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September 01, 2014, 03:33:34 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessPiracy and the four currencies
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Author Topic: Piracy and the four currencies  (Read 3370 times)
larsiusprime
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« on: February 28, 2012, 12:11:36 PM »

Hey guys!

After releasing our game Defender's Quest with no DRM, it started showing up on some torrent sites after a few weeks and it made me start thinking about what motivates people to pirate games.  (For the record, I feel that our decision not to put DRM in our game resulted in more sales than we would have gotten had we tried to lock it down.)

So, I wrote some articles about it:

Part 1 - The basic theory

Part 2 - Cases studies (Steam/Consoles/A Game of Thrones)

The basic premise is that the often-quoted RIAA/MPAA complaint "you can't compete with free" is false because it assumes piracy is "free." If we look at costs beyond just money-dollars, it's clear that there are other "currencies" that people are spending when they make a decision.

The "four currencies" in my articles are:
($M) Money-dollars
($T) Time-dollars
($P) Pain-in-the-butt-dollars
($I) Integrity-dollars

Part 1 outlines the basic idea and part 2 responds to comments, includes limitations to the theory, adds nuances, and applies the idea to various case studies to analyze the effect of DRM.

Also this whole thing provided a good excuse to put icons of butts on dollar bills:




Any thoughts?

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Nostrils!
Nix
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2012, 12:20:04 PM »

The only dollar that counts is a money dollar. You could argue that time is money, and it is, but people who pirate for money reasons are people who are more likely to have a spare half hour than a spare $5.
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Zaphos
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2012, 12:30:15 PM »

I feel like I've seen these points made (or at least alluded to) many times before, but it's a nice write up of them and I agree.

Nix: Why are you only considering people who pirate for money reasons?  theoatmeal's game of thrones comic (linked in the second article) is a good example of a person pirating largely for time/convenience reasons: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones
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larsiusprime
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2012, 12:32:30 PM »

Yeah, this isn't exactly a brand new theory. Someone wrote a very similar article 2 years ago, this is just me putting it into my own words since a lot of people still think in terms of just money.
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Nostrils!
Nix
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2012, 12:37:30 PM »

Nix: Why are you only considering people who pirate for money reasons? 

Because that is the group that my statement pertained to. I have no doubt that people pirate for plenty of other reasons as well.
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Zaphos
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2012, 12:57:18 PM »

Okay, then I don't understand why you said "the only dollar that counts is a money dollar."  Had assumed the second sentence was justifying the first, which was general.
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Moczan
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2012, 02:23:42 PM »

Not completely new, but completely right. Since I've started earning my own money and discovered digital distribution I've never pirated a game again and that's mainly because the actual 'money-dollar' was never actually a biggest problem, even though I'm from poor European country with outrageous game prices.
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larsiusprime
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2012, 02:27:03 PM »

@Moczan:

In your particular case, what motivated you the most to buy from digital distribution rather than piracy?
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Moczan
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2012, 02:46:34 PM »

I'm not sure, both $P and $I and the amount I actually gain by buying a legal copy far overwhelms the $M. There is also a huge $T gain when I use digital distribution vs traditional, but it's both in 'legal zone'.

$P - mainly finding the right files and the huge risk of getting my computer infected. Also, pirated games often lack patches/updates, lack multiplayer options (or only through hacks with hamachi etc.), it's almost like not getting the full product.

$I - since I'm developing games myself, even making some pocket money from it, I just find it morally impossible to pirate games not. I prefer buying indie games over AAA titles, as the $I of buying indie game is negative and I can credit myself for supporting other indies (I own Defender's Quest Wink )

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larsiusprime
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2012, 02:50:29 PM »

Awww shucks Smiley

The $I thing you mention is really interesting - "negative $I cost" for supporting someone you like is even better than just not feeling guilty, it makes you feel good about yourself.

Speaking of, got any games you're working on I should check out?  Hand Money Left Smiley Hand Money Right
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 03:06:03 PM by larsiusprime » Logged

Nostrils!
Moczan
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2012, 03:32:41 PM »

My work was mainly in realm of freeware Flash games, from games-related contract jobs to getting sponsorship. I think I've first discovered Steam as a viable distribution during second Humble Bundle. I was amazed at how easy it was. Log in to PayPal, accept payment, enter Steam code and that's practically all. Then in 2011 I got my first 'QA job' testing an indie game over the weekend. As I was already pretty experienced with AS3 back than and the programmer on that project droped out, I've get the gig to finish the game. That was the time when I first felt "I've earned this money making a game, I should spend it on games then!" and the urge to pirate anything practically vanished. Recently I even lack time to play through every game I have collected during past year, with many great yet unfinished games waiting on my hard drive, why should I bother pirating anything?
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Chromanoid
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2012, 03:48:53 PM »

Very nice stuff! I think you nailed it. I am not sure, but there should be scientific models similar to your articles. Your articles remind me of "An Economic Analysis on Online Game Service" by Jun-Sok Huhh. A nice analysis/model about the reasons behind inofficial RMT in MMOs.

Do you plan to investigate the best cost combination for your next product (for the average user in your target group) to maximize profit?

BTW great game, my girlfriend loved it (we bought it, I think mainly because I "like" to pay for indie games as long as they are not that expensive). Is there a way to import save games from the demo version?  Grin

PS I think you should measure $P $I $T in $ too. Everything has a price :D
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 04:06:37 PM by Chromanoid » Logged
Moczan
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2012, 04:03:18 PM »

BTW great game, my girlfriend loved it (we bought it, I think mainly because I "like" to pay for indie games as long as they are not that expensive). Is there a way to import save games from the demo version?  Grin

It's funny cause he's actually mentioning it in the article. Yes you can Wink
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Chromanoid
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« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2012, 04:11:59 PM »

cool I just skimmed through the articles for the theories. I will have to tell her. The strange thing is that I didn't find any button in the flash version, because I thought there should be a way. Are your sure there is a way even in the in-browser version?

edit: wtf i just checked the web version, there is a button 0o. I was sure there was no button when I checked last time  Epileptic.
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larsiusprime
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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2012, 04:29:12 PM »

If you're talking about the Kongregate version, you're right - Kong made us remove the import button, but then we talked them into letting us put it back Smiley
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Nostrils!
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