Game Marketer Insists That Every Downloaded Copy Of Modern Warfare 2 Is Stolen By Immoral Thieves
from the yeah,-not-quite dept
That's right, over 300 million dollars stolen just of the one game, Modern Warfare 2, in 2009. Obviously Activision had much more stolen from them with other titles, but MW2 is by far the worst affected. According to TorrentFreak 4,100,000 copies of the PC version of MW2 were stolen and 970,000 copies of the Microsoft Xbox 360 version.Yes, according to Mr. Everiss, "benefiting from other people's labour that they should have paid for but haven't" means you are a thief. Everiss' article is about to get traffic from us. He's about to benefit from us linking to his article. He hasn't paid us. I think he should. According to his own reasoning, he is a thief. You might spot the logical flaw in that, and it's the same in Everiss' own argument. It's that because one party believe others should pay for their work, you are to assume that that other party must pay for the work. That's not how transactions work, however. The economy is based on mutually agreeable transactions where one party only pays if they find it worthwhile to pay, and it is the job of the entity trying to make money to give people a reason to buy. Don't give them a reason? Too bad.
Thieves using bit torrents are indulging in the biggest orgy of theft in the history of humanity. When they can steal with no chance of getting caught then they will. How they justify this appalling lack of moral fibre to themselves is beyond me. I have heard a whole litany of empty excuses from the thieves to try and justify their actions but the fact remains that they are benefiting from other people's labour that they should have paid for but haven't. So they are thieves.
Everiss goes on to then talk up DRM and three strikes as the best "solutions" to piracy, suggesting that he apparently hasn't paid attention to pretty much all of technological history, and how well such "solutions" have (not) worked. He does (thankfully!) suggest that better business models are another option, but seems to think that's a lot less important than DRM and three strikes.
The first reader who sent this story in, the creatively named TechWeasel, also wrote up a rather detailed response that he tried to post as a comment to Mr. Everiss' rant, but for some reason it was not allowed, so I'll republish it here:
"I'm happy to see more attention being paid to the problem of video game piracy, but I find this analysis questionable.
1) One pirated game does not equal one lost sale. People pirate games for a number of reasons (the litany of excuses referred to in the article), and not all of those reasons amount to "I would totally buy this game if I couldn't download it for free." First, there is no mechanism in the video game publishing industry to redress a lack of customer satisfaction. If somebody shells out $60 for a game and ends up not liking it or being plagued by technical issues, they can't get their money back like they can for most goods. Thus, a tempting solution is to download a copy of the game almost as a trial version, and then to purchase if it turns out to be worth the price. This is only one example. Another reason to pirate is if legitimately available versions of the game are censored in the user's country (India, China and Australia are heavy on the censorship), thus denying the user the ability to pay for a legimate copy. I am not speaking to the ethics of these reasons, but only trying to point out the fallacy behind the "1 download = 1 lost sale" argument.
2) Where are all the great DS games? Being written for platforms that don't require the same degree of game design tailoring (two screens, touchscreen w/stylus, low hardware requirements), or which have online distribution channels and thus lower overhead (i.e. WiiWare, iPhone, PSN, XBL). Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
3) Technical protection is not the best solution, because it punishes legitimate users and drives them away. I did not buy Spore specifically because of its use of invasive DRM (SecuROM) and I have passed over several other games because of their DRM or activation limits. I own multiple computers and often reinstall games when swapping parts. These are lost sales.
4) A mandate for ISPs to stop torrents through disconnection of their customers is akin to the power company cutting off the electricity to somebody's house because their usage patterns match those of somebody else who runs heat lamps. Internet access is a utility that's essential for education and work. This is why we have due process. Companies lack the expertise to make these judgments and it would be a financial and ethical burden on them to force them to.
There are some good points here, such as business model migration towards subscriptions or microtransactions. This is the way to go, moving forward. The idea is to minimize deadweight loss - let the publishers do whatever they can to ensure that everyone pays as much as they are willing to for their games, while having the best experience possible. Zynga, the maker of Farmville, Mafia Wars and a host of other Facebook and iPhone games, is doing a good job with this. So is Turbine, the maker of Dungeons and Dragons Online - free to play, with microtransactions for items, perks and other features.
ATVI chose to launch the PC version of MW2 with total understanding that it was a lesser version, that the PC as a platform wasn't worth the work of adding features that PC gamers expect from their games (dedicated servers, ability to mod, high degree of settings flexibility). As a PC gamer, I reject that, and chose not to buy (or pirate) the game. Others chose to pirate it, probably in part as a form of protest, but also because the neutered PC version of the game just wasn't worth the price tag that ATVI slapped on it. Good God, Activision doesn't even make $59.99 off a copy of a game purchased at Best Buy; at least make the math believable. I understand that this stance on the issue is a little too complicated to land easily beneath the headline Bruce chose, but an issue this complicated deserves more analysis."