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Who Would Pirate the One-Cent Humble Indie Bundle?

| 10 May 2010 19:54

Despite being a stupidly awesome deal that people can legally pick up for a penny, it seems that some folks just can't resist pirating the Humble Indie Bundle.

We talked about the Humble Indie Bundle last week: Five very solid games (now six, thanks to the addition of Samorost 2) on sale for as little as a penny thanks to a "pay what you want" deal at Wolfire Games. Even better, some or all of the money put toward the purchase price of the game can be directed to charity. Yet in spite of all that, the bundle is still being pirated at a fairly significant rate.

"After some simple math, I estimate that over 25 percent of Humble Indie Bundle downloads are 'pirated' - that is, users download from shared links from forums and other places without actually contributing anything. Note: that is not including BitTorrent and other sources," Wolfire Games co-founder Jeff Rosen wrote in a blog post. "25 percent seems incredible given that you can simply pay $0.01 to be completely legitimate."

Rosen reached the 25 percent figure by sending two days of raw download data to a statistician friend of his, who estimated that the bundle had been downloaded from the website roughly 105,500 times, while approximately 79,000 people had made a donation of some amount. Some simple math indicates that about 75 percent of the downloads from the site are legitimate.

"There are a lot of assumptions here, but I tried to be as conservative and simple as possible," he added.

Why would anyone pirate a collection of games when they could acquire it legally for one one-hundredth of a dollar? Rosen himself offers several explanations: It's more convenient to click a torrent link that to type in a credit card number, users may be making one big donation on behalf of their friends rather than separate gift donations, some people may live in parts of the world where PayPal, Google Checkout and Amazon don't work and of course - this is the one I'd go with - some people are just jerks.

Whatever the reasons may be, Rosen said Wolfire is going to continue doing exactly what it's been doing to combat piracy: Pretty much nothing. "Making the download experience worse for generous contributors in the name of punishing pirates doesn't really fit with the spirit of the bundle," he wrote. "When considering any kind of DRM, we have to ask ourselves, 'How many legitimate users is it okay to inconvenience in order to reduce piracy?' The answer should be none."

For those who insist on pirating the bundle, Rosen has one request: Do it somewhere else. "Please consider downloading it from BitTorrent instead of using up our bandwidth!" he wrote. "Also, even though you are pirating our games, please tell some of your friends about the Humble Indie Bundle. Posting to Facebook, telling your Twitter followers, or simply talking to someone sure doesn't require a credit card." And maybe your friends won't all be cheap jerks.

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