id Software Forgets How Treating Customers Right Made Them A Success

from the blame-everyone dept

We were just talking about the silly argument from a DMCA-supporting think tank employee, suggesting that the geek crowd gives the video game industry “a pass” on copyright issues. Beyond some really bad logical fallacies in his argument, Adam Thierer makes this whopper of a statement: “Could it be because many IP skeptics love their video games and are willing to give them a free pass while going after Hollywood on copyright issues?” That suggests that those of us who feel the recording and music industries are making bad business decisions in their impossible battle against file sharing somehow don’t like music or movies. That’s ridiculous. We’re simply trying to point out how they might be able to expand their market and make more fans even happier at the same time. Of course, one of the bigger reasons why the video game industry doesn’t get as much scrutiny is because they’re not quite as vocal in accusing all their fans of being criminals. But, that’s been changing. Ubisoft was roundly attacked for its use of questionable copy protection systems from Starforce, that eventually forced the company to give up the technology.

Now, it appears that id Software is going down a similar road, complaining that unauthorized copying is “destroying” the PC gaming market. Apparently, the folks at id are forgetting their own past. What put them on the map with the original Doom series (or even Wolfenstein before that) was that it was widely copied and shared — though, plenty of people ended up buying legitimate copies and made the company the darling of the industry for a while. While the company did release limited shareware versions of its product, which helped increase its popularity, there were plenty of “cracked” full versions around as well — but they only seemed to increase the popularity of the software, and create a larger market of buyers. Meanwhile, it seems that the claim that copied software is “destroying” the industry is easily disproved by the story of Stardock, a video game company who proudly decided not to treat their customers like criminals. It didn’t use copy protection, it kept the prices low and relied on word of mouth marketing. Despite this, the company’s game became a top seller at Wal-Mart and other retailers. As the company noted, “Our primary weapon to fight piracy is through rewarding customers through convenient, frequent, free updates. If you make it easy for users to buy and make full use of your product or service legitimately then we believe that you’ll gain more users from that convenience than you’ll lose from piracy.” Perhaps the folks at id need a refresher course.

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Comments on “id Software Forgets How Treating Customers Right Made Them A Success”

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David (user link) says:

Keep your prices low

When I was in high school I simply couldn’t afford games. So i resorted to copying doom and such games on mounds of 3.5 inch diskettes. When I finally started making money, I found that I simply wouldn’t buy a 50 dollar PC game off the bat because it didn’t have value after 10 hours. With the introduction of half-life 2’s episodic format, I find myself plopping down small dollar amounts with no problems. I have no problems buying a game of Oblivion’s magnitude, or online type games such as Battlefield 2, since they will give me hours upon hours of gameplay.

The lesson is, you offer customers value and fun, and people will buy. The people who wouldn’t buy, the people with no disposable income, the people who watch camcorder copies of movies, wouldn’t have purchased anyway and wouldn’t have been your customer anyway. So take off the stupid protections that slows down my computer and yoru customers will appreciate you for it.

MikeT (user link) says:

You are forgetting something

Modern video games cost a lot more to produce than games like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. Quake Wars is probably at least, conservatively, several times the cost of Quake judging from the quality I have seen in screenshots and the amount of creative overhead these days.

I got sick of that defender-the-copiers rubbish in college when I realized it was mostly the rich kids doing it. The richer the student, the larger his stash was. I had at least one instance of a guy LOVING a small band, but refusing to buy any of its CDs or merch because I lived down the hall from him and had all of their CDs at the time. He had more important things to do like buy beer than support a small band that he admitted was damn good and whose CDs aren’t expensive online.

Bring on the flames from the cheapskates that are unwilling to buy most of the copyrighted goods they enjoy…

nonuser says:

Re: You are forgetting something

Those are two excellent points. When you have a handful of employees, you don’t need much of a business model if your product spreads like wildfire – you’ll find a way to cover payroll and have money left over for a comfortable lifestyle. But the video game industry – or at least the part of it that develops FPS, strategy, and MMORPG titles – is well past the stage where a studio can get by with a handful of employees.

And yes, many college students seem to regard free downloading as a basic right, regardless of whether they can afford to buy the CDs or not. If there was no security at the local record store they’d probably have no qualms about walking off with stuff from there too. If a chain of record stores didn’t have anti-shoplifting measures in place, we’d shrug off the owners as idiots, but when provisions are instituted to protect assets on digital media, this is considered “treating your customers like criminals” or “not being able to come up with an effective business model.”

Xanthir says:

Re: Re: You are forgetting something

Basic, basic bad argument here. Quit abusing this point! No, copying a file is *not* the same as stealing a disk. One is physical media – if you take it, it’s not there anymore for anyone else. The other is digital – it can be copied infinitely, because it’s just information.

If you have the money, support people who make things you like. This is the basic rule, and people who break this *do* hurt the industry. But trying to draw a similarity between stealing and copying is merely dishonest misdirection.

Wizard Prang (user link) says:

Re: Re: No. Just... no.

“If there was no security at the local record store they’d probably have no qualms about walking off with stuff from there too”

Ah, the old “Downloading is theft and all downloaders are kleptomaniacs” defence.

Repeat after me – “Downloading is not theft, it is copying”

When I was a child, I taped from the radio. As a teenager, I taped records – mostly my own. As I grew older and started earning money, I started buying, and still do. However, I will not pay the $20/CD that the industry wants. I buy used, or on sale, or I download from a certain paysite that I will not mention here. I also buy ALL of my games, but I rarely buy new – partly because used is cheaper, but mostly because I wait for the first batch of bugfixes/patches to come out.

Having said that, I avoid DRM wherever possible. I own no DRM-protected CDs (look Ma – no apostrophe!) or games. Why? Partly on principle, but mostly because DRM DOES NOT WORK – it simply inconveniences the honest – often forcibly turning them into felons – while slowing down the rest not at all. When the RIAA says on their website that they have no problem with me ripping MY content for MY enjoyment and then uses DRM to prevent me from doing exactly that, then I have to ask myself where are my “rights”, and who is “managing” them?

Does that mean that there is no problem here? Of course not… but it is an ethical one – it is what parents teach their children about honesty and doing the right thing… and a techno-legal solution will not work. Besides, the content industry tends to exaggerate the damage – Nintendo’s President actually believes that price controls on games are a good idea

But that is another story.

tatero says:

Re: Re: You are forgetting something

You are forgetting something. The is a rather significant disparity between shoplifting and downloading. Primarily, shoplifting subverts the actual distribution system at the point-of-sale. It uses teh system against itself. (the downloading equivalent of cracking the iTunes store). There isn’t any hope of turning shoplifting into a marketing sucess for copyright holders. Downloading music is not an analogue to shoplifting because distribution hasn’t yet created a system to subvert where downloading is concerned.

On the contrary, integral to downloading is the undeniable promise of a new profit-making paradiagm for the copyright holders. They are only one good idea from turning the issue to their favor. But because they are myopic stuffed shirts, they lack the vision to exploit the new process as a profit center. Instead, they worsen their position by incorporating the cost of their already-lost-but-don’t-know-it-yet war into their wares. It’s a point history have proven time and again. Good luck.

TG says:

Re: Re: You are forgetting something

If a chain of record stores didn’t have anti-shoplifting measures in place, we’d shrug off the owners as idiots, but when provisions are instituted to protect assets on digital media, this is considered “treating your customers like criminals”

Because the current DRM technology in games is the equivalent of being fitted with a ball and chain when you enter the store, and having a big person with a baseball bat in his hands following around behind you while you do your shopping.

It’s a matter of the degree of security you enforce and there is a careful balance to maintain between security and comfort. If you have just a CD key, that’s not enough to keep every pirate away, but it will deter some of them. What is important is that it will not deter legitimate users because you have kept the inconvenience at a minimum.

If you have a CD key AND a rootkit that monitors your CD driver AND a background thread that regularly checks your memory integrity AND a program that makes sure you don’t run other ‘unauthorized’ programs AND a hard disk check that makes sure you don’t have unauthorized programs or virtual CD drivers installed at all AND so on and so on, you’ve gone completely overboard.

CrazyPunk says:

Re: You are forgetting something

Uhm…sorry, but what was that?

I agree, people do often forget that making a game costs shitloads of money nowadays. And true, it’s usually the people with more money who do this, but then again, having more money means you can buy more empty cd’s, thus making you able to copy more, right?

I myself am poor as hell but I used to own a good stash of pc games.

These were not the newest hottest games out there but they were games that offered good value to the player.

I paid between 5 and 20 euros for each of them. When they first came out, they would’ve cost me at least 50 euros which simply is way too expensive for me.

In the years that things got worse for me I kept gaming a bit here and there. But not “legal”.

I played half-life 1, gta vice & c&c renegade with copied cd’s. I am currently making a map for half-life 2, which I am able to play thanx to a good friend who was done with the game anyway and lend me his account untill I can get my own one.

The problem here is the entire money system. The poor can’t buy the games neither decent empty cd’s (those that don’t die after burning and running them one time) and the rich won’t buy the games since they can get them copied on cd’s much cheaper.

To be honest with you, if I had the money I would’ve bought the games I just mentioned. In fact, maybe I will, when the future gets better for me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: You are forgetting something

I’ve been buying games since the early 80’s. At time wore on, I was buying sometimes 2 or 3 games a week. Mind you these are the days before the internet took off, so you could walk into the local A Plus Software and be surprised to find a whole whack of new games. I was probably spending a thousand a year on games and finding a great deal of it to be garbage. Then along came the web, now I download EVERYTHING before I fork over for it and it’s saved me a HUGE amount of money as far as gaming goes. Is it stealing? Yes. Even if you buy it, you still stole it in the first place. Is it smart from a personal standpoint? YES. After years of buying shit, I found a way to inspect the merchandise before I pay for it and I’ll use it if it keeps my money in my pocket as far as shitty product goes. I was hard on Steam at the beginning and I still don’t trust it because I think it’s the first step towards “pay for play” online gaming but it’s turned out to be pretty handy and it’s a good way to go for the industry but they need to realize that in this day and age, the consumer won’t generally buy anything sight unseen.

I like cake.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: You are forgetting something

“I think it’s the first step towards “pay for play” online gaming”

Did you completely miss out on the MMO movement? Steam is not the first step, its a “we missed the boat, lets try to catch up” step.

WoW, and many other MMOs have been pay for play long before steam was even imagined.

Mousky (user link) says:

Re: Right!

It’s even more basic than that. It’s called competition for the all mighty dollar. Look at all the distractions kids have money to spend on these days: computer, gaming console (or two), handheld gaming console (or two), mp3 player, cell phone, etc. Now add the traditional distractions of TV, movie theatres, CDs, DVDs, clothes, food, etc. Everyone has a fixed amount of money. It is not a coincidence that DVD sales went up while CD sales went down.

Neal says:

Right! back to ya

upNya is right. ID’s software is going downhill, personally I think it’s been going that way since the original Quake… not the tech of it, just the focus. First – multiplayer is fun, but it’s not the end-all be-all of gaming. I’ve bought every ID title that single player was the primary focus but none of those where multiplayer was – and I know more like me than dislike me. Second – technology demos like the latest Doom are a rediculous waste and drive people from the game and the company. Sweet graphics with boring, repetative predictible content all happening in the dark still equates to crap. BTW id – I’ve bought the original Doom titles multiple times each. I played for months, finally tired of the titles, gave away or sold them, then found myself wanting them again and repurchased them and even repeated that cycle a few times. Oh, and one more thing, I’m not a professional athlete nor a magician so requiring the coordination of the former and the dexterity of the latter just to control the movement of my player stops me from buying games too.

MrPaladin says:

Software Copying...

I think what people have said above is true…

1- there are some people who will not buy anything, they troll P2P networks and defend any copying they do as legitimate because of ‘the man’

2- you have people who really like a game or two, but they dont have the funding to purchase them, or they have the funding but they have a signifigant other they cant sneek a $50 payment by…

3- you have game makers selling expensive games… Just like tax rebates if they lower the price I assure you they will get more revenue…

If I had the time and resources, I’d make a $20 game with only a CD key protection (no cd in drive to play, would stop your basic copy infrigements) and if the game is actually good, I’d more then make money off of it reguardless of how many copies there are… write the copys off as advertising, know that they are worthless scum for not buying it, but who’s complaining when the money is rolling in…

plus theres always the sequal

Ghost says:

The main reason I refuse to buy most games is because of their lack of quality. I am especially pushed away from games that are over-packaged and come with a big side of hype. One good example would be that game Gun. Absolutely Horrible! It has to be the worst game I have ever (tried) to play. But I saw and heard countless commercials on TV and the radio that made it sound more than it really was.

I have no problem buying video games for my PC. I actually prefer to play on a PC than a console because of the freedom as far as moving around is concerned. But a major factor for me when I look to buy the next hit video game, what kind of pre-launch exposure and hype did it have? My example of this is Half Life 2. I saw numerous demonstrations from conventions and game tests that really had me excited to get it the moment it came out. Along with HL1 being the success it was. I knew they had a lot to live up to and had absolutely no problem dishing out the $50 for the game. I still play it and are just as excited about continuing to play and buy future addition. A quality product is the key. If you are going to release a big title…demo it at conventions…release actual game footage of it’s groundbreaking features that make it worth buying. Hell, the physics and graphics engines of Doom and HL2 are major factors in purchasing those games, not just their reputations.

If you ask my opinion, if there weren’t so many crappy ass games out that people have wasted their money on, and more jaw-dropping greatness, there would be a lot less piracy!

Star Dock Fan says:

I am an avid fan of StarDock and believe that they have the model down right. So does baen ( publishing. They offer over 45 of their books for FREE on the web, and figure most people will end up buying the books instead of just reading them online.

There is alot of good in rewarding your customers, not targeting them as criminals. Especially when there are many who havent ever done any illegal copying.

Mulielo says:


I fall into the category Ghost and Neal were talking about. I played the hell out of Doom and Doom II shareware versions until I mowed enough lawns to go get the full versions. A friend hooked me up in college with a cd-key for the first counter-strike, we couldn’t play on the same internet server, but we played on the college lan mostly anyway, and as soon as I saved up enough, I bought the whole pack, HL, CS, DOD, and a couple other mods or whatever that I didn’t even play. I built a new computer, wanted CS again, but I had left the CD’s at my parents house…2 hours away. What did I do? I went looking for a download and crack to get playing…then I stumbled upon steam’s website, and realized that I could pay for and download a legit version, and be playing in less time than it would take me to find a crack….so I spent the $30 or whatever it was right there… Bottom line, if the game is good, people will give you the money for it, eventually

Anonymous Coward says:


Actually “id software” my first copy of Doom was downloaded from a BBS. I liked the game so much, I went out and bought it.

I haven’t bought the new version of Doom, because I’m not into FPS anymore.

Don’t get cocky ID – I buy plenty of games, at least until the industry starts to piss me off, like the recording industry did. Until then, I’ll be buying games. At that point, I’ll go used or just play one of the 20 old games I LEGALLY own that I haven’t played yet and play it. Yes, I actually have games I bought I’ve never even played.

Topher3105 (profile) says:

id Software?

What do they do? What have they come out with lately?

As for Steam, I avoid that service like the plague. I was a happy customer until I tried to buy a second title from them (HL2 being the first), because of 1 failed credit card transaction (it happend because I changed addresses), they banned my credit card saying that they suspected that it was being abused. When I called customer support asking them about this they said that I would have to re register an account with Steam using a different credit card.

Sorry, I am not in the habit of applying for a different credit card for every two bit half assed DRM scheme put out there. I found a way to break HL2 away from Steam so I can play it without being tied to the service. I mean, after all, I did pay for it so I don’t think I have to connect online in order to launch the game.

dento77 says:


i “steal” games, movies, and music to try them out because i feel that the prices of these items are out of control. It really sucks to plop $60+ down for a game and have it be a royal stinker. On the other hand,I downloaded Battlefield 2 :Modern Combat for my chipped Xbox. I really liked it but could not play online without being legit. Guess what, I went out and bought it. 2 months later I bought a Xbox360… and yes, I bought the game again. Long story made short, if it is good, we will buy it. If its crap, it’s treated like crap and flushed away. So before you go flaming me, try this… spend $60+ on something you know nothing about and then tell me if you made a good decision or not….

Danno says:

Man… I really liked Gun. Yeah it was short, but I had a damn good 10 or 15 hours of fun with it.

Anyway, I think Video Games have a slightly different problem than Movies or Music. As opposed to those industries, the content isn’t a promotion, it’s the product.

If I don’t buy a Band’s CDs, I can still support them by going to a concert and maybe getting a T-Shirt. If I download a really kick-ass movie, maybe I’ll buy some licensed merchandise or even get the DVD for a higher quality transfer and more special features.

If I download a game, the only way to support the developer is to buy their next game… if they get to make another one because video games are really, really risky.

Now, I’m not supporting the skewed cost/value direction the games industry has been moving towards, but I think their complaint is slightly more valid. With the exception of Mario and Sonic, there isn’t a large enough demand for ancillary products related to video games.

If Stardock’s extra bonus content were easily copied and the multiplayer component’s authentication could be easily worked around, they probablly wouldn’t be making doing as well.

That said, I think Valve and Stardock have made the right decisions in regards to the new downloadable environment: do some cursory authentication to shake off the lazy pirates and turn over some sales and make the actual sale a good value proposition.

One thing where they really need to be authoritarian though is in online play. Letting people get away with pirated copies is basically a big enough hole that they can get away with modified copies, which means cheats, which sucks the damned fun out of a multiplayer game, which I can personally attest to.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is a moot point, they already innovated aroun

There is already a 100% impossible to bypass method of protecting the revenue stream from video games.

There are two games that come to mind, both of which are doing extremely well for their makers.

One: WoW. All content being online, you need an account that you have to pay for up front and keep paying for to play at all. The “problem” of requiring an internet connection is not actually a “problem” at all and the invasion of privacy that one would otherwise demand is eagerly waived by the consumer for the ability to have an “account” on a server that is actually PAID for. And Blizard is getting RICH beyond even their own expectations.

Another: They actually give the game away. its free to download/isntall, the accoutns are free to create. install on as many machines as you like, create as many accounts as you lke. More power to you. They actually get their money by selling in-game items for real cash. That business model was predicted to be a failure by many, if not all, but at least it prevents the third world slavery market that WoW has created.

Both of those are perfectly valid means of bypassing the problems of copyright violations, and neither of them destroy my computer, or install self-corrupting drivers that cause my computer to become unstable and crash in an effort to make sure I have an original cd in the drive.

If you can’t control the distribution of 1’s and 0’s then you damn well better make your revenue stream is not dependant on the distribution fo 1’s and 0’s.

Anonymous Coward says:

Y’all are forgetting the bottom line: love it or hate it, it’s illegal to steal. You can say that sharing a game isn’t stealing, but it is. It directly violates the use of the product: it’s meant for primary use by the person who bought it. There would be more successful companies making more money if people weren’t stealing as much. I’ll be honest. I used to have a bootleg copy of Quake III: Arena. I have a bootleg copy of DOOM 3 and DOOM 3: Resurrection. Maybe I’ll buy them someday. But I can’t call it NOT stealing…I didn’t pay for it, but I played them on my computer. I can still live with myself.

You guys are right about the concept of “episodes”, which is probably one of the reasons Valve is doing that. But to argue, as the writer of the article did DOOM, that the “there were plenty of “cracked” full versions around as well — but they only seemed to increase the popularity of the software, and create a larger market of buyers.”

…He misses the point: If those people who stole it would have bought it like they were supposed to, the company would have that much more munny. You can’t justify the “having more fans being a good thing” with people stealing the game. I guarantee that the reason some are “treated like criminals” is because they ARE criminals to some degree for *stealing* the game. Just buy the stupid thing and help pay for these guys’ $400,000 homes. They’re starving, I’m sure, haha.

Reiterating my point, though: if you run a hamburger joint and people steal some of your hamburgers, but they give some to their friends and their friends start coming to your shop because your burgers are freakin amazing, you’d probably be pissed off, but be able to deal with it, because it means more business. But if there were people who kept stealing occasionally, you’d be pertty pissed off. People are supposed to pay, even if they’re overpriced.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Y’all are forgetting the bottom line: love it or hate it, it’s illegal to steal. ”

You’re still missing the point.

Copyright violation stealing

Stealing is a criminal act. Copyright violation is not a criminal offense, it is a civil offense.

(whereas bypassing copyright technology is now a felony…. and you can go to jail for a long time for it.)

The reason people keep arguing that “doing something about piracy” is a bad idea is because they have years and years and years of proof to that cause. Every single attempt at copy protection has enraged the good paying cosumers and done absolutely nothing to actually thwart piracy.

If you keep doing the performing the same action expecting different results, its obviously time to buy a senator. God forbid someone realize the market was killed and reborn in a different format. No, just get laws changed instead.

Exley says:

I enjoyed doom 3 alot and the fact that it was not littered with unnessary copy protection made me enjoy it more. i loved the fact that i could play a (from my experance) fun game without running another program in the background (steam from HL2) or opening the game box and getting out the CD. because of this pleaset experance guess what i did… rewarded ID by purchasing Doom3 RoE and Quake 4. in short, ID please dont go copy protection crazy, it wil just make more people pirate your games to get rid of the annoying copy protection

chris (profile) says:

whatever happened to game play?

anyone here remember gmaeplay from the old days?

i play console games mostly because they are easier… no patches, no latest version of directGL whatever.

you just pop the disk in an tear shit up.

the handful of PC games that i have lost significant amounts of my life to all had stellar game play (doom, duke nukem, asheron’s call 1 and tribes 1).

in most of those cases, later versions of the games (except duke, of course) favored sexy graphics over gameplay (AC2, tribes2) and pretty much sucked ass.

that’s why i haven’t bought or downloaded a PC game in years.

yodataco says:


This is where the problem is starting to hit critical mass. The games industry is rapidly turning into the music/movie industry. It used to be in all three categories people would actually spend money due to the fact that an event of a great product being released was special. A long time ago movies, music, and even video games were released more sparsely. Now days it’s “refresh cycle” hell. You have new game/movie/cd/band/episodic content crap shoved down your throat every day. What developers (especially id) need to do is step back. They need to make a GREAT game & then make that GREAT game last. Update the game. Update the engine & physics & charge for that major upgrad…i’m even fine with that. Content and major gameplay changes are worth some money if 1) the game was inexpensive and 2) the game is good enough for it. Now days every game released isn’t even complete. How many zero day patches are there for new PC releases? Why is gaming the most expensive hoby out there anyway? I could buy 4+ dvd’s for one game. I could buy 5+ cd’s for the price of one game. I could go to a Disney World Park for a day. I know games are supposed to give “return on investment” so that you play them for hours…but think about it…how many games do you really get 8+ hours of FUN out of these days? I mean, Even HL2 Episode 1 was only 4 hours long!!!! 4 hours for $20. Rediculous. I bought starcraft and broodwars for $20, and I still freakin play it. I bought the collectors edition of Warcraft III for $80 and I’ve played it MAYBE one eighth as much as I’ve played Starcraft. Game developers need to stop the feeces machine, and then maybe people will respect their game enough to pay $ for it.

Kr4t05 says:

The only game I ever pirated was Halo, which I later bought when I became tired of searching for a CD-Key that allowed me to play online. After a few months, the CD became ruined and the CD-Key was lost. I called MS, got a new key, and downloaded a usable copy from my favorite Bittorrent tracker. I still have the original, legal copy of the game CD, which I use to play the game.

This is where the ethical “grey-area” comes into play. If the original media is made unusable, (Either by misuse, loss, or the replacement of the media by a newer format [CD-ROM to DVD]) how viable is the download and use of “illegal” content, when the content has already been purchased once?

Apathy Curve (user link) says:


Sell more for less. That’s the secret of increased earnings. Sam Walton knew this. So does Michael Dell.

People who try to pad their margin simply end up hurting themselves in a competitive marketplace. The P2P pirates are a negligible loss in overall revenue compared to the number of potential customers who won’t pay $50 for a game–but who will pay $30.

It’s all about the numbers. Whining about piracy is just self-delusion.

yodataco says:

Re: Re:


I’m not promoting stealing of games. I think that’s no good. I also don’t think there should be intrusive “copy protection” either though. My whole point is one promoting a quality product. With your have/have not’s argument, you’re pretty much saying ID should charge oh..say $200 for their game. If you can’t afford it, then you aren’t good enough. That will NOT get those sales rolling in, I assure you. The other side of my point was also that companies have become greedy. They push out trash at an exponential rate. That’s why we have 20 versions of Madden NFL. I think these companies and game devs. have lost sight of what really matters in gaming, FANBASE. This is part of a bigger problem of corporate America, and that is the fact that once a company sells you something, they’re done with you. As if you’re trash, they throw you away because they have your money. Even if you BUY the “extended special protection plus extra plan” you are treated as a used up piece of paper. It saddens me to see that gaming companies have gone the way of “quick buck” Corporate America…..

d0k0night says:

All Thieves rationalize

Rationalize all the copying/downloading – oh let’s not forget – “borrowing” and “testing” all you want kids.

1) I can’t afford it, it’s too expensive, so why shouldn’t I steal it?

2) It’s not stealing. It’s copying. I’m just copying. I’m not doing anything wrong.

3) It’s not a physical thing I’m taking. It’s bits and bytes. Therefore I’m not stealing. I didn’t raid a jewelry shop. I didn’t jack a car. I’m not hurting anyone.

4) The games suck anyways. So why *shouldn’t* I steal it. Serves them right for making a crappy game.

5) It’s there and downloadable. The crack’s there. It’s free for the taking. So STFU, I do what I want.

6) Everyone else is doing it. So I’ll do it. Hey don’t blame me – I’m just following everyone else.

Now let me ask the question – how many of you kids have a friend who’s a software developer? So when he comes out with a piece of software that he slaved away countless hours to build – good or bad – and hopes it’ll sell so he’ll keep his job – how do you think he’ll feel when you’re downloading the demo and applying the crack to it afterwards?

This is remarkably the same rationalizations we see from kids stealing music or movies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: All Thieves rationalize

“This is remarkably the same rationalizations we see from kids stealing music or movies.”

What the hell do you expect? The enterainment industry created the notion itself that everything should be free when it came up with the advertising during airplay concept to fund the content.

Of course they think it should be free. Its always been free. They’re just trying to add convenience into it.

BananaFish says:


MMM-hmm…. Lots of whining above. Some good points too, but lots of whining, including the steaming pile of letters arranged to look like an article at the top of the page. It is every company’s right to distribute their product in any way they see fit, AND set any price for it. If a fledgling band wants to give away their CDs for free and encourage free sharing of their content to gain popularity *or* if a start-up software company hands out some free-ware versions of it’s software to get people interested, it does not mean that later on down the line, they loose the right to cut that cord.

But I digress… my main gripe with this discussion (if I may) is the constant justification for piracy. Who is the general consumer to decide what things should or should not cost? People who do pirate software or music with the justification that it costs too much in the first place are only fooling themselves. You’re not fighting “the man”… “the system” or anything else. You’re just making yourself feel better about your cowardly act. It is just sooo EASY and essentially PRIVATE to pirate software. In most cases, you get a crack from the net and within minutes are drooling at the screen, all in the privacy of your parent’s basement. No one has to know. Not your friends, not the significant other you probably don’t have… no one. That is, until a debate comes up on this website and everyone is spewing their opinion under the alias of a stupid username that doesn’t even make sense (Banana-who?). Then everyone’s a hero.

You can debate about stealing product vs. copying information all you want, but the real crux of the issue, the thing that allows everyone to pirate, is that it is EASY, PRIVATE, and essentially consequence-free. It’s kind of like over-the-net porn. Think about it. Final thought: If you can’t afford the hobby, either pirate the games and stay out of the moral debate, or start reading books. They’re cheaper.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Seriously???

Some good points too, but lots of whining, including the steaming pile of letters arranged to look like an article at the top of the page. It is every company’s right to distribute their product in any way they see fit, AND set any price for it.

I’m afraid you missed the point of my original post. OF COURSE companies have every right to price and distribute their product however they see fit.

However, if they choose a way that seems stupid and likely to HARM their business more than HELP it, we’re going to point it out.

We’re not defending piracy here (though, some in the comments obviously are — but our post does not). The point was simply that *blaming* piracy is the wrong way to go about it. Piracy is as fact of the market, and the answer isn’t to whine about it or make life worse for your paying customers — but to offer products of value in a convenient fashion that people are willing to pay for.

BananaFish says:

Re: Re: Seriously???

Yes, it is entirely possible that I did miss the point. Let me walk you through my process of trying to find one, and together we can hope to pinpoint where a mistake was made.

First, I see the title, “id Software Forgets How Treating Customers Right Made Them A Success”. Then I read and immediately discard the information from the following paragraph, since it has no direct relevance to the title, and actually manages to make me forget what we were talking about in the first place (just for a moment). Continuing on, I read, “Now, it appears that id Software is going down a similar road, complaining that unauthorized copying is “destroying” the PC gaming market. Apparently, the folks at id are forgetting their own past.” Ok, back to the topic at hand. So the “article” is about id software’s take on a hot-button issue, right? More specifically, what some id-co-owner answered in reply to some question at some conference somewhere? Ok, I think I’m following, but why are you accusing them of forgetting their past? You go on to bring up the good point that what put id on the map was essentially software sharing. Ok, gotcha. I’m right there, right with you. Except for that part about id forgetting their past. Was that co-founder *talking* about the past? I go back to the top of that paragraph and read “Apparently, the folks at id are forgetting their own past”, and I just don’t get it. How have they? The id co-founder seems to be talking about the present market… you know, the one that has evolved in the last 10+ years, in a market that they largely helped shape. Yes, that one. THE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MARKET. So I’ll admit, yes, I’m confused. But I read on (perhaps that it my mistake?). You write that meanwhile, while id is forgetting its past, some company with a novel approach to the new market is having success with sales. Then you talk about that company. Has the “article” changed topics AGAIN? How does that relate to your charge that id has forgotten its past? And what does that mean, anyway? There are about 5 sentences in that “article” about ID software. Yet, the title suggested that the article was indeed about id software. So yes, it is possible that I missed the point.

Doing the best I can and assuming that you HAVE no point, I will pick out the parts that I think might support the argument that you never really make.

1). ID has forgotten its past — no, I don’t think it has. The same thing that gives [a company] life can take it away once enough time has passed to allow for the context to change.

2) “…the claim that copied software is “destroying” the industry is easily disproved by the story of Stardock” — no, one counterpoint is not a disproval for a proposed general trend.

That is what I pull from your “article”, and two very easy once-sentence rebuttals. My only point that was relevant to your “article”, made in post 50, was that times have changed, and nothing that any co-founder said was necessarily incorrect or warranted a company ideology check of reinstating decade-old policies. The rest of my post had to do with the replies.

You write in response to my previous post: —“However, if they choose a way that seems stupid and likely to HARM their business more than HELP it, we’re going to point it out.”

I guess that is your prerogative, but I doubt anyone cares. I don’t say that to be mean or rude. Perhaps you are trying to make a splash in the general community. Maybe it will happen. But unless you are on id’s consultant pay-roll, you’re wasting your breath challenging their employee’s opinions.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Seriously???

Well, apparently we’re equal. You have trouble understanding my original post. I have trouble understanding your comment — but boiled down it seems to say you think I don’t support the arguments in my post. There two main points you make:

1). ID has forgotten its past — no, I don’t think it has. The same thing that gives [a company] life can take it away once enough time has passed to allow for the context to change.

This is a matter of opinion, and we can debate it. However, there are a few problems with your statement. You claim they haven’t forgotten the past — but they don’t seem to acknowledge that past or explain what has changed in the interim. If your thesis is right that they do understand the past, and believe the market has changed in a manner to support a different position, then they should explain that. Their blanket statement that piracy is destroying the market doesn’t qualify.

2) “…the claim that copied software is “destroying” the industry is easily disproved by the story of Stardock” — no, one counterpoint is not a disproval for a proposed general trend.

Hmm. I think you have your logic reversed. You absolutely can disprove an absolute with a single counterpoint. id claims that copying is “destroying” the software market. That’s an absolute. Showing an example of a software company succeeding despite piracy disproves the absolute. Piracy is clearly NOT destroying the PC gaming market, because if that were true, Stardock could not succeed as it has.

id could modify their statement to say that piracy is changing the market, or changing what it takes to succeed in the market — but that’s not at all what they said.

So, yes, I’m afraid that the counterpoint is valid in disproving what id said.

BananaFish says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Seriously???

The original “statement” was simply an answer to a question someone asked (as i understand the original article) at a conference. Does the id-co-founder really have to take that opportunity to explain their beginnings as a company and how things have changed in the last 10+ years? You seem to think that id software individuals have somehow found themselves under the microscope of scrutiny, with the interrogation light hanging in their faces. That’s just not true, and they are under no obligation to act as such. Now, I can see how you might think that they are, being that you have interjected yourself as an authority, but rest assured, you calling for an explanation has no bearing anywhere.

As far as reversed logic goes, this is sociology and business, not theories in science. It is possible for break-out concepts in marketing to succeed in an overall diminishing genre, plagued (in this case) by piracy. That does not mean that what was said by some id co-founder was not true (albeit a strongly, perhaps emotionally stated truth). But “Stardock” is concerned with piracy as well, you quote that position in your “article”. They are trying to fight it. Why? I thought they were the soul exception to another company’s generalization that piracy is ruining the business?

The bottom line is that the established developers see piracy as a problem. “id” and “Stardock” AGREE, according to your “article” that piracy is something to be fought, presumably because it is (or has become) a PROBLEM for the industry. The difference on which you build your bias in the article seems to be that you agree with Stardock’s method of fighting it, without giving any real examples of how you (apparently) dislike id’s way of fighting it. Understandable since id said nothing about how to fight it… only that it was a problem. Stardock said the same thing. So what was your point again?

Tatsu Oyama says:

Copying hurts developers...

Imagine if you can that worked on something, put your heart into it and watched it go from an idea into a reality, then you decided to sell all that hard work (because it is hard work, as fun as it is) and when you have made 100000 copies to sell banking on the fact that the work you did will keep you afloat, but instead someone buys a copy only to pirate it. That is only one guy right? What if then you sell maybe 2000 copies, not enough to make up the total costs, and that one guy copies your hard work and distributes it for free so that 20000 people can download it. They do so. You are only out 20000 copies right? Well what if that 20000 copies was enough to keep you afloat, let you see your mistakes so that you could make a BETTER game next time, or even helped you make more copies at a cheaper price so more people could enjoy the game? At the end of the day it isnt Electronic Arts that are dying over this kind of crap. It is the graphic artists, programmers and modellers, the designers, environmental editors and sound guys that are getting the crap covered dildo up the ass when people pirate.

You can use all kinds of excuses to make immoral and illegal acts sound like heroism, why not…bad is good these days, but at the end of the day piracy is robbing hard working people of money. Sure there are crap games, but just because McDonnalds isnt as good as Red Lobster it doesnt mean that you should bust the door down at the golden arches to grab yourself a free combo meal. Then again…that wouldnt be stealing. Youd heroically be sticking it to “the man” by attacking a huge brand name. They could take a few million robberies, right? That store’s emploees wouldnt suffer at all…”the man” would absurb all their pain, right?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Copying hurts developers...

Tatsu, that’s a strawman:

Imagine if you can that worked on something, put your heart into it and watched it go from an idea into a reality, then you decided to sell all that hard work (because it is hard work, as fun as it is) and when you have made 100000 copies to sell banking on the fact that the work you did will keep you afloat, but instead someone buys a copy only to pirate it.

If you can set up strawmen, so can I. What if no one bought your product because it was just too expensive and they had too many other options to spend their money on. Should we feel just as bad? Then the situation is pretty much the same… except it’s even worse because the developer doesn’t even have anyone who knows who he is.

Point is not to defend piracy, but to recognize the market you’re facing — and to recognize that some amount of piracy is going to happen. In that market, you figure out ways to deal with it, as some companies have done. The ones who don’t go out of business. That doesn’t mean that “piracy” is destroying the market — but a failure to recognize and adapt to the market is killing those companies who don’t change.

BananaFish says:

One more thing...

One more thing, some logic. If the title is: “id Software Forgets How Treating Customers Right Made Them A Success” and the only other time you talk about a company’s treatment of a customer is with the statement that “…a video game company who proudly decided not to treat their customers like criminals”, you are making the suggestion that id treats their customers like criminals. You never really say it…. you never really support the title fully, but nevertheless, it is there. That is a serious charge.. one that you can only get away with because of the infitesmal impact of the “article” on the public. Slide it by for now because no one really cares, but is it really true?

silly_fake_name says:

As a game developer...

As a game developer myself, this issue hits pretty close to home.

Personally, I don’t believe that pirating is going to destroy my job. I seriously doubt that there is any game studio that has been shut down because too many people pirated their game.

I mean really, the games that are pirated most are usually the games that enjoy vast success. Pirating works on the same supply/demand rules that retail does. So typically, the companies producing titles that are being pirated the most are usually the ones least impacted by the piracy.

So the whole “pirating ruins developer’s jobs” has a strong point working against that argument. (even if my point is arguable since I can’t support that with numbers. As a side note: if there are any numbers proving that in a specific case, I would be interested to hear more about that.)

If you ask me, the whole “morality” of pirating these games just breaks down to Socialism vs. Capitalism. If the “enjoyment of life” as a game developer was the critical issue at hand, game companies wouldn’t have to sell their games for more than $20 (or less). Not to mention that fact that if a developer wasn’t beholden to a publisher, it wouldn’t have to sell it’s game for more than $20 in most cases anyway.

If a company shared all profits (keeping only their operating costs, health insurance costs, etc…) with all of their employees, piracy would be a much bigger problem. And I believe it would quickly fade if there was demonstrable proof that the actions of a hacking group was directly involved in destroying people’s lives.

If that socialist ideal was possible, there would be a lot of intrinisic moral questions about pirating.

With corporate scandal after scandal and the constantly soaring salaries of CEOs and wealth flowing in to the few at the top, it becomes pretty difficult to support an argument that people shouldn’t download software illegally because it’s “wrong.”

While the distribution of wealth is much less of a problem with my industry (one of the things I love about working in it), it’s still built on the same general model as other retail businesses that do suffer from this problem. In the end, you will always be able to question the morality of pirating software for many reasons when people see the only thing they’re preventing is some “rich bastard” become richer… aka… “The Man.” And even though I should be on the other side of the fence, I can’t help but feel that there is some validity to that argument.

The other thing I wanted to make note here, that many people haven’t mentioned, is that the game studios are not the ones setting the prices on their games. They’re usually not even the ones getting the larger chunk of money coming in from sales of their game. The publisher sets those figures and generally speaking, controls the schedule and deadlines that a studio operates under.

Everyone pirates software, including game developers, and will continue to pirate software because of practical reasons like:

1. Expensive prices at retail

2. Questionable quality of content and the adjoining inability to return a game.

3. Ease of procurement (read as: Downloading vs. Driving to retail software store)

In the end it really is just a tactical and logistical issue of how you:

A. Make your game easily accessible. (downloading vs. retail)

B. Easy to install and play.

C. Balance value vs. expense at a consumer level. (read as quality of game and player satisfaction)

D. Build a strong community and fanbase. (Large fanbase = large profits)

Any game that hits all those points won’t have to worry about piracy. A company that establishes loyalty and confidence from their fan base will be able to enjoy success year after year. Gamers love to feel appreciated by a company and just enabling them to give voice to the developers does that much of the time. A consumer that values and respects a company for what it is, and feels valued and respected as a fan, will be much less likely to pirate that studio’s next game.

Piracy will always be an issue however and until those socialist vs. capitalist issues are settled I don’t believe there is any answer to the morality debate. There are as many points going for it as against it. (Don’t get me started on the recording industry either)

Riley says:


“There is about seventy-percent of the landmass of the world where you can’t sell games in a legitimate market, because pirates will beat you to the shelves with your own game. And that is a serious problem,” Hollenshead concluded.


I found this bit interesting. And actually, if the info was more freely available, the “landmass” statistic would likely be more like 99%. This should be a HUGE clue as to how to fix the problem. Its not necessarily the pirates that are the core issue here, it is the archaic (and costly) distribution platforms that these companies are relying on to get their games out. Piracy simply has a faster and cheaper distribution platform. Why are these companies not adopting their business / development models to take advantage of FREE distribution??

Brendan says:


So, to all you “copy games is theft” believers, I ask you this.

Is taping an episode of Seinfeld from your TV stealing? The series is available on DVD and your taping “cuts into” revenue from that DVD sales.

Is taping a Black Eyed Peas song from the radio stealing? They have several albums out, which “suffer losses” from you not buying it because you dub tapes.

Is taping a movie from HBO stealing? You are making a copy of a movie studio’s intellectual property without payment or permission.

As you people fail to realize, and has been pointed out, theft and copying information are two completely different matters, and have always been treated as such. The various industries (music, movies, and now games) are falling behind the consumer and the movement of technology, and are attempting reactionary measures to control the result of their inability to adapt.

BananaFish says:

Re: Theft?

Yeah, after reading your post, i guess i still think all of that is stealing. In fact, you state why each example is stealing after each question. The underlying message is that no one cares. You imply it, but never really say it (and i agree with your implication!) Just tack on a “-and everyone has done THAT at some point, and it has become totally socially acceptable!” to the end of each example and you’ve got yourself the whole story (no, seriously, go back and try it. It sounds great!). What you do is give examples that are still illegal but very commonplace, private, and easy (see my original post). Thus, the reader equates those illegal things that no one cares about with NEW illegal things that no one (except the software developers) seems to care about, and that is precisely how we have come to feel entitled to “information” (games, music, etc.) without paying for it. It’s all because we did it as kids, taping off the radio or TV. Technology allowed us to, it was EASY (anything that can be seen or heard can be copied), and no one cared. We take that model and we apply it elsewhere, where it seems applicable. We then use past violations to justify new ones. I would argue that the various industries are just picking now to be less apathetic. Unfortunately (for them), they’re fighting a long standing paradigm that is difficult to enforce.

Brendan says:


“There is about seventy-percent of the landmass of the world where you can’t sell games in a legitimate market, because pirates will beat you to the shelves with your own game. And that is a serious problem,” Hollenshead concluded.”

He also fails to mention that a lot of these areas are poverty-stricken, war-torn, underdeveloped, or under such harsh trade rules by the WTO that it isn’t viable for companies to market games there. I don’t see ID, or any other companies, making much headway in selling Doom in Kazakhstan, so I fail to see how pirates bringing games to that country hurts ID in any way.

DV Henkel-Wallace says:

Profound comment from Thierer

He says “the games are fun so people are kind to game makers.” But note, he’s also saying, “But Hollywood’s music and movies suck so people don’t want to spend money on them.”

That contradicts what the hollywood industry says! Supposedly the revenues have been declining due to “piracy” not due to the suckage of the product!

Anonymous Coward says:

Also I my cousin pirated all of the 2007 series of ea’s nhl, madden, and nba live, and he is a huge fan of their games.

Pirating isn’t about making the software developers pay for making a crappy game. If you think the game is crappy, why waste bandwidth and such to pirate and download a copy anyway?

The only way to go is to not buy their games.

Saying id softare is wrong about piracy destroying gaming industries is obviouslly wrong.

It is like copying a piece of text from a different author and claiming it as your own, or photocopying a painting, and claiming it as your own.

Anonymous Coward says:

For those who thinks that you pirate games because they are crappy, then how come I’m a huge id software fan with pirated versions of
spear of destiny
final doom
quake scourge of armagon
quake dissolution of eternity
quake2 the reckoning
quake2 groundzero
quake3 arena
quake3 team arena

The only games I actually bought are:
Return to castle wolfenstein tides of war (comes with wolf3d) (xbox)
Return to castle wolfenstein operation resurrection (PS2)
Doom 3 (both PC and xbox versions)
Doom3 resurrection of evil (pc and xbox versions)
quake 4

Also look what happened to wolfenstein enemy territory. Free game. Because they thought it sucked badly.

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