View From The Road: Ubisoft Needs To Use a Carrot

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JEBWrench:

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?

I would say that the purpose of copyrights is the public good, not private wealth creation. And I would say the same of art museums being allowed to charge entrance fees. Private wealth creation is a necessary side effect for the policy to have the desired outcome of causing the production of art, music, journalism, etc. I will readily agree that content creators, at least usually, deserve something more for their efforts than if everyone simply pirated, but it's not clear to me that what they deserve is identical to what they would get with strictly followed copyrights: the problem of value changing simply based on population is too weird. As far as what constitutes theft, taking a painting out of the art gallery is theft. Not paying the entrance fee is mere trespassing. The same goes for movie theaters and concerts. I'm not saying it can't be described as wrong, but that it is only wrong-by-convention, and certainly nowhere near as harmful as outright theft of physical objects.

Seanchaidh:

I would say that the purpose of copyrights is the public good, not private wealth creation. And I would say the same of art museums being allowed to charge entrance fees. Private wealth creation is a necessary side effect for the policy to have the desired outcome of causing the production of art, music, journalism, etc. I will readily agree that content creators, at least usually, deserve something more for their efforts than if everyone simply pirated, but it's not clear to me that what they deserve is identical to what they would get with strictly followed copyrights: the problem of value changing simply based on population is too weird. As far as what constitutes theft, taking a painting out of the art gallery is theft. Not paying the entrance fee is mere trespassing. The same goes for movie theaters and concerts. I'm not saying it can't be described as wrong, but that it is only wrong-by-convention, and certainly nowhere near as harmful as outright theft of physical objects.

While I too would agree the implication that art museums ought not to charge fees, the simple reality of it is that they are. Most galleries started as private collections that the owners of the pieces decide whether or not to charge viewing fees for. As such, a viewer has two options should there be a particular gallery they wish to see, but cannot afford. One is to commit a violation and sneak in, and two is to do without. Either way, the gallery is not responsible for making that decision. Along the same lines, then, piracy could also be viewed as not simply viewing, but either recreating or photographing the pieces in question. Is it the same as stealing? Perhaps, perhaps not. But it is deliberately circumventing the owner's right to acquire fees for what they have.

Whether or not is seems right for a license purchaser of a game to share it with others, for the most part, the owners of the game property (the publishers), tend to believe that they should be free to prevent others from attempting to circumvent the terms of the license sold.

(Now, I know that there is a plethora of arguments to be had as to whether the publishers are selling a product in terms of games, or licenses. That's not what I'm getting at. For the most part, regardless of whether it's right or wrong, publishers sell licenses. Unfortunate as that may be.)

As for the second point in bold, all things that are "wrong" can be considered only "wrong-by-convention", as morality and law are inherently human creations.

(Once again, I apologize if this double-posts)

JEBWrench:

Seanchaidh:

I would say that the purpose of copyrights is the public good, not private wealth creation. And I would say the same of art museums being allowed to charge entrance fees. Private wealth creation is a necessary side effect for the policy to have the desired outcome of causing the production of art, music, journalism, etc. I will readily agree that content creators, at least usually, deserve something more for their efforts than if everyone simply pirated, but it's not clear to me that what they deserve is identical to what they would get with strictly followed copyrights: the problem of value changing simply based on population is too weird. As far as what constitutes theft, taking a painting out of the art gallery is theft. Not paying the entrance fee is mere trespassing. The same goes for movie theaters and concerts. I'm not saying it can't be described as wrong, but that it is only wrong-by-convention, and certainly nowhere near as harmful as outright theft of physical objects.

While I too would agree the implication that art museums ought not to charge fees, the simple reality of it is that they are. Most galleries started as private collections that the owners of the pieces decide whether or not to charge viewing fees for. As such, a viewer has two options should there be a particular gallery they wish to see, but cannot afford. One is to commit a violation and sneak in, and two is to do without. Either way, the gallery is not responsible for making that decision. Along the same lines, then, piracy could also be viewed as not simply viewing, but either recreating or photographing the pieces in question. Is it the same as stealing? Perhaps, perhaps not. But it is deliberately circumventing the owner's right to acquire fees for what they have.

Whether or not is seems right for a license purchaser of a game to share it with others, for the most part, the owners of the game property (the publishers), tend to believe that they should be free to prevent others from attempting to circumvent the terms of the license sold.

(Now, I know that there is a plethora of arguments to be had as to whether the publishers are selling a product in terms of games, or licenses. That's not what I'm getting at. For the most part, regardless of whether it's right or wrong, publishers sell licenses. Unfortunate as that may be.)

As for the second point in bold, all things that are "wrong" can be considered only "wrong-by-convention", as morality and law are inherently human creations.

(Once again, I apologize if this double-posts)

I should have said wrong-by-fiat. (It's easy to fall into the trap of supposing an objective morality because it's easier to talk and think in terms of moral facts even though, strictly speaking, they don't exist.)

Certain things seem wrong no matter what, and certain things don't. Copying is one of those things that is in itself harmless but that in certain circumstances, because we see benefit in manipulating incentives to favor production, we try to curtail. The same applies to theft, of course, but theft also has the direct harm associated with it. If it were as easy to copy food, clothing, and shelter as it is to copy software and text, that would be the end of poverty as we know it. Likewise, if there were a way to as effectively promote the production of ideas/games/news articles/etc. while allowing all that to be public domain immediately, that would be a better situation as well. The productive power that allows piracy to be a problem is the same productive power that would make such a rich and current public domain very desirable.

Shamanic Rhythm:

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

Thanks. I, uh, appreciate your appreciation.

Seanchaidh:

I should have said wrong-by-fiat. (It's easy to fall into the trap of supposing an objective morality because it's easier to talk and think in terms of moral facts even though, strictly speaking, they don't exist.)

True enough, I probably shouldn't have went there as it is a bit of a trap.

Certain things seem wrong no matter what, and certain things don't. Copying is one of those things that is in itself harmless but that in certain circumstances, because we see benefit in manipulating incentives to favor production, we try to curtail. The same applies to theft, of course, but theft also has the direct harm associated with it. If it were as easy to copy food, clothing, and shelter as it is to copy software and text, that would be the end of poverty as we know it. Likewise, if there were a way to as effectively promote the production of ideas/games/news articles/etc. while allowing all that to be public domain immediately, that would be a better situation as well. The productive power that allows piracy to be a problem is the same productive power that would make such a rich and current public domain very desirable.

It seems to me that you're of the opinion that all art become public domain is inherently a good thing. To which I ask why you view that as preferable - from the artist's standpoint?
(Obviously, from a consumer's standpoint, free > not free.)

JEBWrench:

Seanchaidh:

I should have said wrong-by-fiat. (It's easy to fall into the trap of supposing an objective morality because it's easier to talk and think in terms of moral facts even though, strictly speaking, they don't exist.)

True enough, I probably shouldn't have went there as it is a bit of a trap.

Certain things seem wrong no matter what, and certain things don't. Copying is one of those things that is in itself harmless but that in certain circumstances, because we see benefit in manipulating incentives to favor production, we try to curtail. The same applies to theft, of course, but theft also has the direct harm associated with it. If it were as easy to copy food, clothing, and shelter as it is to copy software and text, that would be the end of poverty as we know it. Likewise, if there were a way to as effectively promote the production of ideas/games/news articles/etc. while allowing all that to be public domain immediately, that would be a better situation as well. The productive power that allows piracy to be a problem is the same productive power that would make such a rich and current public domain very desirable.

It seems to me that you're of the opinion that all art become public domain is inherently a good thing. To which I ask why you view that as preferable - from the artist's standpoint?
(Obviously, from a consumer's standpoint, free > not free.)

If we could manage similar incentives for production, it would neither be preferable nor adverse. The artist may or may not appreciate the side effect of having wider circulation due to the lower price.

Seanchaidh:

If we could manage similar incentives for production, it would neither be preferable nor adverse. The artist may or may not appreciate the side effect of having wider circulation due to the lower price.

I'm not sure if there's a way to manage similar incentives, given the nature of the publishing industry (itself an even more cutthroat byproduct of the patronage system).

I would imagine, of course, if the incentives for production in the public domain system were viable enough to rival the private distribution system we currently operate under, then it would probably be best for all parties involved.

But, as long as people are willing to pay for something, there's not much reason to give it away from free unless the distributor has a desire to deprive themselves of financial success.

JEBWrench:

Seanchaidh:

If we could manage similar incentives for production, it would neither be preferable nor adverse. The artist may or may not appreciate the side effect of having wider circulation due to the lower price.

I'm not sure if there's a way to manage similar incentives, given the nature of the publishing industry (itself an even more cutthroat byproduct of the patronage system).

I would imagine, of course, if the incentives for production in the public domain system were viable enough to rival the private distribution system we currently operate under, then it would probably be best for all parties involved.

But, as long as people are willing to pay for something, there's not much reason to give it away from free unless the distributor has a desire to deprive themselves of financial success.

Yeah, I don't pretend to have a real solution or proposal... well, aside from my halfhearted support of patronage.

squid5580:

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.

You can rent a console game to try it before you buy it. You can't do the same with a PC game. Thus my emphasis on PC games.

Good read. I love your point about rewarding those that are playing by the rules.

I base on no fact at all that many developers blame pirateers on a game that fails to turn a healthy profit which is hard/impossible to prove exactly how bad(good?) pirating is affecting you.

I don't play console games and focus soley on the PC. I choose not to play ANY game with the big bad DRM bug. If I can't get it from Steam chances are I'm not going to purchase it...take note industry? Nah.

Susan Arendt:

squid5580:

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.

You can rent a console game to try it before you buy it. You can't do the same with a PC game. Thus my emphasis on PC games.

Sure but BlockBuster only rents them for a week (well at least the one in my area). There is not that many games I couldn't beat it that amount of time. Then it will become that much harder to justify spending the 60 - 70 dollars on top of the $8 I already spent on it.

I don't see how that is any better than pirating the game. Other than it isn't showing up on a P2P network which they can track and then point thier fingers at. It is great for me, for B.B., but once again the developers get the short end of the stick.

squid5580:

Susan Arendt:

squid5580:

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.

You can rent a console game to try it before you buy it. You can't do the same with a PC game. Thus my emphasis on PC games.

Sure but BlockBuster only rents them for a week (well at least the one in my area). There is not that many games I couldn't beat it that amount of time. Then it will become that much harder to justify spending the 60 - 70 dollars on top of the $8 I already spent on it.

I don't see how that is any better than pirating the game. Other than it isn't showing up on a P2P network which they can track and then point thier fingers at. It is great for me, for B.B., but once again the developers get the short end of the stick.

Blockbuster, and other rental outlets, pay to purchase the games, so while it's not a one-to-one ratio, the publisher and developer still see money. I assure you, they would prefer that you rent the game than pirate it.

squid5580:
Sure but BlockBuster only rents them for a week (well at least the one in my area). There is not that many games I couldn't beat it that amount of time. Then it will become that much harder to justify spending the 60 - 70 dollars on top of the $8 I already spent on it.

I don't see how that is any better than pirating the game.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I've read somewhere that 45% of the rental fee goes to the publisher. So for them renting games is almost like charging for a time restricted demo.

Also if you rent a game and beat it in a week without the desire to play it ever again, chances are you would have regretted paying 60$ for it a lot more than 8$, or wouldn't have paid 60$ in the first place if you weren't sure it will be worth it. This way publishers get some money from people who probably won't buy the game, and customers get to play the games they probably won't buy. In my opinion, video game rental is pretty decent deal for both publishers and customers.

Susan Arendt:

squid5580:

Susan Arendt:

squid5580:

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.

You can rent a console game to try it before you buy it. You can't do the same with a PC game. Thus my emphasis on PC games.

Sure but BlockBuster only rents them for a week (well at least the one in my area). There is not that many games I couldn't beat it that amount of time. Then it will become that much harder to justify spending the 60 - 70 dollars on top of the $8 I already spent on it.

I don't see how that is any better than pirating the game. Other than it isn't showing up on a P2P network which they can track and then point thier fingers at. It is great for me, for B.B., but once again the developers get the short end of the stick.

Blockbuster, and other rental outlets, pay to purchase the games, so while it's not a one-to-one ratio, the publisher and developer still see money. I assure you, they would prefer that you rent the game than pirate it.

I understand that an individual store of a franchise like BB pays more than I would at GS for a copy of the game. I used to do the game ordering at Jumbo back in the day (first time being a gamer actually paid off) and used to think "why are we paying $20 more when we could just go up the street and pay less" (I don't have a head for business stuff). The disconnect for me is they would buy it either way. BB has to have it on the shelves or they lose money. So the developers get the initial $20 (probably not that much but like I said no business sense) but lose 52 sales per year per store. There is 2 BBs in my small town. That is 104 lost sales (theoretically of course). I don't understand what I am missing in this equation. It seems to me that renting is the lesser of the 2 evils since the company who made the game is getting a slightly bigger piece of the pie. But they are still losing regardless.

squid5580:
I don't understand what I am missing in this equation. It seems to me that renting is the lesser of the 2 evils since the company who made the game is getting a slightly bigger piece of the pie. But they are still losing regardless.

You're missing that they get money per rent, that most of those rents wouldn't translate to purchases and that some of those rents end up translating to purchases that perhaps wouldn't have had if the customer didn't have the opportunity to try the game.

Also, if the publishers were loosing money by renting games, it kind of goes without saying they would stop renting games.

VanBasten:

squid5580:
Sure but BlockBuster only rents them for a week (well at least the one in my area). There is not that many games I couldn't beat it that amount of time. Then it will become that much harder to justify spending the 60 - 70 dollars on top of the $8 I already spent on it.

I don't see how that is any better than pirating the game.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I've read somewhere that 45% of the rental fee goes to the publisher. So for them renting games is almost like charging for a time restricted demo.

Also if you rent a game and beat it in a week without the desire to play it ever again, chances are you would have regretted paying 60$ for it a lot more than 8$, or wouldn't have paid 60$ in the first place if you weren't sure it will be worth it. This way publishers get some money from people who probably won't buy the game, and customers get to play the games they probably won't buy. In my opinion, video game rental is pretty decent deal for both publishers and customers.

You might be right. Like I just said I know that they pay more than we would for the same copy of the game. It would be a crazy ton of work to pay out the royalties though. They would have to figure out well EA's game was rented 5 times, Ubi's was rented 3 times and split it accordingly.

And don't get me wrong here. I am not trying to equate renting with piracy. I am not trying to rant about the evils of used games and rentals and say look they are just as bad. I am just trying to understand the difference. If the developers are happy then I'm happy (since I do use BB a lot) and if that is the case I can stop feeling a twinge of guilt everytime I hit them up.

Oh and personally if I beat a game that I paid full price for in a week it doesn't bother me. I am a trader. My game collection is my bank. It is the only way I can save enough to be able to buy the next game. Otherwise the money ends up going to the local convenience store for junk food and assorted shinies.

squid5580:
It would be a crazy ton of work to pay out the royalties though. They would have to figure out well EA's game was rented 5 times, Ubi's was rented 3 times and split it accordingly.

This isn't something unique to video games, movie rentals work in the same way, percentage(nearly half) of each rent goes to the film distributor company. And it isn't difficult to keep track of all that information with todays computers.

Nimbus:
The "DLC and other cosmetic goodies" argument is total bullshit. They're cracked just as easily as the gmaes themselves.

The rest of your arguments were not that bad, save for the fact that alot of this stuff can be done by the pirates. Being able to install on any machine? Pirates have that. Infinite installs? Got that too. Optional cloud savegames are the only thing you mentioned that they can really offer.

Most Roms let me save at any point in the game I want. So pirates have that too.

Therumancer:

Honestly, I don't have much to add here. I pretty much agree with you on every point made.

I assumed your statement of making games cheaper to end piracy was one in the millions of statements attempting to justify piracy, and apparently I assumed wrong.

Games are indeed commonly at a set price, not in any way related to development cost. Not only held at such level by the industry, but also by retailers. I'm quite comfortable paying the current price for games, as long as I know I'm getting something worth my money. If I deem a game 'not worth it' for whatever reason (quality, quantity, DRM, whatever), I don't buy or play it. My point was mainly that high prices don't justify piracy.

-As for the industry not even considering a drop in prices, my thoughts;

A drop in prices would definately result in a much more competitive market, and probably good deals for consumers a while after a game releases.

The main problem in such a scenario is that people in most western countries are, like you and me, willing to pay $60,- for their fix. So from a profit-oriented perspective, dropping the price 20% because the game cost you less resources would be like throwing away money.
Third-world piracy will continue on the account that the break-even sales price would likely still be more than most people can afford in such a financial situation.

Apart from that there's the problem of never knowing whether a game will meet expected sales rates. If a game cuts 30% off its price to compensate for a low development budget, and the game doesn't sell, there will be no profit. It is indeed the 'safe bet' to overprice the game at $60,- in such a case to make back the costs of the game on less sales.
Simply stating that this will force games to be 'better' doesn't hold up very well in such a scenario, since there are plenty of great games that just undersell for some reason.

Those reasons, in my opinion, are why the industry would rather lose a few customers over an annoying DRM system than drop their prices.
I definately do not agree with their actions, but I understand why they take them.
The lesson for the industry to learn is as you've stated, don't harrass the people who have already been willing to pay your $60,- price tag for years without complaining.

Exactly. Basic principle of psychology: if you want to change behaviors, it's more efficient to reward them for the behavior you want then to punish them for the behavior you don't want.

Food for thought: Production costs have skyrocketed over the years while the price of a new game has remained relatively stable at about $50-$60 at release. All our pretty graphics and technological advances have resulted in an industry that puts so much money into making a game that it can no longer afford to lose the occasional sale to pirating and the used game market.

Oh how I miss the days of sprites and shareware.

No Piracy is not a problem.

The figures are just so skewed that it seems like a problem.
Let me illustrate:
Legitimate buyer buys 5 games a year (on average)
Pirate (Arrrrr!) downloads 200 games a year, but also buys a couple, lets say 2.

According to some industry idiots, this means that the revenue loss is for 200 games, but in fact it would be for just 3 and even that is disputable because that person may just not have the money to buy them legally. In that case the loss would be 0.

According to one survey only 4 percent of all gamers download games illegally.
So draconian measures are used to hopefully convert this measly 4 percent into buying customers.
This is just not a good business case.

rob_d:
No Piracy is not a problem.

The figures are just so skewed that it seems like a problem.
Let me illustrate:
Legitimate buyer buys 5 games a year (on average)
Pirate (Arrrrr!) downloads 200 games a year, but also buys a couple, lets say 2.

According to some industry idiots, this means that the revenue loss is for 200 games, but in fact it would be for just 3 and even that is disputable because that person may just not have the money to buy them legally. In that case the loss would be 0.

According to one survey only 4 percent of all gamers download games illegally.
So draconian measures are used to hopefully convert this measly 4 percent into buying customers.
This is just not a good business case.

And yet the pirate has no right to have those 200 games. How many of them would he have bought? Nobody can say for sure.

It's a problem, and pirates are dicks (barring cases where there are no legitimate ways to acquire the game). If you are taking something you have not paid for, there is no moral defense for that.

I agree that copyright law is screwed up, but that doesn't make piracy any less wrong. And encouraging others to do it IS harmful.

John Funk:
If you are taking something you have not paid for, there is no moral defense for that.

I agree that copyright law is screwed up, but that doesn't make piracy any less wrong. And encouraging others to do it IS harmful.

The moral defense is fairly obvious: the extent to which taking something for free (or any lower price than what is demanded) is wrong is the extent to which someone else has a right to withhold it-- otherwise breathing (among other things) is immoral. Depending on how and how much one thinks copyright law is screwed up, that being screwed up certainly could amount to a moral defense in many different cases. It's certainly not any kind of necessary truth that the right to copy creative products should be considered as a property right of artists, programmers, writers, etc. How most societies choose to reward creative production is by granting copyrights, but it doesn't have to be that way. Piracy could even be seen as a form of nonviolent resistance to the system of copyright in general. As it turns out, one can get very creative with morality.

Seanchaidh:

John Funk:
If you are taking something you have not paid for, there is no moral defense for that.

I agree that copyright law is screwed up, but that doesn't make piracy any less wrong. And encouraging others to do it IS harmful.

The moral defense is fairly obvious: the extent to which taking something for free (or any lower price than what is demanded) is wrong is the extent to which someone else has a right to withhold it-- otherwise breathing (among other things) is immoral. Depending on how and how much one thinks copyright law is screwed up, that being screwed up certainly could amount to a moral defense in many different cases. It's certainly not any kind of necessary truth that the right to copy creative products should be considered as a property right of artists, programmers, writers, etc. How most societies choose to reward creative production is by granting copyrights, but it doesn't have to be that way. Piracy could even be seen as a form of nonviolent resistance to the system of copyright in general. As it turns out, one can get very creative with morality.

Frankly, anything can be obfuscated with enough philosophy.

You are taking something that people have worked for hours, days, weeks, years even, to create. If you take it for free, you are depriving them of their rightful compensation and reward that they - as creators - have every right to ask for (yes, I know it's more complicated than that).

No amount of philosophy will make you any less of an asshole for doing that. And you'll forgive me if I'm a bit short regarding that: I lost all patience for debating philosophy back in college.

(As always, I refer to the generic you.)

Fantastically written. I agree on all points, these companies need to reward legitimate purchasers rather than punish everyone for the sake of trying to keep pirates at bay.

The service you describe sound like Steam. Actually, apart from the 'always on' aspect, it IS Steam. And remember, back in 2004 when HL2 was released, there were UPROARS about HL2 requiring an internet connection to install and activate the game you purchased in retail!

The difference? Marketing and company name. Valve and their fanboys kept babbling about all the features of Steam so much, the DRM aspect kinda got lost. An they're fucking Valve, they can get away with anything. Now, Ubisoft? First, they're well known for their StarForce fiasco and second, instead of announcing a 'great new cool mega service', they announced DRM. At least they're honest.

And it's still the same shit.

Sgt. Sykes:
The service you describe sound like Steam. Actually, apart from the 'always on' aspect, it IS Steam. And remember, back in 2004 when HL2 was released, there were UPROARS about HL2 requiring an internet connection to install and activate the game you purchased in retail!

The difference? Marketing and company name. Valve and their fanboys kept babbling about all the features of Steam so much, the DRM aspect kinda got lost. An they're fucking Valve, they can get away with anything. Now, Ubisoft? First, they're well known for their StarForce fiasco and second, instead of announcing a 'great new cool mega service', they announced DRM. At least they're honest.

And it's still the same shit.

For its users, Steam is one of two things:
It is a service so good that it is acceptable DRM (DRM, mind you, that some games normally wouldn't even have); or
It is not even recognised as DRM.

In both of these cases, it is doing exactly what it should.

Now take Ubisoft's DRM:
Due to DoS attacks on the servers, customers were unable to play the game. Not the publisher's fault? The consumer paid the publisher for a product, and they are unable to use it, that is all that matters (note that without the DRM the product would have worked).
Users with connection issues will be unable to have a good experience playing the game (unless it is so good that progress lost due to a disconnect is not considered time wasted, but extra play time gained).

DRM needs to justify itself by being overall better than just getting the game would have been; otherwise you are asking people to pay for an inferior version of what can be acquired for free. Steam does this through download-anywhere, cloud support for some games, social features (forums, friends, and groups), not requiring a constant internet connection (though you lose the social features), and fantastic sales (sales so fantastic that I buy games that I may or may not ever get around to playing, because I've heard they are good, so heck why not support the developer).

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.

Agreed. Harder face kicks please.

"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."

Wow you just explained Steam.

I am one of the Australians who couldn't wait and bought the console version so I wasn't hit by the DRM stuff but how on earth did this get past them? I mean didn't they ever think that they would have issues with server if not immediately at least eventually?
Blizzard have to do a SIX HOUR maintenance on their servers every week. At what point did they think that even if it worked how bad maint would be? While people are going to sleep knowing the server goes down in another 2 hours at midnight while others around the world are cursing as they have to shutdown the game at 4 O'clock in the afternoon.

MatthewAmirault:

For its users, Steam is one of two things:
It is a service so good that it is acceptable DRM (DRM, mind you, that some games normally wouldn't even have); or
It is not even recognised as DRM.

In both of these cases, it is doing exactly what it should.

Now take Ubisoft's DRM:
Due to DoS attacks on the servers, customers were unable to play the game. Not the publisher's fault? The consumer paid the publisher for a product, and they are unable to use it, that is all that matters (note that without the DRM the product would have worked).
Users with connection issues will be unable to have a good experience playing the game (unless it is so good that progress lost due to a disconnect is not considered time wasted, but extra play time gained).

DRM needs to justify itself by being overall better than just getting the game would have been; otherwise you are asking people to pay for an inferior version of what can be acquired for free. Steam does this through download-anywhere, cloud support for some games, social features (forums, friends, and groups), not requiring a constant internet connection (though you lose the social features), and fantastic sales (sales so fantastic that I buy games that I may or may not ever get around to playing, because I've heard they are good, so heck why not support the developer).

They keyword here is 'recognized'. Steam is not recognized as DRM because Valve does not market it that way. They market it as a store (with weekend deals), community service etc., but never as DRM.

Ubisoft screwed up by announcing a new DRM, not a new cool Steam-like service. Apart from Steam's age and popularity, that's the only difference.

Perhaps you don't remember the times back in 2004 and before. Steam was forced down users' throats with Counter-Strike 1.6 around 2002 or 2003. Do you remember how incredibly broken it was? What a hassle it was? The thing would never work properly; it was buggy, unreliable and all-around terrible. CS players refused to use Steam until it got fixed, which took years (some still complain).

Maybe you also don't remember that in 2004, when HL2 came out, it required an active connection to the internet in order to install a game you bought on 5 CDs. Back in 2004, forcing an internet connection to install a single-player game was as much hassle as requiring a constant internet connection today.

There's more. When HL2 came out, the servers were so overloaded some paying customers had to wait for days to be able to play the game they bought in retail! Steam forced activation and then updates, which were slow like shit.

Doesn't anyone remember that? Yes, Steam has evolved and it's not even broken today, but it's still orwellian DRM at heart.

If the distributors want to offer additional services to me as a paying customer, okay. But make it OPTIONAL. If I don't want to save online or don't want a skinpack DLC or don't want to register or don't want to download automatic patches, then don't fucking force me.

BTW: I need a crack for every game I BUY in order to be able to play it without swapping DVDs, activation and stuff. So the more crap they include in the DRM, they hurt me (the paying customer) twice: first I have to deal with their DRM and get a crack, and then I may need to find another crack that fixes more of their crap. Just in order to play the game (I paid for) properly.

The games industry is going through the same growing pains as the music industry. Of course their profit margins are down when nobody is willing to pay $18 to get a CD with one good song out of 12, or $5 for the same song on a single. Similarly fewer people are willing to pay $60 for 10 hours of mediocre gameplay with pretty graphics. That is why the publishers cling to the console walled garden instead of embracing the open world of the PC.

The paid MMO market is getting thinner and thinner as the competition from freemium heats up. Free Realms, DDO, Allods, Runescape are all MONTHS of gameplay experience without paying a single dime.

Between abandonware and open source there isn't even any need to pirate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open-source_video_games

The marginal cost to produce the second and subsequent copies of any item of information(game, book, movie, song) is zero. And the price of any product trends toward the marginal cost. And for practical purposes the bandwidth to distribute that information is free.

The game publishers/producers need to figure out that they are not in the business of charging $60 for 4gb of data on a disk, but in the business of entertainment. Once they understand that they can figure out how to use infinite portions of their product to increase the value of the limited parts. What those limited parts are for a game I have no idea, but the person who figures it out will be the king of the post copyright world.

Sgt. Sykes:
...

I didn't experience Steam until somewhere in 2004-2006. My FPSs were exclusively the Rainbow 6 series. I did actually buy HL2, but when it required me to have Steam I decided to shelve it...

I'm aware of Steam's past issues, as I know people who suffered through them. The thing is, there was no Steam competitor back then, and Half-Life was a hugely important series in the FPS genre (albeit, one I still haven't gotten around to playing).
Even if Ubisoft wants to be just like Steam, it can't start out significantly worse than Steam's present incarnation, because there is Steam as an example of how it should be done. Further, while AC2 is certainly a significant game (again, one I've given a miss so far), it was first released to console, and is but a port on PC; the console release probably cannibalized the player-base needed to force poorly implemented DRM (the rabid fans should have already bought it on X-Box, leaving only those casually interested).

Also, do people really not recognise that Steam is DRM?

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.

It's funny though. Most big blockbusters have budgets that dwarf those of even the biggest games around today. Avatar cost 3 times as much as GTA IV. And yet Avatar also made all it's money back, then a huge profit on top, within weeks, based on people paying no more than a tenner a pop to see it. 3D Cinema may have upped ticket prices a bit, but they're still nothing compared to game prices. So if a Hollywood movie can cost in the region of $300million to make, yet turn over a huge profit in no time at all, by charging people no more than 10 to see it... why exactly can't publishers lower the prices of games?

I've spoken to many people who have a casual interest in games, yet are put off at the thought of paying 40 just for one game. That's equivalent to four nights out at the cinema. I'm friends with quite a few who used to game, but gave up simply because they couldn't afford to keep buying games. Back in the PS1 days, I used to be able to pay 25 and get a game that would range from 20 to 50+ hours in length. Most games now struggle to make it past 10. I get that technology is more expensive, but ultimately I the consumer am paying more, yet getting less in terms of game length. Take 15 off the price, and I'm not going to feel so stiffed by a four hour campaign. And plenty of people who haven't taken up gaming before will at last have an incentive to do so.

Yay, at last I don't have to get bothered with discs every time I want to install a game! How bloody convenient is it, to download 16,5 Gb of Empire: Total War to every computer in the world I happen to get by, since naturally every computer in the world is connected to the Internet through a bloody broadband.
And they even decide if the game is "available" at the moment and for my location. Now, that's what dicscs couldn't possibly do. I could very well play a game that wasn't meant for me to play, that was a bitch.
And now, the savegames on the "cloud"! Ni-ice! Can't wait for Microsoft to adopt the scheme for their Office applications.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
So if a Hollywood movie can cost in the region of $300million to make, yet turn over a huge profit in no time at all, by charging people no more than 10 to see it... why exactly can't publishers lower the prices of games?

Watching a movie at cinemas is the equivalent of a two-ish hour rental in a public space. And you usually still have to endure some 10+ minutes of commercials. Not to mention that movies are both more accepted and (crucially) accessible than videogames.

It's disingenuous to state that by decreasing game price the increase in sales would compensate for it. And while it's true that there are people who would buy more games if the price were to decrease, I've personally failed repeatedly to GIVE GAMES AWAY (heck, no-one I mentioned the ongoing Portal for free promotion went and got it).

Videogame and Movies sales don't compare well because they operate under completely parameters. If there weren't any cinemas or TV, I doubt the movie industry would be selling DVDs at around 20€.

Unless someone created a viable way to provide games on demand for cheap (for both user and provider), I would say comparing games and movies to be an extremely flawed approach.

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