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