Rovio's Hed claims piracy can be good

February 1, 2012 | 14:38

Tags: #drm #piracy #witcher-2

Companies: #cd-projekt #rovio #ubisoft

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 forums
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