Piracy

Can you give me your opinion on this short conversation: http://pastebin.com/51hM4bGw I don’t know if I totally agree with the “friend.” Pirating has been a bit of a grey area, with devs saying they don’t mind (Gaiman, Ed McMillen).

I don’t think always-online is ethical, because even on land-line connections, we’re not always online. Connections blip and sometimes get cut off completely. Those servers won’t always be there to authenticate us. MMOs are kind of a tricky topic, because someone needs to run a server for them to work at all, unlike say starcraft, which you can hook through hamachi or a LAN and play any time you want, regardless of servers. I think as a show of good faith, the server software to an MMO should be released when the developers can no longer support it. I don’t think the game should remain dead forever.

I’m not really a fan of a lot of intellectual property laws. I think patents are a blight, and copyright has had its term limits extended beyond all reasonable bounds due to mickey mouse and only really protects powerful corporate interests, frequently overlooking smaller creators who cannot afford to enforce their copyright claims.

Regarding piracy, I personally believe that piracy either increases sales, or is unrelated to sales numbers. Piracy doesn’t seem to correlate with best sellers, or worst sellers. Because what is being copied is not a physical product, it is information. This is not the same as stealing a physical product. Obviously if a thousand physical copies of a game are stolen, that’s a huge loss to the publisher, however if you can simply copy them without directly stealing supplies that the publisher spent money on and cannot recoup, then it has a different effect, not necessarily a negative one. There’s been a lot of examples of media blowing up due to piracy, suddenly making a big impact, and a lot of examples of big popular games having underwhelming sales and overwhelming piracy (like Spore and No Man’s Sky), and examples of games having terrible sales and terrible piracy, as well as huge success with tons of piracy. You get every combination and I don’t see a clear causal chain connecting them.

You can’t make 1:1 piracy:stealing arguments. They have different effects on revenue and in the case of piracy, the effects are a lot less obvious.

Also preventing piracy isn’t an argument to straight up ruin your product, since your DRM measures aren’t going to work anyway and you’re hurting the people who actually pay for your product.

I would like to add on to the pastebin link. What exactly is your stance on pirating games?

I feel like there’s a lot of pressure among reviewers and critics to never say this or admit to pirating, but I think it’s alright. I support trying a game before buying it and I have bought many games that I’ve pirated. Including, Furi, Dark Souls 2, the DXHR leak, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon, Ori and the Blind Forest (and bought definitive edition), and Undertale. And I’ve pirated many games after buying them, including SF4, GG Xrd, and more recently Halo. I am in favor of supporting developers that you pirate.

I think that a lot of the pressure to add more restrictive DRM is misguided and doesn’t translate to higher sales. I buy a lot of games on steam simply because I think it’s more convenient to have it through that service than to simply have it as a loose file on my desktop or downloads folder, which I need to spend hard drive space on keeping.

There’s a lot of weird legal gray area regarding pirating abandoned games and emulation too. I think it’s a totally awesome move that SNK decided to seriously sell ROMs of their games in a humble bundle. It’s also funny that those ROMs themselves were pirated.

Piracy/Emulation also acts as an archival service for old games that publishers no longer want to support. The movie industry plays a long tail game with movies because porting them across formats is relatively easy. Doing the same for games is a lot harder, but still possible. The industry at large only wants to focus on the day 1 or week 1 sales and tends to ignore the low cost decent return efforts they could put into playing a longer tail game.

People want to play these old games, and keeping them available and putting in a minimal advertising push can help keep them relevant for longer. Since no one in the industry wants to try, pirates pick up the slack, acting as historians and archivists, and get shit on by legal teams for it.

Speaking of Archivists getting shat on by legal teams, here’s a talk that includes the topic:

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