A Pirate's Apathy


#1

The blog seems to be down, so I suppose I’ll write my reply here. It took me the better part of the day to ponder the matter, and ultimately what I’ve written here is quite blunt and brutally honest. I’ve done my best to write this in a way that applies to you specifically, yet the reasons are really quite universal. Frankly though, I highly doubt you’ll derive much help for them, let alone appreciate them.

The one thing I won’t give you in this message is any justification or garbage about economic systems, how piracy promotes sales or any such jargon. It’s just my reasons, and mine alone. As for myself personally, I’m well past a decade beyond my teens, and my financial situation is quite stable and comfortable, as is my employment. I use Winblows out of necessity, but I comfortably know my way around OSX and multiple flavors of Linux.

I’ll start with the “why”. There’s multiple elements to it, but the most basic element is “Because I can” and “Because there’s better things to spend my money on.” I understand you’re a small developer and every sale probably means quite a bit to you, but on the other hand I certainly don’t want to spend money if I don’t have to. If I have the choice not to, then the choice to actually pay for your software is basically charity. At least you’ve got that going for you, whereas purchasing a big developer’s software feels much like lighting dollar bills on fire.

The cheapskate part is only just one small facet. There’s also a bit of perverse fun behind it, and to explain that, let me give an analogy. Have you ever repaired a broken device so that you didn’t have to go buy a new one? Was it satisfying in figuring out how it worked and eventually managing to successfully fix it? Well, software is the same thing. Demo software is “broken”. Cracking it is “fixing” it.

The mere act of cracking a program – or hunting one down if I don’t want to spend the time to make it myself – is a game in itself, and a very satisfying one at that . That joy is doubled when the information on how to do it is shared, plus there’s that noble, warm-fuzzy feeling of having helped out others. When a game is cracked, I’ve won the game. My reward is the privilege of playing the program freely. Heck, there have even been games I cracked but never bothered playing. The appreciation I received from those who used the crack gives a more satisfying feeling than anything a game is capable of giving.

Sometimes it’s not even worth the time, but will spend the time to do it anyway. For example, games for Palm PDAs are generally in the $5 or $7 range. It took 4 hours to crack the most recent one. If time is money, that’s not even close to minimum wage, yet it still felt worth the time. Why? Again, for the challenge, and because paying for a program is like admitting I lost, which is very pride damaging. It’d be more preferable to delete the program and live without it than to pay for it.

Now for price. Quite simply, I hardly even notice the price of most games. Most times I just go straight to bittorrent after hearing about it. If I can’t crack it or find the crack to it, then it’s dead to me, at least for the time being. If I really need it and it’s beyond my skill to crack, there’s someone who WILL do so eventually. I can wait.

I know yours aren’t console games, but I’ll discuss those a bit. Console games are obviously a bit of a different matter because now there’s hardware mechanisms involved which hinder game copying, and they’re pretty effective. Believe it or not, there’s actually a small positive for gamers in that. How, you ask? Because those used games hold a resale value, whereas PC games hold zilch. That makes me feel a little less bitter about paying for a game because I can now recoup some of that back when I’m done with it.

I’ve got a nice stack of legit console games, almost all of them used. $17 is the drop-dead maximum I’ll pay on ebay after tax and shipping. The only games I bought new (yet on sale for under $25) were ones I deemed collectible. They’re still shrink-wrapped and will never be opened, and for playing purposes I obtained cheap ex-rental copies. The fact that the big developers want to curtail used game sales pisses me off to red visioned, acid spitting proportions, and their insistence that I should be paying an astonishing $40 to $50 (and on most new PS3 games, $60!) for something I’ll get barely a month’s usage is enraging. I’m even more pissed at gamers who have allowed those price points to be sustainable.

As for your game, Democracy 2, I suppose if I wanted to give a copy to my tech-illiterate cousin as a gift and didn’t want to put him through the trouble of cracking it, $15 feels like the sweet spot to me. At $22.95 I’d be expecting it to arrive in the mail with a leather bound manual and a collectible tin, shipping included.

As you’ve obviously gathered, I have less than zero respect for the concept of paying for software, and my attitude is rather lacking in sympathy for pay-to-play developers and programmers, indie or otherwise. To be quite blunt, I equate developers griping over piracy to be on par with street performers who panhandle. If the art of writing programs is your joy, I commend you, but like other arts, best of luck in profiting from it, especially now. My opinion is that it’d be more worthwhile and morally satisfying to code under GPL, but ultimately it’s your call. If for-profit programming is the way you want to go, people like me come with the territory.


#2

I’d happily make free games, but the bank still demands I pay my mortgage, and so do the power and water company.
Thats the problem.


#3

Wow Ghosx, how incredibly cavalier. I am always curious to know what people with this attitude do for a living and wonder if they would appreciate not getting paid for their efforts.

If you knew that you wouldn’t get caught would you do any of the following?
Eat in a restaurant and leave without paying?
Fill up with gas and drive away without paying?
Sneak into a movie theatre without paying?
Steal a book from the library?
Shoplift?

If you said no to all but still pirate software, why should it be any different?

If you have said yes to any of these you are morally bankrupt and are part of the reason why honest people are treated like criminals by the corporate world.

If you think of the cost associated with security, surveillance, anti-theft measures, anti-counterfeit methods, etc. you have to realize that the money to pay for it has to come from somewhere. It stands to reason that things would be cheaper and easier to use if it weren’t for the bad apples.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no shining knight. I would answer no to all of my own questions but admit that I have downloaded movies, music, and software. The point I am trying to make is as much for my own benefit as it is for anyone else.

Why digital media and not anything else? Is it because we can? Is it just too easy?
The problem is that once you start cracking down on piracy you begin to impact your paying customers.

The challenge is there. You can’t change the way people behave but you can change the way you provide your product. The question is; can you do it without alienating the rest of your clients?


#4

I think Ghosx has a point, as morally bankrupt as it may be.

Just quickly where I stand on piracy, I’m not particularly well off (not poor either). So I started downloading films rather than pay £13 each for me and the woman to go to the cinema, simple reason being is the cinema is having a laugh at £13 a go. Then I discovered I could download games too. This is not to say I do, but I can. I have acquired maybe 10 games this year, I have pirated 3 of those , Spore, Mass effects and Sim City Societies. SCS because I was expecting to not like the game, and was really after a demo, I did indeed delete the game, ME and Spore because I figure if your going to be treated like a criminal why not just pirate them. In both cases I can honesty say I would have bought them were it not for the DRM.

Side note: ME is a superb game, spore is utter garbage, clearly all the content has been removed to sell back to us in £20 expansion packs, I am really growing to despise EA.

Amazon f####d up with a copy of 3 in 1 Civilisation 4 complete, by selling at £6.98, so I snapped one up before they put the price up again. The price was good, had they not, I would have probably download it as a demo, not expecting to like it. However, since I did like it, I really have to wonder if Amazon had not screwed up the price and I did indeed download it rather than pay £30 would I have gone back and bought it after liking the downloaded game??

Stardock i love, their games and the fact that you get regular updates, plus with impulse being fast and efficient their offering is superior to any pirate copy.

The Witcher I bought, now if I had bought that through Stardock I would get the Enhanced edition free. But now the Enhanced edition is out and I bought the standard already they expect me to pay full price all over again??, Hmm let me stop and think about that.

Kudos I bought last night, where Ghosx has a point is that it is very easy to pirate, and unlike Stardock, I doubt there will be a regular stream of updates. So unlike Stardock the pirate copy and the original as a stand alone item are the same as each other.

That said, I respect the respect that Cliff has for gamers, and I enjoyed Kudos so I will also buy the Starship tycoon one too. The only point I wanted to make is that while Stardocks downloads are superior to the pirate versions (regular content updates). I’m guessing that these ones are the same as the pirate copies. I’m not suggesting Cliff spend all his time doing free expansions, merely that it must be a hell of a tough business with so many apathetic pirates around.


#5

First off, I give Ghosx credit for speaking honestly. Even if I don’t agree with you, it’s good to see someone just come out and say why they do it.

If you count “downloading a DRM-free cracked fix of a game I purchased” as pirating, then I have pirated just about every game I’ve purchased in the past several years that has DRM in it. Some companies (Positech and Stardock come to mind) don’t have DRM, and I am more than willing to support these companies. If the game is DRM free, I have no problem buying a copy since I’m not being treated as a thief. Spore was a game that I would have pre-ordered had it not been for all of the DRM. I was able to convince several other people not to purchase it because of the insane activation scheme. Granted, I have bought some games that did have DRM…but those are numbering less and less as time goes on and the schemes get worse and worse.

I have borrowed games from friends. If you count that as pirating, then I am also a pirate in that respect. Neverwinter Nights 2 was a game that I was unsure about, so I borrowed it from a friend and installed it. I was unable to get it to run at all with the DVD in the drive…but going out to a pirate site to get a fixed EXE allowed me to run the game. I wasn’t overly impressed with it and didn’t finish it all the way, so that saved me quite a bit of money. Some other games that I have tried this way are ones that I ended up buying legit copies of (Age of Empires and Supreme Commander are the first two that come to mind) Even with these games, I went ahead and downloaded no-CD cracks.


#6

Ghosx description of why people pirate- because they can and can get it for free and therefore spend money on something else is true for those I know that do this. Not many people I know admit it to me these days knowing my stance but that has and probably always will be the primary reason amongst my age group of friends that I know. I am 46 years old and my friends are not without the dosh- they just have the know how and the thought processes that make them believe that if it is there to take for free- why not?

DRM/Crappy games etc are now just becoming excuses to make it more socially acceptable to pirate IMO.

Sure I played my first game - Leisure Suit Larry I recall clearly- was given to my husband from his friend at work (who was giving out copies to everyone) and then he installed it on our 10mb hard drive and I was sold to the gaming world. I was playing it one day whilst our inlaws were over and my SIL had to have a copy and immediatley it was a hit around her workplace too. All for free.
I am sure sooner or later I would have found the wonderful world of gaming for myself and quickly learned this was wrong to take such well meaning gifts. So alas - LSL never did get my money and sure I could write a cheque to Sierra and get rid of my sin but who does that? I am sure none of the other 25 people in the office gave 2 hoots about it - nor their inlaws and the office they worked in and so on and so forth. I can only ensure I do not do this again. Now everyone has a first and only but compound that now with how many games by how many people in the office and then how many relatives they give it too- who also work in offices- and can anyone honestly say piracy is not a problem?

Back to Ghosx subject- I know people that do pirate the latest games these days- and they are not young skin flint people - not that should excuse it anyway- they are adults that have means but do not see any reason why they should pay for something they can easily get for free. If their kid wants a game- they download it for them- they save their money for holidays in Italy as you cannot get them for free. Simple as that.


#7

Well at least he is brutally honest but frankly also as brutally wrong. :slight_smile: I think if someone would come to his home and take all or some of those nice things he spent his money on, rather than pay for other peoples work well, he’d be the crying foul and the police. One mans property is another mans free ride if he can manage to get it free. Well if you leave your door open by mistake, or window, then by your logic I have the perfect right to take what I feel I like in your home, and you should just understand my stance that since it was open, it was free. I like your logic, mind if we have your address? Mind if we stop by during the day while your at work? We’ll make sure we leave a note saying hello.

:slight_smile:


#8

While I don’t agree with what he’s saying, a more accurate analogy would be “if someone would come to his home and makes a copy of all or some of those nice things he spent his money on while leaving the originals…” You still have your version of the goods when he makes a digital copy. Again, I’m not justifying what he did…merely that if you are not going to profit from the game, it doesn’t hurt you directly if he takes your copy (unless you work for Positech, of course.) Cliffsky, on the other hand, is hurt directly because it’s a lost sale.


#9

Good point but, I think its the idea he came into your home to do it all is a bigger issue. :wink:


#10

it someone copies my game it doesn’t hurt me.
If everyone copies it though, I go out of business and my house gets repossessed.

I think that its unethical to live your lfie in a way that is only possible because other people work harder than you, and live in a more honest way that you do yourself. To behave that way is to be a leech, a free-loader, and frankly, not a nice guy.
That’s why people shouldn’t pirate. Because they are expecting other people to subsidise their lifestyle. If they can’t see this must be the case, they need to study basic economics.
When we have holodecks and replicators, this won’t be a problem. We don’t have them yet, at least not for food and housing.


#11

Oooo, scary stuff. Lot of good points too. Very enlightening read.


#12

Now that you put it in that way, I think Pirating games is like Cheating in multiplayer games. One does it because he/she doesn’t have either skill/desire/interest to play the game fairly, and in worst case the cheaters will want to have fun with the expense of others. I think these “crack” guys who do it for the skene should start doing some demoes if they want to show their skillz instead of cracking other people software and work. I hope someday there will be a anti-cracl/anti-piracy system that will not bite in the customer’s a**, and one that will allow games to be resold.


#13

I have posted similar posts as the one I have posted now. Those who pirate anything really probably live at home, and probably do not understand the worth of money. When you have bill collectors, you better have the money when they want it. If you were to say something like, “Oh, I don’t have it because my job doesn’t pay me money.” They would not care, and would take whatever they are there for.

You are making money doing something you love, people hate that. They feel you are making too much money, probably more than they are because they did not take the right steps in life, so that is your problem.

Here in America, we have a system called welfare. If you want to have 10 kids, don’t worry about a job, others will pay your food, medical, and housing. Sure, it is free for you, but someone pays for it. Same with piracy, you can download as much as you want, others will take the hit, mainly those with the jobs in those sectors.

If we take everything for free, what is the point to work? I get it, a select few should work, while others reap the benefits? I wonder why we are in such a huge economic mess. We all want stuff for free, but without paying or working for that stuff.