The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on July 19th, 2009 at 7:35 pm.

Sundays are for jet-lag, 110 degrees Vegas heat, and crouching on an old friend’s apartment whilst being harried by her dog. Also compiling a list of the notable games writing from across the week while trying not to lob in a link to one of the most glorious noble follies of Eighties pop music.

Failed.

.

81 Comments »

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  1. Esc7 says:

    @Thants:

    Really they don’t care about the concept of used games market. You reselling your game to me, concerns the publishers, not one bit.

    Seeing gamestop rake in millions off the backs of kids who trade in their christmas and birthday presents to buy a used game because they’re bored with the new ones bothers the publishers VERY VERY much.

    Not cause they care about the kids. Because they aren’t the ones taking advantage of the kids.

  2. alseT says:

    @dsmart
    I believe you made my point for me. I thought that concept wasn’t that hard to grasp for you but apparently I was wrong.

    As for the other side of the article are you seriously going through all that trouble to protect a niche, practically multiplayer only, first person warfare game, when critically acclaimed popular multiplayer games such as CoD4 or Left4Dead don’t have viable pirate communities? You are wasting all that time and effort to thwart a handful of people who aren’t going to get organized enough to play together anyway.

    Anything more than a master server which only accepts valid serial numbers would be overkill, but hey, I’m not the games developer.

  3. Robin says:

    @Novotny: Cheers.

    I don’t think there’s any danger of anyone being given unlimited resources. Having several non-overlapping sets of format-shackles serves a wider range of creative impulses than railroading everyone down the same route.

  4. Dante says:

    “Here’s a thought exercise for you people…

    A) If I make a copy of a game I own and then give it to a friend who was going to buy it I’ve committed piracy, this is a crime.”

    I still can’t get my mind to a place where this is true.

    I like to think that’s a good thing.

  5. Jim Rossignol says:

    Does the ease of copying the game make it okay? Copying a book is hard, so you’d be unlikely to do so: you’d lend them it, or get another copy.

  6. aoanla says:

    Jim: well, that’s surely part of the point of why copyright infringement sits oddly in the “digital world”, or whatever newspaper journalists are calling it now. Since copyright infringement, as a crime, was originally framed to protect authors from the few people wealthy enough to have the resources to copy books effectively (for their own profit), it doesn’t fit people’s instincts when dealing with cheap, easy, mass copying for no profit at all. Because, if you’re not getting a profit from the action, it doesn’t feel like a crime – you’re doing it for *someone else’s good*, rather than your own. And, yes, it’s easy, so you don’t even have to put in much time to do it – but I don’t think that’s really the main impetus for not-for-profit piracy.
    (I’m also, btw, in full agreement about the moral sense of “consequence-based” payment for games. You pay developers *so they will have money make more stuff you like*, not because the copy of the product is itself worth anything. It’s like maintaining public parks and the like. It’s also why I bought Multiwinia from Introversion, despite not liking it anywhere near as much as their other stuff – I want to see Subversion, and there’s no way to give them money to develop it other than buying their previous games.)

  7. Paul Moloney says:

    “Oh hey, I went to Videogame nation today, caught up with Matthew Smith (Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy) and gonna upload the video tomorrow. He’s a really nice bloke.”

    Please do. Manic Miner; very first game I ever completed, I think.

    P.

  8. LewieP says:

    Just watched it back, audio is a bit rubbish, gonna add some subtitles before I upload it.

  9. Gap Gen says:

    Lending DVDs to people is also illegal, I gather. People still do it, and I’d be surprised if it were brought to court. Like Derek said, with digital information the distinction between giving a copy to a friend and seeding a torrent to hundreds of people you don’t know is blurred.

    The linking of the Crispygamer article is quite relevant to the DRM debate – if used games have a lower cost, piracy have zero cost. You can spend all your money on beer and pizza and still have infinite games to play. In this case, abandonware is similar to used games (and for this reason, no doubt, Ground Control 1 was given free to promote Massive’s other games).

    I still don’t see any other real justification for pirating games other than the above argument: people have limited budgets, so getting things for free is a way of packing infinite value into their budget. Arguments of “I’m only trying it out and will buy it if it’s good” may well be made in good faith, but they’re not necessary – publishers would no doubt rather you used demos and preview videos to make your purchasing choice rather than driving piracy of their games.

  10. Pod says:

    “jalf says:

    Ow, I think I lost a good handful brain cells from reading that DRM thing… DSmart, graphics drivers most certainly run code in Ring 0. Lots of it.”

    Vista graphics drivers don’t run in Ring 0. (Only parts of them do).

  11. Dinger says:

    Rossignol: copying a book is now easy. Back when it was hard (both labor-intensive and capital-intensive), the notion of intellectual property didn’t exist. IP laws accompanied the arrival of (non-labor-intensive but capital-intensive) means of duplication, and they are geared to that situation. Now that copying and distributing software (and books) is trivial (A moderately experienced individual can make and distribute a pretty decent PDF of a 250-page book in about an hour), a whole new group is capable of mass copyright infringement, and the “property” in question and the law are being used in entirely novel ways.

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    Right, yeah, that book piracy is rife.

    Copying a book, from book form to book form is *not* a trivial process. Copying a game is.

  13. jalf says:

    @Pod: Last I checked “only part of them” is a valid subset of “them”. Therefore, Vista GPU drivers most certainly run ring0 code. Yes, they *also* run code in userspace, but that wasn’t the point. The point is that part of them run in kernel space, in Ring 0. So if, by DSmarts words, DRM drivers are just like them, then they’ll also run partly in ring 0.

    @DSmart: I don’t know. Perhaps it would have been more enlightening if I’d interpreted it as Swahili. Because interpreting it as English just resulted in a lot of jumbled contradictions and factual errors, and angry nonsense about stealing. Which is a shame, because it’s actually much easier to justify DRM when you stick to the facts.

  14. LewieP says:

    @Jim
    Sure, copying a book is not a trivial process, but typing “The Watchmen PDF” into The Pirate Bay is certainly not.

  15. LewieP says:

    that’s “not not a trivial process”, damn double negatives.

  16. dsmart says:

    @ Thants

    I don’t understand where this idea came from that the second hand market is some unique problem that the game industry has. Most other industries have second hand markets. No one is arguing that me buying a used book is hurting the poor small book publishers. The Americans even protect it by law, the First-sale doctrine. It works just fine with everything else, why are games so special?

    My thoughts exactly. The argument that used games hurt sales never made sense to me tbh. If the price of games were lower, that won’t be a problem. I can go into a Borders and see a new hardcover for $25. Then go online and buy a used – perfectly good copy – for about $7.5 + shipping from someone who has already read it and is selling it or has already sold it to a wholesaler.

    @ Dante

    A) If I make a copy of a game I own and then give it to a friend who was going to buy it I’ve committed piracy, this is a crime.”

    I still can’t get my mind to a place where this is true.

    I like to think that’s a good thing.

    If you know what the DMCA is – or even those FBI warnings you see in VHD, DVD-ROM modes etc – then you already know the answer to that one.

    @ Pod

    Vista graphics drivers don’t run in Ring 0. (Only parts of them do).

    Indeed. And don’t you just love it when people who have to frigging clue what they’re talking about, try to pass off their crap as facts? I’ve been writing device drivers since I learned assembler programming. Yet some whippersnapper wants to tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    @ jalf

    I have come to the conclusion that you’re just a silly fellow.

  17. Nafe says:

    “Indeed. And don’t you just love it when people who have to frigging clue what they’re talking about, try to pass off their crap as facts?”

    Kind of like when people claim that copyright infringement is theft? :)

  18. Tei says:

    Re: “DRM uninstallation”

    DSMART comment is brilliant about describing how a normal windows installation accumulate crap. His point is “why you care about the empty pizza box our demo abandon on the saloon, if there are countless more everywhere” (my words).

    Well… I don’t know if the technology is good enough. But has described to me like MSI, the ‘new’ windows installer technology, works much like these linux .DEB or .RPM packages. A MSI can’t install itself. Is a description of task, and the OS is the one that read that instructions, so is clean to install and uninstall MSI files properly created.

    And I think a DRM system should have a uninstall feature. Once you activate it, should show a window “Game X, Y and Z depends on this software, If you uninstall me, these games will stop working. Are u sure?”.

    Is better to install a piece of treacherous software withouth uninstall option? No information about what games need it, or have installed it?.

    Hell.. why not another option on the control panel, to check the “licenses installed on this computer”.

    If you are doing something legit, you don’t need to hide in the shadows.

    And, what DRM do anyway? what exactly is doing? Is just a “conversion layer” to run encrypted binaries? something has simple like that??. How do I know what is doing?

  19. LewieP says:

    RE: VideoGame Nation

    Here’s some pics I took from the exhibition.

  20. dsmart says:

    @ Tei

    DSMART comment is brilliant about describing how a normal windows installation accumulate crap. His point is “why you care about the empty pizza box our demo abandon on the saloon, if there are countless more everywhere” (my words).

    Neither the demo, nor our games leave ANYTHING behind. Did you not understand what I wrote? I even spelled it out in clear sentences. Even the P.R.I.S.M guys (anti-DRM group) confirmed that neither our game (BETA) nor the demo leave ANYTHING behind.

  21. Starky says:

    @ Jim
    “Does the ease of copying the game make it okay? Copying a book is hard, so you’d be unlikely to do so: you’d lend them it, or get another copy.”

    No, it doesn’t make it right, but the expense and difficulty of copying a book is what gives a book value.

    The content of the book, the story is somewhere between worthless and priceless – either way, the price of the contents of that book are utterly arbitrary, it’s valueless because everybody assigns differing value to art in different forms.
    So say it costs £2 to print a book and ship it to the shop (when printing in mass numbers), this is sold for £5 wholesale and then £8 RRP.
    This is a tangible reason for why the price is £8.

    Digital copies on the other hand are infinite and free (the cost is met by the consumers themselves via their ISP payments), so there is no cost involved in copying.

    So the cost you’re left with is that utterly arbitrary value judgement by the creators deciding beforehand what THEY think the value of their product is, and then hoping that they sell enough copies at this price point to make money.
    Do they sell it for £10 and hope to sell 500k copies.
    Or sell it for £30 and hope to sell 170k copies?
    Maybe they sell it for £5 and sell one million?

    So the only value is arbitrary because it is based upon the creators hopes to sell X number at Y price for a profit level they’ve got in their heads.

    Now the problem is that media’s value is utterly dependant on the users enjoyment of that media.

    A game may be worth £30 to one person, while to another it’s worth £10.
    Traditionally this has been provided for by price dropping over time, so those that pay more get the media sooner, those that pay less wait. This was fine when media was physical, something you could hold in your hand and had a cost to produce, had tangible value – copying wasn’t free and it wasn’t infinite.

    That kind of piracy has another term more fitting to describe it – Counterfeiting.

    Still in a digital world with infinite free copies with zero production costs on those copies, and no tangible value except the “eye of the beholder” media value as decided by the creators (or publishers) the idea of charging for a product just falls flat.

    You’ve also got the problem of middle-men, you see people want to reward creators (most do I think, maybe I have too much faith), but very few want to reward the middle-men. Especially when those middle-men often do everything they can to control, manipulate and often downright steal from the creator.

    No one wants to pay £30 for a product knowing that the Dev studio/musician/creators maybe only get £3 of that.
    Now when they know that the middle-men had near zero costs involved in making that copy and getting it too you, because the same could be done by some bloke on a broadband connection and a bit torrent client for nothing.

    Most people, including myself would rather make a donation directly to the creators, by bypassing all the middle-men and ensuring that their thanks in monetary reward goes to the people who deserve it.

    Shareware, and donationware is the past and the future another option lets call it fundware (though I knid of like “Thermoware” after those fund raising thermometers you always see on churches) which simple operates like a fund raiser.

    The product is released for free and the creator simpley says honestly and up front, “This took me 6 months and many hours to create, and it is utterly free for you to enjoy – however if you do enjoy it and would like to support my further work please donate”.
    Then goes on to explain “Once I have £100,000 in donations I will release the next game/chapter in the series for free to everyone, so give what you think you think my game/product was worth too you.”

    It seems a bit backwards on current models, to work hard for a long time only to be paid for your NEXT project (based on the quality of your product history) – but I honestly believe it (along with mini-transactions, and mini-subscriptions) is the pricing model of the future.

    The days of media as a product are dead, long live the days of media as a service.

  22. Starky says:

    Bleh! I wish to god I could edit. should have taken it into word for proof reading, oh well…

  23. dsmart says:

    @ Starky

    That model is flawed on so many levels that when I read today that Gabe is even suggestion it, I was a bit baffled.

  24. Starky says:

    Derek, the problem is that when you’re dealing with a product that is infinitely copyable at near to zero cost no current business model works.

    You can’t say of media that “this is worth your X value of money”, you can’t really say “30 hours of gameplay” then try to compare that to say a movies 2 hours for £10 and claim value.

    It’s because the value of that content shifts in often extreme ways depending on the user. Take CoD4, someone who played the single player once and that is it got maybe 5-6 hours entertainment for their £30-40, where as I have maybe 300+ hours from it and so gained massive value for money from that media.

    How can you account for this in product pricing? You can’t. When you sell 1kg of washing up powder, if someone does 10 washes a week or 1 they are still getting the same value just on a differing time scale – media is totally different though so the only pricing models that really make sense any more are those based on a service.

    Methods need to be used that charge the people who get the most value from a product the most money.
    Be that via DLC, Mini-subscriptions, Micro-Transactions or other models – and of course I’m not saying that my Fundware could work for everyone, but it can work and has worked in the past for other media, several webcomics work on that basis Something Possitive springs to mind, in which the author basically asked the community to pay his wages so he could quit his job and work full-time on the comic, based upon his past (totally free) work, and the promise of continued free work (just with more updates) the community did indeed donate.
    I remember reading a story (though can’t find any links) about an author who did the same released a novel chapter by chapter, releasing each one as a set donation target was met, in which once it was it became free for everyone.

    The Major flaw in it is that it requires a decent body of free work in place before people will begin actively supporting the creator in regular donations for continued production, but it’s a great way for an amateur to become semi-pro or even begin to work at it full time.

    No I think the pricing model of the future is going to be a massive mix of these various methods, but whichever method is used, in whatever combination the bottom line is the only way pricing is going to work is for creators to charge small amounts, but in regular doses.

    Episodic content, subscription models, DLC and micro-transactions are something media producers need to embrace.

    I can really see even the big boys doing this…

    Another method I think might have possibilities is the rent until you’ve paid for it.
    Say you rent a game (on steam or equivalent) for £3 per week, but once your total rental equals the RRP of the game, it becomes yours permanently.

    Something like this could easily be done through Steam, allow people to rent PC games (like they can console games) the Dev’s get a share, and the people that really like the game and keep renting know that they’re not wasting money as they’ll eventually own the game outright.

  25. Robin says:

    @Thants

    Ah, there it is, regular as clockwork. The argument that ignores the fact that book, cd, dvd, whatever retailers on the high street aren’t selling second hand goods whereas games retailers do little else.

    If I go into a high street bookstore, they’re not actively trying to sell second-hand copies of books that have just come out. They’re not taking on an ever-narrower range of stock at ever-shrinking wholesale prices so that they can give over more shelf space to bypassing their suppliers.

    Retailers like GameStop are milking this model so excessively that they’re rapidly accelerating the migration to digital distribution.

    @dsmart

    It is precisely /because/ retailers are able to make money several times on a unit of stock whereas publishers can only do so once that prices are kept artificially high. The retailers hold all the cards. They don’t want to sell a game for $20 when they can offer two new copies at $40, and twenty used copies originally bought elsewhere for $34.97.

  26. SuperNashwan says:

    The moment you start saying copyright infringement is theft and throwing around the flawed car analogies you start having these tedious side debates over semantics and logic that don’t add anything. If you want to talk about it being immoral, fine. If you want to talk about it being illegal, fine, providing you’re accurate about it. Just for the love of divine entities stop with the “It’s theft”/”It’s not theft” rubbish.
    http://worldofstuart.excellentcontent.com/ffi/ffi1.htm

  27. frymaster says:

    @LewieP: I must just be very obtuse then because I honestly don’t think developers see the piracy rates, go “oh well, at least this can’t technically be called stealing” and go skipping off into the sunset singing happy songs.

  28. invisiblejesus says:

    @Jim

    Right, yeah, that book piracy is rife.

    Copying a book, from book form to book form is *not* a trivial process. Copying a game is.

    Look up the current fuss over allegedly pirated copies of 1984 and one or two other books showing up on Kindle. When/if more people start reading books in digital form, you can bet piracy will follow.

  29. LewieP says:

    @frymaster

    I didn’t at any point say “Piracy is OK because it is not theft”, I said “Piracy =/= Theft”

    The link SuperNashwan posted explains it fairly well. Copyright infringement is bad, but saying it is the same as theft is incorrect and pointlessly muddying the water.

  30. Pod says:

    Where’s Cliffski in all this?

  31. Burglar says:

    I was in Vegas this time last month!