Piracy response by cliffski

Is now up:

I liked your reply to the community - it was well thought out and gives you what the customers want. Thank you.

To show my support I bought Democracy 2 and Planetary defense as they seems like games that I might be interested in. Kudos / Sims isn’t the type of game I would like and since you said you were watching that for new sales I thought I’d just let you know.

Once again thank you for asking for input to begin with and then actually hearing what people were saying rather than having a preconceived idea and then when you didn’t get it ignore what was said like so many other companies do. Thanks again.


Just registered to give a quick response to this:

The account itself is a minor, one-time issue of convenience. What matters is the warm fuzzy feeling of trust after numerous successful painless purchases - for many people Steam is a “tried and true” way to go about it, and past experience reaffirms the impulse to buy a new game from there. This works for any market, for any place of trade where the place you’re buying from has a strong identity (and obviously, where it works well). There is a feeling of familiarity and certainty that the operation will proceed without a hitch.

Another point is Valve being widely seen (IMO with good reason) as the “good guys” of the games industry; it’s hard to imagine a similar service started by, say, EA gathering such ubiquitous acceptance and praise.

I was going to respond to the posted Slashdot article, but I figured I’d post here instead. It’s mostly about DRM. Sorry about the rambling; I have a lot of loosely-related things to say.

I really think you hit the nail on the head with DRM. I stopped buying PC games years ago due to it; I’ve reverted to playing NES/SNES/N64 ROMs on my computer. I have legally purchased those games at some point in my life; they’re at my old residence in NY. The last PC games I purchased were WarCraft 2, Diablo 2, Unreal Tournament, Quake 3, and Fate. The former two don’t run without the CD, so I used cracks to get around the copy protection. I never redistributed the cracked versions of the games (because I consider it stealing), and I still have WarCraft 2 and UT on my computer and I play them frequently. I misplaced the Diablo 2 ISO and Quake 3 is more-or-less free (as OpenArena), plus the game seems to have died out. The servers are mostly dead. I’m waiting for Fate to work in Wine.

This is not to say I’ve never pirated games. I did pirate a few that I wanted to try out (and they didn’t have a demo, and I eventually bought a copy) or that were absolutely unobtainable (due to defunct companies). Really, the rental system of the late 80’s and early 90’s was a great model that has never been duplicated. Users rented the full game for a day. I rented games from a local grocery store. Some of them were rented multiple times (Crystalis, Donkey Kong Country), and I bought many of them (including those two). It’d be impossible to duplicate this sort of experience today, because games are on disk instead of on a circuit board. People can always circumvent a time limit with a simple crack.

In late 2006, my computer needed a new motherboard. The clock on my Gigabyte motherboard was malfunctioning (i.e., it was counting too fast, leading to system instability); after replacing it, I had to call Microsoft for a new Windows XP activation key. They gave me a hard time, since I had requested a new key many times in the past. My situation was believable, but they were unhappy with the number of “reinstalls” I had supposedly performed. I switched to using Ubuntu. I dual-booted for a while, using the new XP CD key, and eventually I removed the XP partition in favor of more room on the ext3.

Some of the most-widely-played Linux games are very simple, yet they’re quite enjoyable. My favorite is Battle for Wesnoth. There’s a version for XP, Mac, and most Linux distributions. If you have Mac ports of your games, as one poster claimed, consider porting them to Linux and then submit a link to Slashdot; that would generate publicity and sales. I can’t say for sure whether or not it’d be worth your time. Many (perhaps most) Linux users are trying to avoid DRM, and games without DRM that cost money might or might not appeal to them. I didn’t use the word “free” in that sentence because it’s loaded, at least to supporters of the FOSS community. Some die-hard FOSS supporters might not “buy” a game because it’s not “free as in freedom”. I like things that are “free” as in “they don’t assume I’m a criminal” and “they enable me to do what I want”.

Nowadays, most of all of the games I buy are for the PS2 or Wii. I flat-out refuse to purchase Xbox 360 and PS3 games at their current prices. I would buy certain Linux games if they were available, but I can’t speak on behalf of Linux users. They’re a very noisy group, kind of like Mac users and Ruby advocates.

I downloaded the Democracy 2 Demo, but it just hangs in Wine.

Question for you… cliffski

classicgamerbrain.blogspot.com/2 … rates.html


I just read your piracy article and felt I’d like to put in my bit too. Now, I’ll admit right away that I do download games without purchasing them. I do this for several reasons:

1 - Availability
2 - Trying before buying
3 - Pricing
4 - Curiosity

I live in a part of the world in which for all intents and purposes, there is no local PC gaming market. This is 1 is an important factor for me coupled with 2 and 3. If I want a game, particulary in English, then I have to generally import it. I can’t simply go to a local shop and pick it up. The nearest shop that may have a copy of the game I’m interested in is basically several hours away by train (at a cost of around 60 dollars train fare). Importing too, has the added cost of import taxes and postage and packing. So if a game is priced at 49.99 USD, I’m looking at paying upwards of 80 to 100 USD. That pretty much turns me off from purchasing and I’ll go and look at torrents to see if I can find the game there instead.

I also don’t like purchasing games I know little about, again, pricing plays a part. If there is no demo for the game then yes, I’ll download a torrent of it. If I come across a new interesting sounding game, I’d rather try it for myself and listen to any reviews. I simply don’t trust people who are paid to give their opinion of something, they always have their own agenda.

This is why I like digital distribution. On the plus side, it makes getting a game far easier and far cheaper for me. I’ve been using Steam since 2004 and have over 100 games bought via that service. Steam for me, also gives me the confidence of knowing that I can redownload that purchase whenever and wherever I want, as many times as I want. I can also make local backups. Something few other digital distribution services make possible. There is a downside to Steam however; the regional restrictions imposed by some publishers. I refuse to support a publisher that is willing to refuse to sell games to me simply because I don’t live in the US. Likewise, I refuse to buy games that are overpriced. One example is Crysis. This was sold for 50 USD over EA’s DD service for those in the US, but to get the same game outside of the US, the price was doubled to 100 USD. It’s the same game, coming from the same digital distribution framework, so why should I have to pay double? Needless to say, that makes me not want to purchase a game.

You also mentioned casual games, I like casual games; I just don’t feel that they are worth 19.99 USD. This is another advantage for Steam, almost all casual games sold on Steam are priced at 9.99 USD. A price I will gladly pay. And have many a time – even as impulse purchases. I played the demo of Kudos some time ago, after seeing it listed on GamersGate. However, I felt the 19.99 USD was a little too much to pay for it based on the demo. Now I hear you have halved the price, I will gladly purchase the game as soon as I am paid.

I’ve also had some bad experiences with some digital distribution services, for example EA’s one when I really wanted a game. I foolishly purchased the game from the EA Downloader only to find, after several download problems, that the game wouldn’t even validate! I’d purchased a game for which the DRM refused to let me play. EA support were of little help and asked way too many questions that were bordering on invasion of privacy. Needless to say, I then downloaded the game via a torrent instead. I will never be purchasing a game via EA’s download service again. This too, is why I am sometimes unwilling to purchase games from other lesser known digital distribution systems. With Steam, I know I will never have this problem.

Now this brings me to my final point. Something I didn’t see mentioned in your article at all. While I have downloaded many games, a lot of the time, this has led me to then actually go out and purchase the game as a result. STALKER, FEAR, Oblivion, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, are just a small number of the games that I originally downloaded and, having found I enjoyed them, rushed out to purchase them – either via digital distribution or by importing them. So I think it’s worth noting that piracy can infact lead to sales and not just cause a loss in sales. But then, if the pirate had no intention of purchasing in the first place, was there a sale to loose anyhow?

I thank you for the article and opportunity to voice my feelings on the subject.

Hey, just read your Piracy sounder, via Kotaku, and figured I’d say that you’ve just garnered a few sales from an apathetic gamer.

I’m probably atypical, but I wandered across Positech games after reading about Kudos. At the time, I hadn’t tried any of your games and blew off actually purchasing any titles. I have to curb my spending due to budget (Success at this varies). I’d wanted to try Aveyond, which Gametap now has, but I’ve found, especially since starting City of Heroes, I don’t tend to play many other games very often. Still, computer games get more attention from me then console games, despite a tendency to buy more console games.

Edit: Just saw a lot of the games I wrote about were by external developers… My bad.

The piracy request and your reactions to the comments actually pushed you into my “Will buy” category. I bought Summer School Session via Hanako games because I really liked Cute Knight. Not my favorite type of game, but I wanted to throw some support towards it. $20 is a little higher then I liked to spend on an indie game outside my preferred genres, but I banked that the game would be quality and enjoyable because of that.

I purchased The Wonderful End of the World from Steam. The $10 price tag and what looked like a decent Katamari genre game seemed worth a look. I think the art style of the picture the game uses was an influence. Certainly worth $10, easy. I really liked the song on the menu, too. For some reason the whole thing seemed more appealing on Steam then on your website, which was kind of a random encounter for me. Although part of this is probably because a lot of the titles on your site aren’t default appealing to me. (Political Machine, Kudos Democracy) thus trending me towards not looking at the other titles you had listed. My bad. And the cute girl isn’t showing on the little pic you have for “End of the World” on your site. I think I guessed it was Sci-Fi and your other title was a tycoon game, but I ramble now. Really Ramble… >.>

I’m getting Starship Tycoon and Kudos at the moment. I have an inherent distrust of Tycoon titles, but I like a lot of Sci-fi games. I love the genre and tend to knee-jerk purchase sci-fi titles easier then non sci-fi. At $10 dollars, I can’t say no anymore. Actually, I thought the game was $20 when I first looked at it, but now I’m thinking I misremembered not having $10 at the end of the month as having a different reason to not purchase the game. Kudos seems very interesting. Maybe not my type of game, but I wanted to look at it. I’m not a demo person, never will be. If I want to try a game, I’ll likely buy it. The sticking point was $20 dollars for a type of game I have never actually seen before. (Oddly, now that I think about it, I’m more inclined to hold on to my money at home, based on price, then I am in the stores…)

For Kudos and Starship Tycoon, I did just look over GamersGate, Direct2Drive, Steam, and Totalgaming looking for the games. (And I spaced that Gamersgate had Kudos and bought it from BMT Micro :frowning: ) I use these services because they tie the game to my account. If I don’t get to use them, I don’t get to download the game again whenever I want. That feature is actually getting me to move from any form of in-store purchase to purely digital purchases. I also believe that such services will revitalize the non triple-A title manufacture of the games industry and want to support them.

My final two cents on pricing of Computer Games vs Console is I’m more willing to spend $15 to $20 dollars on a console game. The trick is a lot of those games are used. That coupled with the fact that console games tend to be gone once you can’t buy them in stores any more. On the compy, they’re still around, somewhere. Legal or illegal, they’ll be there.

Well… that was actually a lot more then I intended to post when I started. I stand by my ramble though!

Just wanted to let you know, a few points

Reasons I came to know about this site:
I heard about your ‘piracy poll’ on Slyck.com, great source of information regarding filesharing / piracy/ copyright etc…
Some say it was all a big plan just to get free advertising…if it wasn’t… it really should be :slight_smile: And if it was, I say so what, it made me visit your site to see what the fuss was about. Better than spending millions to build hype for the Halo kiddies, at the very least, this increases DRM awareness

Reasons I have just bought a game from this site: (Starship Tycoon)
played the demo - Seemed like a pretty good game I would spend some time on.
DRM free (or so I am told) - I want a smallish game I can goof around with at work when Im bored (online games are firewalled) But I might also want to play at home as well. And even at work, I may have to transfer systems occasionally. I am NOT making copies to give to everybody I know, or saving myself from buying more copies of the same game. If i had to get more copies for more locations, I wouldnt buy ANY. I just dont want the hassle of hacking or registering 3 or 4 licenses to play something I have paid for, just in a different location (note I have not actually installed the full version yet on any system, so maybe I will find a horrible surprise waiting for me)
big reason > the PRICE IS RIGHT - I can afford 10 bucks for an entertaining game. Even if I had played a demo, Im not going to spend 60 bucks on a game. I havnt recieved my download yet, and Ive noticed a few posts about it taking a while, but other than that I had a fairly smooth experience using your provider and paying by PayPal

Hope you see an increase in sales due the policies you are taking regarding selling your games. Im sure we would all be very interested to hear how sales are going in a few months. If it is proven that DRM free does not directly result in lost sales, I would say we all win.

PS on a side note, most of your games are ‘simulation’ type, so I assume is one of your strong points… I would love to see a ‘tycoon’ type game balancing piracy/open source/closed source/ copyright, and all the other factors playing in todays Itellectual Property swamp.

Just wanted to add, in the time it took to write the last post, I have recieved my download link (and downloaded it - 45 seconds)
I used a Hotmail account

I’m addressing the download delay today, should be getting tons faster.

I’d like to chime in and say that, as a person who has pirated software in the past, I am a strong supporter of Positech’s stances on DRM and demos. It’s hard to stomach buying software that comes loaded with intrusive DRM when I know that crackers have a free version available that does not have this DRM. Likewise, I can’t stand paying for a game based on a weak demo (or worse, no demo and just hype!) and finding out that it gets boring after a day or two. Positech demos could use a bit of expanding in a few places, but overall they are very generous. One method I think yo might consider would be a ‘best of both worlds’ between time-limited and content-limited demos. Give people a week of unlimited play, then let them keep the demo but with some restrictions, as it is now. The ease of installing Positech games, while it probably makes piracy pretty easy, is a great show of respect for your paying customers. I love being able to download a small installer, no hassle, no bugging me with ads or asking to register for umpteen mailing lists. I wish all games could be that painless to install, back up, etc. Also, I have switched computers and requested new copies of Positech games I’ve bought multiple times in the past and always received a quick response with the installer. It’s nice knowing that Positech will stand by its customers when some less scrupulous companies would tell you “tough luck, buy a new copy.” Even Blizzard, renowned for its customer support in the big studio world, charges a $10 fee to replace a game disc. A buck or two I could understand for material and shipping cost, but $10 is clearly more than cost. Positech charges $0 :slight_smile:

I’m a college student and, quite frankly, if I never pirated software I wouldn’t be able to play the latest games very often. I don’t consider it my right to play all the latest games, but I don’t consider it the studios’ rights to get my money, either. I have no ethical qualms pirating software, especially when I can’t afford to buy a new game, but I have always waited to pay for a copy of Positech games. The combination of no DRM and painless installation, great customer support, reasonable prices (remember when $50 was a LOT for a game? Now $60 is par for the course, and Cliff continues making great games for less than 25 bucks!), good demos to hold me over if I’m short on cash (often I end up pirating instead of buying because I’m broke when a game comes out and I don’t want to wait weeks or months to try it out) and the knowledge that I am supporting an independent developer rather than a faceless megacorp makes it more than worth my hard-earned money to support Positech. It’s easy to be cynical about piracy and declare war on your own customers to safeguard profits, but I would like to let you know that, for me at least, your approach works. Of course, there’s always the success story of Stardock, which stuck with a DRM free distribution model for GalCiv 2, which has been an enormous critical and financial success. EAs of the world, take notice: gamers don’t like DRM, and loading your products with things your customers don’t like is not helping your sales.

Ive bought every Positech game based on its DRM stance. Ive bought Democracy 2 as soon as it came out as well. My opinion, when you win customer loyalty and respect, its the best measure in defeating piracy. Piracy will always be there. People pirate just to pirate and I doubt more than 20% bother to even play or use what they pirate. Its like a store keeper who left is doors wide open, some people will walk on and go about their business others will run in and grab 10 packs of dog treats and not own a dog. Loyalty goes a long way and Positech has won mine. I really dont mind entering serial numbers in, or leaving a disc in, no DRM is really nice in that you just boot up and play rather than hunt the title down. Ive a lot faith in developers or publishers who play an active role in their forums and communicate directly to their customers and not use user based moderators. Never been a fan of this, as Ive never seen it not been more about placing a buffer between you and your customers. I can name several very well known developers or even PR people who spend a good amount of time talking and informing their customer base about products or just enjoying a good chat or two. Ive seen these people grow a very large following of loyal fans and customers who then go out and spread the word about the community they enjoy. Im very happy with my purchases here, and in fact grateful in a way this whole DRM issue flared up, I had not seen Positech games before, and I can say honestly that Ive missed out on some very classically great games.

I don’t think DRM is really to stop piracy. DRM is because people used to buy a game, play it till bored, then sell it used online, then the next person would play it till bored and then sell it. Most games don’t have much reply value. When people resell a used game or even a used book, then the people who made it, make nothing.

DRM for applications is so people might buy software for their laptop, then tne laptop breaks and they buy a new laptop and they suddenly must buy the software all over again. I actually knew a guy that happened to and $500 of software was lost.

On eBay and sites like it (mostly just eBay), a lot of companies will use eBay’s VERO system to illegal prevent anyone from selling a used version of their product (not just software, but any brand name good) and they’ll also use it to keep anyone from selling their goods below a certain price. I used to buy games used a whole lot.

Now warezing used to be basically people hiding away somewhere and what’s amazing now is that it’s so easy as there’s all these torrent websites that never get taken down. Though torrent sites while they pirate things, they do one thing that I don’t consider piracy, which is allowing you to watch TV shows you missed. People downloading TV shows is 100% the network’s fault. The main networks will only air shows once, just once. If a show is good quality and cost a lot to make (science fiction), they will preempt it with football or they’ll run it out of its timeslot with American idol so recording devices do not get it. Or they’ll suddenly change the schedule as a last minute surprise. Even if they air it correctly, if a person’s recording device malfunctions, the not airing reruns means you must download it. I do not like watching TV on small computer screen and would rather watch it on my big TV but most TV shows need to be watched in order. I think eventually the torrent sites will get shut down. There is a site hulu that is legal ad-supported watching of TV but I bet it’s another streaming video site, which are completely unwatchable without an internet connection below the speed of T3 as even with a 256K connection, it’s still 2 seconds of video, then 5 seconds of loading, and it refuses to buffer the entire thing or let you rewind. This is why youtube is so popular because youtube will buffer the entire thing and let you pause until it’s done whereas streaming video is unwatchable and most streaming sites are made so no external program can download the streaming content to watch properly.

I also don’t think Cliff should worry about people pirating his games. I mean, he’s flooded torrent sites with demos pretending to be full versions like he’s so worried about it. But Cliff, you’re a small Indie company so pirating your stuff is not going to matter and is more like advertising. If you’re a big company, then you will not be able to stop piracy. If you’re small and get little sales, you’ll also get little pirating and if you get tons of sales, you’ll likewise get tons of pirating, but still you’ll get so many sales that you’ll be rich so it won’t matter. So all the work of uploading demos is for naught. Oh and the rare case where there is a torrent of one of your games, it’s the oldest possible version with tons of bugs that is not upgradable. Like with Kudos 2, early versions have this bug where you can’t load old saved games and the demo of Kudos 2 also has you unable to load old saved games, so basically the warezed version is more or less like the demo. If anything you should be more concerned about the lack of pirating the games as the lack of pirating means your games are not very well known. If your games were very well known, then you’d be making a huge amount of money even with piracy.

Oh and by the way, Cliff, how would you feel if you wrote books instead of games and most people read the books at the library instead of buying the books? You’d probably not like that either.

I love reading posts like the previous one.

“But Cliff, you’re a small Indie company so pirating your stuff is not going to matter and is more like advertising.” …LOL

Maybe you should stick adverts in your games, Cliff. The pirates can advertise for others too… words fail me.

I am happy for you to go sit in the library and wait in line for the PC to be free to play my game.
What on earth does that have to do with being able to pirate every single game from the comfort of your living room?

Have you read the latest on the Pirate Bay case. There could be a retrial.

“The lawyer representing The Pirate Bay has stated that he is considering demanding a retrial after it emerged that the judge who oversaw the case sits on the board of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property, as well as being a member of the Swedish Copyright Association.
The judge has stated that he does not believe his situation constitutes any conflict of interest.”

Those arrogant Swedish thieves will try as hard as they can to avoid getting the just reward for what they do.
I hope one day they end up where they belong, in a cell.

Yet more grist for the grindstone

More on the Pirate Bay case.

Second judge removed from Pirate Bay case.

Swedish court case thrown into turmoil as Ulrika Ihrfelt’s is removed following further bias allegations

The soap-opera like narrative of the ongoing Pirate Bay prosecution in Sweden has taken another unexpected turn with the news that a second judge has been thrown off the case after it emerged she had links to pro-copyright lobbyists.

This is the second time that the Swedish legal system has been accused of a pro-copyright agenda. After the conclusion of the first trial, it emerged that the judge Tomas Norström was a member of both the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Swedish Copyright Association.

Accusations of bias followed, and subsequently fellow judge Ulrika Ihrfelt was appointed to examine the claims. However, now it has been found that Ihrfelt herself is also a member of both groups – a discovery that has lead to her removal from the process.

“The reasons for this is that the question of whether the original judge was biased needs to be tried by other judges other than those that later may have been given the case,” an appeal court statement reads.

“Furthermore, because of the content of the claim of bias, it has been deemed proper that the question should be answered by a division that is not specialised in copyright.”

A final decision on whether the case will return to court could still be many weeks away, but the chances of an appeal must certainly be increasing – bad news for those who hoped the seemingly successful prosecution could help in the global piracy battle.

Is this going to be one of those cases where they get let off on a technicality?!

its just pathetic whining. Nobody with a single brain cell thinks that the fascist millionaire Carl Lundstrom and his ad-generating website (fronted by 3 less-scary looking kids for PR reasons) is anything but a major piracy site. They should all be in prison. I’m sick of the internet kiddies trying to find reasons to pretend that TPB is not doing anything wrong.
Fuck em, send the lot of them to prison, and if they will not reveal the location of the servers, keep them in there till they die for failing to assist the authorities.
They had it coming.