bit-gamer.net

Positech Games reveals results of piracy survey

Positech Games reveals results of piracy survey

Cliff Harris has sought to make a compromise with the pirates by changing the way he develops games in the future.

Cliff Harris, lead designer of Positech Games and semi-regular bit-tech.net columnist has been a busy boy lately. Not only has he been hard at work on the new Kudos 2 simulation game, but he's also been launching a survey into the causes of computer game piracy.

The question Cliff asked was simple; Why do people pirate my games? And yet the results that the indie developer recieved are not nearly as interesting as his own reaction to them as he takes the advice of the pirates on board and starts designing games with them in mind.

Cliff has thrown a well written and useful guide to the pirates he encountered up on the net, but in brief the pirates gave the usual excuses; DRM, too expensive, games aren't worth paying for and a lack of digital distribution.

He has now taken all that advice on board and started changing the way he designs and releases games to take it all into account.

How? Well, first of all, even though Cliff only used DRM in one of his games previously he has now promised never to use it again. He's also going to be releasing longer, more fully featured and more representative demos of all his games so that people can get a better feel for the game.

On top of that, Cliff is lowering the price on all his current games and considering how to reduce the cost of his unreleased titles. He's also begun investigating better ways of getting the games released in a digital format.

Most astounding of all though is Cliff's reaction to the complaint that his games aren't up to scratch, something which Cliff attributes mostly to the fact that he always knows his games will be pirated.

"My games aren't as good as they could be. Ironically, one of the things that reduces your enthusiasm to really go the extra mile in making games is the thought that thousands of ungrateful gits will swipe the whole thing on day one for nothing. It's very demoralizing."

As a result of the survey though Cliff claims to have found a new enthusiasm for game development and the ex-Lionhead programmer is now going to put far more effort into testing and designing his games.

You can read the full report Cliff has made on his blog and we recommend also checking out some his undeniably impressive games while you're at it. When you're done, scoot back here and let us know what you think in the forums.

17 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
liratheal 14th August 2008, 10:24 Quote
Quote:
"My games aren't as good as they could be. Ironically, one of the things that reduces your enthusiasm to really go the extra mile in making games is the thought that thousands of ungrateful gits will swipe the whole thing on day one for nothing. It's very demoralizing."

Couldn't agree more. Even though I don't make games for a living.
iwog 14th August 2008, 13:16 Quote
Quote:
People talked a lot about impulse buying games if they were much cheaper

Its so true, games that are $10-15 dollars ie £5-8 are generally impulse buys for me, and now the price of many of his games are $9.99 I'm tempted to buy more. Up to about £15 and you've got a strong case for an impulse buy, and if I only play it 3-5 times its still cheaper then a night out and has give more entertainment. I mean I've only played through the penny arcade game a couple of times but i dont feel cheated as it was only a tenner and it was good.
Quote:
Lots of people claimed to pirate because it was easier than going to shops. Many of them said they pirate everything that's not on Steam. Steam got a pretty universal thumbs up from everyone. I still don't get how buying from steam is any different to buying from me, other than you may already have an account on steam. For the record, I'd love to get my games on steam. I wish it was that easy.

I Have to agree that DD is much easier then buying a physical product either from the shops or online, and often its quicker. But the difference between buying from many small indie developers and buying form Steam is the integration and collation aspect. With steam its 1 password you type in to see all of your games, both installed and just purchased. Its one password to get updates for all of them, to buy new games and install old ones.

To get the same functionality I do from Steam with my indie games I keep an 8gig USB stick with installers, passwords and URLs to installers so that I don’t have to hunt around for keys and installers after I've uninstalled a game.
chicorasia 14th August 2008, 14:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by iwog
Up to about £15 and you've got a strong case for an impulse buy, and if I only play it 3-5 times its still cheaper then a night out and has give more entertainment.

Even at US$ 50 or so, a game is less expensive per hour than going to the movies.
Quote:
It's very demoralizing.

Yes, it is. I wish all you brave pirates go into creative careers - architecture, design, publicity, media... - and learn just how demoralizing and sad it feels to have your work ripped off.
DXR_13KE 14th August 2008, 15:10 Quote
piracy is a symptom that something is not right, and Cliff Harris got it right, we went and asked the pirates, he talked to his possible clients, i applaud your initiative and hope your future endeavours are fruitful!
impar 14th August 2008, 15:32 Quote
Greetings!

How come every time we discuss the game industry, Steam always comes up as the standard\benchmark?
badders 14th August 2008, 15:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by iwog
...snip...
I completely agree with you.
I hadn't bought CS:S up until now, then I saw it at $9.99 last weekend on Steam. It then fell into the "Impulse buy that the missus won't notice" price bracket. £5-£8 is about right. AudioSurf also fell into that bracket.
Quote:
I still don't get how buying from steam is any different to buying from me, other than you may already have an account on steam
Steam works so well, because it has a large userbase, and attracts a lot of games. I don't want to download another Digital Distribution platform for every game I buy. One is enough.
CardJoe 14th August 2008, 15:45 Quote
Audiosurf was my last impulse buy too. I played the demo, one track, and thought that that was worth the price. Even though I haven't played in a while I still feel it was a good buy.
Cthippo 14th August 2008, 16:31 Quote
I'm really glad to see that someone who makes games is paying attention and taking a realistic approach to providing what the market wants. The reality is that it will always be not only possible to pirate games but also cheaper. If you want to make a profit, you have to create a circumstance where people want to give you money for your game instead of downloading it. I think Cliff & Co. are on the right track.
dr-strangelove 14th August 2008, 17:29 Quote
I'm glad at least one developer is trying to tackle the causes of piracy instead of moaning about how it's ruining the games industry. I think there will always be at least some piracy but I also think most gamers will want to support their favourite games developers as long as they don't feel they're being ripped off.
pendragon 14th August 2008, 17:56 Quote
glad to see someone working *with* his customers, rather than against/around them. :) Best of luck, Sir!
banshee256 14th August 2008, 18:54 Quote
Finally some common sense. Lowering prices is always a winner and a no-brainer. Lack of intrusive DRM is also a plus for me, but I really don't have issues with it, except for the really dragonien ones, like Mass Effect's.

Where he really hits home, is with this one: Better quality. The ONLY games that have any real length to them, at the moment, are MMOs. The single-player experience has almost been completed replaced by tutorial-like campaigns, short and hastily put together, repetitive scenarios and all the focus seems to be on multiplayer and graphics. Stuff that looks good in advertising, basically.

Even the few, dedicated singleplayer games have been made into mindless, repetitive experiences, with uninspired stories and soulless characters. Oblivion being the prime example and it's spiritual successor, Fallout 3, showing many of the same symptoms.

And I personally don't care much for the current way digital distribution is being handled. I don't like Steam, because I don't like the idea of being forced to run (another) programme in the background, with more or less constant connection to the internet. Let me create an account on a site, let me download from the site and let that be the end of it (like every other online store in the world) and maybe then we can talk.
Bungle 14th August 2008, 20:01 Quote
No matter how people try an analyze piracy, I don't think your gonna escape the fact that people who pirate, will continue to do so, because:
A) It's free
B) It's simple to obtain
c) Generally it's been cracked and so easy to run without jumping through security checks.

You cannot compete against something that is available for free, unless the laws get really tough on piracy IMHO.
metarinka 14th August 2008, 21:50 Quote
I don't pirate pc games anymore and haven''t for awhile. However i have pirated pro software i.e cubase, 3d studio max photoshop etc. I'm a poor college kid and i can't jusify dropping 1K+ for something i just want to fool around with.
Jojii 14th August 2008, 22:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bungle
No matter how people try an analyze piracy, I don't think your gonna escape the fact that people who pirate, will continue to do so, because:
A) It's free

THAT'S ALL
Jojii 14th August 2008, 22:51 Quote
One company that i believe dealt with piracy the correct way was Blizzard. Sure people pirated their games but that only gave you access to singleplayer content. If you tried to access battle.net you were screwed. The lasting power of all of blizzards games has been (for me) the appeal of gaming online. I think this started with starcraft and when diablo 1 was updated to give people unique names (this carried over to diablo 2 and warcraft 3)
MrMonroe 15th August 2008, 15:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jojii
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bungle
No matter how people try an analyze piracy, I don't think your gonna escape the fact that people who pirate, will continue to do so, because:
A) It's free

THAT'S ALL

Yeah, this. I think this guy is setting himself up for a drop in revenue and nothing more. Sure, some games can be marketed as $10 impulse buys, but if you're a larger company with more work going into the product (I mean man-hours here, not effort) you just plain can't sell your game for that little. There might be a few people more who will buy the guy's games because they're cheaper now, but it won't be the pirates. The pirates already "own" it.

The people least likely to give an accurate report as to why people pirate games are the pirates themselves. They know they are doing something wrong, and they will give a litany of the same tired excuses to justify their behavior, when the only real reason is that it's free that way.
RynoRFC 22nd October 2009, 20:13 Quote
An additional comment for Mr Harris, whether he ever gets this or not. He mentioned increasing the size of his demos, which I think is a wise decision. I'm usually not that impressed by demos because they typically don't put the game's best foot forward. You get to mess around in starting level areas with low level stuff, but it doesn't build the anticipation of what is yet to come.

The best demo I have ever played, hands down, is F.E.A.R. Even if you have the game I recommend playing through that demo. They compressed several levels worth of combat and creepiness into one level, to the point that when I played the actual game, the pacing was slow enough that it didn't feel nearly as scary as that demo. You got to play with weapons you wouldn't find until 1/2 way through the game as well. Granted, this must have taken some significant rewriting, which might be tough for a small developer. But that's one of the only demos I've ever played that made me think "I have got to get this game!"
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums