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 »

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  1. Jon R. says:

    Lombardi said something to that effect here: http://www.halflife2.net/2005/06/30/interview-with-doug-lombardi-valve/

  2. Jon R. says:

    Or technically, its implied, because what’s the point otherwise.

  3. Rev. S Campbell says:

    Ah, as I suspected – he didn’t say any such thing.

    “In addition to allowing us to sell our games, it has enabled the prevention of the “zero day” piracy problems other major releases incurred between gold and their launch days last year. “

    Nothing whatsoever about any link between piracy and increased sales.

  4. John Walker says:

    I’m interested to hear from people reading this epic thread, but who aren’t necessarily posting.

    Has anyone been given cause to rethink their position? Not necessarily changed their mind, but stopped and readdressed the matter with new perspectives or information?

    It makes me sad when the visual result of debates like this is two ranks in their trenches, refusing to budge (rightly or wrongly). I don’t think that’s ever the case, but those who are doing the new thinking are not always doing the typing.

  5. Pace says:

    I’m interested to hear from people reading this epic thread, but who aren’t necessarily posting.

    Just for shits and giggles, I cut and pasted this entire thread into MS Word, and it told me that there are 46,000 words in this thread. Those following the NaNoWriMo thread in the forums know that this is short novel length type word count. I suspect there may be a problem in simply reading the entire thread.

  6. LionsPhil says:

    One piece of good has come from this thread—it triggered me to go download the World of Goo demo. So far, it is lovely.

  7. Pace says:

    Oh, to answer John’s question (even though I haven’t followed this entire thread), these discussions have shifted my opinion somewhat, but I think it’s more or less settled now.

  8. Tom says:

    I remember when I’d just finished DX2. I went over to the games forums to post how much I enjoyed it and thought that in some ways it was superior to DX1.
    The abuse i recieved was incredible, but one post stuck out for me. It simply read “some people”. This made me think that there’s probably a lot of people who wanted to post saying cheers or congrats or whatever, but simply couldn’t be arsed because of the current content.
    Now I’m not saying there’s a ton of abuse here because there isn’t. But I think the sad thing is that the majority of user feedback devs receive are from extremely “vocal” people.
    Bunch of my mates play games but they’re not forumites. When they’re done with a game they sit back, say awesome or crap or whatever and that’s that. Just like you would a film or book.
    I’ve always thought it would be a nice touch to build some kind of questionnaire in to games. One that’s offered upon completion with questions regarding likes, dislikes and all that.
    I can imagine one question being particularly interesting: do you know what DRM is? And do you feel it has had a negative impact on your experience or how you have used our software?
    With something like that devs could hear from the majority. All they hear from at the moment is the minority imo.
    A minority that can be extremely silly from time to time.

  9. Jon R. says:

    “Nothing whatsoever about any link between piracy and increased sales.”

    Best he does is this:
    “Doug Lombardi: Well, Steam allows us to eliminate “Day Zero” piracy – which is between gold and when the game’s on the store shelves – and that’s when all the real piracy, the damaging piracy happens.”

  10. radomaj says:

    I thought insomnia sucks, but here I am, reading a very interesting discussion and replying because of John’s post.

    I, personally, was on the side saying piracy is bad no matter what. Yes, even though I pirate games myself. What I can, I buy. What I can’t, I pirate or not play at all. After reading the thread, I’m with Rev. and people saying more or less the same. Lost some respect for Cliffski, though.

    @Cliff
    Seriously. I don’t think you get what they’re saying. Just for a moment, clean your mind out of everything that (for example) that Rev. said. Now, consider this those two situations:
    1) There is a man, called T. He buys a game. There is another man, W. He pirates the game.

    2) There is a man, called T. He buys a game. There is another man, W. He doesn’t buy the game the game. He has nothing to do with the game at all.

    @Rev. S and Cliffski
    Tell me if I am wrong. From what I understand Rev.’s side says that in situations described above there is no difference for the creator of the game and Cliffski’s side says there is. (Sorry I chose Rev. and Cliffski. I know there are insightful comments made by other people, but I think they’re the most vocal people here. Also, I know that generalising people into two sides is wrong. There are just two groups of people standing out the most.)

    You have to say, anti-all-piracy side, the not-all-piracy-is-bad side does have some good arguments.

  11. Crispy says:

    Also I apologise for repeating everything James G said. It was impossible to chore through the entire thread before posting. It just happens that we seem to scarily share an almost identical opinion on this.

  12. Oddbob says:

    Tom, I’ve often found that the vocal minority are just that. It goes hand in hand with a lot of fandom and likely human nature.

    I don’t know how much direct feedback larger dev houses receive, but I’ve found that just placing a prominent email address somewhere either in documentation or handy on the related website generally results in a more pleasant manner of feedback. Not always positive, but what’s the point of feedback if it’s not constructive in some way?

    Sometimes though, it’s just a case of filtering through folks words and trying to get at the underlying point. I try not to negate someone’s opinion just because they’re sweary (heck, as anyone who knows me will testify – I’m incredibly sweary) or brash. Sure, there’s folks out there who, to be blunt, don’t have a point (take that as many ways as you like!) – but sometimes in amongst the ranting and the bluster there’s a serious point that might need addressing or might be at the very least worth considering.

    Sure, it’s no match for civility, but different folks have different ways of expressing themselves.

    Your DX2 case example though – *shakes head*

  13. Thiefsie says:

    I’m still happily sitting on the fence even after reading this entire comments thread. I believe that piracy is virtually just as good for the industry as it is bad. Word of mouth is worth everything, and in today’s culture a lot of people who have the money to spend it, WILL spend it to save time doing something else (convenience). I and all of my friends are proof that when you are young and moneyless you pirate like a mofo but as soon as $ start coming in it’s just not worth it 90% of the time. Call that growing up, realising that payment is due and ‘doing the right thing’ I don’t know… But I’ve bought WoG and still haven’t played past demo levels as I have been distracted by other games at the moment. I bought it because I could see the charm, and the developers were appearing to be doing good things as far as DRM etc. This is a huge amount (or maybe not? – being that it is only towards the game-reading public out there) of publicity for an indie game by 2/3 people. Compared to say Cliffski, who for which Kudos I’ve never heard of apart through RPS.

    I still pirate way more than I buy, but then again I play maybe the first level or two of half these games and thats it, and the rest I don’t even touch – I think I just get cuaght up in marketing and decide I want to have that game without paying for it.. and inevitably don’t even play it. Lost sale? Perhaps, but frankly that switches from bad consumer to bad developer?

    What is the solution? I don’t know, but sure as hell this PC gaming is doomed malarky is just that. A scapegoat for developers inherantly angry and damned well yearning for entitlement that is largely misplaced. Video games are such fickle, short-lived things that the smallest factor may limit sales, thus I think the best tactic for a developer is to make someone buying the game as smooth an obstacle course as possible, with the biggest factor being price. Multiple places to buy, no drm that helps virtually no one, no confusion across markets with price fixing, and for god sakes allow consumers to make a donation if they want. Some will pay more? (Most won’t but that’s not the point). Reward them in some tiny way?

    I think the larger fact of the matter is that gaming has hit mainstream, and PCs aren’t mainstream in terms of gaming. The average luddite can’t and won’t understand drivers, and thus consoles are where they go. Mainstream audience = mainstream consolitis = mainstream sales levels. The growth in gaming is from more people doing it… that is all.
    GFW are an effort to combat this, but are failing miserably as they are doing the wrong things. No one needs vista? More standardisation is needed, without MS being the god of it all.

    Hallelulah for the time (probably never) when gaming is a unified system and you pop a disc in like a dvd and there are no PCs, xboxes, ps3s, wii’s fighting for the virtually same market.

    PC’s are virtually this unified environment, but they are of course too loose and too hard for average ppl to contend with vs a box that has a gamepad and plays everything you throw at it.

    Alternatively a lot of people are risk adverse, especially with their money. And one driving factor for me with console games is that I can bloody well sell them (or even return them here – they call that EB renting haha) for money if you aren’t satisfied.

    How come game developers aren’t killing second hand games for consoles? – Looks like they are ever moreso trying to start that happening though these days with one use download addons/codes from purchase etc.

    If you could actually get your money back from a game you bought and weren’t satisfied with (a la WWI post on this site) well I’ll be damned I’d probably buy more games.

    This is my primary reason for disliking steam, let alone the fact that if you fuck up somehow… maybe cheating for example… all your games are screwed.

    Let’s be honest, a lot of companies offer money back guarantees because the odds are in the consumer not bothering to return the item. Why can’t game companies do that too – through steam especially as they have the online authentication to virtually make sure you aren’t playing it since returning (like a real object).

    Same goes for the price. What is the biggest factor to people buying a game? The money! of course! Lower the cost and bam. I know my magic number is about $50 AUD (for AAA games). Which thankfully to a couple of cheap online retailers a lot of games are released at (cd-wow, play-asia – though not so much with our dollar in the pooper now). I’ve bought no less than 6 new release full price games in the last month, the biggest factor being the price.
    And yes I have to admit that even though I bought it. I think WoG is overpriced. If they didn’t have their anti-DRM stance or general charm and honesty I wouldn’t have bought it unless it was $10

    The exact same struggle has of course been fought by the music industry for years… and they seem to be finally realising that piracy is actually increasing their revenue as well. What about the radio… license fees aren’t huge! What about tapes years ago, what about the huge fight with DVD copying… this same old game just keeps happening where piracy is blamed for everything, then everyone moves on and makes money again.

    wow that is one huge aimless rant.

    Summary:
    Piracy is not necessarily bad.
    Do whatever you can to make it easy for people to reasonably purchase your product without any/many restrictions. (Ideally to me that would be a single serial entry at install. No disc check etc. It can phone home to concur that code if it needs to and then let me do what I want – Steam is ideal in this regard apart from the games that also have other protection in built)
    Including price.
    Publicity is key – read GoW (Dude Huge) or Halo – arguably close to average games that sell squillions.
    Make quality. Not shovelware or shit ports or half arsed games.
    Treat consumers like clever people – not criminals.
    Value-added features. (Not crap added like limited edition dolls). Higher quality sound/textures/additions (free – valve style), support etc (think StarDock) that is a good way to handle this.

  14. Muzman says:

    John Walker says:

    I’m interested to hear from people reading this epic thread, but who aren’t necessarily posting.

    Has anyone been given cause to rethink their position? Not necessarily changed their mind, but stopped and readdressed the matter with new perspectives or information?

    It makes me sad when the visual result of debates like this is two ranks in their trenches, refusing to budge (rightly or wrongly). I don’t think that’s ever the case, but those who are doing the new thinking are not always doing the typing.

    I’m not one of them lurkers obviously, but I know what you mean I think. Despite not thinking copying is such a big deal, I did actually want 2dboy to ‘win'; for themselves just because of who they are and for the, dare I say it, ‘soul’ of PC gaming as an institution.
    Now I’m not entirely sure what all this means, but certainly at first 90 or even 82% wasn’t at all what I wanted to see and my reaction was pretty serious disapointment. I haven’t got World of Goo and I’m not sure it’s my kind of game (I was trying to get my sister into it, but construction isn’t her thing, despite enjoying the aesthetic) but I think they’re the right sort of people and everyone ought to see that and things ought to turn out well for them. To make some startlingly over blown analogies, it’s like bombing the red cross, firing on men surrendered. These guys put themselves out there to do the right thing, to abuse that is just plain bad regardless of what one thinks of the whole economics of the situation. You might be a detatched social realist, anarchist, communist, nihilist, whatever. For these guys you can make an exception, just once; forget about ‘The Man’, or principles or all the ways you were wronged as a child. Play ‘the game’ for this game, just once.

    Be sure (as though it weren’t obvious) this isn’t the most rational position. We’re not talking higher mental function here. But it’s there. Generally speaking I think Rev Campbell is right about everything. When I was a kid nobody bought games. Nobody. Nobody bought other software either. As they got older they did. Copying hasn’t got any easier or harder over the years and people’s inclination to buy the stuff is about the same. And yet money changed hands and stuff got made.
    The arch liberal/libertarian/individualist viewpoint of justice pay for work done is absurdly naive and ignores the larger picture, and that sort of simple, idealistic conception of economic relations and morality is not only false but poisonous thinking that’s ultimately bad. But somewhere I’m still clearly an old fashioned Kantian capitalist type.
    The fascinating part about this whole debate is that I think the Reverend viewpoint is correct functional economics and we should acknowledge and research it as such publicly and without fear. At the same time I have terrible trouble imagining it all would still function if everyone involved accepted that picture and a certain percentage of buyers weren’t beaten into the aforementioned individualist economic morals, at least for part of their lives.
    Humanity eh? It’s a doozy.

  15. Saflo says:

    Humanity eh? It’s a doozy.

    That’s one way of putting it.

  16. Muzman says:

    It’s a good way to bail from a lengthy post in any case.

  17. malkav11 says:

    The fake download thing was big in the days of Kazaa. It probably contributed to that filesharing service’s decline from popularity. But all that accomplished was to move things to BitTorrent where it’s even easier to pirate and in quantity to boot.

    Even if you could successfully promote confusion by distributing fake torrents on the public trackers, you don’t hit the private trackers (which are a more significant source of piracy anyway because they’re less vulnerable to anti-piracy efforts and tend to have more reliable, high-speed communities) and would at most probably drive casual pirates into another form of filesharing. There are scads. BitTorrent just happens to be the most popular at the moment.

  18. malkav11 says:

    Oh – personally I think the optimal approach to the piracy problem is the previously suggested “ignore the pirates and do everything you can to cater to your actual customers”. But if one really must cut down on piracy of one’s product, there is an approach that would likely be effective – produce really massive games that only fit on BluRay discs (or larger!). High speed internet or no, most people aren’t going to want to download 25+ gigs at the moment on the off chance they’ll like your game, then spend another 25-30 gigs of HD space on it. Also, BluRay burners are still expensive (last I checked, 500 dollars-ish, though probably less by now) and a single BluRay disc is in the dollar-plus range so burning BluRay-based games (and movies) is substantially less economical than common media. CD games had no DRM for a long time because it wasn’t practical for the average end user to duplicate them. Same goes for BluRay at the moment. Why do you think that every major console on the market has a thriving pirate community around it except the PS3? It’s not the strength of Sony’s anti-piracy efforts, that’s for sure. (Just look at the PSP.)

    You may well argue that that’s only a temporary solution. After all, sooner or later advances in internet speeds, HD storage capacities, and drops in BluRay burner and disc prices will render those games just as trivial to pirate as today’s CD-based game(s). And you would be right. But games released prior to that would have already sold most of what they were going to sell, and no doubt there will be some other newly obscene size and storage medium.

    It’d also screw digital distribution services, but them’s the breaks. Anything that’s easy for the legitimate purchaser to download is easy for the pirate to download.

  19. malkav11 says:

    …oh, and one other thing – the game would have to legitimately require that much space. Pirates already know full well how to strip out padding.

  20. Scandalon says:

    I didn’t read anything but the yellow posts, but wanted to be a part of this epic thread.

  21. Klaus says:

    Hmm, start producing ‘massive games’ and eventually technology will catch up. No one wants to pirate 25 gigs, but not a lot of people would like to waste 100+ gigs on four games.

    And what happens to Direct2Download?

  22. karthik says:

    John Walker says:
    I’m interested to hear from people reading this epic thread, but who aren’t necessarily posting.
    Has anyone been given cause to rethink their position? Not necessarily changed their mind, but stopped and readdressed the matter with new perspectives or information?
    It makes me sad when the visual result of debates like this is two ranks in their trenches, refusing to budge (rightly or wrongly). I don’t think that’s ever the case, but those who are doing the new thinking are not always doing the typing.

    I actually did post a couple of times. Anyway, I’d like to be added to the list of people who’ve been swayed across the fence.
    I was staunchly anti-piracy to begin with, (and guilty for being a hypocrite since I’ve played pirated games lent to me- which is not the same as saying I pirated them myself.) but Meat Circus and Rev Campbell’s arguments are winning me over.
    Ultimately, it appears Piracy makes good economic sense- even if the argument appears very non-intuitive and unfair to begin with. The scientist in me, however, wishes to take a look at actual data that supports the argument, instead of having to rely on Rev Campbell’s (or any one person’s) experience in the game industry. The latter is just as bad as anecdotal evidence.
    Even with this reassurance, I don’t intend to stop buying games- the assertion that piracy is not necessarily bad hasn’t converted me into a pirate, which supports what the Rev had to say on this matter. Of course, reinforcing the argument with my stance on the matter is a further application of bad statistics- my stance alone is inconsequential. So I’m waiting to see if other people who changed their minds post here to say that they don’t intend to start pirating games even though they’ve come to believe it’s not a bad thing.

    And yes, I’ve read the entire thread up until now. I plan to follow it to about 500, at which point concern for my mental health will stop me from continuing.

  23. Paul Moloney says:

    “Same goes for the price. What is the biggest factor to people buying a game? The money! of course!”

    If so, then why do the console version of multi-platform games sell 2 – 3 times the amount when they often cost 30% more? No seems to have a problem paying up to €70 for Halo 3 and GTA4.

    P.

  24. Pike says:

    Ultimately, it appears Piracy makes good economic sense- even if the argument appears very non-intuitive and unfair to begin with. The scientist in me, however, wishes to take a look at actual data that supports the argument, instead of having to rely on Rev Campbell’s (or any one person’s) experience in the game industry. The latter is just as bad as anecdotal evidence.

    Well, there is plenty of debate about the validity of IP as a concept these days, even if most of it is focused on music/movies and patents.

    Here are a few starting points.

  25. Trollish says:

    If it wasn’t possible to pirate games, most pirates would buy games. It’s that simple.

  26. Sam says:

    @Trollish:
    Unfortunately for you, there is no evidence to support that conclusion, and some evidence which suggests that it is false.
    But I promised myself I’d stay out of this thread now it’s over 400 comments long, so…

  27. TheDeadlyShoe says:

    If so, then why do the console version of multi-platform games sell 2 – 3 times the amount when they often cost 30% more? No seems to have a problem paying up to €70 for Halo 3 and GTA4.

    They came out much earlier on console. Even if PC and Consoles were equal overall in terms of game sales, those games would have sold better on consoles because of that.

    Additionally, those numbers probably include resales, which are cheaper. Of course, the resale money never reaches the developers – no better than piracy as far profits are concerned.

  28. Sam says:

    Actually one more comment, directed at cliffski, concerning those resales and piracy:
    You say you don’t want people to play the full versions of your games without renumerating you? Does this mean you’re also against the concept of a second-hand games market?

  29. SwiftRanger says:

    “It makes me sad when the visual result of debates like this is two ranks in their trenches, refusing to budge (rightly or wrongly). I don’t think that’s ever the case, but those who are doing the new thinking are not always doing the typing.”

    I detest both camps, even after the ‘arguments’, pulling out-of-context quotes, conveniently ignoring points they don’t have an answer to, all which are omnipresent in these comments from both sides. Claiming that piracy can only be good is just as short-sighted as claiming it can only be bad. Depending on the game, it’s somewhere in between of course.

    The most ideal case of releasing a new game is when it has a proper demo or trial version, the right price, uncrackable but user-friendly copy protection and a worldwide release (online and retail). That would be a true utopia of course but it would make the extremes in this ‘debate’ obsolete.

  30. Paul Moloney says:

    “They came out much earlier on console.”

    I’m not talking about multi-platform games here. Consider Halo 3; that cost around €70 in Irish shops, yet managed to sell around 4 million copies worldwide. The cost didn’t seem to phase that many people.

    Yet PC games, which normally cost 2/3rds that amount or less on release, are perceively as “too expensive”. It seems to me that the reason they are perceived as so is because of piracy – if a person can get something for free, any price at all is too much. The “perceived” value of it is nought, whereas the perceived value of something which is harder (not impossible) to obtain for nothing is far higher.

    Again, I see people using “can’t afford PC games” as a reason, but what does that mean precisely? Are they saying they have absolutely no money to spend on entertainment? Or is it that if they have €35 to spend, they’ll spend it on the tangibles (e.g. beer) that they know they cannot get for free and download the game, rather than spend the €35 on the game, and they rationalise it to themselves that they downloaded it because they couldn’t afford it?

    By this logic, only those have enough money to live on plus to buy all the tangible non-essentials they want, with money left spare, can truly consider themselves to be able to “afford” games.

    The fact is there is no need for anyone with a PC to even need to download pirated games. There’s a wealth of games on the platform to be had either free or for very little. Hell, get a copy of Half-Life 2 and you’ll have enough mods to keep you going for a year.

    “Additionally, those numbers probably include resales, which are cheaper.”

    No they don’t. When Halo 3 was announced as 4.2 million sold, for example, they’re only counting new copies shipped to the stores.

    P.

  31. Rev. S Campbell says:

    If it wasn’t possible to pirate games, most pirates would buy games. It’s that simple.

    Wow. Thank goodness you were here to cut through the crap for us.

  32. Paul Moloney says:

    “Copying hasn’t got any easier or harder over the years and people’s inclination to buy the stuff is about the same. ”

    Sorry, but this simply isn’t true. My first computer was a Spectrum (along with an Atari console). Copying a Spectrum game involved finding someone in real life who actually had the game, since copying tape-to-tape resulted in invalid copies after a generation or two. So, at most, for anyone who had a real copy, there were probably a few pirate copies out there. Even then, you had the pain of cueing up tapes, recording, etc. And even then, some games had pretty good DRM protection, such as the little plastic lens yoke that came with “Elite”. I had quite a few games, and I really did not have any money as a kid. I scraped together anything to had to buy games, which means I really was annoyed when I bought a game that turned out to be crap. I am looking at you, Glass by Quicksilva. How bitter the ashes of disappointment tasted when I realised the cool “zooming over the horizon and exploding the city” bit was the only good bit in that game. 23 years later, and I still remember that, jeez!

    P.

  33. Bobsy says:

    Genuine question: why is the Pirate Bay allowed? Surely as a tool for distributing pirated games, films, music and so on, sites like these should have been legal-squashed ages ago? How do they wrangle their continued existence?

  34. Rev. S Campbell says:

    Copying a Spectrum game involved finding someone in real life who actually had the game, since copying tape-to-tape resulted in invalid copies after a generation or two. So, at most, for anyone who had a real copy, there were probably a few pirate copies out there.

    This isn’t true. Before double tape decks were common, copying programs were the main method of pirating, and those generated perfect first-generation copies every time. Later there were also devices like the Multiface, which also produced original copies, and could additionally be used to bypass copy-protection like the famous Jet Set Willy codesheets or Lenslok.

  35. Dan Milburn says:

    Because they don’t directly host any copyright infringing material. Of course people are trying to shut them down, and many of the other big torrent sites have been, but currently what they do is not against Swedish law, although that may well change.

  36. Thiefsie says:

    Well I think my point moreso was that if console games (or any system) cost €25 an exceptionally larger amount of copies would be sold. Much like itunes.

    I’ve not paid over $85 AUD for a new game (any system) in years (maybe perhaps ever?! – seriously cant think of any!)… and don’t intend to (Halo 3 was $79 for limited ed on the day of release for me from EB games – GTA4 was $82 with bonus stuff). The people paying more are either stupid, couldn’t care less or are getting limited edition stuff. – This comes into the donation (even if this is to retailers, not developers) or value added area.

    In fact I’m pretty sure the average cost of games has generally come down over years, however the RRP has gone up for those few that are stupid enough to pay that much. Back when I started gaming they were about $100 each which contributed to my piracy as a young lad. Most console games retail at $119 but of course no one actually sells them that expensively… except maybe EB.

    and again, console games sell more as they are mainstream. Why does Britney outsell Skinny Puppy? It’s not because she puts more effort in or has better music.

    The fact is that PC gaming is still kind of niche, even with its huge penetration, as most pcs can’t play games or require some smarts to get working that most people don’t have. That would account for Fallout 3 selling 17% to PC.

    We forget that the sales that Crysis had for example were an apparent disaster, but still huge in terms of a PC only game. (can’t remember what the figures were).

    We can’t compete in sales terms with console idots wanking off to chainsaw guns and omg boobs.

  37. Catastrophe says:

    I’d just like to say I agree with Rev. and also believe cliffski’s argument has been foiled yet he keeps repeating it over and over.

    I also think many of cliffski’s comments seem to take what Rev. stated, and place them totally out of context to attempt to justify the silly retorts he keeps making.

    Also regarding the statement that “WoW has never been pirated” is technically incorrect. People run private servers where people can play for free. So not only has the game been pirated, the server software to run the game has too.

  38. Thiefsie says:

    We can however compete if it has elves, warlocks, leet nerdcore grinding and a blizzard name attached to it ;)

  39. Catastrophe says:

    “Valve has stated that Steam has had a direct, positive effect on sales for them.

    What do you say to Valve’s claim that stopping zero day piracy DOES have a positive effect on their sales?”

    Even if this statement was true, you are missing the point – Rev. isnt (or atleast for what I understand) arguing that no sales are lost through piracy, hes arguing that not ALL sales are lost through piracy. So obviously if you could stop all day one piracy, you’re going to gain a slight improvement in sales.

  40. Paul Moloney says:

    Rev; so you’re talking about either having specialized software or specialized hardware (the Multiface cost £30 in the days when the UK weekly average wage was £120 (the weekly wage in Ireland was probably about 2/3rd of that at the most); you had to have the hardware in order to play backups made from it). These weren’t common – I didn’t know anyone with either, hence tape-to-tape copying being the most common method of piracy. To pirate now, you need a freeware BitTorrent client, a freeware ISO mounter, and er, that it’s. You can download games from people all around the world, rather than mates in your playground.

    Are you really trying to claim the two situations are the same?

    P.

  41. Catastrophe says:

    Sorry, badly worded. What I meant was not all copies of pirated games = lost sale.

    You know what I mean.

  42. cullnean says:

    pirate bay is not against the law in sweden, due to some percedent that was set a few years ago.

  43. cullnean says:

    possibly to do with linux…………….im probably wrong

  44. M. P. says:

    I don’t doubt the figures 2D boy arrived at, but I’d be curious to see the average number of high scores submitted per user. I think the 71% of users who accessed the high scores table from a single IP is pretty telling: most ADSL and cable connections use dynamic IP allocation – my ISP charges extra for a fixed IP, and I think only a small proportion of home users need that. So my guess is that a large proportion of that 71% are people who only played the game briefly to try it out and only contacted the high score table once. If they had played the game for an extended period of time and thus submitted high scores more than once they would’ve done so from a different IP, so my guess is that, excepting a small proportion of people who have static IPs because they were playing WoG at work (shame on them! ;p), most of those 71% just used the pirated copy as a demo.

    Of course, my theory fails to account for the fact that for them to have tried the game briefly and then not bought it doesn’t make sense cause it’s just too much fun for anyone to not want to play the rest of it! :)

  45. cullnean says:

    im guessing the client is fairly small, can it be instaled on a usb key?

    if so i could rack up a few ip adress there alone.

  46. Iain says:

    @Meat Circus: “You do know that Intellectual Property doesn’t exist, don’t you?”

    Try telling that to the person who wrote my employment contract.

    @everyone else:

    I think the Rev is mostly right when he makes a correlation between piracy and people being able to afford to buy games. The only time I pirated games was when I was a kid and got 50p in pocket money a week. Even with budget games on the Spectrum only costing £2-3 a piece, it was still difficult to save up enough money to go out any buy games, so I did pirate a fair few things off friends and filled up the other gaps in my collection with the free full games you used to get on magazine covertapes.

    Now, I don’t pirate. I don’t need to. I have more than enough disposable cash to buy the all games I’m interested in. Just because a game might be available for free on a torrent doesn’t justify me not going out to buy it, even if I am a tightfisted Scot. I’m yet to be convinced either way on the whole ‘piracy equals/does not equal lost sales’ argument.

    However, I think some people just like to have things for free even if they can afford to buy them, and simply pirate because they can. And it doesn’t matter what form of DRM or copy protection you use, people with that mentality will always pirate, regardless of how inconvenient developers might try to make it.

    I think the only way you can minimise piracy is to reduce the number of reasons people might want to pirate it. Make games more affordable, more accessible and able to run on a broader specification of machines (to cut out the “I want to see if it will work on my PC before I buy it” rationalisations) and get rid of DRM entirely (since that just makes the game more expensive to produce for the developers and alienates a lot of the customer base by simply being there – see Spore, for example) – then you might make some headway. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to think that you can ever get rid of piracy entirely. People just aren’t wired that way. Some people will always want something for free if they can get it for free, regardless of whether they could afford to buy it or not. That’s just human nature.

  47. Jim Rossignol says:

    Do not get personal with these comments. Flaming will not be tolerated.

  48. Paul Moloney says:

    Let me rephrase without flaming.

    Meat Circus, perhaps people might take your opinions on the piracy of intangibles if you tell us how this would impact your own job.

    P.

  49. Iain says:

    @Paul M:

    I remember the soft-copy software to pirate Spectrum games using a single tape deck being really easy to get your hands on. And, ironically, usually a pirated copy itself. At the time I was living in a small town in Staffordshire – not exactly an urban hotbed of videogame piracy, either.

    Thinking back, game piracy was pretty easy in those days, assuming you had a network of friends with a wide variety of games. Tape-to-tape copies could be done in minutes and even single deck copying would only set you back half an hour at most for a multitape title. Compare that to the time it takes you to torrent a game these days and you could say that it was easier then than it is now. The only real difficulty you had then which you don’t have now is the sheer accessibility of games to pirate.