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Rovio's Hed claims piracy can be good

Rovio's Hed claims piracy can be good

Rovio's Angry Birds has been downloaded 500 million times - but is piracy to thank for its success?

Mikael Hed, chief executive of mobile gaming giant Rovio, surprised attendees at a conference this week with the announcement that piracy can be seen as a positive thing.

Speaking at the Midem music conference in Cannes, Hed told attendees that 'we [Rovio] have some issues with piracy, not only in apps, but also especially in the consumer products. There is tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which is not officially licensed products,' the Guardian, attending the event, reports.

'Piracy may not be a bad thing,' Hed continued. 'It can get us more business at the end of the day.'

Declaring the music industry's attempts to curb piracy as 'rather terrible' and the tactic of pursuing infringers through the courts or via threatening letters with little legal weight as 'futile,' Hed offered a simple explanation for his opinion: 'if we lose that fanbase, our business is done, but if we can grow that fanbase, our business will grow.'

It's hard to argue with Rovio's success: released for Apple's iOS devices in 2009, Angry Birds has gone on to sell 500 million copies across numerous platforms. Even given the low cost of the game and the existence of advertising-supported free editions, that's a stunning success.

It's easy to dismiss Hed's comments as applicable only to mobile game development, which is typically cheaper and faster than mainstream games for PC or desktop platforms. To do so is to ignore the work Rovio has done, however: it took six years before Angry Birds catapulted the company into the limelight.

Hed's opinion is not one that is shared by all in the industry, of course. For every developer like CD Projekt, which publicly derides digital rights management (DRM) technology as being actively harmful for the innocent consumer, there are giant companies like Ubisoft who use increasingly draconian measures in an often futile battle against piracy.

Hed's comments go further than most: while CD Projekt might be against DRM, the company found itself on the wrong side of its fans late last year when it pledged to pursue alleged pirates of its role-playing title The Witcher 2 through the courts. Hed, by contrast, claims that legal action should only be taken in the event that the actions of a third party are actively harmful to his company's brand, such as the sale of shoddy or dangerous merchandise by counterfeiters.

Where do you stand on the argument: do publishers have every right to be aggrieved when their property is distributed far and wide by pirates, or does Hed speak sense? Share your thoughts over in the forumshttp://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=225266.

10 Comments

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Anneon 1st February 2012, 14:59 Quote
How did you come across your favourite author?

How many books did you then proceed to buy from said author?

I think that's what he is saying here.
GeorgeStorm 1st February 2012, 15:02 Quote
I think he has a point, I can admit I've pirated Call of Juarez in the past, I now own it and the sequel, neither of which I would have bought based on the reviews since they were so mixed.
greigaitken 1st February 2012, 17:15 Quote
the small guys wanna be known and become big. Once you big - you need to have guaranteed big $$ revenue so its just different views from different view points.
I'd probably be ok with drm if it didnt get cracked on the first day.
Stelph 1st February 2012, 17:19 Quote
Think the title is a little inflamatory, as pointed out in previous comments I think what Mikael was getting at wasnt that Piracy is good, more that its not as bad and deserves as much villification and hard handed tactics as the movie/music industries are using. Also as the article points out, DRM and other such measures are quite often skipped by educated pirates and its actually the innocent user who is affected by stupid DRM.

As Anneon pointed out, quite often people will stumble across something they like by accident, sometimes through "illegal" means, and will end up buying or supporting the creator for future releases.

Piracy is bad, but content creators should look at the reasons why people pirate (usually high costs and ease of avaiabilty) and work to resolve those issues rather than punish everyone with DRM
Elton 1st February 2012, 18:03 Quote
As someone said, piracy is the new Radio.

It makes sense that it isn't as bad as it seems. But even back in the day of VHS the MPAA back then tried to prevent it's sales just because of recording technology. Actually this debate has been around forever and the truth is: copying music has hardly affected those companies, as did recording VHS movies. And while there are admittedly lost sales think of it this way:

Toyota can not sue you nor Chevorlet for lost sales, while cars are a bit difficult to replicate you still don't see replica makers getting sued for lost sales. The lost sales argument at least to me is a moot and ridiculous point, as how does one know what potential sales there may be?

At any rate, it's already apparent that DRM hurts the paying customer more, but what company gives a rat's when there's so much money to be made.
Sloth 1st February 2012, 19:01 Quote
Easy to say when you've just gotten lucky with a big hit like Angry Birds.

I don't see where he gets off criticizing CD Projekt. Thay make real games that take actual effort to create and cost real money. There's a massive difference between pirating, say, The Witcher 2 and Angry Birds. One represents a collaboration of devoted effort from various parties to create a rich and enjoyable gaming experience, the other represents little more than a cheap Newgrounds flash game. It was a big move by CD Projeckt to not use DRM based on trust in their customers which a lot of gamers appreciated, if they want to persue legal action against those who break that trust then more power to them.
Jipa 2nd February 2012, 06:27 Quote
Makes sense. Also makes me wonder just how much money are some companies spending in the war against piracy and in developing/using the DRM-malarkeys? And how much good does it REALLY do them?


On another note I'm looking forward to seeing if Rovio can come up with some other game. The idea of the Angry Birds was old and IMO it's boring as hell, but I suppose that just goes to show how some people know how to make money and I don't.
MSHunter 2nd February 2012, 08:25 Quote
DRM really started to annoy me when they companies try to decide what you may or may not have on your PC for other software. Like virtual drives. What business gets off telling me if I install their game I can not have Virtual drive software on my PC? Did said company pay for my PC? NO.

Edit:
Best part about that is, the only reason I found out about virtual drive software was because a friend told me I could use it to protect my game disks and improve load time.
(this was some years ago before steam)
ev1lm1nd666 4th February 2012, 16:52 Quote
He has a good point, I'm on a very low income and as most games no longer have a demo and many reviewers give wildly different views of games, I find myself pirating most of the larger titles for two reasons,
1- To see if I'm going to want the game
2- To save my money for the games I will play.

I don't download all the new games or anything like that, only the ones that interest me, if I like them then I buy them at full retail price - normally from Steam etc - and delete the ones I don't like.

In my opinion, a developer who won't release a demo is a developer who is insecure about the quality of their game.....
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