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  • PC and Piracy

    Since it is talked about as a major problem and I've spent the last half hour reading how the developers consider it one, I thought maybe it's time we talked about it, too. I never thought about dropping by a torrent and downloading a game title as I wouldn't have thought it would do any good without a CD Key but apparently I'm mistaken. I know this was a problem in the music industry and I thought the sites specializing in stealing music were shut down so how would the game industry be any different?

    Thoughts, comments, links (with more than speculation of "rampant" piracy), let's air this out and see as a community how we can help preserve our medium from illicit activity.

    This is interesting concerning DRM but I can't find anything newer http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/n...eptive-drm.ars

    and this the most recent and definitive article I've been able to find http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_2.html
    Last edited by LpBronco; 10-30-2009, 10:08 AM.
    Forewarned is Forearmed





  • #2
    Re: PC and Piracy

    Piracy (I only use the term because it is common, it is really copyright infringement like mixed tapes but on the internet) is only common because it is free. Companies say there is a 'loss of sales' due to piracy while ignoring the gain in sales due to exposure. For example: record labels lament the lower album sales while glossing over the massive increase in online sales such as through iTunes which more than makes up for the loss of album sales because the profit margin per 'item' is less.

    Piracy is good for content areas including games. I have only had two games that were pirated, both given by a friend to try out when at a LAN party. One was unavailable in stores once I tried and liked it (there was no demo) and the other was a common game I did not enjoy that also did not have a demo. Both were removed after a short playing time.

    I did use songs a friend downloaded from Napster back in the day to burn CDs for two reasons: The song was not available to purchase (really, it wasn't) or it was an older song that would have been in the public domain had they not extended it for the Mickey Mouse company which made it's fortune off of retellings of works that were already in the public domain. This continues today in the Baby Einstein series where they use music in the public domain for the background, yet claim copyright to the whole DVD. I don't respect copyright in media (so I just don't buy or use it unless it meets my needs or is from an artist/group that actively meets customer needs) because the purpose of copyright is for the work to make the author/artists money and then become part of the public domain.

    'Happy Birthday' is not in the public domain, if you sing it at as public event (like a restaurant) you owe performance royalties. The melody is from the 1800's and the current copyright on the lyrics is from 1924! That kind of copyright length does not encourage new creation, it stifles it. I have no respect for copyrights of that length, but instead of pirating that music I simply ignore it. I also don't purchase new music, occasionally I will purchase a movie but I feel bad when doing so. I get all of my media from our local library as they have a wide selection of both movies and music and the items are purchased for sharing so they are much like paying a publisher for their physical media. When items get into the public domain they will still be published.

    As far as computer games, the restrictions on first sale by adding EULA terms that cannot be viewed before purchasing (on their website does not count in a store setting) makes the publishers look like utter asses. I don't buy games until they are either very reduced in price, have implemented their patch that removes the CD requirements or I know that I will be able to play the game for a good length of time since they will make it difficult to get any money from a resale (and yes, selling a computer game CD is legal and morally correct just like selling a PlayStations game as long as you don't keep a copy).

    DRM is meant for the publishers and not for the users so I hate it like I hate CD copyright protection schemes that make getting the music off the disc and into a usable format like a hard drive/portable player difficult. I also hate the stupid DVD ads that you can't skip, and if I had a media center I would rip all the stupid ads and DRM out of them but since I don't watch movies enough I haven't put one together.

    As far as the pirates that just hoard games and such they don't generally play them so it would not have been a lost sale. iTunes is a great example of if the media companies were to make the content easy to access and affordable people are happy to pay for the content instead of pirating. The slow advancement from physical media to digital distribution is the reason for the high piracy rates in movies and music, game piracy is only common due to the abusive DRM schemes in my opinion since people can't buy a game to try and then resell it in most cases or due to lack of a demo.
    |TG-6th|Snooggums

    Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: PC and Piracy

      Everything is still pirated it's just different now. Music, photo's, movies, games, programs and everything else. You name it they can probably crack it.

      To be honest there isn't anything they can really do about it with current tech. Something needs to be created to stop it. A new process maybe who knows.

      There are many other arguements for and against piracy as well. One of the best ways is to use the MMO system where you have to sign in to an account and your games are maintained there. Some are starting to go that route but it's not foolproof yet.


      - -

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      • #4
        Re: PC and Piracy

        Before considering whether piracy is bad, consider where the money goes that is being "lost" to piracy.

        In the music industry, the big losers are not the artists but the distributors. These are people who make money by getting the money from the artist to the listener. They're the horse-and-buggy sellers who are objecting to the arrival of the motor car and want the car outlawed because it's cutting into their profits. Many artists (who rarely make money from their product) are realizing this and bypassing the distributors, sharing their own music on the Internet.

        Games and movies are somewhat different. There, there's still a high production cost not connected to distribution. This is actually dynamic, as new technology makes production cheaper, but then some producers push the limits of the technology, relying on more expensive inputs. We still see a lot of games and movies released for free, though.

        With games, there's also the interaction of advertising and mass market appeal needed to support games that require lots of players. When you release a game like the Battlefield series, you need 16-64 people on the field to make the game interesting, and you need a few full servers to choose from. That requires creating popularity for the game, and that means expensive marketing. So even if the game is free, you need money to pull in players.
        Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

        snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

        Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

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        • #5
          Re: PC and Piracy

          The piracy prevention argument boils down to the old "warhead to armor" argument. Create better armor to stop the old warheads, someone makes a new warhead that penetrates the new armor, so the armor is improved to stop the new warhead, and the circle keeps going. Companies make a new DRM method, someone figures out how to crack it so a newer method is required.

          The problem is the companies are attacking the problem in the wrong fashion. There are 4 types of people who "pirate" IP's (be they movies, games, music, software, what have you)

          1) People who cant afford/wont purchase the product anyway.
          2)People who don't want the whole product. (i.e. someone who only wants 2 songs off a CD, not the entire CD, someone who only wants to play the sp aspect of a game, and dont care about the mp aspect.)
          3)People who want to "try before they buy". Maybe they are concerned the product is going to be terrible, and want a "demo" to ensure the product works as advertised before they plunk down their money on the product, since the type of business we are talking about returns are almost non-existent.
          4)People who have no option to buy a product because products are not released everywhere at the same time. The new "bestest" game comes out on the 22nd in the US, the 30th in Europe and Australia, and 4 months later in India and China.

          The problem is each type of pirate really needs a different method to deal with them and the companies effected by this type of piracy are very slow/unwilling to change their business models to cut down on the types of pirates they can cut down on themselves.

          Some easy solutions the consumers would love, but the producers would hate..

          -Allow returns for what the customer perceives as bad products. How many times have you bought software (be it business software, gaming software, what have you) that in the end you thought just sucked that you would like to return for your money back, but cannot?

          -Better pricing schemes that don't force the customers to take things they don't want to get what they do want. Why should win7 cost the same for you, who doesn't want and will never use 1/3 of the features included in it as it does for me, who might want every last "feature" they include? It's like saying you can't just buy a microwave, you have to buy an entire kitchen set just to get a microwave. Why are gaming titles not sold as SP and MP components? Someone who is happy to pay for the SP aspect of the game is forced to also pay for the MP aspect, which he/she might not want, then said person just decides to pirate it and not pay them anything. The added bonus is companies would be forced to put equal time into both a SP and MP aspect of their title, instead of spending 3 years making the engine and the SP campaign, and 3 months adding in a half-assed MP "experience". Maybe IE wouldn't suck so badly compared to firefox if it had to stand on it's own merits instead of including it in the price of every windows OS.

          -Release products everywhere at the same time, Crysis was my favorite for this, over half the people who pirated that game came from areas where they game wasn't released. What did they expect them to do, wait patiently for 6+ months after everyone else got it for the honor of purchasing the game legitimately? Or download it today, play it for a week until it's done, then laugh when Crytek wonders why they did no sales when they finally get around to selling Crysis in their market? Are companies really that stupid?

          -Product placement in games. Instead of DICE making a billboard that has foolishness on it, put a McDonalds billboard in there. It's guaranteed to be viewed by the purchaser, so they could charge a decent price for that advertising. Stuff like that if done smartly in a quality product can pay for R&D costs, allowing the finished product to be priced lower while still retaining the same profit margin at the end of the day which I think everyone would agree lower pricing schemes would lower piracy as well. Advertisers are willing to pay more when they know their ads are being seen by their target audience, yet nobody really taps this avenue of generating revenue.

          Once these other methods are addressed to reduce piracy and ensure the consumers aren't being screwed by a market with essentially no consumers rights, then you can ratchet up enforcement and penalties for breaking the laws. Currently, the consumers have little to no rights in the software/media markets. It's a "buyer beware" marketplace which at the end of the day probably does more to promote piracy then any other single aspect.

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          • #6
            Re: PC and Piracy

            When it comes to digital reproduction for things like Windows 7 the development that neuters the additional features is actually and added cost when the features are integrated. The only increased cost for self made copies is the cost to provide updates.

            For example, if there is a Windows XP mode the real work is getting it to work, then they have to do additional work to remove that functionality or to keep the other parts consistent between versions (like file management systems). Additionally multiple version of the physical product (DVDs, cases) must be designed and created.

            If I copy a CD and give it to a friend the company has not lost a sale if the person wouldn't have bought it anyway, and the only difference between that and giving them my CD to listen to (which companies ant to limit with DRM) is being able to listen to it at the same time. PC games that limit the number of installs and require online activation are only doing it so you can't use your legal right to sell an item you purchased.

            Not being able to return software is a scam.
            |TG-6th|Snooggums

            Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: PC and Piracy

              about games and software.
              I am from a 3rd world country, the piracy percentage (according to official sources) is 98%, I rarely see any legitimate games, in fact, I have bought only one, battlefield 2, all the rest I have are pirated, and all my friends look me as an alien because I bought a legitimate game.

              why is this?.

              1) since 2001 people don’t trust banks, so buying over the internet is not an option
              2) our currency has a very low value, therefore games are REALLY, and I mean REALLY expensive.
              3) because we would not buy them anyways [see point 2]
              4) because the ONLY place where you can get them has a VERY reduced number of games (only 2 shelves of videogames in the most important mall in the country)

              I mean, come on!, they aren’t losing money, we wouldn’t play games if we HAD to pay for them.

              if I lived in the states and had 20 bucks in my pocket all the time sure I would buy them, but just imagine if games were around 100-150 bucks, would you buy them? and windows and office? 200 bucks each? its just crazy
              quick search for prices
              good salary = 2000 pesos - 3000pesos
              WINDOWS VISTA STARTER 32BIT (SPANISH) = 289 pesos (15% of salary)
              MICROSOFT OFFICE 07 HOME AND STUDENT = 399 pesos (20% of salary)
              ANTIVIRUS NORTON X 5 2008 = 399 (20% of salary)
              CALL OF DUTY 5 WORLD AT WAR (PC) = 199 (10% of salary)

              software for your new pc = 65% of your salary, oh!, I almost forgot!, you also have to feed your children. :D

              so, 98% of the people of argentina who have a PC are lost sales for the companies? they sure calculate them as lost money, but they arent IMO.
              Last edited by martov; 10-30-2009, 03:29 PM.

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              • #8
                Re: PC and Piracy

                Originally posted by LpBronco View Post
                and this the most recent and definitive article I've been able to find http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_2.html
                A couple comments on this specific article.

                The linked page contains a picture from Pirates of the Carribean which does not note is authorized by Disney, knowing Disney they wouldn't have authorized it, so the page is breaking copyright...

                Second, the article contains this text
                # Don't blindly support Steam. Steam is a good digital distribution platform, but at the moment Valve has an effective monopoly on digital games distribution. In the absence of a real competitor, prices will remain high and Valve will have no incentive to pressure publishers to both lower digital prices and remove redundant DRM on Steam-protected games.
                Which I am quoting a small section and is for commentary and is therefore a legal exception :)

                People don't blindly support Steam. Steam offers easy access to gaming and in the vast majority of cases does not cause any kind of DRM issues for the majority of users. Additionally older games are available, have decent prices including very good deals on occasion and includes an automated updating function. They don't have a monopoly, but their large share is due to being a good company and being rewarded for it. I don't understand why this article is supporting DRM as a necessity and wants people to have legal copies of games but makes a dig at Steam. Steam doesn't keep people from picking up a $5 box set in the bargain bin does it?
                |TG-6th|Snooggums

                Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: PC and Piracy

                  Snooggums is right on when it comes to steam. Sure, steam is the big dog of the industry. Why? they have the best tool for the job. You download one application which allows you to purchase, catalog and play the vast majority of your favorite games from one place. Think about it like iTunes: as much as I hate apple, they made the process simple and as such have become the industry leader for that particular type of software. It takes money, innovation and elbow grease to create something that can rival well established platforms. The other companies who digitally distribute games dont seem to want to put together the technology to fight against steam, not to mention that steam has the backing of valve, which has created some of the most popular games in history (I dont think anyone can refute the unyielding power of the HL1 and Source game engines, considering the fact that the HL1 engine has been around for over a decade and is not only still supported, but still has spinoff games (i.e. natural selection) still being VERY actively played).

                  The bottom line with that is that you cant really complain about a platform with no rival if nobody is willing to create one. People can complain about microsoft because it has market comparisons to its products with better features, steam doesnt.

                  As far as piracy goes, I'm freely willing to admit that I've pirated a hell of a lot of software in my time, whether it was actual programs or music, I've done my share. Part of this is because I have a personal problem with industry greed, part of it is because I simply needed the tools and didnt have the cash to pony up. Is it illegal? Sure. So is jaywalking. Am I afraid of getting caught? Nope. Thats what rm -rf or 5 seconds around a big magnet is for.

                  The whole piracy issue is a lost cause anyway. Without somehow pulling the mythical plug on the internet, piracy cannot be stopped. There are lots and lots of countries that dont recognize anti-piracy laws. There are plenty of countries that dont recognize copyright or digital rights laws. Piracy will continue to thrive in those places. It will continue to thrive elsewhere as well, simply because the collective ingenuity of billions of people instantaneously connected by the internet can always find a way to beat the system. Someone somewhere will always be able to crack the code. Most of the people who do so, dont do it for profit, they do it for pride, and you cant take that away from someone. The best the software companies can try to do is stay ahead of the "hacker" curve with better security implementation, but its always going to be a very very uphill battle for them.

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                  • #10
                    Re: PC and Piracy

                    It would be great if Steam supported a pass to new user option for games (like lending a box and install disk is) where you could take an old game and pass the rights to a new user. So if I no longer played Left4Dead I could simply choose that game and send the rights to another Steam user and I would lose the ability to play it myself. Heck, if you could charge them the resale and part of that went to Steam for the maintenance (they could work this out with the publisher on splitting that) They could make even more money on a second hand market.

                    So I buy Left4Dead at opening day for $50. After a year I decide to sell it like I would a boxed single player game. Left4Dead would probably sell for $30 after a year. I would offer it to someone I know for $20 and have Steam take a cut (say $5) and the other player would be able to download and run the game while I lose the ability but have a $15 credit applied to my next Steam purchase. While the publisher loses the new game sale this would allow someone who won't pay the full price to get the game at a discount and increase the income for the first person to buy a new game as well as giving something back for a second hand sale.

                    Since Steam currently allows you to sign on from any computer you can always have a friend over to let you try out a game they own by signing into Steam on your computer. I know at least a couple of people I would have bought unused games from but I won't pay the current Steam list price and haven't found a cheaper version in stores (if available at all).
                    |TG-6th|Snooggums

                    Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: PC and Piracy

                      A note about steam. Valve used this application as it's main Authentication for quite some time. After valve made their money on HL2 and other projects they really pushed steam up to what it is today. There is absolutely no reason why another company can't do exactly the same thing. D2D and Gametap are their competition right now. I have bought games from both and they both are quite good. What's nice about steam is they offer the Community aspect which was HUGE from css, hl2 and other mods. They started out with the right pieces. EA could do this with their BF series.

                      Either way, steam is a great example for other companies but nobody is doing it like they are yet.


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                      • #12
                        Re: PC and Piracy

                        Blizzard seems to be pushing its Battle.net for single sign-on for World of Warcraft and other games. All WoW players have to switch to a BN login by the middle of the month.
                        Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                        snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                        Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

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