Business Models

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
china, gaming, piracy, servers

Companies:
shanda



Chinese Gaming Company Recognizes That 'Pirates' Are Underserved Customers

from the grasping-the-basics dept

Jeffrey Nonken points us to the news of how Chinese online gaming firm Shanda seems to have grasped some of the idea that so-called "pirates" are really just underserved customers. While the company still seeks to shut down private servers for its games, it will sometimes try to attract the users of the unauthorized server, sometimes by getting whoever ran it to help:
Shanda will set up its own server in the same geographical area in hopes of luring the private server’s users over to a legitimate Shanda game. Shanda may even rope the operator of the former private server into helping promote the licensed game.
Separately, in recognizing that sometimes the reasons why such unauthorized servers are put up is because users don't like particular restrictions on a game, Shanda is apparently looking to develop more flexible games that will allow players to have more choices within the official version:
The other prong of Shanda’s strategy against private servers acknowledges user demand for the sort of games they offer—where the rules can be changed and players can level up without weeks of effort.

For example, Shanda is developing a game platform called World Zero that will allow users to create their own game world and modify its rules, Tan said. A partner is also developing a game called “Jue Zhan Shuang Cheng” (roughly: “Decisive Battle of the Two Cities”) that imitates private server rules—allowing users to level up very quickly and engage in battles against other powered-up characters.
It's certainly not a full embrace of what users are doing, but it's a recognition that the folks involved are not just "dirty stinking pirates who want everything for free," but rather underserved customers who are really performing a type of free market research.

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  1. icon
    Yakko Warner (profile), 15 Aug 2011 @ 8:12am

    Re:

    I doubt that any major game company could emulate this system. They are too over-managed and over-organized to respond to the market.

    Actually, the first thing I thought of when I read this story may surprise you: Microsoft. Hackers had broken the Xbox security system to install homebrew software. While Microsoft did take steps to ban modified consoles from the network, when Bill Gates was shown a demo of a modded Xbox, his response was, "How can we engage this community?" The Indie Games Marketplace may owe its existence to this.

    Microsoft's reaction to Windows Phone 7 hackers is similar, inviting them to Redmond and treating them to donuts.

    Granted, it may take them years to truly incorporate any of the ideas, and they might not be as "open" as the results a dedicated hacker comes up with, but it's a far cry from the "shut down and litigate" reaction we see a lot.

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