View From The Road: Ubisoft Needs To Use a Carrot

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VanBasten:

ReverseEngineered:
The only part I don't agree with is the Ten-Dollar initiative. It does little to deter pirates (who cares about a few mostly-useless items?), but it does everything to hamper used sales.

Uhm... think that's kinda the point of it.
Not a week goes by without a news item about some publisher complaining about used sales.
However that's majorly a console issue, and has little to do with PC DRM issues as there are almost no used sales on the PC.

You're right; we hear a lot from the industry about used sales hampering their business, but they are making a lot of fuss over something that is their own failing. My point is that it's our right as customers to resell our games. In the US, it's called the Doctorine of First Sale and other countries have similar laws.

My original argument said that the only reason publishers are complaining about this is because people are selling used things early in the cycle where they are displacing expensive, new sales. And this only happens if people decide within the first couple of months to sell the game they just bought, which is a clear indication that they didn't get what they wanted.

Why are these early used sales occurring? For me, I (have tried to) sell games because I found out they suck. The reviews were good, the trailers were good, and people hyped it to hell, and then I bought a copy and found out it's terrible. I couldn't take it back (because of piracy, even though pirates don't buy games and copy them) and now I couldn't resell it (because that's not fair to the publishers).

Other people want to sell their games because they have grown tired of them. Or because they don't work. Or because there's a different, better game that they want.

They can bitch all they want about used sales hurting profit margins, but it is our right as customers to resell our stuff, no matter the reason, and we have plenty of legitimate reasons. By intentionally harming the value of used games, they are undermining our rights as customers.

Which is why I don't buy new games on opening day anymore, and I pirate them so I can try them out before I buy them. Is that really what publishers want?

sosolidshoe:

Out of interest, what's your salary like? Do you spend 10 hours a day in a mundane office job, being shat on by those above you, mindlessly entering numbers into a database? All so you can watch your paltry wage vanish into the pockets of your landlord, your government and your local supermarket? Do you struggle to find a fiver so you can go out for a single pint with your mates once a month? No? then you can sod off with your generlisations, because frankly you don't understand how vast swathes of the population in first world countries live day to day.

When you have to choose between food for a week and a few blissful hours of fantasy escapism to take you away from your shitty life, you can throw around phrases like "entitled, selfish pricks" and not look like a tosser.

Uh, frankly, my salary is pretty damn modest. I ain't doing what I do to make big bucks, buddy. None of us are. We do it because we're passionate about this and because we love what we do - which is certainly a job benefit in itself, but it doesn't pay bills.

What, do you think I don't have bills to pay? Do you think I don't have rent every month? That I don't have to buy groceries?

I understand not being able to buy everything you want to buy - or even SOME of the stuff you want to buy - because of budgetary constraints. Allow me to offer some alternatives:

1.) Saving up for that thing you really want, like people have done for the rest of human existence?

2.) Find something cheaper? There are plenty of old games for cheap. Games like PopCap games for cheap. Hell, get a library card and read.

There are plenty of alternatives to being a pirate and getting something that you haven't paid for. I can't afford a new TV but I'm not about to go out and just steal one because "OH I WANT IT NOW." You are not alone in having bills to pay and having to pinch pennies. That doesn't give you the right to be a thief. That reeks of entitlement, especially since you're clearly well-off enough to afford a computer and broadband to download it all in the first place (which makes you better off than a lot of people, too).

But that's irrelevant. Your tone is absolutely unacceptable for discussing on these forums - let alone flaming staff - so you'll be taking a bit of a break now :) Hope you learn your lesson and be more polite for next time!

Edit: And in case it wasn't obvious, "You" is being used in the general.

While it is perhaps true that pirates are 'self-entitled assholes', all producers of content that demand rents from their copyrights are equally self-entitled, though perhaps not assholes. What is often lost in these discussions is that content creators who depend on enforcing their copyrights are legal monopolies in control of a resource that is not scarce. That is to say, they enjoy an enormous government-granted advantage that makes competition with regard to content delivery essentially illegal, and so price naturally conforms to what one would expect from any kind of horizontally integrated trust, with the service being artificially scarce in order to maximize profit (whereas for commodities goods are naturally scarce and, when there is competition, tend to fall to a price that is merely profitable, not maximally profitable.)

If we're being honest we should readily admit that pirates tend to do content delivery better. The fact that the (albeit illegal) competition can afford not to charge a single cent for what they do is illustrative of the ridiculous legal advantage that an honest content creator would really need quite a bit of chutzpah to say is 'justified' in any sort of moral sense. No, copyrights are an incentive-based government policy, not some moral right as they are usually treated. They are a very, very imperfect solution to a severe market failure; they should not be treated like anything but that.

It's certainly a good idea to give content producers some incentive to do what they do. But the incentive they would get in a world in which no one pirated or sold their used games would approach the ridiculous: why produce a commodity like wheat or rice when you can be 'creative' and have a license to sell a monopolized and non-scarce good? Essentially we have to ask ourselves why writers, designers, programmers, etc. deserve to have rights that we rightly deny to the Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Morgans of our world. The answer is that they don't deserve it so much as the policy is simply preferable to that of complete non-intervention. Content creators get more than they deserve, and that's fine. But their contribution to the world economy is, in fact, magnified by piracy: more units of satisfaction are produced by any given product because of piracy-- unless the product is so bad that it is a negative influence on any who consume it. Of course, in a world where access to a product was impossible without paying, such bad products would be even more prevalent than they are.

I don't personally believe that content creators deserve a world without piracy. Such a world would be stupidly unfair to those who get their money through, for example, agriculture, hair styling, fishing, cooking, etc. There is no moral justification for copyright monopolies. There is, however, pragmatic justification. So it is a bit less clear than we should be comfortable with saying that pirates are self-entitled assholes, at least to any greater degree than the average person.

My opinion EXACTLY, this is why Steam works.

CoverYourHead:
I got Assassin's Creed II on a console, and I love the game, but seriously, if I didn't have a console there would be no way in hell I'd buy it for the PC. I moved in fall last year and I had to go without internet for three months, it was painful by itself. I hate how DRM these days seems to be edging me closer to making my games unplayable without internet. Until we have internet for free everywhere in the world (which I'm guessing will be never) I don't want to be forced to be connected to the internet for my games.

And what the heck happened to Ubisoft? They used to be cool. Now they're the next evil company on the block.

Yes. I bought it on console. And then they released for PC, I was gonna double-buy it, but the DRM system turned me off.

OT:
I hate to stick my neck out, for fear it will be out of the guillotine head-hole, but i, and coincidently, my best friend pirate SOME games, and with all honesty and self-defense i can muster, we only do it when we don't have the actual money for the game, because the last time we did pirate, we were(okay she isn't) jobless-bastards, and/or when the game has already pushed sales up a notch or so. I think my last pirate was for Fallout3, because of the previously mentioned lack-of-job, i dont have money for a current-generation computer.

With all honesty i do now own double copies of the game, 360 and PC. and have plans to give her the PC because i dont play it(even though by the time i do New Vegas will be out) And i think the last one she told me about was some game with a title starting with B- I don't remember really.

But my point is, we only do it when completely necessary for our game crave to be filled, and, in my case, i buy the game later, i guess for Karma(hahaha, fallout-karma..)

Susan Arendt:

Loonerinoes:
You know what's funny? Hearing the pirate crackers saying the exact same thing ages ago over and over and over.

Isn't this exactly what they said when they cracked AC2? "Focus on making a better game next time rather than a DRM that hurts your customers?" Ring any bells yet?!

"Better" in what way? Because Assassin's Creed 2 ain't exactly a shitty game.

The PC version has a fairly poor control scheme, with no effort to 'localize' the UI or tutorial from the console versions. Instead of the tutorials and popups actually showing the button they want you to press, they show an action button, essentially an xbox button with a foot instead of an A. Don't know what button Foot is? Guess you're going to have to check the settings for that.
I can't think of many things worse than a game that forces a tutorial on players with the sole intent of teaching them the function of various buttons without actually telling the players what buttons the game requires them to press to continue.

To make things worse, with all their sloppy porting of controls and UI elements they didn't add native support for 360 controllers, the automatic mapping ends up with the triggers being used to turn the camera, the second stick unused, and all the coloured buttons not matching their proper colours. To make things worse, the triggers are recognized as a single joystick, rather than buttons, so you can't really map them to anything at all.

This is pretty unacceptable for a game thats PC release was delayed months on claims that they needed more time to "improve the pc experience". Sure, the game runs fine, but the PC experience is non-existent, without even allowing for the players to opt into the Console experience. Furthermore, lets not forget the delay was suspiciously timed prior to the announcement of the DRM, which the game would now feature, and that the second big name title to use this DRM featured a similar delay.

Crops:

Therumancer:
Hey, I'll say what I've said before:

If they want to seriously reduce piracy AND used game sales, all they need to do is lower the game prices. Make it so it's not worth the effort.

I never quite understood the point of "Games are too expensive"

I paid fl.110,- for a new copy of Final Fantasy IX when it was released.
I paid eu.50,- for a new copy of Final Fantasy XIII when it was released.

fl.110,- = eu.49,91

So in roughly 10 years, I paid 9 cents more for the latest release.
Now, considering a yearly inflation of 1.5% to 3% is quite common and acceptable, that's a pretty good deal.

Not even taking into consideration technological advancement and increased numbers of people working on games. Or the fact that FFIX was released after the launch of the PS2, for an inferior console.

Statements like "just make games $20 and people won't pirate them" are quite disproved by things like this and don't really take the costs of making a game into consideration. People would end up pirating "because I ain't paying 20 bucks for a game that's not even HD" or whatever.

There are always excuses for piracy, there just aren't many good ones.

-

Well, for starters $20 was just a figure I threw out at random. The point being that the current prices are extremely high. I am well aware of the development costs involved in games, plenty of them have been thrown around. However keep in mind that even among games there can be massive differances. For example "Modern Warfare 2" set unprecedented records by costing half a billion dollars to develop and market, however it sold for the same price as games that were developed on far less money. Development budget has absolutly no effect on the pricing of games, since the industry engages in price fixing (which I comment about frequently) and has coordinated to set the price of a new video game at $60 ($50 for the PC).

Generally speaking the way things are supposed to work, at least in the US, is that companies are supposed to compete with each other. They are supposed to try and gain market support by releasing the best quality product they can, for the lowest price possible, while their competition does the same. It breeds innovation, and protects the consumers. However you don't see that in the gaming industry which is why so many companies are able to succeed while "playing it safe". Coordination also means that they can try things like intrusive DRM, because pretty much everyone is trying some variation on it, and you don't see major titles trying to undercut each other by being more conveinent. Heck, for that matter you don't see them trying to undercut each other at all, when "Modern Warfare 2" came out all the competition changed release dates, nobody decided to say "Hey, I'll sell my game for $10 less than Modern Warfare 2, and toss you extra content", followed by MW2's producers saying "hey, I'll lower my price $5 under that other guy, and give you this map pack we're working on for free!"... until both sides basically settle on the best possible deal they can offer while making a profit.

My arguement with them lowering their prices to $20 or whatever is simply that development budgets are so far irrelevent. How much a game costs to make has nothing to do with how much it sells for. However most of the people who are buying used games, or pirating, are doing so because games are expensive and $60 is a lot of money to risk. If they lower the price then those guys waiting to buy a game used for $20 a year later, might very well just buy it new because it's less of a risk. What's more it's easier than pirating a torrent and trying to get it to run properly, so a lot of pirates are going to buy the games as well for conveinence. While the industry would make less money per unit they could make it up in volume sales.

See, one arguement in defense of piracy is that all those pirated games would not be sales. Simply put nobody could afford that. However if you want some of those people to put money in your pocket, you charge what the desired market will bear.

What's more right here on The Escapist you periodically see people complaining about the price of games in various third world countries. Right now we have a guy from Romania writing about how Romanians can't afford to buy video games. We've had official articles run here on The Escapist about the economic realities of games and the third world, where a lot of the big piracy is happening, and there are few legitimate sales. Lower the prices to one third (or whatever) and you'll probably see markets appearing in these places where there were none before.

Do not misunderstand the fundemental nature of this arguement however. The above is not guaranteed to work, however it represents something the industry has not tried. Something I carefully consider when I have game companies telling me they have no choice but to load my games with DRM, mandatory online connections, and other assorted crud, and/or take games "totally digital" because they have "tried everything else".

Whining about a moral high ground doesn't work, because the industry doesn't act morally to begin with. Saying that they need to charge $60 because of development costs is BS, when it's a standard price that exists independant of development costs.

Obviously I pay $60, but I don't want to hear a song and a dance trying to justify something that can't be justified. At the same time I don't want to hear hemming and hawing about how the poor, innocent, gaming industry is being victimized by the big bad pirates, and has no choice but to inconveinence me. Neither side has a moral high ground, so I want to be left out of it. By all means, go chase the pirates, but don't harass me, the guy who is paying your $60 to begin with.

As I've said in other threads. Pirates Vs. The Game Industry, is like gang bangers fighting the mob. Differant styles of crime/immorality, but in the end their both crooks in their own way. The only real victim of the piece is me, the gamer, I just want to play my games without jumping through hoops, and otherwise be left alone. DRM, digital downloads, online connections for single player games, are *NOT* leaving me alone.. and it's especially annoying when I'm paying the guys who are basically taking a giant fish taco-stand dump on
me for doing it.

Exactly, though I think refering to people who would play offline as pirates is a bit wrong ...

But I absolutely agree, provide benifits to the paying customers, don't hurt everyone in an attempt to stop pirates.

Perfect example: Men of War: no copy protection at all unless you want to play online, then you need it. Simple and damned effective. Online play is much better than you could get from anywhere else so it provides the incentive to buy it.

Therumancer:
the industry engages in price fixing (which I comment about frequently) and has coordinated to set the price of a new video game at $60 ($50 for the PC).

It's worse in Australia. PC games are usually $90-100 (~80-90 USD) and console games are $100-110 (~90-100 USD), so it's not surprising in the slightest that I hardly ever buy new games or on release day...

Awesome article - damn I love that idea, and I think that it would certainly work for them. I didn't even know that Ubisoft did all that extra stuff, making it optional seems like the proper thing to do. Hopefully they listen to everyone and pick up on it.

John Funk:
John Funk thinks Assassin's Creed II was better on the consoles anyway.

Given that I have a 360 controller for my PC, the difference would be negligible to me. In fact, if anything the PC version would probably be better since PCs can run better graphics than the 360.

Well, I have one problem with your argument. You're assuming that if I'm offered an official copy that has bonuses it will entice me enough to ignore a free copy. I would venture that people are more motivated by their wallet and cost then by bonuses. Free is a very steep bonus to overcome and I'm not sure any extra content or advantages can overcome its massive blackhole of attractiveness. Using positive and negative reinforcement (bonuses and restrictions) is of course a better idea then just negative reinforcement. You hit your dog to tell him not to piddle on the floor inside and you move to outside to show him what he should do. With gamers, something similar must be done. There should be a bonus, but there should also be a swift kick to the face. I'm biased for a harder kick to the face though since I don't think positive reinforcement will work because, as I've stated in previous posts, all gamers are assholes.

John Funk:

edthehyena:
If piracy really had anything to do with stealing from "bad guys" or "large corporations", then we wouldn't see it on things like the Humble Indie Bundle. There is no way to justify that one, except that you don't have a credit card. I think these types of claims tend to people trying to justify doing something they know is wrong. Also, especially when it comes to larger companies, for each guy with a name and face we know there's a handful of smaller employees who aren't getting rich off every game.

I'm a big fan of anti-piracy schemes like project $10 (when they don't add that extra crap), and make a point of supporting developers who use it. On the other hand, I'm not buying anything from Ubisoft for a while.

I think people who pirate are almost always just being entitled, selfish pricks (there are some exceptions, of course - chiefly referring to people in poorer parts of the world where buying games legit is literally not an option). I will never be pro-piracy. But draconian DRM is not the solution.

Well, I use a bit of a compromise. When bullshit DRM intrudes on gameplay, I pirate games- but I still pay the developers. Sometimes on Steam, other times by buying a hard copy, but I pay them. Then gift/discard my legitimate copy, and pirate the game.

I also use piracy as a way to try games out before I buy them. If they're crap, I delete the game from my HD and refuse to reward mediocrity. If, however, the game is worth the money, I will but it.

Therumancer:
Hey, I'll say what I've said before:

If they want to seriously reduce piracy AND used game sales, all they need to do is lower the game prices. Make it so it's not worth the effort.

I used to think that sounded good too, but then I thought about it. Say a game sells 1-million copies (not unrealistic with today's figures). For every $1 reduced from the price of said game, the publishers would need to see enough extra sales to make-up that $1,000,000 loss. Let's say we're talking console games, so $60 per game.

$60 x 1,000,000 units sold = $60 Mill

To get that same $60m sales figure from even a one dollar price reduction, they would need to see about 17,000 more units sold. So let's take the analogy you posted about being able to buy the latest hot title for only $20. In said case, the price reduction would need to triple their sales to 3,000,000. In other words, there would have to be at least 2 million extra people out there who will only buy the game if it's $20. And that's just to break even.

Now, and extra 2 million might not sound like a lot, so lets talk about some big-name titles that sell 20 million and more units. At your proposed $20 rate, if they sold any fewer than 40 million extra copies, they would be looking at a loss over-all compared to if they had just stuck with the $60 price that was flying off the shelves as-is.

So I suppose the point would be more that developers need to stray from set prices and price the game according to what they feel the demand will be. Obviously it'd be stupid to sell a Modern Warfare game at a budget price, but sometimes I'll see some no-name game on the shelf for the full $60. It's like... who are you people, and why do you think this game is worth the same money as Gears of War or Street Fighter?

Edit: And now that I notice your other post, I see your main point kinda agrees with my last paragraph. :x

Regarding extra goodies and free DLC being used as an incentive to buy a copy of a game... Recently Ubisoft released the first official patch for SC:Conviction which included some extra goodies for legitmate users such as new weapons and a new map. Not long after this, a well known group of crackers released an update for their crack which not only allowed illegitimate users to access these new goodies but gave them access to the online multiplayer part of the game aswell! I honestly believe that the way to go is to reward legitimate users but it seems that these kind of icentives are doomed to failure.

Susan Arendt:

Luke Cartner:

Susan Arendt:

Loonerinoes:
You know what's funny? Hearing the pirate crackers saying the exact same thing ages ago over and over and over.

Isn't this exactly what they said when they cracked AC2? "Focus on making a better game next time rather than a DRM that hurts your customers?" Ring any bells yet?!

"Better" in what way? Because Assassin's Creed 2 ain't exactly a shitty game.

Speaking as someone who neither pirated or brought the game isn't it? From what People tell me its a repeat of the first game only a few hundred years latter (the first game which I got bored of 3rd the way through) and in addition you have to be online at all times to play it.
I'm sorry the DRM was enough to put me off a risky buy (because of EB games silly no online games return policy).
See what the make better games argument is, is basically if if the game publishes put the energy they put into DRM they would probably be better off..
Personally I miss shareware and try before you buy games. At least they acknowledged the situation.

Well, while I can certainly see how someone could say it's a repeat of the first game - there are clearly deep similarities - it's such a vast improvement that it's a bit of an unfair comparison.

I do, however, certainly agree that there should be a way to play a PC game - any PC game - before you buy it.

Susan I am gonna correct you here. There should be a way to play any game before you buy it (provided it has a place to put the demo). 60 to 70 bucks (being Canadian the average price is 64-69) is quite a bit to put down on a product you may not like. Gamestop in my area offers a 7 day money back guarantee now. Don't like it take it back and get a full refund in store credit. It benefits the consumer, it benefits Gamestop but does it benefit the developers? Afterall you know that returned copy is going back on the shelves for 5 bucks less.

And Mr. Funk as much as it pains me to say. We don't all agree. I agree yes. Take a wander through the forums and check out any of the many piracy threads. People seem to think that since you aren't taking the physical copy you aren't hurting anyone. And few take into consideration that it may not be a lost sale if there was no other means to get the game other than pay for it.

Use honey, not vinegar. That's what a lot of parents say. I find that children & employees alike respond better to the promise of bribery than to the threat of punishment.

Game and music companies should partner with storage media producers like Western Digital. All that pirated content has to be stored SOMEWHERE, the companies being pirated might as well get something back.

John Funk:
View From The Road: Ubisoft Needs To Use a Carrot

The worst part about the Ubisoft DRM fiasco is how close it came to being a good idea.

Read Full Article

I very much agree with your article, but I'd like to expand the idea.

offering your game up for download on any pc you want to play on, cloud saving, getting the latest DLC (free when legitimate owner would be best for this idea)...
this is not a game you're selling. it's a service.
and that's all right and how it should become.

right now, the way game companies apparently see it, is that they sell finished products.
however, if they would switch business model to a model where the game is free, but you need to upgrade to some premium to get bonus stuff, then you'd be turning the money traditionally for the game into money for the service behind the game.

if this doesn't make a lot of sense, take the example of world of warcraft. you can pick the original game up for about 10 euro. this price probably doesn't even cover shipping, packaging and all that stuff, blizzard doesn't make any money off of that anymore. but they get their chunk of money from subscriptions and expansion packs.
so instead of selling their game, they're selling a service (regular content updates, and access to and storage on servers)

now I'm not saying every game needs a subscription. but take a look at another blizzard example, starcraft 2, and what they're doing in russia. that's pretty much how i think gaming should evolve to combat piracy. take away most excuses ("we're too poor","i want to test before i buy") and give them alternative payment options (more options = more customers)

tl;dr: the price for a game should be paid in order to get service after purchase.

rsvp42:
Game and music companies should partner with storage media producers like Western Digital. All that pirated content has to be stored SOMEWHERE, the companies being pirated might as well get something back.

i think there might be a little too many companies making digital storage products, not to mention optical stuff.
in my country, we have this stupid author protecting group,
who will be putting an extra tax on every piece of digital storage (they already did on optical).
so now our hard disks are getting pricier, because "you can store illegally downloaded goods" on them. so we pay extra money for pirated stuff.
but we also pay extra money, even if we don't pirate stuff.
i'm paying, so i guess that means it's okay to download stuff (as i'm paying for it)

that's how many, many people will see it. mark my words.

I wonder why DVD's of big and costly Hollywood movies can be sold for anywhere between 5 to 25 euros, and games must be sold for anywhere between 40 and 80 euros.

I can pirate both, but I buy legitimate DVD's far more often.

I wonder if there's a causal connection...

Susan Arendt:

Loonerinoes:
You know what's funny? Hearing the pirate crackers saying the exact same thing ages ago over and over and over.

Isn't this exactly what they said when they cracked AC2? "Focus on making a better game next time rather than a DRM that hurts your customers?" Ring any bells yet?!

"Better" in what way? Because Assassin's Creed 2 ain't exactly a shitty game.

My thought exactly.
I mean its probably one of the better games last year, together with Batman. And douches still download it.
Why?
Because its free. I mean a quality game for free? How much better can it get?

And I am fairly certain that the DRM developers and the game developers are not the same guys. So the argument about "make better games, not better DRM" is very mute.
(Except I stopped playing Batman because I thought it was good, and wanted to buy it when I got the money to do so)

But I agree with Mr. Funk, DRM should be a carrot not a stick. The better I feel the product is, the more likely I am to buy it.

When that is said, I hardly ever pirate games anymore, I either buy or don't buy.

They would get the option of saving their game in a cloud, and the option to download and install the game on whatever computer they wanted (just need to log in!). They would get their game automatically updated with the latest DLC, and some extra cosmetic goodies as a way to reward them for buying the game legitimately.

That sounds pretty good, right?

It sounds very good, which is why I use Steam. You've just described that service, and it doesn't need DRM at such a crippling level.

Something that really annoyed me with DRM was that I bought Call of Pripyat the other week. It is a good game, by far the best in the series. But I am having this problem where things in the world occasionally takes forever to spawn, so I can be running back to the safe zone to sell some loot or collect on a mission... And it is empty. Then, anywhere between 10 seconds and 3 minutes later, the game freezes up for a moment and everything plops into place at once.

I was trying to figure out what this was all about and after going through all my game options, I still hadn't solved it. So I check the forums and it turns out that it is a problem with SecuROM causing that annoying bug. Solution? Download a No-CD crack. I hate to be ungrateful, but I paid for that game and I am getting a problem that someone who hasn't paid for it won't get? It makes me feel as if DRM-solutions has gone wrong somewhere.

CoverYourHead:
I got Assassin's Creed II on a console, and I love the game, but seriously, if I didn't have a console there would be no way in hell I'd buy it for the PC. I moved in fall last year and I had to go without internet for three months, it was painful by itself. I hate how DRM these days seems to be edging me closer to making my games unplayable without internet. Until we have internet for free everywhere in the world (which I'm guessing will be never) I don't want to be forced to be connected to the internet for my games.

And what the heck happened to Ubisoft? They used to be cool. Now they're the next evil company on the block.

Agreed about AC2 - I love the game, and its one of my most played console games; hell, I even managed to get nearly every achievement, a feat I don't normally get close to achieving (no pun intended). But I'm infinitely glad I didn't hold out for the PC version as I would frankly not buy it.

John Funk:

I think people who pirate are almost always just being entitled, selfish pricks (there are some exceptions, of course - chiefly referring to people in poorer parts of the world where buying games legit is literally not an option). I will never be pro-piracy. But draconian DRM is not the solution.

Why do you and Shamus always do this? Write an brilliant article and then make judgement calls and hurl insults, it really ruins what you write. I agree with you yes and in no way condone piracy but honestly it doesnt make you seem anyway better than pirates by name-calling.

John Funk:
You get to save your game in a cloud, and you get to download and install the game on any machine you want without bothering with DVDs (in case you're craving some Florentine action on your lunch break).

You can download all of Assassin's Creed 2 in your lunch break?

John Funk:

1.) Saving up for that thing you really want, like people have done for the rest of human existence?

2.) Find something cheaper? There are plenty of old games for cheap. Games like PopCap games for cheap. Hell, get a library card and read.

People don't do 1) anymore. The "now, now, NOW" attitude is so prevalent that people will willingly sacrifice necessities to satisfy wants. As for 2) if people wanted to read, they'd steal a BioWare game.

It's almost a cultural effect now, piracy is.

People have convinced themselves that when there is no physical media being stolen, it's not really stealing.

Spinozaad:
I wonder why DVD's of big and costly Hollywood movies can be sold for anywhere between 5 to 25 euros, and games must be sold for anywhere between 40 and 80 euros.

Movies get most of their money out of being shown in theatres, which would be the equivalent of games making most of their money out of arcades.

You'll notice however, that direct to DVD stuff is usually the equivalent of shovelware.

Not sure if it's related but I'll leave it here.

ReverseEngineered:

VanBasten:

ReverseEngineered:
The only part I don't agree with is the Ten-Dollar initiative. It does little to deter pirates (who cares about a few mostly-useless items?), but it does everything to hamper used sales.

Uhm... think that's kinda the point of it.
Not a week goes by without a news item about some publisher complaining about used sales.
However that's majorly a console issue, and has little to do with PC DRM issues as there are almost no used sales on the PC.

You're right; we hear a lot from the industry about used sales hampering their business, but they are making a lot of fuss over something that is their own failing. My point is that it's our right as customers to resell our games. In the US, it's called the Doctorine of First Sale and other countries have similar laws.

My original argument said that the only reason publishers are complaining about this is because people are selling used things early in the cycle where they are displacing expensive, new sales. And this only happens if people decide within the first couple of months to sell the game they just bought, which is a clear indication that they didn't get what they wanted.

Why are these early used sales occurring? For me, I (have tried to) sell games because I found out they suck. The reviews were good, the trailers were good, and people hyped it to hell, and then I bought a copy and found out it's terrible. I couldn't take it back (because of piracy, even though pirates don't buy games and copy them) and now I couldn't resell it (because that's not fair to the publishers).

Other people want to sell their games because they have grown tired of them. Or because they don't work. Or because there's a different, better game that they want.

They can bitch all they want about used sales hurting profit margins, but it is our right as customers to resell our stuff, no matter the reason, and we have plenty of legitimate reasons. By intentionally harming the value of used games, they are undermining our rights as customers.

Which is why I don't buy new games on opening day anymore, and I pirate them so I can try them out before I buy them. Is that really what publishers want?

I pretty much agree with everything you've said, with the exception that I don't pirate. Not because I can't (probably), more because I don't know how.

Someone else already mentioned before about new game prices here in Australia - you're looking between $99 - $119 AUD or more, which would be fine if my wages had risen enough to keep up, but they haven't.

Basically, when I want to even think about getting a new game from a retailer I've gotta look at what I'm prepared to trade-in to for fair price. And somehow, games have become cars - in that after sale they instantly lose 50% of their trade-in value, and yet I've seen retaliers price used copies at 75-95% of their New price, months after release.

I have:
- Assassins Creed
- Crackdown
- Saints Row 2 (and a number of other lesser titles)

I bet I wouldn't be able to get $30 for all 3 from my local EB or GAME store. And then they would turn around and price each at $25+ .

Xocrates:

Spinozaad:
I wonder why DVD's of big and costly Hollywood movies can be sold for anywhere between 5 to 25 euros, and games must be sold for anywhere between 40 and 80 euros.

Movies get most of their money out of being shown in theatres, which would be the equivalent of games making most of their money out of arcades.

You'll notice however, that direct to DVD stuff is usually the equivalent of shovelware.

Except for Outlander - that film rocked.

And apparently I was the only person in the southern hemisphere waiting for it to be shown in cinemas. T_T

JEBWrench:

People have convinced themselves that when there is no physical media being stolen, it's not really stealing.

And they're right. It's copying. When someone 'steals' your 'intellectual property', you still have it. When someone steals your cattle, you do not.

Laws against theft have two functions: to promote production and to limit harm. Laws regarding copyright infringement have only one function: to promote production. Copying is, in itself, an act without any clear harm. Whereas I can steal your hamburger and prevent you from eating, or hijack a shipment of flour and prevent a town from having bread, I cannot prevent you from hearing your own music by humming the same tune to myself or performing it for an audience. If hamburgers and cattle worked the same way, no one would give a shit about copying hamburgers. They certainly wouldn't call it theft. (And we needn't negotiate with the descendants of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich for the right to make, sell, or eat sandwiches and burgers.) When I steal your silver spoon, you no longer have it. When I copy your idea, you still do have it. The effect on you is as if I hadn't done anything whatsoever-- except modify the sale value of a non-scarce item. Copying is not stealing except by analogy. But many things are many other things by analogy.

We should go back to the patronage system: let rich people pay for the opinions of self-important bloviators, game developers, musicians and journalists, and let it be public domain after first sale. The merit of an idea has nothing to do with the size of the population, but compensation for ideas, as they stand in an ideal-typical world of perfectly enforceable copyrights (and even in the real world), is a function with population as a term. Starcraft is just about as fun a game in a world with six hundred as a world with six billion people. But in a world of six hundred such a game wouldn't even break even, let alone make profit. With around six billion, it's a wild success. Even poor intellectual produce which one should be embarrassed to have made can be profitable in a world with such a large population: the Twilight series for example.

Copyright isn't about just compensation nor is it really about ownership. What it is about is contriving a way for markets to reward the producers of ideas in some proportion to the popularity of their ideas' consumption. This should not be confused with a moral concern, it is only a practical policy concern. We use it only because there is no more impartial or fair a way of rewarding producers of ideas that we know of. Speaking of ideas, take the example of patents, which are illustrative of what I'm talking about: if you invent something and patent it, but don't try to sell it, the patent is usually void-- which is to say that you don't really own it-- it is a monopoly granted only with the acceptance of certain conditions. It is something which you are said to 'own' only conditionally; you have the right only if the invention is of sufficient merit that people want to buy it, and only if you make it for those people.

Seanchaidh:

JEBWrench:

People have convinced themselves that when there is no physical media being stolen, it's not really stealing.

And they're right. It's copying. When someone 'steals' your 'intellectual property', you still have it. When someone steals your cattle, you do not.

Laws against theft have two functions: to promote production and to limit harm. Laws regarding copyright infringement have only one function: to promote production. Copying is, in itself, an act without any clear harm. Whereas I can steal your hamburger and prevent you from eating, or hijack a shipment of flour and prevent a town from having bread, I cannot prevent you from hearing your own music by humming the same tune to myself or performing it for an audience. If hamburgers and cattle worked the same way, no one would give a shit about copying hamburgers. They certainly wouldn't call it theft. (And we needn't negotiate with the descendants of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich for the right to make, sell, or eat sandwiches and burgers.) When I steal your silver spoon, you no longer have it. When I copy your idea, you still do have it. The effect on you is as if I hadn't done anything whatsoever-- except modify the sale value of a non-scarce item. Copying is not stealing except by analogy. But many things are many other things by analogy.

We should go back to the patronage system: let rich people pay for the opinions of self-important bloviators, game developers, musicians and journalists, and let it be public domain after first sale. The merit of an idea has nothing to do with the size of the population, but compensation for ideas, as they stand in an ideal-typical world of perfectly enforceable copyrights (and even in the real world), is a function with population as a term. Starcraft is just about as fun a game in a world with six hundred as a world with six billion people. But in a world of six hundred such a game wouldn't even break even, let alone make profit. With around six billion, it's a wild success. Even poor intellectual produce which one should be embarrassed to have made can be profitable in a world with such a large population: the Twilight series for example.

Copyright isn't about just compensation nor is it really about ownership. What it is about is contriving a way for markets to reward the producers of ideas in some proportion to the popularity of their ideas' consumption. This should not be confused with a moral concern, it is only a practical policy concern. We use it only because there is no more impartial or fair a way of rewarding producers of ideas that we know of. Speaking of ideas, take the example of patents, which are illustrative of what I'm talking about: if you invent something and patent it, but don't try to sell it, the patent is usually void-- which is to say that you don't really own it-- it is a monopoly granted only with the acceptance of certain conditions. It is something which you are said to 'own' only conditionally; you have the right only if the invention is of sufficient merit that people want to buy it, and only if you make it for those people.

Very articulate response, dude. I'm normally in favour of copyright protection but you've made me see another side of the coin here.

Seanchaidh:

And they're right. It's copying. When someone 'steals' your 'intellectual property', you still have it. When someone steals your cattle, you do not.

Laws against theft have two functions: to promote production and to limit harm. Laws regarding copyright infringement have only one function: to promote production. Copying is, in itself, an act without any clear harm. Whereas I can steal your hamburger and prevent you from eating, or hijack a shipment of flour and prevent a town from having bread, I cannot prevent you from hearing your own music by humming the same tune to myself or performing it for an audience. If hamburgers and cattle worked the same way, no one would give a shit about copying hamburgers. They certainly wouldn't call it theft. (And we needn't negotiate with the descendants of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich for the right to make, sell, or eat sandwiches and burgers.) When I steal your silver spoon, you no longer have it. When I copy your idea, you still do have it. The effect on you is as if I hadn't done anything whatsoever-- except modify the sale value of a non-scarce item. Copying is not stealing except by analogy. But many things are many other things by analogy.

We should go back to the patronage system: let rich people pay for the opinions of self-important bloviators, game developers, musicians and journalists, and let it be public domain after first sale. The merit of an idea has nothing to do with the size of the population, but compensation for ideas, as they stand in an ideal-typical world of perfectly enforceable copyrights (and even in the real world), is a function with population as a term. Starcraft is just about as fun a game in a world with six hundred as a world with six billion people. But in a world of six hundred such a game wouldn't even break even, let alone make profit. With around six billion, it's a wild success. Even poor intellectual produce which one should be embarrassed to have made can be profitable in a world with such a large population: the Twilight series for example.

Copyright isn't about just compensation nor is it really about ownership. What it is about is contriving a way for markets to reward the producers of ideas in some proportion to the popularity of their ideas' consumption. This should not be confused with a moral concern, it is only a practical policy concern. We use it only because there is no more impartial or fair a way of rewarding producers of ideas that we know of. Speaking of ideas, take the example of patents, which are illustrative of what I'm talking about: if you invent something and patent it, but don't try to sell it, the patent is usually void-- which is to say that you don't really own it-- it is a monopoly granted only with the acceptance of certain conditions. It is something which you are said to 'own' only conditionally; you have the right only if the invention is of sufficient merit that people want to buy it, and only if you make it for those people.

As much as disagree with you, I must commend you on a well-expressed opinion.

(And I'm not going to do much to refute your opinion, because this generally degenerates into a circular argument no matter how well formed the opinions are.

But I am going to address the idea that there is no harm involved when intellectual property is stolen. I believe that to be a flawed argument from the perspective of the publisher. That is, to say, given their decision to charge a nominal fee for a license to experience the game, they were denied license fees by the act of piracy.

That is extremely awkward and ugly phrasing, but I'm not sure how to explain myself better than with an analogy:

Suppose you went to an art museum, concert or movie theater. And rather than paying the ticket price, you snuck inside. Are you not in violation? Or because you wouldn't have paid the fee anyways, you should be allowed to go for free?

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