Piracy

All posts tagged Piracy

Originally Published on Techdirt.

Piracy has been a part of the entertainment industry for as long as content has been released on copyable media. Whenever piracy is around, content creators have attempted to fight the actions of fans sharing their favorite movies, music, games and other works with their friends. While some creators have learned to cope with piracy and have succeeded in spite of it, there are still many more that feel the need to do something. However, many of those creatives have that “something” wrong.

In an article over at Euro Gamer, Robert Florance shares his thoughts on piracy and what goes through the mind of a consumer when making a buying decision, and where content creators should target in order to maximize sales. Robert introduces us to what he considers to be the thought process of a consumer as he makes a choice to buy something.

1. HERE IS A THING I LIKE

2. DO I WANT IT? (YES)

3. DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR IT? (NO)

4. DO I WANT TO PAY FOR IT? (YES/NO)

5. YES: PAY FOR IT

6. NO: JUST TAKE IT FOR FREE

END

That’s it in a nutshell. And here’s the fundamental problem with the whole piracy issue. Publishers are focusing on dismantling Stage 6 of that process when they should be analysing decisions made at Stage 4.

We have written many times about how content creators can affect the result of the decision made at step four. We have written in the past about how consumers don’t just look at price when making a purchasing decision, but weigh a number of currencies. By adding value through these and other currencies, a content creator can make it far easier for a consumer to choose to purchase over getting the content for free. However, if these content creators fail to add the value the consumers want, those customers will have a far more difficult time making the choice to purchase. As a result, the company making the content could fail.

“But these giant companies would have to close down. People will lose their jobs!” And yes, that’s horrible. No one ever wants to see people lose their jobs. But if these companies can only stay in existence by charging their customers extortionate prices for bland, safe product, should they even be there in the first place? Are they not living on a lie? And the creative people at these companies, people who currently spend every day texturing guns and other guns and extra downloadable guns, might they not do greater work on their own? In small groups? Forming daring little companies? Working to progress gaming and earning goodwill from people who will pay and pay again to see their work?

Over the years we have seen companies lose creatives who then go on to create the content they want to make without the interference of gatekeepers. These creatives have moved on to work with enablers that help them add the right kind of value to their content, which in turn sells more to the end consumer. Will larger companies die off? If they don’t adapt to changing trends in the market, yes they will. Is that a bad thing? Of course not.

Finally, Robert explains just what a pirate actually is. He lead up to this in his intro, but it deserves its own little plug down here.

Let me tell you what a pirate actually is. It’s just a word. And that word is a weapon. Corporations and governments will use that word to try to destroy our freedom and halt progress. They’ll use it to try to turn us against each other. When big business talks about a pirate, it’s creating a bogeyman that will be used to justify the continuation of its worst practices. We have to reject it, every time. There are no pirates. There’s only me and you.

We can see these actions by corporations and governments all over the place. Whether it is SOPA, or excessive DRM, or the DMCA with its anti-circumvention clause and heavily abused takedown process, they have been used and promoted as a way to fight pirates even though there is little evidence that such measures are effective in any way. Even a company like Ubisoft, with its strong history of DRM use, has backed away from its previous position. Music rarely if ever comes bogged down by DRM anymore. However, DRM has been replaced by other excesses in copyright enforcement.

Yet, all those actions target the wrong part of the consumer decision making process. They all focus on step six when they should be focusing on adding value that leads the consumer to move to step five. Those pirates that will take content for free no matter what, if they do exist, are just not worth the hassle and burden of actions that negatively affect those who are willing to pay.

Originally Published on Techdirt.

Piracy has become a force of nature in the entertainment world. No matter what you make or how you release it, there are pirates waiting around the corner to try to get it for free. No matter what you try to stop this from happening, you just can’t — much like a storm, you have no control over its movements and power. All that is left is to embrace it and hope to harness the storm’s power for your own benefit.

This is what Daniel Cook from Spry Fox has decided is best. In a reprint of his comments at Gamasutra, Daniel explains that piracy is a fun activity that can be harnessed for good.

Being a ‘pirate’ was being part of a community. You and your friends shared games like social gaming gifts on Facebook. It didn’t cost you anything to copy a game and give it to someone. A game was a social token to chat about, a gesture of kindness to reciprocate. A key takeaway from that time is that copying and sharing vast quantities of digital goods is a deeply fun, social and highly useful activity. This is a new thing, a new behavior in a post-scarcity world.

This is perhaps the most commonly ignored or overlooked aspect of piracy by those who want to end it. For many people, sharing games, movies and music is a fun activity that allows them to share what they love with their friends. Despite what those who seek to stop piracy think, there is very little animosity involved in the activity. It is this love of sharing that can be, as Daniel puts it, hacked for the benefit of the creator.

With shareware, we hacked the copying behavior. People would play the random floppies and some of clever programs would say “Hey! Did you know that you can pay for this?” And a small portion of users did. ‘Pirate’ and ‘consumer’ are not mutually exclusive properties. In our capitalist society, almost everyone (with a few notable exceptions) is trained to buy stuff. People who like checking out new software for free are really just another audience of potential consumers.

It was just recently that Ubisoft learned a similar lesson. That the percentage of people who pay for single purchase games is about the same as those that pay in free to play games. If you want people to pay for games, one of the best ways to get them to do so is to let them experience the game first and for free. By giving fans the ability to share the games with others who may not have heard about it on their own, you can expand the pool of potential paying customers.

Unfortunately, there are many creators and gatekeepers out there that want to vilify such behavior. They can’t fathom that someone is playing, listening, reading, watching their work without paying for it. They see no benefit in it. This mindset has dangerous outcomes for their paying customers.

It has been a really confusing time for businesses. Some lashed out by labeling consumers as evil, some tried to protect the old ways with DRM. Relationships with customers…who see themselves as just having fun sharing cool stuff…became antagonistic. 30 years. When you raise kids in a warzone, they grow up parroting propaganda. No wonder the conversation is polarized.

It is actions like adding DRM, anti-piracy ads and threatening fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars that will end up costing the entertainment industry more in the long run. As those in the industry seek to threaten and lash out at paying customers, many of those customers will begin to lash out as well. They will end up doing exactly what the industry wants to stop, pirate. For many purchasers of games, it often starts by downloading cracks for games in order to remove restrictive DRM. But there is a lot that can be done to turn the tide.

Detach yourself from the emotions of history. Give up the past forms of what games were. Adapt to the current environment with one eye firmly fixed upon the future.

People copying digital goods as an inherently joyful social activity is an opportunity. It is an artistic opportunity. It is a business opportunity. It is a cultural opportunity.

There are opportunities out there that many creators have found and are enjoying. It can be things like adding a “Cockroach Edition” to your payment options. It can be adding pirate hats to all your characters and putting the game on the Pirate Bay. It could be giving players the ability to set their own price. It could be anything really. By embracing the sharing culture of your fans, you can expand you fan base and increase the potential to make a living.

Originally Published on Techdirt.

Piracy is one of those things that is pervasive throughout video gaming. It has become a force of nature, a fact of life. While many companies attempt to fight piracy of their works through DRM or complaining loudly, others are taking a very different approach. Last year we posted a story about a company called tinyBuild that decided to embrace piracy rather than fight it. It released a special pirate themed version of its game on the Pirate Bay and saw a positive response from it. When discussing the move, tinyBuild stated, “I mean, some people are going to torrent it either way, we might as well make something funny out of it.” By having a positive sense of humor in the face of piracy, one indie game developer was able to cope with it and succeed despite it.

This sense of humor is catching on too. Gamasutra highlights another indie dev, Paul Greasley, that, when faced with the realities of piracy, decided to approach it with a bit of tongue in cheek. The developers of the game Under the Ocean released the game under three different options. The first was early, cheap access to the game for $7. The second was a more feature rich and personalized version for $25. The third was a hat tip to piracy.

The Cockroach edition was actually not an attempt to cut down on piracy. It was just one of the liberties of being an indie developer, with nobody to answer to. The elephant in the room is that 90 percent+ of people are going to pirate your game on the PC (and ours is no exception, based on the traffic logs). We just thought it would be fun, and frankly honest, to point that out!

To further seal the deal, Paul had originally included a link to the Pirate Bay. Unfortunately, some wet blankets in the indie scene overreacted to the inclusion of the link. Those developers had claimed that the inclusion of the link was Paul condoning piracy, something he denies. So, to put out the fires and save his cred with those developers, he removed the link while leaving the rest of the option on the site.

It is quite interesting that he even included the link to begin with. Most developers, especially those from large studios, try to do their best to pretend that such sites don’t exist in the off chance they accidentally convert a potential customer into a pirate. Including the link was a massive show of openness with fans. By showing that he knows what the competition is, he was showing fans that he understands what it takes to build up a loyal following.

We’re going to be releasing a whole bunch of frequent updates, with lots of feature additions. If you want to stay up to date, buying it is much easier than pirating it. The users win, because it’s DRM free and they get a bunch of cool new updates for Under the Ocean, and we win, because the updates get us new ways to promote the game outside our game forums.

Make a product people want and will talk about, make that product as good as you possibly can, and treat your customer base with respect.

By recognizing the reality of piracy, Paul was able to identify features and services that will build loyal fans, things like avoiding DRM and providing frequent updates, not just for the game but from himself. What this means for Paul and his game is that players get a great experience from someone who is open, human and honest and in return they will spend more money on his game.