Indie Dev: "Sometimes It's Okay to Steal My Games"

| 30 Jul 2010 16:14

Feeling bad about pirating games lately? Well, it might be okay, if you fit into certian categories detailed by indie RPG developer Jeff Vogel.

Jeff Vogel has been an independent developer of deep RPGs for the past sixteen years after founding Spiderweb Software in 1994, and has released more than a dozen games since then. Piracy is something that could make or break a company like Spiderweb, but in a recent blog post Vogel says that sometimes it's okay to steal from him.

Vogel of course doesn't want the average gamer to pirate his games, saying: "You can get piles of cool stuff for free. Or you can be an honorable, ethical being. You don't get both." However, he completes that idea by admitting, honestly, that in his opinion this is only true "most of the time."

Vogel explains multiple situations that have caused him to draw the conclusion that "piracy is not an absolute evil." For one, when a gamer trying to play one of his games is located in the third world, where it might almost be impossible for a kid to earn the 25-28 American dollars to pay for a game like Avernum 6. When he gets an email from a country in southeast Asia or from India pleading for a free registration key, he deletes it to not encourage piracy, but wants to reply with a simple: "PIRATE MY STUPID GAME!!!"

No matter where they are, if people play one of Vogel's games, he also feels that it gives his life meaning. He's happy when he sells 5000 copies of a game, but that's considered a paltry amount in the larger game industry. Vogel says he's partially happy just "providing fun for people." If 50,000 people play his game, he's done quite a bit of that, even if most of those players are "jerks" for pirating it.

Further, we can't forget that there's also a recession going on right now, and Vogel definitely hasn't. He writes: "Someone who is facing long-term unemployment and bankruptcy probably should not pay for my game. And, in that case, if stealing my game gives them a temporary reprieve from their misery (and there's a lot of misery out there right now), I'm cool with that." He makes sure everybody knows that this doesn't mean you should steal if you could easily save up for his game over time.

The entire post is a nice honest look at the realities of software piracy, even though most pirates should probably be considered straight thieves. Vogel pleads to the average pirate to "start actually paying for one game a year" whether it's one of his or StarCraft II. Rest assured, Vogel is not saying piracy is okay, but when you make games for a living you've got to legitimize the widespread piracy that goes on in the industry in your own mind somehow, lest you go mad.

Source: Jeff Vogel

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