SpeedRunners Embracing Piracy, Releasing Free Version

Despite what some triple-A publishers might think, piracy isn’t a simple black-and-white subject. Pirates aren’t necessarily shifty-eyed thieves, and a pirated copy doesn’t necessarily equate to a lost sale. You can’t beat it, either, so you might as well come aboard and embrace that other audience that’s playing your game. Increasingly, that’s the mentality many indies have adopted, and SpeedRunners developer tinyBuild is following suit. All of the wickedly fun multiplayer platform-racer’s offline features will be free of charge straight out the gate. If you want updates further down the line, then you can buy the full game. It’s your call.

Basically, it sounds like a less nickel-and-dime-y version of free-to-play, but that’s hardly a bad thing. Here’s creator Alex Nichiporchik’s take, via a statement sent to RPS:

“I’ve seen it multiple times when people pirate some sort of software, fall in love with it, and then due to constant updates reminders end up buying it, just for the convenience. Basically, when developers provide a good service, people see the value in spending money. Minecraft is a great example. With the constant updates, it’s so clear you should throw your money at the screen – simply provide a service, making it much more convenient than searching for cracks.”

“We’ve decided to make SpeedRunners free when it comes out. The local version of SpeedRunners will be available completely free. You’ll be able to download it and play with your friends on a couch, or use any of the offline features (right now we have bots to play against offline). The online part of SpeedRunners will be what people pay money for, it’s the service we provide to players.”

He also confessed that he’s pirating Battlefield 4 right now, so I of course called the authorities and had him sentenced to 587 years in ultra-prison.

Seriously though, this sounds like a smart release model, assuming the price is a reasonable, one-time sort of thing. And again, the game is excellent fun. It’s on Steam Early Access right now if you want to pay money to give it a try before picking up the final free version. Which is the most backwards thing I’ve ever written. Also, untrue! If you spend money on early access, your paid version is secured for launch.

So yes, there are those things. Do you find them acceptable?


  1. Giuseppe says:

    It’s a lie! No one has ever bought something after pirating it and anyone who claims otherwise should be shot(gunned) on sight.

    Software piracy and killing puppies and kittens lead to the dark side.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I’ve had to cut waaaay back on filesharing because I can’t afford to buy much legit software right now. Demos are sometimes an adequate substitute (but I was going to buy The Stanley Parable anyway, because I enjoyed the mod), but not everything has a demo. Then there is the software which can’t be bought anymore, won’t ever have official English translation, or just won’t ever be for sale… which become day one purchases as soon as GoG releases it, one of the translation-focused publishers releases an official English version, or the author decides to do a commercial remake/update.

      I actually wrote to Enterbrain back in 2001 and told them I’d buy a copy of RPG Maker 2000 if it was available here (with official English translation). But I’ll just have to be satisfied with legit copies of RPG Maker XP and RPG Maker VXAce.

      I once played through Chrono Trigger on a SNES emulator. Since then I’ve bought three copies (original version and both re-releases). I tend to try to browse fileshared ebook copies or scanned PDFs of books before committing to buying hard copies (unless there is a copy in a local bookstore, in which case I’ll just have a look and probably buy it from there), but I’ve had to cut back on that recently too.

    • facebook34 says:

      I quit working at shop rite and now I make $35th – $8th…how? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new… after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier. He res what I do======


  2. pegolius says:

    I heard the dark side has some pretty rad bars though….

    • Dozer says:

      I’ve heard there’s this one called the Dagger Bar. Great place.

  3. Yglorba says:

    I’ve mentioned it before, but I think that pay-what-you-want and, especially, pay-what-you-want bundles are the ultimate answer to piracy.

    People pirate because it’s convenient and because a lot of gamers, I think, like to just play little bits of games based on their whims. Or, more bluntly, people want to own a lot of games… which sounds like it’s just greed irreconcilable with profit, but it isn’t, really, when you remember that games are digital goods and what that means.

    Companies are too focused on trying to sell (say) $60 games to you once every few months, even though most gamers don’t really like that kind of investment in one game. Bundles serve as a solution because, while the individual games cost less, they encourage people to buy games that they wouldn’t otherwise — if you have someone spending ~$10 a week on bundles and extreme sale impulse buys, you’re going to make as much money as you would have from the bigger more occasional purchases. And you do it while decreasing risk, since the success or failure of individual games is no longer so important.

    Basically, the computer game business model is still too fixated on trying to replicate an economy of physical things. Volume and the long tail are a lot more valuable than squeezing every last drop from immediate sales of your latest product. I think at least part of the persistence of piracy comes from the fact that too many retailers and publishers are trying to supply a model of “treat every new game like a glittering unique jewel of incredible value” when the demand is closer to “horde huge piles of games, devour vast numbers of titles like popcorn.”

    And I think that because of the importance and profitability of the long tail, it’s still possible to sell polished AAA titles under that model if you focus on the long term.

    • The Random One says:

      Yeah, but some people pirated PWYW bundles as well.

      The truth is that, as much as so many people want pirates to be a homogenic group (publishers want them all to be evil criminals revelling in their nefarious thefts, and piracy fans want them all to be golden-hearted misunderstood idealistic defenders of freedom) there are many reasons why people pirate, and them vary from “don’t like this game’s DRM” to “financial services won’t let me buy this game on my country” to “am completely selfish and cannot internalize that actual work went into making this game” to “started pirating when I didn’t have money to buy what I wanted and continue to do so now that I do out of inertia”. So there’s no golden bullet that will end all piracy, especially because there’s some people who will pirate no matter what – Warren Ellis once said that he found PDFs of his free webcomic Freakangels on Piratebay, bundled with other, paid-for work. The pirates probably didn’t even know (or care) that that particular comic was literally free.

      • mouton says:

        Yeah, there will be always some hardcore unrepentant shiver-me-timbers plunderers who will never pay for anything. But most of pirate population is very much salvageable and lots of people have a mixed approach.

        Regarding Warren Ellis, it was actually a quite silly comment he made. Comic book pirates who release them are more often than not very much in love with the medium and know what they are doing. Free comics also get copied for various reasons, some being digital preservation, others being convenience and format familiarity. And it is all additional publicity.

      • Baines says:

        Wadjet decided to give people free copies of Blackwell Deception for Halloween. People abused the heck out of it, grabbing free Steam keys to trade and sell online. Then those people complained when Wadjet first had an error fixed (the store was giving away Steam keys for the entire Wadjet bundle instead of a single game, so Wadjet had Steam fix it even on already redeemed keys), and complained again when Wadjet stopped giving out Steam keys even though they still were giving away DRM-free copies of the game. One SteamGifts poster, upset that he didn’t get a Steam key, said that if he’d wanted a DRM-free copy then he’d have just downloaded it from PirateBay.

        People went on to pass around the link to the Steam key generator even after the store disabled the page that accessed it, resulting in some 30,000 additional keys being taken *after* they stopped officially giving away Steam keys. And of course people complained when those keys were revoked.

    • Shuck says:

      I think it’s becoming fairly common practice to start off games at full price and drop the price over time, with eventual, occasional super-low-cost sales and bundles to get the audience not willing to pay $60. Game makers are always desperate to make a profit, as traditionally most games don’t end up breaking even, even when only selling $60 games (which was happening as early as the ’80s, back when development costs were a tiny fraction of what they are now and $60 was closer to $100 in modern currency). Price expectations and more competition has meant that even with a longer sales tail, developers are still struggling to keep afloat, thus all the DLC and an increasing move to free-to-play.

    • Mctittles says:

      I’m actually not a fan of pay what you want schemes. Too often after you purchase paying “what you want” you are either led to feel guilty for paying too little or feel buyers remorse for spending too much money.
      I feel much better post-purchase if a game was one sale for $1 than “only” spending $1 on a bundle and having an image pop up at purchase time to remind me even more about how much of a jerk I am. Game on sale=not a jerk; Pay less for pay what you want=jerk. It’s really a case of get money based on guilt or get money and leave your customers feeling happy about the deal they got.

  4. lethial says:

    Nowadays, one of the metric that I use to help decide what game to buy and what to pass is how the developer treat their players. So yes I find this news very acceptable, and just bought the game.

  5. Psymon says:

    Sounds like a beefed up demo. No?

    • Sam says:

      Sounds even more like the original Shareware model. The software is free, but to keep getting updates and technical support you have to pay. A model which developed out of an environment where software was being freely shared (pirated) on BBSes.
      Many shareware games like Doom adapted it to “the first bit of the game is free but you have to pay for the rest,” which turned it into a generous demo. But with the practical benefit of only needing to deliver an unlock code to the purchaser rather than mailing out floppies.

      Same as it ever was.

  6. SuicideKing says:

    Wouldn’t even bother pirating BF4 unless it had a built-in benchmark.

  7. MattMk1 says:

    I think it’s sad that a publisher feels the need to “reach out” to what is (at the end of the day) a bunch of parasites.

    Piracy might not technically be theft, it might not hurt large companies in the long run… but one thing it is, no matter how you slice it, is taking advantage of all the “suckers” who actually pay for games and subsidize those who can’t be bothered to.

    You can list many reasons (some better sounding that others) for why piracy’s really not that bad, but I’ll bet most people do it for the same reasons they do all the other shitty little “it’s not stealing because…” crap – because they’re cheap, greedy and entitled.

    • Entitled says:

      That pirates are “entitled” or “greedy”, is inherently related to the same bundle of fallacies that gave birth to failful terms like “intellectual property” or “piracy is stealing”.

      It works really well, but only as long as you close your eyes and tell yourself that information is basically something like a kind of material, and by receiving and imparting it, people are taking it away from it’s owner. But otherwise, it doesn’t really work if you realize that information can’t be “free as in beer”, but “free as in speech”. It’s not an object, but an action, not something to be kept or taken away, but something to be done or forbidden.

      You are right, in that there is inherently a Free Rider Problem built into creative professions. If sharing information is a freedom, then there is little way to profit solely from producing information. However, the supposed solution “Then let’s MAKE EVERYONE ALWAYS PAY when they distribute information!” was always a particularly foolish one, going both against feasibility, and against people’s intuitive behavior.

      Piracy is not the problem, it is the form that the problem was given by the hubris of the industry that would think that it is it’s their God-given right to always profit from their work through THIS particular regulation system, against all technology and human behavior.

      When you are watching an advertisement and not buying the advertised product, that’s also a free rider problem. A company paid money for the chance of turning you into a customer, yet if everyone would behave like you, it would all be unsustainable. The thing is, they understand that as long as they make ends meet, as long as they benefit “in the long run” by making enough customers, that’s good enough, they are in the kind of business where they don’t get to control everyone that they reach.

      There are instances of piracy that are pretty ugly, well-off people going out of their way to pirate indie games that’ developer is hanging in the balance, or teenagers growing up getting used to piratebay being easier to use than Steam and not wanting to change later either, but raging about the general concept that not every single user is a costumer, is a little bit pathetic from ordinary users, and from a publisher’s side, more than a little arrogant and entitled.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Yep. As far as the cost of copywritten material goes, unlike physical goods, once the game/movie/music/show has been created, it exists in infinite amounts. Everyone needs to pay for it to exist, or it can’t, but because the cost has nothing to do with post-creation, anyone who doesn’t pay isn’t stealing anything, just freeloading off the backs of those who created it in the first place – which is only harmful because theoretically they could have helped.

        Putting that into a metaphor, let’s say you have a car and you drive to work every day. If your roommate carpools with you every time, but won’t do anything for you in return, he’s essentially a pirate. You would expect him to pitch in for what it costs you to keep the car running, but his being there doesn’t actually have any sort of negative impact on you (Let’s ignore things like the extra weight, used seat, or if he annoys you, that isn’t a part of piracy). I would even say a pirate’s motivations line up excellently with that: Maybe you let the roommate carpool because he can’t afford his own car, maybe he’s too young to drive or has some other disability, maybe he is just a douche who is freeloading off you. Unfortunately in this realm we can’t tell the people who do it to take advantage of us to fuck off, but that option being there doesn’t necessarily harm us, and it undoubtedly enriches the lives of some people.

        • Zerbin says:

          While I understand and appreciate the finer points that you guys are trying to make, it just seems like a simpler idea to me. Is this thing (physical good, service, vidya game, what have you) mine? No. But it’s for sale? Yes. Did I pay for it? No. But I took it (made a copy of it that I did not pay for) anyway? Yes. Then, as far as my primitive brain goes, it’s a theft. I stole it. I borrowed-without-paying-but-really-I’m-going-to-pay-for-it-later-honest! Tying the idea of theft to only the things that have a physical component is like saying that I can’t movie hop. I can sneak into a theater (let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the movie theater is of infinite size, so that my being there does not lessen the theater’s seating capacity), and watch a movie. While I may not have physically taken something from the theater owners, I have “stolen” (for lack of a better fitting term) a service, for which I did not pay. It seems similar to me. Just saying.

          • Kitsunin says:

            It’s…different. My bike was stolen a few months ago, it sucked. Why did it suck? Because I no longer had a bike.

            I honestly have even more difficulty seeing the connection between theater hopping and theft than piracy and theft. I mean, the only problems it really causes are those that arise from the people who get upset with the violation of rules, the rule violation itself doesn’t actually do anything. I dealt with a lot of friends that loved to do that kind of crap, and while I didn’t agree with it, really they were just finding things to do with time they wouldn’t have spent doing anything better. Like they would’ve spent $10 on a ticket when they only had time to watch half a movie anyways?

          • Zerbin says:

            Perhaps our difficulty in understanding one another is one of viewpoint. I’m not just looking at this from the standpoint of the content or service provider. I’m looking at this from the position of the speculative pirate, or movie hopper, if you will. The difference (at least for me) between the act of taking a digital copy of something that doesn’t belong to me, or a physical copy of a thing that doesn’t belong to me, is nil. While if I took something physical, that would be one less thing that a person could sell and /or have, and I agree that a pirated copy is not necessarily a sale lost or gained, it still seems that (for the most part) digital piracy is just taking something that doesn’t belong to me. And that’s just not kosher.
            (Sucks about the bike, though. I’m sorry to hear that, and I hope that I’m not being rude.)

          • blind_boy_grunt says:

            going back to that carsharing metaphor, the thing is developers aren’t going to work by car, they are taxi-drivers. They make their money of that ride. Ever tried to not pay for a taxi? Or maybe they are more like a bus company and you might think it’s ok to dodge the fare, i don’t know neither do i care what you think. Piracy is a reality, because it just is so damn easy and convenient. But i just can’t (under-)stand it why some people feel it is ok or even their right to take the work of others(see also the post from entitled)

          • Devan says:


            I’m glad this conversation is going on so amicably. I think the key difference between your viewpoint and the one Entitled and Kitsunin are espousing is the point of whether or not information can truly be owned. In your post, you ask “is this thing mine?”, and if the thing you’re referring to is in the public domain then the answer should be yes, it IS yours. Owning something does not always mean exclusively owning it, and this applies to physical things too (like national parks, public industry, and resources like water and air).

            Most types of physical objects are owned exclusively because that just makes sense; it’s often hard to share a single physical thing with a lot of different people. Contrary to that, information is naturally free. Once an idea is spoken or a song is sung, it’s out there for other people to enjoy and share with others, and there’s no limit to how many times it can be shared or how far it can spread.

            Of course, many people think of information that they developed first with as their own. “That’s my idea because I thought of it first”, or “That’s my song because I wrote the words and sang it first”. I think most people tend to agree that the originators of information deserve recognition, but the question of exactly what is deserved is a purely philosophical one.

            It’s a complex question with many strong arguments attached to it, and not all of those arguments conclude that the originator of information should have exclusive rights to that information, meaning that it is in public domain and literally everyone who knows about it “owns” it.

            Since digital content (including video games) is information, that’s where we get to the topic we’re on now. I hope this makes sense and helps to explain some of these other points of view.


          • harbinger says:

            This was a rather interesting series in regards to Copyright and “Intellectual Property”, especially the fourth episode called “System Failure”: link to everythingisaremix.info

            “Of course, many people think of information that they developed first with as their own.”

            I don’t even think it has as much to do with who “owns” something, I think most people could agree that the company and/or creator who produced it “owns” it (the length of how long is a different discussion) and they should be the only ones to be able to make money out of it (commercial piracy is on another different level entirely).
            The question is more about them owning and controlling every distribution venue (even non-profit ones like sharing with friends, family or strangers) to it in what feels like perpetuity.

            This question becomes ever more infeasible in the age of information technology where literally everyone can copy bits/bytes and send them around to everyone else.
            There have always been limits to this, we’ve had libraries and then we’ve had free museums where nobody accused anyone that they are “stealing” something because they are looking at a painting.

            And by the way, there are still countries where downloading movies/music for private purposes to this day is very legal, and they’re not somewhere in South America or Africa but for instance the Netherlands, Suisse and Portugal.

            “Copyright” (and especially the form in which it is being practiced nowadays) isn’t a God-given right but a right granted by societies to artists and certain corporations on the basis that society will profit from it in the long run.
            They were thought of in the UK for the reason of both producing book-publishing monopolies, as well as allowing for better censorship through the crown (if they controlled all the presses, they could also control the information).

            We could have as well ended up with a system where passing on of any kind of knowledge or information to other people could be “Copyrightable” and everyone had to pay huge sums to even go to school and learn basic theories that were thought of hundreds of years ago.
            A lot of companies and single individuals even wanted this to happen (there was even a recent patent trying to prevent students from sharing text books).
            Every invention and many concepts, thought processes and theories are based off of inventions and thoughts that existed before them, yet you don’t have to pay every time you try to reapply them and (luckily) the patent system isn’t quite as bad yet as the copyright systems of today and there exist liveable time limits.

            There were already dozens of cases in which any one industry had to rethink how they are making money in the face of actual world realities. For instance do you think that record companies were happy back in the 20s with the appearance and popularity of the radio where everyone could basically listen to and “steal” their content for free?
            They weren’t and they even asked for their artists to boycott that way of distributing music, although a lot of rather unknown Jazz singers didn’t really have the same scruples as “big time” singers and happily appeared on radio shows. At some point there was no turning back and they thought of new ways to make money. They came up with the “licensing” model that we have today whenever for instance stores want to play music in their shops or whenever companies wanted to use the music for commercials.

            It was rather similar with the VHS cassette players. What, people could suddenly record their own movies from TVs and watch it whenever they pleased? It was nothing short of the downfall for the entire movie industry: link to slashdot.org
            And yet they adapted and to this date DVD and Blu-Ray sales make them lots of money.

            It was rather similar with mp3’s and games and Digital Distribution.

          • Kitsunin says:

            @blind_boy I think the taxi driver idea is a poor one. If you don’t pay the driver then you have directly stolen time from him, if you hadn’t taken the ride then he could have found another fare.

            The bus is a good metaphor though, or at least a bus where space isn’t an issue. The thing is, it’s yet another situation where IRL, it happens. When I was younger I had to sneak rides on buses or pretend I had lost my ticket on a few occasions because I didn’t have the money on me to get a ticket. On the other hand, some of my friends would purposefully do it to get a free ride. In the end though, it’s another situation where the potential harm only exists if you imagine I could have payed, or my friends would have payed, if we had been forced to.

            The thing about media is, technically the most direct way to model payments for it would be to have consumers contract them. Say 10,000 people get together and pay $50 to fund a $500,000 game. Now the developers use that money to develop the game, and once it’s developed, it exists for good and everyone can have it for free. This is the most honest, real way to fund development, but we don’t do it this way for two very big reasons I can think of:
            1. It doesn’t fit with the way there are varying levels of quality. If we paid for things beforehand it would be much more difficult to reward creators for making a good thing, and they would be less encouraged to do so. Not to mention that who would pay for something with very little idea what it will end up like?
            2. People would have to be willingly altruistic, paying for something they want despite knowing they could get it legitimately if they didn’t.
            Because the way we do fund media is so disconnected from the way media is created (For extremely good reasons, mind), I just find it difficult to condemn every person who doesn’t always follow the way things are done.

          • blind_boy_grunt says:

            but is there actually a difference between not paying for a bus and a taxi? Just because you think “oh the bus is already driving that way, others are already paying, so there is no harm done” doesn’t make it better. Just because the loss of revenue isn’t as direct doesn’t make it not a loss of revenue. You say because you have not much money it makes it right? Or do you say because you have not much money it makes it understandable/relatable?
            But i’m kind of tired of that metaphor ;).
            The other line of reasoning, that information is free, ideas can’t be copyrightet and all that, i find iffy because it seems some people think making a game is just having an idea, not actual work. Or that the work of others is just as much worth as the bits and bytes they are stored on(not much). Because of reasons.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Yes they are very different. A bus IS “already going that way”, if you sneak a ride on a bus it is not directly affecting anyone but yourself, had you walked it would have made no difference but for the sore feet you now have. If you ride a cab without paying you have forced the driver to take a drive he wouldn’t have made otherwise! I’m not saying I condone stealing bus rides, but there are circumstances where it at least isn’t immoral.

            Speaking for myself, I said I snuck a few rides on the bus because I literally did not have the money on my person. I did not think “Well if I don’t pay bus fare I could buy a candy bar…”. Had I not snuck said ride, I would have been forced to walk 10 miles or waste hours of people’s time finding someone who would let me use their phone and then forcing a friend to skip work to drive across town and fetch me. The people who I know that could have paid when sneaking rides were definitely not doing the right thing but they were not directly effecting anyone either.

            I do not believe that creation of media is free, what I do know, not believe – this is factually true – is that there is no cost to producing a piece of media beyond the initial development: shooting the film, recording the music, developing the game; once that’s done, there is no more cost involved, which makes media VERY different from physical goods! Did you read the second half of what I said in my last post, which was basically saying exactly this?

          • blind_boy_grunt says:

            tbh i’m not sure what exactly we are arguing about. And everything i’d say now would be just to try not to “loose”. But i’ve read what you said and i never wanted to say i condemn every person that pirates a game. In fact i think it could even be a (mildly) good thing if kids are doing it, because they get into gaming, grow up, earn money and might just think it to be more convenient to buy instead to steal, because they have the money and don’t have to think about viruses, breaking the law etc. But then there are also people who were waiting for the binding of isaac add-on on release day, impatiently waiting for the pirated version, really wanting to play it and that cost how much, 3 bucks or less? I don’t get that. They played the game, they know they like it, they want more of the same but are still not willing to spend any money.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        It’s still just people who want something they don’t own and aren’t willing to purchase. I mean, that isn’t too uncommon, but actually getting it without paying for it is a pretty bad thing.

        I don’t ever look at it from a medium point of view. But more on a level of interaction between people. Where pirates are the ones who take and give nothing in return. As much as I can deplore the practices of some major corporations, at least they deliver produce.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      “Cheap, greedy and entitled?” Fuck off with that blanket insult. Almost every game I pirated back when I engaged in that activity has been bought and paid for by this point. There are two exceptions: Front Mission Evolved and Dishonored, two games that gave me such a negative experience that I refuse to ever pay money for them.

      Not everyone who pirates is a thief with the worst intentions. Maybe if publishers and middle-man retailers started offering a reasonable refund policy (go EA!), some people wouldn’t feel the need to pirate their products.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Yeah, same here. Till the point my dad bought games we had legal copies, but then he ran out of time to play during my teen years…and Indian parents don’t really think games are worth the money. Once i started a part time job two years ago, i could pay for games.

        That said, i’ve been ripped off more by paying than companies have lost any money from my pirating.

      • Jenks says:

        So for you, the answer was entitled.

  8. Kefren says:

    I bought a game on GamersGate, never played it, and went to do so last week – it was going to be my Halloween game, Ghostbusters. Turns out I can’t play it because GamersGate didn’t keep back a serial key for me and have run out with no hope of getting more. I’ll be doing a big blog post about this soon. End result – I was sold a game I can’t play, and the only way I can play it (since it is no longer on sale) is to get a crack or pirated copy. Oh, GamersGate won’t even refund it. I used to like them as my second choice for buying games but this has dented my enthusiasm somewhat.

    • dE says:

      They’ve had this issue a couple of times before, but they usually refunded the game (although in BlueCoins occasionally) or found some other way to compensate you. Did you talk to the support and made your problem clear? They’re a tad daft (like any support refuses to actually read the message).

      • Kefren says:

        They said I bought it too long ago, so they won’t refund it. However, I have a huge amount of games on GOG, Steam and GamersGate bought long ago and still never played. I thought this was fine because their FAQs say:

        “How many times can I download and/or install my games?
        Any game bought on GamersGate is yours to download and install as many times you like. Some games are protected with an activation limit, but that limit is easily reset with an email to support@gamersgate.com

        And the ‘reveal serial’ button (which I’d never clicked on) implied they had kept the code I needed to play the game.

        • Deano2099 says:

          Oh wow. That’s quite the scam. Not on the consumer, but on the developer. They’re only paying the dev for keys when someone activates it, not when someone buys it. So any copies bought dirt cheap in sales that never get played, they never have to pay for, and have that money as pure profit. And the devs never even know the sale was made.

          It’s dodgy on the consumer end, but it’s surely actual fraud on the business end? Let me know about your blog post when it’s up.

  9. Lobotomist says:

    Good deal. The game is fun , but kind of pointless without online. So they get to advertize and everyone gets to play. Smart.

  10. Verizian says:

    Piracy is fairly black and white. People want something, there’s an effortless way to get it for free so they figure ‘why pay?’. Speedrunners’ approach isn’t new; most games nowadays are emphasizing their multiplayer component because it’s harder to pirate games and play online with them. It’s just the price we pay ultimately.

    • harbinger says:

      But it isn’t and that is an oversimplification of the matter. You have to consider any number of things before you can come to any conclusion, for instance:
      – The largest number of piracy comes from low per-capita income countries (India, China, Brazil, large parts of Eastern Europe/Russia) where priorities can be quite different and regarding demographics from children or teenagers. Why do you think that is?
      Getting that there are people out there with different cultural standards, laws and living under completely different circumstances from oneself is a good first step to “understand” piracy and have any sort of meaningful discussion about it.

      – Many people don’t even see what they are doing as wrong (which is a point where legal systems bump into barriers). During the 70s/80s there wasn’t even a thing called “piracy” and there was largely no consciousness about it being anything wrong. People were often trading/selling video and audio casettes among each other, in the schoolyard or at the flea market. In many countries this still happens today and in some countries none of this is considered “illegal”.
      The consciousness came through large media campaigns spearheaded by the industry and industry lobbies after the early/mid 90s.

      – People (and even laws) make many “grey tone” differences between kinds of “piracy”. Trying to make money off of someone elses creation is considered worse than uploading something on the Internet, than downloading that something than copying a few songs from a friends mp3 player than borrowing a few DVDs from a friend

      – “Piracy” can also cause a general cultural buzz around the product which will improve its standing and revenue considerably and will serve as free-of-charge marketing campaign, see for instance “Game of Thrones” and what some of the creators have said in regards to piracy of the show (would the same amount of people subscribe to their services if people at large on a global scale wouldn’t talk about things like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead the way they do?)

      – What also follows from that is the creators dilemma, would you rather 100 people bought your work and enjoyed it and nobody ever afterwards gets to see it or 50-200 people bought your work (depending on where you stand on “piracy decreases sales or piracy acts as marketing”) and possibly hundreds or thousands of others get to experience and enjoy it too? I personally would always choose the second option.

      – What also follows is if you are “Megacorp”, would you rather young people grow up using your products and continue using them when they get a well-paying job at “Middlecorp” or “Smallcorp” and actually pay for it or would you rather they use a competitors product or Freeware/Open Source solutions?
      Marketshare is often rather important, especially in large developing countries like China or India which could some day supplant Western economies: link to hunterstrat.com

      – There are also dozens of studies that figure “pirates” of media are often enthusiasts of said media, often evangelizing it and sometimes the best paying customers, do you really want to piss them off?
      link to guardian.co.uk


      • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

        *clap clap clap clap clap clap*

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        Great post. Also, *some* pirates are often compulsive collectors and organizers, doing an incredible job of sorting and presenting game/music/movie collections to other fans. They put way more love into preserving knowledge and culture than any large studio ever will (most of them are really happy with letting past releases fade into obscurity, only focusing on short-term revenue generation with new titles).

        As an example, some game collections on the unfortunately defunct Underground Gamer torrent site were just so well presented, it was beyond words. It was the best place to find about obscure and sometimes good games that were otherwise all but forgotten. AND you could play and download them straight away instead of heading for eBay to get ripped off by someone sitting on the last semi-functioning musty cartridge/scratched CD of the game.

        Of course some people just want to focus on the fact that they downloaded 10 000 songs and are sharing them as a whole collection, and OMG it’s worth thousands of dollars. Well dummy, do you think that anyone sharing or downloading that collection even listened to 1% of it? They’re just stockpiling stuff because it looks good on their hard drive, and they would never be able to buy all that stuff in the first place. Actually, they probably buy media up to what they can possibly spend (and often way above what they SHOULD responsibly spend), and after that pirate to fulfill they collecting urges. No harm done to anyone, on the contrary.

        But it does show how a universal subscription to consume unlimited media is a good idea… let’s legitimize this kind of behavior and the associated spending instead of calling for a witch hunt.

      • Verizian says:

        Frankly, I don’t feel that these countries have radically different cultures in terms of commercialism. If you sneak into a cinema in most of these countries you’ll be kicked out, so they get the overall concept of charging for content. I think it’s more a matter of them having looser legal restrictions which they frequently exploit. I think it’s fairly simple to say ‘Person X has made something and Person X would like an amount of money for it’. Most people in these countries are more or less aware that they’re acquiring it illegally and for free, they simply don’t care. I live in Lebanon for instance, and I’ve explained the idea of piracy as an unethical act to a number of people. The usual reaction is ‘Why would I pay 50 dollars for something if I could get it for 3?’

        Regarding widespread piracy, I think that’s a by-product of popularity rather than something that produces it. And of course, if your game/movie/album is the talk of the town but nobody wants to pay you for your work, that just seems like insult to injury. In terms of the creator’s dilemma, I think the creator wouldn’t mind losing those extra viewers if they weren’t going to contribute anyway. At the end of the day cultural buzz doesn’t allow them to keep doing what they do as a profession. In terms of allowing piracy to expand your market share, I find that to be a paradox. How are you increasing your market share if nobody wants to pay for it? The article you linked mentions that these markets provide great potential for converting paid customers. But these markets remain massive sources of piracy.

        And of course I’ve met dozens of pirates who are enthusiasts of the media. It’s just that their enthusiasm typically doesn’t extend to giving the product creator any money.

        • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

          I think it’s rather strange that you translate ‘Why would I pay 50 dollars for something if I could get it for 3?’ as ‘I do it for the evilz!’. Like harbinger said, people that don’t get paid a 1k dollars per month can have different priorities due to being short on the money and since piracy doesn’t really harm anyone they figure “Why the hell not download and enjoy this thing that otherwise I wouldn’t even buy anyway?”. Personally I think going around white knighting for laws that restrict everyone’s liberty and frivolously calling innocent folk thieves is far more unethical than piracy.

          • Verizian says:

            To be fair I don’t consider it evil. Apathetic maybe. To follow up on my anecdotal evidence, the majority of these people have more than enough money to support their purchases. They’re almost always middle class based on my personal experience. They can afford the $8-900 gaming PC easily or the similarly priced console/TV combo. I think ultimately we can agree it’s unfair for them (and me when I’m feeling cheap) to take someone’s work without paying for it. And it makes perfect ethical sense to ask people to be paid for their work.

  11. MellowKrogoth says:

    Attitudes toward pirating vary a lot depending on people’s mentality. I have a friend who works in game development yet pirates everything, except stuff like Starcraft 2 which has server-based multiplayer. (I do get angry at him sometimes.)

    I know someone else (not me of course, why do you ask :p ?), who buys tons of games mostly in sales, but still pirates the occasional one for demo purposes. But then towards music his attitude is completely different. Besides the tracks he gets for free in game bundles he almost never buys music. He only listens to it for free on various sites (with adblock on so unfortunately they don’t get a cent) or pirates it. However it’s definitely not a lost sale, since if those sources were not available he would simply not listen to any music! It’s pirating (actually, friends giving him mp3s of stuff they like) that actually kindled his interest in music.

    I think piracy has basically zero effect on the economy as a whole, as people don’t have infinite disposable income: if they don’t spend it on games, they’ll spend it on something else. However it probably encourages people to buy, say, better computer hardware instead of spending the money on games. Not good if we wanna see quality AAA titles. Hence I support a reasonable, short-term kind of copyright, but not with the insane, life-ruining penalties we’ve been seeing in the US and UK. Always remember that culture belongs to the people and that copyright is only a loan of rights… even American law says that much.