Browsing Quarter-to-three, I discover that Tom “Tom Bramwell” Bramwell’s interview with John Carmack and Todd Hollenshead has caused a little internet drama, picked up by 1UP. To paraphrase, Hollenshead argued that PC manufacturers secretly like that there’s piracy on the PCs, as it’s something which makes people buy PCs. After all, unlike console manufacturers, they don’t make any more profit if people actually buy games or not.
Which left Jim and I a little bewildered on a couple of points.
The first one is… well, yeah. Thinking back to school, when people were buying Amigas there was a knowledge that one of the advantages of the format was that while it may cost more, owning one meant your money on games went further. You bought what you could and pirated the rest. This is an obvious boon to the consumer. Equally clearly, since PC manufacturers aren’t stupid, they’re aware of the reasons people buy a gaming PC, so they’re aware of this. If you did a cold analysis of the numbers, I suspect the optimum level of profit for PC manufacturers would be one where there was just enough piracy to still count as an attractive thing, but insufficient to make the market unsustainable.
The second one is… well, why? As in, why are you saying this, Mr Hollenshead? For example: “I think that if you went in and could see what’s going on in their minds, though they may never say that stuff and I’m not saying there’s some conspiracy or something like that – but I think the thing is they realise that trading content, copyrighted or not, is an expected benefit of owning a computer.” If he’s aware of the fact they’d never actually say it, why is he? How does it profit him to state something that’s clearly true when all that stating that truth will do is get on the PC manufacturers back? As Jim puts it, what does he actually want them to do? “Please Download Responsibly” stickers on every new PC? About the only answer which makes sense is that as a long-term PC developer he’s just being really pissed off – which, to be fair, I suspect happens to almost every PC-developer given time.