Game Developers Can Beat Piracy By Copying Their Actual Competition

from the if-we've-said-it-once-we've-said-it-a-thousand-times dept

Drew points us to a CNN commentary piece from Scott Steinberg, a video game consultant, who suggests that video game piracy can be good for the game industry. Steinberg goes over several examples of game piracy and the corresponding complaints from game developers who are alarmed by the growing availability of DRM workarounds. But instead of agreeing with the calls for more and more protection from illegal downloads and the use of ever more draconian copy protection measures, Steinberg points out the opportunity that is available:
For game creators, lowering costs and making titles widely available may actually be the solution to stamping out piracy.
As we've mentioned here a few times before, participating in the arms race of creating ever more sophisticated annoying copy protection only damages the user experience and doesn't provide value to gamers at all. Developers can, however, offer alternatives to piracy -- more attractive options -- such that consumers won't even look for pirated games. By adopting some of the tactics of piracy and allowing gamers to freely download and share games, developers can build up the value of their games that can't be easily copied. Steinberg makes the same conclusion:
By making games more readily accessible, faster to skim and easier to pass along to friends, game makers may actually be doing more to combat piracy than any lawsuit or fancy technical countermeasure ever could.
If only the game industry would see it the same way...

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  1. identicon
    Jimmy Langford, 27 Sep 2010 @ 10:10pm

    Well, thankfully some key figures in the industry DO see it that way.

    PCGamer recently posted an interesting interview with Gabe Newell - managing director of Valve, regarding (amongst other things) the huge success of their online distribution service "Steam".

    When asked about piracy, Newell states that it's almost a non-issue for them. Why? Because they have built their service on the idea that making legitimate copies of games more attractive and convenient to obtain than pirated versions will translate to (surprise surprise) more sales and less piracy. Interesting when at the other end of the table you have companies like Ubisoft who employ some of the most draconian DRM ever seen in an attempt to combat piracy, yet at the same time complain bitterly that piracy is ruining them. Honestly, you'd think the penny would've dropped by now.

    Anyway, you can find the full interview here:

    On a related note, 57% of all PC games sales are reportedly now made via online distribution services such as Steam.

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