.gamepolitics.com/2008/11/15/meet-real-video-game-pirates
    RPGs ahoy! Starforce bow cap’n!

  11. BonSequitur says:

    There are legitimate uses for BitTorrent, so trying to restrict it as “piracy software” is downright fascist. Actually, even if there weren’t legitimate uses for BitTorrent, attempting to ban software is fascist.

    Apologist: A “seeder” is just someone in a torrent who isn’t “leeching,” that is, someone who already has the whole file being torrented and who is just uploading. BitTorrent relies on a small number of seeders distributing pieces of the file to a much larger number of leechers, who then proceed to exchange the pieces between themselves to re-assemble the file.

  12. Jon R. says:

    “Not just download speeds, but availability: back in the day, you’d have to be part of a comparably small community to have access to free copies of the latest games. Nowadays, there are massive warez forums with thousands of members and torrent sites with millions.”

    But it’s tempered by the fact that most people on those torrent sites are dead fucking stupid. If you read the comments for torrents long enough, you begin to wonder if just being an ISO and/or multi-part RAR isn’t a more effective deterrent than the cracked DRM contained within them.

  13. Thiefsie says:

    Nice to see some people digging themselves holes and others rising well above it. I don’t have much more to add to this apart from vaguely being of the mind that rampant piracy is a huge part of publicity and maybe moreso in the indie area is well on the way to actually increasing sales. Have I bought Braid – No. Have I bought Kudos – No, have I played either – No. Have I bought WoG – Yes, Did I buy Trials – Yes, Did I buy Audiosurf – regrettably yes. Do I pirate games – many yes. Do I buy games – many yes.

    Who would have thought 2/3 guys at 2D boy would garner the frankly fucking huge amount on attention they have… with presumably not much marketing budget?

    Just to add my demographic to whatever debate needs them. I too was off the class of teen (or lets say student) that pirated EVERYTHING except very early before I knew about pirating, and then as incomes increased and maturity grew, started buying much much more entertainment. I still pirate many games (part collector perhaps??) but generally they are old games which until recently haven’t had much of a revenue stream for developers anyway (so late after release). I also don’t play at least 80% of the games I pirate… however in the last month alone I have bought 6 full ticket price new games, and I intend to get my value out of them all.

    As others have said, piracy != lost sale. Developer’s goals should to sell as many friggin copies as they can no matter what, not combat the sliding slope of piracy.

    I still probably think maybe that WoG would have been slightly better if the serial keys used for pre-ordering were used the same way for the final thing, at least then their statistics would be able to use a far more concrete serial key way of determining numbers rather than unique ids.

    As an aside, honestly DRM rarely bothers me at all. Legitimately I’ve hardly ever been bothered by it for real, and I figure if suddenly one of my games fails to work I’ll just crack it. What does bother me though, is regional DRM and price fixing. CoD 4 is still $88.50 USD on Steam for me. Hah!

  14. Monkfish says:

    The sooner everyone stops believing the universe owes them a living the better.

    True enough.

    But the sooner everone stops believing the universe owes them games for fuck all, the better.

  15. Jon R. says:

    That’s up to the publisher though, despite Valve having complete control over the distribution method and taking a huge chunk of the profit off of doing little work of their own for it.

    Maybe. I could be wrong. Did RPS bother to ask what that whole deal was about when they were interviewing people there? Because, gee, that might have been a relevant line of questioning.

  16. an ape says:

    Tom:

    About the dead space torrent thing. I did a quick search before the game was out. There were several page of Xbox ISOs already there before the release date and absolutely no PC versions. Of course it is easier to directly pirate a PC game but that doesn’t mean there is no or even little console pirating. It is widespread and readilly available.

  17. Y3k-Bug says:

    Random useless post:

    This thread… this thread is OVER NINE THOUSAND!!!!@%%%

  18. Funky Badger says:

    Robert: if you can’t afford something, you should go without – it’s God’s way of telling you to get cheaper hobbies.

  19. Gap Gen says:

    Duoae : I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know what motivates publishers as I’m not a publisher and have never spoken to one. But as you say, if publishers chase sales from people who won’t buy games then they are idiots. If they have market data that suggests that a sufficient number of pirates can be persuaded to buy legitimate copies (as cliffski tried in his dialogue with pirates) then fair enough.

  20. LionsPhil says:

    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.

    I hereby use my Self-important Internet Man powers to declare jalf the winner of this thread.

  21. Devan says:

    Just a thought on fake torrents. If I were to help seed them, I would need to download first, and risk becoming another piracy statistic :(

    Another thought: I wonder how much the “DRM Free” tact has helped 2D Boy. It’s a good product which many people love. I didn’t find it all that enjoyable, but bought it anyway partly because I want to support the initiative (which is a factor in all my other DRM-free purchases as well). So I am one person who would likely not have played farther than the demo if it had used DRM. I wonder how many other sales were clinched for the same reason.
    The “DRM Free” headline probably also increased word-of-mouth advertising for the product and made people interested in its success, as seen here.
    Finally, 2D Boy indicates in their article that DRM does not seem to diminish piracy at all. So, it seems in an environment where DRM is becoming increasingly burdensome for buyers, the lack of it has significantly buoyed WoG’s financial success, which is of course 2D Boy’s main objective.
    They’ve also received a lot of mindshare these days, which is great if they want to produce more titles.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is, piracy sucks and is an ongoing problem, but 2D Boy made the right decisions and seems to be benefiting from them.

  22. Hypocee says:

    @Beetleboy again: Actually, I now recall that 2DBoy is part of an experiment in indie game/clothing crossover marketing: http://2dboy.com/2008/03/20/sexy-indie-game-shirts-sightings/

  23. Erlam says:

    “Equally Cliff, do you speak for everyone who is currently making games or just set yourself up as someone who lectures everyone on our behalf?

    Come on, man.”

    I’ve worked various areas of the industry – beta tester for MODs, help on a MOD itself, focus tester, Localisation Tester, Dev Support, Junior Design/Weapons design (on the most popular PS3 game in history), etc. Does that make it ok for me, I wonder, to comment on this? Oh well, here goes.

    Piracy is a bad thing. I don’t think there’s anyway to actually ‘defend’ it. The real question that needs to be asked/figured out/changed is why.

    People are really fucking lazy. People will, almost 100% of the time, pay a small amount to avoid effort even if doing it was free. Queue car washes, maids, someone to cut the lawn, etc. They key, obviously, is to discover at what point it’s annoying enough to crack a game that people will pay, and that people want the product enough to pay. Look at Starcraft — easily the RTS that has sold the most copies, and equally, the RTS that has been pirated the most. Obviously, Blizzard made enough money to not go to insane extremes on the subject of DRM, protection of the game in general.

    I’ve never really pirated a game. I’ve downloaded Close Combat 3, but that was after a year and a half of trying to buy it, and only finding it on ebay for 90 dollars, plus shipping.

    Things like Steam and GoG are fantastic in that they are cheap, easy to use, store the game, require no CD, and have quality games. I can totally understand someone downloading the latest Call of Duty because they were curious if it was the exact same game they’ve already beaten a half dozen times. I’m curious how badly piracy cuts into GoG, if at all. In fact, I’m willing to bet people who pirated many of the games on there will now buy it, because it’s easier.

    As soon as you add crazy annoying DRM/anti-piracy ideas that make users have to do things, you’re pushing them towards piracy. You aren’t forcing them to, but people are lazy, and if it’s easier to download a game with a crack than buy the game and go through that crap, they’ll pirate it.

  24. RichPowers says:

    Human laziness explains just about everything, I think.

    Hell, “laziness” explains the laws of nature, too. ;)

  25. Jon R. says:

    Must be the sort of sharp reasoning that led to him being hired as a focus tester.

  26. Nimic says:

    Personally, I used to pirate almost everything, on account of me not having any money. Well, maybe not “almost everything”, but quite a lot. Then, when I started having an income the last few years I more and more started buying games I otherwise would have downloaded, and now I haven’t downloaded a game in quite a long time. This is, of course, partly because I can now afford to buy most of the games I want, but also partly because of services like Steam and now GoG (and, despite it’s huge shortcomings, EA Downloader).

  27. cliffski says:

    “Um, cliffski? http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/4455354/KUDOS_2_FULL_LATEST_(1.05)_Patched == dead link.”

    HAHAHAHA

    one of the pro piracy kids here must have reported it to thepiratebay. Nice to know you guys are out to defend thepiratebay’s business model, but want to help put indie devs out of business.
    What hypocrites.

    *uploads another fake using new id*

  28. cliffski says:

    oooh and you got me banned from TPB.
    How helpful. Pity they allow anonymous registration isn’t it.
    nice try pirates.

  29. The Apologist says:

    I think Meat Circus’ and Rev’s stance on this is basically a bizarre rationalisation, that would not be acceptable outside of people who are now highly pessimistic about the idea that any progress on the problem can be made.

    Pessimism doesn’t make the argument right. The flaws, as I seem them, are:

    1) They imply that a crime that is committed a lot, by many people and for a long time should results in an acceptance that it should no longer be regarded as a crime?

    2) That developers have a wrong sense of ‘entitlement’ when people take the results of their labour for free? It is the other way round surely?!

    3) I may have misunderstood this, but it seemed it was implied that developers in fact benefit from piracy because it avoids obscurity. Yet other comments I think credibly claim that extremely few illegal downloads translate into a sale, and besides, there are effective routes to reach a market of gamers with information about your game?

    4) The Rev offers no data for his assertion that piracy was just as prevalent when he was young. In fairness, nor could he, but it is worth saying.

    5) In pc gaming, by and large, the fixed cost of creating the product being copied has gone up drastically, right? Equally, there exist comparatively unpirated formats for games where profit margins are larger. So, developers will either develop games for console, develop games which design out piracy (WoW), or not develop.

    I’m not ‘qualified to comment’ beyond being a gamer, but it seems like as a guy who loves single player PC games, pirates don’t benefit me one bit.

  30. The Apologist says:

    Sorry for my bad typing BTW. It’s early…

  31. Sam says:

    @The Apologist:
    Re: 2) Sort of. The reason a car, for example, costs quite a lot of money is as much, if not more, because they are hard to make and the raw materials costs stuff as because of the effort involved in designing it. There are no costs involved in making copies of an informational product, like a computer game, once the “design” has been completed at least once. So, there is an issue with complaining that “people think they should be able to play my game without paying me for it” – if you buy a copy of the game, then you might well argue that you now should own that instance and have rights over it, including the right to make your own copies of that copy and give them to people. This is why copyright law exists, of course, but copyright law is generally not intuitive to people (unlike plagiarism, which people generally do think is bad)- the inherent value of a copy of a single player game appears to *decrease* as more copies are made.
    3) Not really, you appear to be conflating two different contexts. Stuart is making the argument that “all publicity is good publicity” – the more people who play your game, via pirate copies or otherwise,the more well-known it becomes, and the more likely other people are to want it (some of whom will pay). The “few lost sales” argument is based on the fact that most pirates wouldn’t pay *anything* for the game they pirated – this is independant of the publicity effect.

  32. keety says:

    I bought WoG, I never recieved a link for the download after going through Paypal, so I downloaded a copy off a newsgroup.

  33. Kerc says:

    Not that Stu’s ever going to listen to any sort of criticism of his views, nor take others into account other than to use as a sounding board for his own view of the industry but one point, over and above the Apologists reply, springs to mind: piracy doesn’t seem to have harmed the industry over the 25 years or so he’s been involved in it…

    Tell me, Stu, how many long loved and cherished games companies are still around Stu? Because if things are so successful then, you know, the guys who put their efforts into the gams would be duly rewarded and respected.

    Unless, of course, stealing things has a negative impact some way along the line…

  34. cliffski says:

    PC gaming is a wasteland of shoddy console ports now. That wasn’t the case 5 years ago.
    People might like to deny it, but this is because of piracy. Everyone I know in retail gaming who used to make PC games now makes console games and do half assed ports later. Some are abandoning PC entirely because of the fear that the mere existence of PC ports reduces console sales due to PC piracy.
    I’d love to have more decent turn bsed strategy and RTS games designed for a keyboard and mouse. More flight sims, and more complex sim games. hardly anyone makes them, because they just don’t make any money these days.
    That’s all thanks to the ‘heroes’ at places like thepiratebay.

  35. Sam says:

    @cliffski:
    Yes, you said it: “due to the fear” of piracy. Not due to a rational assessment of the risks and costs, due to “the fear”.

    As for the changing types of games made, I can’t help but compare it to the similar change in the movie and music industries – big unimaginative blockbusters are something that lots of independant filmmakers are probably annoyed about the dominance of, and similarly for the mass-produced pop music industry.

  36. Larington says:

    @Kerc
    Sadly, it seems a lot of the early and highly cherished development houses, particularly in britsoft, died because they were bought by the big publishers and then had what made them great slowly throttled out of them. Bullfrog being a case in point.

    —–

    That said, sometimes I’ll get a game and play it through and find myself thinking, this game deserves to do well, likewise for its publisher. Only it doesn’t.
    Anachronox and Startopia come to mind straight away, these were games that deserved to do well because they did one thing or other really well, but other elements weren’t so good… Like Anachronox over budgeting on character model detail counts, using an older rendering engine and having a slow beginning.
    The problem is that a pirate might then use this as an excuse to not buy the game simply because they only got one thing really right. And the developer folds as a result.

    There was also the severe example of game that crashed out at certain key points due to a particular implementation of DRM, but when this happened the player didn’t get a message to say game exited due to DRM check failure. The result?
    The game got leaked before release, pirates went on forums moaning about a buggy game, gave the thing a reputation for being faulty, undid any attempts to market the game and the developer folded. Sure you could try and argue that they should’ve made the game put a message up on DRM check fail, but thats called hindsight.
    And it killed the developer.

  37. Ben Abraham says:

    cliffsky, what happened to your open approach to talking to the pirates? Why all this hatred now? What’s changed?

  38. Jim Rossignol says:

    You’re right about the fall of Sim games, Cliffski, but those aren’t really the best example of heavily pirated games. The Sim genre is an example of one that suffered from disinterest and obsolescence. People just found other games more interesting.

    And I’m not convinced the PC gaming scene was much better five years ago. Ten, maybe. The number of PC games released did drop around seven or eight years ago – a phenomenon that I charted explicitly in the reduced size of magazine review sections – but it hasn’t continued to fall in the past two years. In fact the past eighteen months have been incredibly busy for the PC – I know because before that I was making plans to not just write about PC gaming, and then didn’t need to. And I think the past year on RPS has shown both that some of these console ports are worth playing, and that there are developers who are making games for the PC anyway, despite everything.

    Personally I believe that the PC has suffered less from piracy and more from the ease, convenience, and onlining of heavily-marketed consoles. I know countless “traditional” RTS/RPG/FPS-consuming PC gamers who now just play games on their 360 or PS3. PC gaming requires a certain level of participation and bloody-mindedness that not everyone can sustain. That’s one of the reasons I love it.

    All of that said, I don’t accept the arguments of piracy apologists. I do agree with Stuart that piracy actively publicises games – there’s evidence for this – but that fact is outweighed by my belief that piracy is cheating/stealing and ultimately not paying for the work of people who laboured to create it. That alone – and at least my own notion of a societal agreement to fairness and not ripping people off – makes it unacceptable. I want content creators to get a fair shake, and not to be crushed by the fact that infinite digital replication is now so easy.

    Ultimately whoever it was that pointed out that you can’t pirate WoW had a major point: it has ten million subscribers. That fact alone says all kinds of things about the PC as a gaming platform.

  39. Sam says:

    @Larington:
    Yes, but in all industries, you find that there are some products considered to be “cult classics” or similar, which did very badly commercially, but are regarded as critical successes.
    Generally, we don’t blame piracy for this phenomenon in other industries (well, I suspect the music industry does *now*)…

  40. Larington says:

    Yeah, lord knows I was concerned about the emergence of the XBOX, because what microsoft should be doing right now is telling everyone about how the PC is a wonderful tool for work AND fun. That its the place to go if you want a one stop shop for a variety of interactive forms of entertainment to while away the hours after you’ve done your chores for the day (Accounts, surfing the web, whatever), but now MSoft have a conflict of interest that says buy more console games.

    I’m concerned that this more than anything else is why the PC Gaming Alliance organisation will ultimately fail, for instance one of its other members, EPIC, has itself basically said its not bothering with the PC anymore, though I think thats mostly because PC gamers have gotten bored of EPICs habit of making the same game over and over as much as they can.

    I know I have. I only bought UT3 because its effectively a requirement for my degree.

  41. Sam says:

    @Jim Rossignol: Or, of course, the existence of piracy may just suggest that the effective value of a trivially-copyable product per product instance is… zero. After all, the work needed to *make the copy* is basically zero, and the work done in making the original can be thought of as spread over all the (potentially unlimited) copies that it allows to exist.
    (This is entirely different to suggesting that the product itself has no intrinsic value, as I have mentioned several times up thread.)

  42. Larington says:

    @Sam
    Yep, as far as I can tell, the folks who stuck with Anachronox adore it (Myself included), heck, the game got its own entry on the planet/gamespy network. Nice place to lookup the locations of the master skill trainers and so on that is. I regard it as a cult classic and I’m sure others do, but the pirates almost certainly don’t give a damn about that, they probably took one look at the graphics and threw it on the ‘do not want’ lolcat pile (Disclaimer: Just playing with the use of ‘do not want’ as a lolcat picture there, I’m not trying to say that the folks who use the thing are pirates).

  43. Meat Circus says:

    @Sam:

    Yes. Essentially, game developers are making the old record industry mistake of believing that copies of their creation have any innate value at all.

    They don’t. They are, quite literally, worthless, for the reasons you have said.

    As long as game developers are stuck in an outmoded mindset, they’ll never fully grasp that there is no ‘piracy problem’.

  44. cliffski says:

    “cliffsky, what happened to your open approach to talking to the pirates? Why all this hatred now? What’s changed?”

    I have talked to pirates, and entirely taken on board their justifications for piracy. I ditched DRM entirely, dropped the price of the games, and worked harder on them. I never claimed I wasn’t bothered by piracy or saw it as harmless, and I still don’t. I still have nothing but contempt for people who actively go out of their way to spread pirated copies far as wide (as opposed to people who just download a copy as a demo).
    There is a world of difference between a kid in mexico downlaoding a pirated copy of a game he cannot afford, and some swine who runs a warez site and makes a fortune in selling ad space while distributing other peoples hard work.
    The first one I can understand, the second one needs to get caught and fined big time. I know some people think that’s harsh, but generally those people aren’t the ones whose work is being pirated… :(

  45. cliffski says:

    @Meat Circus

    Are you saying that the fact the marginal costs of production are zero means that taking the content producers work for free is morally justified? Because TV has zero marginal cost too. Do you hack your sky subscription and dodge the BBC license fee?

  46. Jim Rossignol says:

    @Sam: Yes, I agree that items which are infinitely copied at negligible cost are essentially worthless.

    @Meat: That still doesn’t mean that there is no piracy problem. As threads like this seem to indicate, there is a very definitely a problem.

  47. Meat Circus says:

    There isn’t a problem. It all exists solely in the heads of developers, because their mindset is lodged in the early eighties.

    The piracy problem is entirely imagined. One wonders why game developers are so fond of pissing in the wind, when even the music industry has woken up and smelt the hummus eventually.

  48. Sam says:

    @cliffski: Considering how the TV Licensing Authority is seen in the UK, that’s not the best example for you to use. People do resent paying the License Fee, and do try to get out of it… and this isn’t seen, by most people, as a horrific crime.
    You’ve also missed the point where Meat Circus and I both demonstrate that, unless the content producer’s work is of infinite value, the *fraction of that cost per copy* tends to zero. Arguing otherwise suggests that you think the value of your work *increases* the more people have a copy of your product… which surely you don’t think?

  49. Meat Circus says:

    @Cliffski:

    Yes. I do believe that the fact the marginal costs of production are zero means that taking the content producers work for free is morally justified.

    Every time you have a shit, Cliffski, where do you send the royalties for your plumber?