Pixel Piracy Devs Pirate Pixel Piracy

By Craig Pearson on December 3rd, 2013 at 6:00 pm.


Well, this is just confusing. The last time I posted about Pixel Piracy, it was part of my drive to reclaim the RPS ‘piracy’ tag. I am trying to steer it away from the choppy waters of people acquiring games they haven’t paid for, and into a calm bay of games about pirates. Pirates of the sea, and not of the Internet. Well, the makers of the Pixel Piracy have stuffed that notion right up: their charming little roguelike (and honestly, while it’s at an early stage it’s completely utterly winning me over) is being seeded on Bit-Torrent, and running the Traceroute program that the NSA loaned me exposed the developers as the seeders. Before you start disconnecting, don’t panic! The devs are only doing this to ensure that pirates receive a safe and reliable version of their game. Thanks, Solidust! You’ve messed my tag right up.

I can’t blame them, though. In this age of and micro-studios, being trusted and connected is a powerful tool for developers. It’s the sort of thing that will earn you a click on Greenlight from people who have little interest in playing your game, or who can’t/won’t buy it. Say the devs:

If you LIKE the game you can support us in a number of ways besides purchasing the title outright. Steam Greenlight is very important to us right now, and a vote for it DOES make a difference, and your warm reception on our IndieDB review page is what pushed us to initially take this decision. Not everything is about money, and we want to thank those that pirate our title and actually give them the opportunity to do so with our blessing, while giving them an opportunity to actually make good on the piracy itself. Tell your friends about us, share the link around IF and only IF you enjoy the game, and if you DON’T enjoy it at least you didn’t have to pay for it!

They’ve already released an alpha you can try, and just look at it!

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56 Comments »

  1. apocraphyn says:

    It’s this sort of dev behaviour that makes me want to give them money. DAMN YOU, REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Yeah, it is such an insanely cool thing to do, you just want to hug them and slip a tenner in their back pocket.

      (Still fleecing them out of 99p, so yay!)

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      • Boothie says:

        gaaaaah ihateyouihateyouihateyouihateyouihateyouihateyouihate…..ahem isnt there something rps can do about these damn spammers?

        • Premium User Badge Don Reba says:

          The only explanation I can think of is that RPS is making these posts. It’s a revenue source for the site.
          It seems silly to even suggest that they might not be able to block these extremely similar messages.

          • Ich Will says:

            Ahh, teenagers. I remember when I used to believe stupid stuff too.

          • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

            Can I help fund a relationship with an anti-spam firm like Cloudmark?

    • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

      Sadly this works way better on me when I’ve already tried the gamejam version and know I like it. (McPixel)

      This one entices with the attitude, but the gameplay still looks tricksy. I think it’s doomed to rot on my “probably should try it” list.

  2. Crows says:

    Pirates are the new zombies :)

    • pepperfez says:

      Was…was the ‘zombies’ take about actual people eating human flesh? Only…over p2p services?

    • GameCat says:

      No, this title belongs to space sims now.

      • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

        Where does that leave Space Pirates and Zombies, The Game?

        • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

          When bounty hunters become a fad it will be the most popular game ever.

  3. DuneTiger says:

    This tactic worked very well for McPixel as far as I know.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I’m pretty sure I remember at least one other dev doing this before, yes, on pretty much the same logic—a defective, hacked-about, unpatched pirate version will only hurt word-of-mouth and thus sales. May as well have the pirates singing its praises, and also impressing the try-before-you-buy-via-piracy crowd.

      • qrter says:

        I believe it was Anodyne that also did something similar. But both McPixel and Anodyne did it just a tad smarter, by actually doing it in conjunction with The Pirate Bay, so they got a big promo on the site’s front page.

        • DuneTiger says:

          Well, their Desura page has a direct link to the active torent, so at least they are in cahoots with an actual game distributor (as shaky as Desura may be) rather than a known piracy portal.

      • solidsquid says:

        I remember when there was an article about No Time To Explain which mentioned the dev releasing a pirate version that the devs had released themselves. Gave it a try because I’d been thinking about buying the game, but the pirate version was so bugged I decided not to get the game because I had no idea if the bugs were from the pirate copy or were just in the game

      • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

        I remember a They Bleed Pixels dev very politely asking on the torrent’s comment section for people who like the game to buy it, I wouldn’t have bought the game if not for that.

  4. AiursLight says:

    Well, technically they’re not pirating it since, as copyright owners, they have sole rights to distribute their product. They’re enabling piracy.

    • Sam says:

      Technically, technically, as they are the rights holders what they’re doing isn’t enabling piracy but simply giving away their product.
      If I offer you a free download of something I’ve made you accepting that download isn’t an act of copyright infringement. That remains true even if I also offer you an alternative download in return for payment.

  5. Kitsunin says:

    Grumble grumble fine I’ll pirate your game instead of ignoring it jeez grumble grumble.

  6. Entitled says:

    It would be a nice thing if we would get to the point where most other publishers also realize it for themselves that file-sharing is not a problem unless they make it into one, and that their related control authorities are not ones that are worth enforcing in the first place. It would be a lot more comfortable, and financially stable for them, and with less hard feelings, if they would change business models on their own, by realizing the same things as this guy.

    Of course, probably most bigger publishers won’t get that far ahead in their thinking, so it will be a lot messier for them as said authorities inevitably get taken away from them anyways. Insults shall be typed in allcaps, and bad analogies shall be thrown around.

    There is only one thing more ridiculous than the moral belief that copyright protects some sort of human right to “property”, and that is the pragmatic belief that they can be able to control the imparting of information on the internet as if it really were a type of “property”.

    The stability of the Internet is worth a lot more than a single industry’s sense of entitlement about what control they “deserve”, especially when that’s not even connected to any meaningful financial benefit, just the sheer emotional desire for more control over more people’s activities.

    • pepperfez says:

      No, the stability of the internet is just about human welfare and our collective cultural growth. Draconian IP laws and useless DRM schemes are about the feelings of corporations.

      • gwathdring says:

        Feelings of corporations? Is this a joke?

        IP law and DRM is not about the whimsy of corporations or their feelings. Nor is it about controlling people. It is, however misguided, primarily about preserving compensation and increasing profit. Whether or not it works, it is about piracy and property and money.

        Feelings of corporations! Yes, groups of people do sometimes act as a sort of organism but in the same sense the masses have feelings–would be be so derisive about the feelings of middle-class folk on the west-side of [CITY NAME]? What makes corporations, themselves a sub-class of collections of people working toward some sort of goal, so much more deserving of derision with respect to their temperament?

        The difference is primarily in goal and in organization. Corporations are highly organized and structured; their feelings are more manufactured by their goals and their feelings are more manipulable through the influence of hierarchical control. But even at the top of a hierarchy the system of which you are part has as much control of you as you do of it. One thing that makes massive, publicly traded companies so dangerous is simply their scale and the abstraction of their leadership not some inherent evil or some quality that makes the collective feeling of the body less meaningful. Stock holders and CEOs are more distant from the grand body of both their customers and their company such that their decisions, for both better and worse, are less in touch with the moods of both respective bodies. Indeed, in some ways we like small business precisely becasue they are more beholden to their damn feelings.

        Anywho, corporations are just … groups of people all doing a thing together. It’s like when people talk about the government like some sort of sentient boogeyman. These groups are only ever so organized and coherent. If you are unhappy with the way of things we need to look to changing whole systems not individual behaviors. For the same reason that asking everyone to take shorter showers and use better lightbulbs will neither work not, if it were to work, save the environment … asking companies to stop using DRM won’t fix the problem or the conflict that creates the perception of a problem. We need to think bigger than “stop DRM” if we want the system to work more gracefully.

        I’m quite tired of people being derisive about feelings, collective or individual. What they heck is wrong with emotions? They’re just brain chemicals fed back to us through our mind-body system (or in the case of larger bodies the intersection of brain chemicals, bodies and group dynamics). They’re damn important.

        • Entitled says:

          “Whether or not it works, it is about piracy and property and money.”

          There is nothing actually property-like about copyright.

          It’s a government-granted monopoly, that is granted to artists to subsidize a business model that wouldn’t survive on a free market.

          And it is protecting the “feelings of corporations”, because of that “whether it works”. If it actually works, then so be it. It’s a handy little market regulation, that increases social utility, like many others.

          The attitude that it doesn’t even matter whether or not it’s beneficial, publishers still “deserve it” as their inalienable right anyways because it’s “theirs”, is based on nothing but a twisted analogy, and it’s an emotional appeal to the moral value of property ownership, diverting attention from WHY copyright was actually formed.

          It’s like if you would say that whether or not speed limits work at avoiding accidents, it’s the government’s right to control traffic, and taking it away from them would limit their current “sense of ownership” over drivers’ speed, so we should just ignore all pragmatic arguments in the first place, and keep the regulation solely to protect the government’s feelings.

          • Premium User Badge Llewyn says:

            Regardless of my opinion of your opinions, you appear not to understand how an analogy should work.

          • gwathdring says:

            Your car example is rather bizarre and doesn’t work very well.

            Further you missed my point about feelings. Feelings are important. You act like how a body as massive as a corporation or a government feels is somehow irrelevant to your society. It isn’t irrelevant to your society. It is rather at the center of our society especially since those feelings are primarily generated by social interaction. My use of the phrase “whether or not it works” was not because I don’t care but because it’s such a complicated discussion and I wanted to make it clear that my point stands apart from how we resolve that separate discussion. It wasn’t “Let’s do it whether or not it works because feelings” but “the reason it is implemented was not out of a will to control or in the name of whimsy but to solve specific problems X, Y, and Z, whether it is successful at solving those being a separate matter.”

            Let’s see if I can put this separately from the discussion of feelings because I think you’ve misunderstood my point otherwise, as well. Let’s try reiterating it like so, first with a straight riff in the key of me:

            “For the same reason that asking everyone to take shorter showers and use better lightbulbs will neither work not, if it were to work, save the environment … asking companies to stop using DRM won’t fix the problem or the conflict that creates the perception of a problem. We need to think bigger than “stop DRM” if we want the system to work more gracefully.”

            We cannot simply ask for the behavior to change. Precisely directed behavioral modification in the absence of a systemic external change is exceedingly difficult for developed societies, corporations, and even individuals. What we have is not just one company but many companies using DRM and similar measures systemically. They use it for a variety of reasons some stronger some weaker. They use it with an eye for the behavior of end-users, among other things. If we want companies to stop using DRM we can use force (armed takeover, systemic boycott) or we can look to changing the entire system more gradually.

            Let’s look at that boycott option. It’s unworkable. We can’t ask customers to stop buying games with DRM or to stop pirating. They buy games with DRM and pirate games for a variety of reasons some stronger and some weaker. They are reacting to the system in which they have developed. If we want to change their behavior we have to change the context of their action either by waiting until they’re dead and replaced by a new generation or otherwise slowly changing the entire system through which they acquire and experience entertainment and/or acquire and assess things of generic value.

            Asking for individual behaviors to change requires targeted and system-wide response such as a government regulation or an insurrection–and the former is rather difficult to a) start and b) use precisely and safely. We have to make more significant changes to our way of doing gaming business or even our way of doing ANY business if we want to change specific behaviors like DRM. They do not happen in isolation and they cannot be isolated. We can’t have a system in which everything else is the same but DRM disappears. That is not possible. We arrived at the current system through dynamic equilibration; if it were a single company or a single customer we could maybe do something about it but it’s not. It’s company after company after company and customer after customer after customer after customer after customer after customer after customer after customer after customer. DRM is here to stay unless we radically change the way the entire industry works; the easiest way to do that is try our best to tug things in the “right” direction and wait for time to have it’s way with us. There are other ways, too, but none of them involve getting companies to just stop using DRM. That is unworkable. To suggest otherwise, I feel, is to fundamentally misunderstand what’s happening.

            This is not about foward-thinking versus backward-thinking. Companies think quite far ahead it’s just that they, much like individuals and for pretty much the same reasons, are awful at it. It’s not big corporations that are having trouble thinking ahead and seeing the whole picture. It’s people that generically have trouble with that. We’re wired to be good at other things and sometimes how we’re wired directly opposes clear and holistic long-term thought.

          • gwathdring says:

            Hmm. I also fundamentally reject the notion that twists of language with reference to monopoly and one’s ability to profit from things changes that, at the core, copyright is very much about property. It’s about what things you ought to have some level of control over. How is that so very different from conceptions of property? I could use the word ownership if you prefer. It’s called intellectual property law for a very good reason though, but if you’re unhappy with the metaphor time and circumstance has saddled us with then I’ll challenge you without falling back on such norms explicitly.

            I reject the notion that digital property and intellectual property shouldn’t be thought of as property. You’ve thrown around the idea that people think they have a right to control such kinds of (in your view) quasi-property with derision. I think that derision is misplaced. I agree, however, that it is perfectly foolish to expect the practical behavior of digital property to mirror the practical behavior of a toaster oven, but I believe it is perfectly foolish only in exactly the same way it is foolish to expect ownership of a pet to mirror ownership of a tea-kettle or ownership of a house to mirror ownership of a piece of toast.

            This idea that just because it’s digital it deserves a paradigm so fundamentally different the word property becomes meaningless is no less a foolish extremism than the one it plays across from.

          • Entitled says:

            “It’s called intellectual property law for a very good reason though”

            Actually, it’s not called intellectually property. Copyrights, trademarks, and patents, are sometimes informally grouped together as IP by lobbyists such as the MPAA or the WIPO, but the phrase itself means as much to a copyright lawyer, as “partial-birth abortion” to a doctor. It’s not even an established legal term, but a recent creation of the past decades’piracy debates

            To say that IP is only different in that “it’s digital”, misses a deeper underlying difference, that IP is inherently not control over a substance, but control over an action.

            When you hold ownership of something, then even without any laws recognizing it, you are also objectively possessing it first, the laws just make it easier to safely keep holding it, or *take it back* from possible thiefs.

            When you publish a story and claim “ownership” of it, in the form of controlling whether other people are allowed to repeat that story, you have never first possessed the action of “other people repeating it”. You are not just securing your owned possessions, but asking outside forces to create an extra right for you out of nothing.

            Right to property, as a negative right, derives from the right to secure your status quo, that your natural capabilities shall not be limited (Like the right to freedom from slavery, or the right to freedom of religion).
            IP, a positive right, is something that governments make up out of thin air, and scale at their pleasure (like health care, or public education, or unemployment benefits).

            Treating IP as a negative right gives the illusion that there is an ideal absolute form of it (“my property not being taken away at all”), and ANY limitation on that, such as Public Domain or Fair Use, is by default a moral wrong, that can only justify itself by a greater imortance. (similar to how taxation would be a crime against property, if not for it’s societal value)

            Meanwhile, in fact, it is Freedom of Information that is a negative right, and it is Copyright itself that needs to justify itself at every corner by it’s importance.

            This is the fundamental difference between the piracy apologist and the IP apologist.

            The IP apologist says: “Look at all this personal property I have right now. By what greater need could you justify taking that away from my hands?”

            The pirate says: “Look at all these freedoms I have to share information! Can you prove that you really NEED to take these away from me to secure your profession’s sustainability?”

          • gwathdring says:

            Using the phrase ” ___ apologist” just makes you mean-spirited. It doesn’t make you right.

            It is also not so recent an invention and I couldn’t give a damn if it’s part of legal terminology or not. The idea of intellectual property is older than the 1980s; google trending is not a particularly reliable resource. All it shows is that, in the collection of books, texts and websites google has archived, people have mentioned the word or phrase more or less frequently. That tells you how commonplace discussion of the idea is much more so then when it originated.

            Your distinction between negative and positive rights fails for me on three counts. 1) I do not see why one is inherently a better way of assessing rights then the other. 2) I disagree with the thesis that differentiates the two in the first place separately from my analysis that, were I to accept their separateness, one should necessarily supercede the other categorically when there is conflict. 3) I’m much more concerned with practice.

            I value a society in which people can create things that are meaningful to others and be compensated for the perceived value or negotiations thereupon. I value such a society regardless of the nature of the matter into which the effort is inscribed–be it relatively pure information encapsulated in code or text or speech or be it carved stone. We should develop our theory working backwards from what we see not construct our idealized conception and work backwards to explain why our way of doing doesn’t match the logic and arithmetic.

            I feel no less a sense of ownership over a digital recording I have made than an analog reel. That it is trivial for someone to replicate it without damaging the original product does not change that when it occurs without my permission I feel wronged. I do not believe in inalienable rights, positive or negative. I do not believe the right to freedom of information on the Internet has some higher calling than the right to preserve my perception of ownership over things I have created.

            I do, however, think we need to be practical. With no way to enforce certain kinds of protections we have to be more clever about how we fund and distribute things. But I reject the thesis that the right to one’s creative produce has to prove itself or else yield to the right to procure information. I believe all rights have to prove themselves at all times. It is convenient to codify what rights we have decided ought to be assumed to have proved themselves generically enough to be respected in the Bill of Rights of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but I do not for a second think that it is anything more than a convenient shorthand for an ever present and ongoing dialog. It does not, to me, represent anything fundamental or just or spiritual.

            We have to construct a sustainable society. Our concern at every turn should be how sustainable a thing is if we want it to last and I presume we want society and the rights that we use to describe it’s rules to survive; we of course do not think this way and often yield to our feelings. But, then again feelings are a part of our natural systems and as such are part of a sustainability assessment in any case. So yes, sustainability. Which right is more important? Your freedom to access whatever information you can or my ability to control and profit from my creative produce? They are both questions of ownership no matter how many hoops you jump through to draw lines about contract law and property law and on and on.

            Forget the legal jargon for a moment. In both cases we are discussing access and control. Don’t call it property if it pains you to do so; I won’t police your lexicon. I’m concerned with the exchange of our ideas more so than the language that contains them. But recognize that fundamental similarity. Recognize that dismissing “IP apologists” with such derision is incredibly close-minded; the phrase intellectual property encapsulates that similarity–that discussion of access and control and ownership.

          • gwathdring says:

            After all, what is information? This freedom you have to access information. This right. What is information? Knowledge? What is knowledge? Is knowledge a stuff? The idea within the stuff or behind the stuff? What is an idea? Ultimately an idea is just … physical interaction abstracted through language-oriented thought. The idea that you have a right to knowledge and information is not magically rendered invalid by this deconstruction. But it is revealed to be exactly as arbitrary as suggesting that you have a right to any physical item you have the prowess to obtain.

            Obviously our social systems and mental systems redirect this willy nilly. The abstraction and arbitrary nature does not make it meaningless. But it means we cannot use the arbitrariness of restricting information to protect one’s profit from creative produce as an argument against the system that performs that restriction if we are also going to use equally arbitrary designations to paint the entirety of … whatever “information” is up for grabs by default.

            I don’t believe, at the level of abstraction at which we discuss things like intellectual property and a right to life, liberty and information, in defaults. Nothing in a conceptual space that abstracted and constructed is by default nor should it be. At a more practical level, sure. Laws have to be more grounded and usable than this discussion is allowing for. Regulations need to be specific. Defaults are fine generally. Just not in the kind of abstract space where we talk about fundamental human rights. No defaults. I find it a lazy shortcut that hampers discussion.

        • pepperfez says:

          It was, in fact, mostly a (bitter) joke. And I agree that, at bottom, all of this is certainly about money and also that feelings are fundamentally important to reason.

          I just want things to start entering the public domain again, and if they don’t do it legally, they can do it through piracy. If that isn’t to the taste of publishers, they should start opening up the legal means.

          (I’m mostly just shouting on the internet, btw. My frustration definitely isn’t with you.)

          • gwathdring says:

            Fair enough. Likewise, and I was even going to post an apology as such until I saw this post which makes a perfect opportunity. :)

            I felt I was a bit rude because I wasn’t mad at your or even what you said. I’m frustrated with a complicated problem that we are, collectively, having enormous trouble solving.

          • pepperfez says:

            Who would have thought we’d end up in total agreement?
            xoxo

          • gwathdring says:

            <3

          • Lusketrollet says:

            Pepperfez, please stop being so fucking apologetic.

            It’s embarrassing.

    • womp says:

      Username is accurate etc

    • gwathdring says:

      Hold up. If I released a game that retailed at $60 and needed to recover millions of dollars for me … do you really think giving it away for free is going to benefit more than it hurts?

      It’s one thing to do this with a game you’re already only selling for 5, 10, 15 dollars. But one you’re selling for $60? $70?

      Come off it.

      Further, forget intellectual property for a moment and just think about the practical side of things. If something costs X million dollars to make … unless people give me X million dollars back in exchange for it I can’t afford to make it. And unless they give me that x million dollars before I give them the thing, I have nothing with which to bargain to ensure I get X million dollars. It’s very nice to say information belongs to everyone and it’s just bits … but that’s not a sustainable system. There are certainly aspects of our programming we can overcome with social engineering but when presented with two options both of which are considered base-line acceptable … you cannot rely on people’s ability to take the more costly option purely to benefit systems and people from whom they are substantially abstracted.

      So what do we do? You can stamp all the quotation marks around the word property you want. Information is a nearly meaningless word–as empty as the word meaning. Information can be costly to produce. That it is reproducible does not mean it is, long term, stable to reproduce it without compensating it’s originator. Yes it is foolish to expect digital communications and products to behave precisely as non-digital ones but I would see us reform and refit our intellectual property system to make more sense not obliterate it out of some sense that property is meaningless in abstract and digital spaces. Property might be less practically defensible in these spaces but there are some aspects of our economy that rely on it’s defense. It becomes less a question of fighting for freedom of information on the Internet and more a question of how much we can afford to erode traditional systems of compensation while still expecting costly, high-risk products to be profitably produced for us.

      As long as we’re in the business of drawing lines between digital and non-digital it is no more arbitrary to draw lines between something digital that I made, designed, and requested compensation for and something that someone put out there with the intent that it would be publicly disseminated. For all that people on both sides yammer on about whether or not piracy is actually killing profit, it is not something we can really measure in a reliable way. We can’t really answer that question with data. There are too many variables. What we can say is that someone damn well has to pay for stuff so long as we have a monetary system, or else the people who make the stuff will not be able to sustainable make it.

      I firmly believe that you have no more a right to free and whimsical use of the Internet than I have right to be fairly treated (here usually meaning compensated) for my production whensoever people make use of my efforts. We can hate ISPs all we want (in the US they are especially malicious and conniving), but someone has to pay for the infrastructure and if not the ISPs it must be through taxes. We can hate DRM all we want, but someone has to pay for games we really can’t tell to what extent DRM does or does not partially protect profits–we can only tell that DRM does not prevent piracy long-term, and that in some forms it causes undue harm to paying customers. We can hate not having free digital information all we want, but someone had to put it there and if they are systematically under-compensated they will not continue to put it there in the future. We can hate record companies and getting sued for musical piracy all we want, but while we should continue to hate the record companies for a great many things they do to artists, someone has to pay for the music and pay to distribute it and that payment has to reach the artists somehow else they cannot spend their time making the music we so love.

      What would you have us do, collectively? What would you have us do that we can practically do short term without unduly damaging the sources of information and production we so dearly love?

      • Kitsunin says:

        I think it’s difficult to say that we need to pay per-copy for a product for which development was entirely pre-sale. I actually think that the recent booming of early-access and kickstarters is a fantastic way to deal with piracy. It lets developers create their games in low-risk ways, and encourages people to jump on-board because they like what they see and want to see more, not because they are strong-armed into it. As long as games continue to succeed using such models I think we are actually in a quite good spot. The possibility of everyone being selfish and not putting their money into games because they have the option is there but we can see that we’re somehow still doing quite well even so.

        The cost of software is entirely within development, not production, so asking for money after the fact is an entirely arbitrary system and there is no easy answer to what is okay and not. Because of this, until we come to a state where there are serious, proven problems caused by people choosing not to pay for software before or after development, it is a much better idea to maintain the status quo and definitely avoid permanently damaging anything than to hastily throw our freedoms away when we might realize it hasn’t actually made anything better.

        • gwathdring says:

          I agree, but cautiously. As in my response slightly further down, I believe that part of the current sustainability is that–available or not–procuring without paying is perceived as “bad” and at “not ok” on some level. Shame is a powerful social force. Plenty of people don’t pirate because they just have a sense that they’re not supposed to; that sense might come from feelings of fairness, from strong feelings about money and debt, and so forth … but we can’t say for sure how much of it comes from negative attitudes towards piracy. We should tread carefully here precisely because the hard-coded mechanisms don’t work so well with digital products; all we have is our social system and as piracy becomes a more legitimate part of that social system we may well erode some of the good will that makes it, for now, workable.

          I definitely agree that we need a creative, systemic solution to pay-per-copy. We’re stuck because digital works differently than non-digital … but no so differently that we can sustain everyone collectively owning everything without a radical change in our entire economic and government structure at that is plainly off the table. It’s also awkward becasue aside from the low cost of content delivery (it’s a good point, but think of retail–companies pay nothing on the retail of a product and we can think of delivering the product to stores as simply an additional “development” cost in that it’s still part of the conception-to-storefront/customer pathway), it’s not so different for the companies themselves yet it’s RADICALLY different for the customers. This imbalance is causing a lot of tension with companies developing things very much the same way they have been and customers trying to reconcile entirely new content paradigms with the relatively samey behavior of the companies.

          I’m not sure how to fix that, but things like Kickstarter certainly help to some extent.

      • Entitled says:

        “If I released a game that retailed at $60 and needed to recover millions of dollars for me … do you really think giving it away for free is going to benefit more than it hurts?”

        Let’s look at it this way. If a $60 game is released, and it sells 1 million copies on the first week, and also pirated by 9 million, how much will it sell on week two? How much will it’s sequel sell, based on the fame gained by an audience in the 10 millions?

        If it wouldn’t be pirated at all, maybe it’s first week sales would be a bit higher than 1 million, after all, at least A FEW of the pirates must be potential buyers. Maybe 1.5 million? Bassed on that many players, that much media buzz, that many conversations, how much will it sell next week? And the sequel?

        I can’t know for 100% certain that the possible benefits indeed outweight the possible harm, (and neither can we prove the opposite), but it’s irrelevant, given that we still have good indicators that the first scenario of the two is at the very least sustainable, given that we are already living in it.

        Even if piracy is illegal, and most publishers don’t allow it, it’s happening anyways. For all practical purposes, we are living in the Piracy World, not in the Copyrigh World. And the industry is doing fine, $60 games do sell well, the games industry is growing year to year, and games are selling enough thanks to those who abstain from piracy, or pirates who hold to their word of still paying for what they can afford. The sky is not falling.

        ” I would see us reform and refit our intellectual property system to make more sense not obliterate it out of some sense that property is meaningless in abstract and digital spaces.”

        I agree with that, there ARE some useful aspects of IP regulations that still work without the forced property analogy, and the expectation that every “copy” of personal communication can be charged for like an object.

        For example, the IP rights that guarantee that a TV show can’t just be aired by a rival channel, with their own ads, is a great one. The one that makes sure that stores can’t print their own bootlegged units of a book, or a game, are also working well. Franchise rights and merch rights are working decently.

        Pragmatism should be the guideline. If a great portion of publisher benefits can be secured by regulating merely a few rival publishers, that’s great. If a further, highly hypothetical benefit can only be secured by enforcing the unenforceable on millions of common Internet users’ daily habits, that’s not very pragmatic.

        • gwathdring says:

          Pragmatism should be the guideline. If a great portion of publisher benefits can be secured by regulating merely a few rival publishers, that’s great. If a further, highly hypothetical benefit can only be secured by enforcing the unenforceable on millions of common Internet users’ daily habits, that’s not very pragmatic

          Fair enough. I’m totally behind that.

          I would do the math on piracy a little differently though. Currently, we’re looking at a market where Piracy is clearly not acceptable. That has an affect on customers, whether or not piracy still occurs. If a company releases their game on bit-torrent free of charge they condone it as a legitimate access point. THAT’S what I meant by the first part of my post you quoted. If I tell my customers that both paying $60 and paying nothing are legitimate access points … how much can I reasonably expect to return to me as profit? Pay-What-You-Want is a somewhat more sustainable architecture especially as you can set minimum pricing, use Beat-the-Average type stuff to encourage higher buy-in and so forth. Also it’s making it clear that some compensation is expected and is required for the procurement to be perceived as acceptable.

          That perception of acceptability matters. My concern is not that piracy will destroy the industry without DRM or anything like that. My concern is that major publishers cannot afford to condone piracy in any way. My concern is that making piracy more socially acceptable, whether or not we consider the status quo morally and economically sustainable, could very well shift the balance of the equation.

          • Entitled says:

            Perceptions of legitimacy change over a longer period of time. Even if digital sales would indeed decline over that, the industry would still have enough time to put more weight in crowdfunding, or physical sales (by encouraging gaming culture to value a disc collector mentality. It worked for the otaku anime industry), or what have you.

            And for that matter, the purpose of copyright is to “promote the progress of useful arts”, but it’s not objectively set in stone exactly HOW MUCH useful arts need to be promoted. Back when that line was written, it referred to the hope that dozens of books will be written in the same year.

            Now we have a billion-dollar industry, with tens of thousands of paid artists, and the argument could be made that the copyright system has gone too far against Information Freedom, even if it is needed to sustain this particular size.

            Personally, even if I would know for certain that uunder file-sharing liberalization, some AAA games would have to be made from half their current $100m, or that half as many indie games could be published as now, I would still call that a particularly healthy culture of creative industries, and say that enforcing all the DRM, and net censorship, and thousands of lawsuits, just to make that industry EVEN BIGGER than that, would be overkill in an extreme direction.

          • gwathdring says:

            [...] and say that enforcing all the DRM, and net censorship, and thousands of lawsuits, just to make that industry EVEN BIGGER than that, would be overkill in an extreme direction.

            That’s assuming, though, that preventing piracy is an invalid censorship. And that creative industries are somehow separate from us.

            Also no it would not happen at a slower pace. Because when a company offers it’s produce for free, it is not accusing you of piracy. It is condoning your taking of the merchandise and it need not go through the long process of re-associating piracy to legitimize what would have previously been considered piracy. I was a bit sloppy with my language. They aren’t condoning piracy, really–that, you’re right, would be a very slow effect. Rather, effectively releasing your game for free eliminates that form of piracy and replaces it with an offer of a free game. People love free stuff. There is no need to slowly reconfigure people’s perceptions to make them ok with getting games for free when the publisher says “Have at it, but we’re also selling it so maybe please buy it instead?”

            The results of that are short term.

            But let’s end by coming back to this. The creative arts aren’t out there separate from “the people.” They are made by the people for the people just as everything else is. Yes, even evil corporations. For all that I despise the field of economics and the ridiculous bullshit hard-core capitalists write in their textbooks, I don’t believe corporations are anything but groups of people. They aren’t special. They aren’t faceless.

            Copyright, IP, DRM–these are the reactions of people to other people. They represent a pressing and longstanding feeling of need that is here to stay. A feeling that we need a way to protect things we feel entitled to ownership of–a feeling directly in conflict to the feeling that we are entitled to what things we are capable of taking. The impulse to download something for free that the artist would prefer you paid for is not a noble one nor an evil one. It is a desire for inclusion (not missing out on things), a hedonism, and a frugality. We want to enjoy things, we want to be part of societies many motions and we want to conserve resources. In a sense, your grasping at freedom for information is just as “primitive” and greedy as an artist or record label desperately and limply clawing at a changing conception of musical ownership. Neither is any more right. Both of these feelings are important and deserve equal consideration. I don’t think either supercedes the other and I would push for a better conflict resolution system than just deciding that freedom to access that which we are capable of accessing comes first.

  7. BreadBitten says:

    My head hurts.

  8. Tei says:

    Instantbuy, many reasons… cuteness, openness, systems of systems. I can’t not buy it. I want to roleplay careless alcoholic greedy marines that just happens to be pirates inside a sandbox videogame. humm… seems Desura has a demo of it! http://www.indiedb.com/games/pixel-piracy *test it* .. uh.. its a bit rought on the edges, still. work in progress, true.

  9. Darth Gangrel says:

    “In this age of and micro-studios” Should there be something between “of” and “and” or is “and microstudios” a new thing I’ve never heard about before?

  10. Premium User Badge jrodman says:

    Not a roguelike. The authors don’t even think so, they just used the word roguelike on indiedb as a stand-in for “procedural”, describing the event system.

  11. Nice Save says:

    You want to push the tag away from the internet and on to the high seas? You’re not allowed. NO OCEANS.

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  13. darkhog says:

    While I’m not interested in the game at all, after seeing this I’m sooo buying this game just to reward the attitude.

  14. frightlever says:

    So this is a donateware game now, effectively? The devs are giving it away free but you pay if you like it? If the developers are seeding the torrent it isn’t piracy, it’s charity.