GWJ Conference Call Episode 140

Conference Call

Prototype, Tiger Woods 10 (Wii), Sims 3, AAA Blockbuster Games, Your Emails and more!

This week Cory Banks is in the captain's seat as he steers the show through the treacherous waters of AAA blockbuster games. Also, Sean Sands uses saucy language to make his point! If you want to submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"PodunkStump" (Ian Dorsch) - 0:37:01
"Los Pistoleros" (Ian Dorsch) - 1:04:27

Comments

adam.greenbrier wrote:

That's a really good post, Ozymandias.

Indeed -- I think my desire for physical media does indeed loom when it comes to portability -- we have 3 Nindendo DS's in the house. We have one Mario Kart DS cartridge. I honeslty hadn't thought of it in that regard. Now in that case, there's really no reason we couldn't just have one DS with the copy of Mario Kart on it.

Of course, with the iPhone and quite a few other downloadable systems you can install on multiple machines within reason, just for situations like this. My wife and I share an iTunes email address, we can have our books on several kindles and both phones, and even Popcap's downloadable games let you install on a few machines.

I don't consider this getting "slapped in the face." It's perhaps different, but it's not inherently a raw deal. And variable pricing makes a HUGE dent in things like this. Without Downloadable games, how could Stardoc have, for instance, easily given everyone 50 percent off coupons for Demigod as a way to try and stem the blood from their botched launch? Or the endless cavalcade of 50% off sales on surprisingly current games?

In general the more things move towards personal licenses, where WHAT I'm playing/working on doesn't matter as logn as its ME playing/working, I'm happy. In my ideal world I log in to my friends Xbox and MY ROCK BAND content is available as long as I'm there and logged in.

As a parent, if I make a console gaming purchase, I expect access to the software for myself and my kids. This is why, when there is an option to get a console game either digitally or physical media, I'll always go for the physical media. I had some earlier troubles with XBOX LIVE and my kids losing access to full versions or DLC we had purchased.

It's fine to say that a console software EULA prevents me from lending a game to a relative or friend. I can accept that as reasonable. However, if a EULA is written to enforce seperate software licenses per kid under the same roof on the same console, it's just ridiculous. In my example, both kids are under 10.

XBOX LIVE digital content only just makes the cut, because they now allow that 1 license transfer per year. A minor step in the right direction, that at least provides flexibility in regards to hardware issues and re-opening access to a title for all family members. It still seems there must be a more reasonable activation scheme that still meets the need to force good behaviour for XBLA consumers while recognizing that consoles and the entertainment center thay are targetting are also a hub for a family household of users.

I guess my point is moot though until we run into a DRM issue again. My concern is bred from experience, but at least our specific XBLA issue appears resolved, other than the little bit of distrust I have for DRM as a whole.

I am a big fan of the podcast and love a good semantic debate (being a recovering attorney and all), but am I the only one that thought the Blockbuster/AAA title discussion was a bit of a mess. Not in a horrible way, mind you. But at the end of the discussion, I still didn't get a great understanding of how the participants differentiate among a "AAA title" and a "Blockbuster". It just seemed muddled.

For me, a "AAA title" is one in which top dollar is spent on the development (top dollar being measured against norms for the applicable platform: a 10MM development for a DS game could be a AAA title whereas a 10MM spend on a 360 title wouldn't be). A "Blockbuster" is a AAA title that also carries with it significant/robust/omnipresent (for our industry and possibly outside of industry press) marketing/PR and is more often than not launched in a key interactive entertainment launch window (think Easter, start of summer/graduation, start of school, November). In other words it is a "tentpole" title for the publisher. AAA titles are a subset of Blockbuster titles.

A few examples in my mind:

Spore: AAA Title that is a Blockbuster
Sims 3: same
RF:G: AAA Title that is not a blockbuster, but is a "sleeper" (an outstanding game)
inFAMOUS: AAA Title that should have been marketed as a blockbuster (BTW, I am not a fan of the title)
Boom Blox: AAA Title, but a failed sleeper
Original Guitar Hero: AAA Title, sleeper
Guitar Hero II: AAA Title, Blockbuster
Original RockBand: AAA Title, Blockbuster
RockBand: Beatles: AAA Title, Blockbuster
Guitar Hero V: "Noise" (i.e., probably only a "AA Title" on development spend with the left over money going to marketing....)
Max Payne I: Sleeper
Max Payne II: Blockbuster
Max Payne III: Noise

I also think it makes sense to note that different game genres have different Blockbuster thresholds (just like AAA Title dev amounts by platform): Civ IV was a blockbuster (and AAA title) for turn based strategy, but likely wouldn't have registered for FPS/TPS.

Again, love the podcast; loved CB sitting first chair; didn't really enjoy this discussion.

I not going to deny that digital distribution doesn't have problems, DRM, consumer rights, and every aspect that as been stated in this discussion. But I think the transition is inevitable. It doesn't make sense to put some bits in a physical object an carry all across the world by plane, boat, trucks to sell in a store when this can be downloaded trough the internet. The transition will take years and lot's of steps have to be made so every body can feel happy with it and has access to it. For those of you that like to own the physical object I sure the company's can provide a book or some other piece that reminds you own it, it just doesn't need to have the actual game in it.

I have to say, I smiled to myself when the digitial distribution versus disc discussion moved to the "licence" issue. A few minutes before that discussion, Rob commented that he had borrowed a copy of Chrono Trigger DS, and I believe a copy of Riddick has been doing the rounds of the panel. Neither loan would be possible with pure digital distribution, and is in technical breach of the EULA as it is.

I prefer discs as I have little faith in my ability to keep my machines running long term, and even less in my recollection of passwords, services and so on. I recently had problems as I forgot my Steam password, and the email account I used for it had packed up shop. Not a major problem, but still annoying.

Steam were very good about sorting it out, but the fact that a misanthropic, distrustful cynic has to depend on customer service and companies staying in business and supporting old services does concern me.

I am very good (ok, anal) about keeping my boxes and discs in good order, but I consider myself to be a games collector as well as a gamer. I know that downloads are the future, but I will be sad to see an end to physical media.

Damn guys, Cory was talking about like...gigs and like, installing an operating system. What a nerd.

Bullion Cube wrote:

Games aren't cheaper the day they come out, likely because the publisher has an agreement with Gamestop and Bestbuy that all copies will be sold at retail price for the first month or whatever they negotiate on. After that, just check out the deals on Steam, or Impulse, or a host of other sites. The discounts are incredible, and put downward pressure on prices across the board. If you haven't seen it, keep looking, because it's definately out there.

I'm aware that games aren't cheaper via digital distribution on release day. I was simply illustrating that, similar to the claim that games will be cheaper if less piracy occurs, the claim that digital distribution will result in cheaper games is a fallacy. I've seen the deals you're referring to in both brick-and-mortar's and through digital distribution, the only difference is that digital distribution allows customers to purchase games that have been removed from the shelf in retail.

I'm not saying either way is superior, only that the advantage of digital distribution over traditional distribution methods is negligible. This is especially the case when you consider that digital distribution is quickly returning to the model previously used where publishers are once again inserted between developers and distribution methods, so those who feel the need to support certain developers will once again find it nearly impossible to do so without fooling themselves and instead lining the publisher's pockets.

pyjamarama wrote:

It doesn't make sense to put some bits in a physical object an carry all across the world by plane, boat, trucks to sell in a store when this can be downloaded trough the internet.

The gaming media (disk, box, and manual) are all produced in their respective regions and distributed from there. Those who don't have access to a reasonable internet connection or those who don't have the net at all might feel a little differently about the need to manufacture the physical media. It's easy for us connected netizens to forget that we're actually the minority, not the majority.

JonH wrote:

Damn guys, Cory was talking about like...gigs and like, installing an operating system. What a nerd.

The only thing Cory didn't clarify is that when installing windows on a Mac, it is all about dual booting. I want to allocate as little space to Windows as i can get away with, because OS X needs the space for the rest of my digital needs. So a nice small footprint is a real benefit. And since the only real reason to have windows on the laptop is to play games, the featues that you miss from Vista are of no real value.

I'll let the PC guys debate the ins and outs of Vista and XP as an OS. It has to be tough figuring out which one handles all of those anti-virus and anti-malware apps the best, as well as the status of the various drivers...

As for digital downloads, it's nice to see that what I have been arguing about for a couple of months now is actually become more mainstream. The more folks use Steam, XBLA, PSN, and the iPhone, the more they realize that they are spending less and less on games. There are drawbacks, like lending the discs to friends and being able to sell your games. But more and more people are realizing that the added value of losing going discless is worth those drawbacks.

I would buy more games for my Mac right now if Apple had a Steam-like store for Mac games. The have it for their iPods and iPhones, but there is still no good digital download solution for Mac users. But I have bought Plants vs. Zombie and the new Out of the Park Baseball Sim as downloads for the Mac. I love not having to even consider using a disc to play the games. It was also cool that the Plants vs. Zombies key allowed me to install the game on my Macbook as well as my iMac.

harrisben wrote:

The gaming media (disk, box, and manual) are all produced in their respective regions and distributed from there. Those who don't have access to a reasonable internet connection or those who don't have the net at all might feel a little differently about the need to manufacture the physical media. It's easy for us connected netizens to forget that we're actually the minority, not the majority.

You are right of course, but I stated that the transition will take years and is not hard to believe that in a 10 years the internet broadband will be available almost anywhere, and even then you can probably buy a disk but it will be a small minority and probably have to pay e premium price to do it.

Jayhawker wrote:

I would buy more games for my Mac right now if Apple had a Steam-like store for Mac games.

Gametree Online is about as close as you'll get. It's not that there aren't digital distro services for the Mac, it's that no one's making big time Mac games.

As far as DD goes, I will say I pretty disagreed 100% with what you guys said in the podcast, and I think you're way off the mark in your reasoning.

However, as long as there exists a choice for consumers of whichever they prefer, everything is hunky dory.

The minute it becomes DD only, consumers are screwed.

Jayhawker wrote:

I would buy more games for my Mac right now if Apple had a Steam-like store for Mac games. The have it for their iPods and iPhones, but there is still no good digital download solution for Mac users.

Gamersgate sells a few Mac games as well.

http://gamersgate.com/mac

Direct2Drive also has a Mac section.

For once I actually disagree with Rabbit on the issue of DD vs physical medium. As a historian and ex-used book store owner I have a real appreciation of the potential for aged products to grow in value and sentimentality and become more sought after and desirable over time. And to illustrate my point I am going to use a few examples that are near and dear to Rabbit's heart.

As I write this, there are two copies of MTG: Shandalar on sale via E-bay for around $50.00 with shipping. So for a title that is at least a decade old, it has held all of its original value. Rabbit argued in the podcast that it is in the interest of publishers to continue to sell their older titles at deep discounts to at least make some money off of them, but I believe that Shandalar proves how problematic that can become.

The developers of the game were Moby games and the publisher was Microprose, neither of which are still around. Do you think it is realistic to expect all or even many games to be offered for sale ten, twenty and eventually decades after their release, when the original copyright holders have longed ceased to exist? Even if the rights to Shandalar have some how reverted to WoTC or Hasbro, does anyone honestly think they will ever offer it as a digital download?

I'm also curious how Rabbit jives his 100% digital download faith with his prediction of the impending demise of Magic the Gathering Online, what happens to that digital content then? The most probable answer is *poof*. In MtGO's case of course the physical version of the cards will continue to exist, but in an imagined future where all gaming media has become digital only, what would happen when a publisher or even a service such as Impulse or Steam goes out of money. Sure the triple A titles will likely be preserved in some manner, maybe through the efforts of something like the Stanford Library's video game archive, but how much of the merely average or poor selling will eventually disappear. I can imagine a historian in 100 years finding plenty of references of a game about Demigod but not being able to find the executable code at all.

Finally ([I know) there are many people who like to collect game boxes, manuals and discs (and many spouses who wished they didn't) and I for one think that a world without physical media would be a slightly sadder one, for there is a certain happiness in opening a box in the garage and seeing that old X-Com box.

I fully expect that Rabbit's digital only future is our future, and I have and will participate, but I hope that a fully digital distribution world is still a ways off.

Lard wrote:

As far as DD goes, I will say I pretty disagreed 100% with what you guys said in the podcast, and I think you're way off the mark in your reasoning.

However, as long as there exists a choice for consumers of whichever they prefer, everything is hunky dory.

The minute it becomes DD only, consumers are screwed.

I attempted to write a post to this affect this morning, but I have Verizon and it was raining, so I lost the post (stupid, I know. I must stop writing posts in the comment window.)

Rabbit mentioned competition death as if it were some unlikely event. If the market goes strictly DD only, the competition will be dead. The only place to get game X will be from developer Y for price Z. They're not going to make the game available on Steam for 70% of Z when they know full well that people will pay $Z for the game. The fact that Demigod 2 is cheaper than Halo 4 will have no affect on the price or market for Halo 4.

Game developers already know what the price ceiling is right now: $60. People are paying $60 for games. The only reason publishers offer downloadable games for $40 is because they're competing with B&M stores that sell the game for $60. Once you get your wish and B&M stores go the way of the dodo, do you really think publishers are going to maintain the current discount-for-download pricing? It doesn't make good business sense to charge $40 for an item you know you can get $60 for. What are we going to do? Stop playing games? No, we're going to pay the $60 and complain about it.

Then there's the whole backup issue. If I buy a plastic disc, I own that disc. If my game system dies, I still have that disc and it will work in any console. But if it's all DD, then if my system dies my ability to get access to games I "own" is controlled by the publishers. And Steam won't be the model. XBLA will be the model, because companies emulate the biggest, most successful companies they can find. I can't tell you the number of stupid business decisions I've seen made because "that's how Intel does it." You all own Xbox360s, which means many of you have had to deal with getting your DLC after a red-ring. How would you like to see that be the industry standard?

We already see this happening with DRM on discs-- limited installs, "phoning home," etc.. Why on earth would anyone think it would be any better once we're not allowed to own a disc that has the code etched on it?

And then there's the people who don't have broadband connections. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I have Verizon DSL because it's what I can afford, but it's not that fast and my internet goes out every time there's a 40% chance of rain. I don't relish the idea of tying up my computer and/or game system for however long it takes to download the double-digit number of gigabytes for whatever game I'm buying. And this is to say nothing of the storage-- If I assume they'll let me burn DVD backups of my games then it's not so bad, but I don't think I'm willing to assume that much benevolence.

Economically, the death of B&M stores won't be such a panacea either. We all hate Gamestop, but they do employ a lot of people-- more than Valve does in it's marketing/sales division anyway. I know they're not the best jobs, but they provide employment for high-school kids who don't have athletic capabilities and therefore can't work at McDonalds because the jocks have all the jobs.

Count me among those who will resist the "inevitable" slog toward pure downloadable content with my dying breath.

Vive la disc.

If it comes down to it, the day new games become DD only, is the day I become a purely retro gamer.

I think many of the gamers in this thread are being blinded and rendered senseless because they are buying into the bogus crap that publishers are feeding us: that gaming media and software is different from normal copyright and that you can and should only have a license to use it.

Note: that means that all you guys who are touting the passing around of physical media as an advantage are openly advocating illegal activities.

I am not saying that this is immoral or something - I'm pointing out that this kind of draconian behavior is only possible on the side of publishers because gamers refuse to be informed about their consumer rights and what normal protections consumers enjoy.

I used to just let all this crap pass by - mostly because there didn't use to be such crap and because gaming back then was a niche activity - I fully expected to pay a premium for content that could not be subject to mass economics. However, now that it's a million-dollar industry with sales in the hundreds of thousands, publisher behavior is becoming intolerable, even criminal by the standards of other companies.

You see, my friends, publishers deciding en masse that they should ALL charge $60 for a game with a $40 profit margin is called price fixing. This is illegal under anti-trust laws, yet I doubt that the power of publisher lobby groups is going to let anyone know that.

For my part, I think that the EULA that software publishers push onto gamers is itself an evil corruption of copyright laws initiated in the 1700s that were meant to protect copyright holders from copiers and to encourage artists to make creative works. However, the extending of the copyright duration now means that copyright holders can use product made in two years of work to support themselves and their children long after they are dead which, frankly, is an insult and an injustice to those of us in the service and production industries. Moreover, it discourages innovation because any given rights-holder can simply churn out the same thing over and over without creating anything new, which defeats the very spirit of copyright law.

EULAs are even graver and more onerous corruptions of such laws.

Anyways, on to digital distribution...

Most gamers and users on these boards are against digital distribution because of the many constraints and manners of thinking that have been inculcated into them by software publishers. Many of these complaints are not inherent to digital distribution.

What is the most efficient and baseline model of digital distribution?

Piracy.

Piracy is the act of one person taking software produced by a company that owns the rights to it and essentially distributing it worldwide - BY HIMSELF. Such is the power of internet publication that each and every computer terminal is now essentially a full-on printing press - that sends pre-made typeset to every other such printing press.

This means that the actual price of such distribution is essentially nothing, if one uses the P2P channels. Even if you host servers yourself, the price is minuscule compared to physical distribution models. Citing criminal activity (price fixing) as an objection to this is a reflection of the sad state of the industry.

The way software companies also charge and manage each little copy of "their property" is also onerous and abusive. By law, YOU CANNOT LEND YOUR COPY OF MASS EFFECT TO YOUR FRIEND. Think about that for a bit. The only reason you can't do it with digitally distributed software is because EA and Activision are much more successful at defending their ludicrous demands on that model.

P2P digital distribution is the baseline model of digital distribution. If you can do it with P2P, you can also do it with digitally distributed software - if the publishers weren't making it unbelievably inconvenient for you.

By way of example, I give you iTunes and software like Perfect World and Ragnarok. The observation with see at once is that they WORK. You don't need to lend your brother a copy of Free Realms - he can just download a copy himself. If he doesn't have an internet connection, you can lend him a copy - even though it'd be kind of pointless to play, I'd imagine.

The second thing we determine is that they both work on microtransaction models. That is - you don't pay a thousand dollars up front - only a few dollars every so often whenever you have the disposal income.

This model is so efficient that Level Up games can post profits nickel-and diming little Third World urchins a couple cents at a time.

I wouldn't condone such action, if it weren't for the fact that such kids would've spent the money on cheap drugs. Better for them to get hooked on an online game, I say.

The point is, the model works and it's very efficient. You do not have to stipulate that the game is uncopiable, has to launch from a proprietary browser, or any such method of "copy protection." The thing is, current publishers are so busy and are so invested in protecting and extending copyright models of profit generation that they are unwilling to consider anything else.

Here we have a fantastic new technology - the Internet! And these yahoos are not only refusing to use it - they're trying to squelch the use of the technology by anyone else to distribute their games! Is this the innovative behavior that copyright laws are supposed to be protecting?

Microtransaction models of profit generation do not have to be limited to online modes or to onilne games. They also do not have to cut out the role of brick-and-mortar stores.

For instance, a game like Mass Effect could be distributed along the P2P distribution channels for the game's engine and main quest line. That is long enough for a short game - maybe 10 hours.

This is possible with Mass Effect because the allure of such a game is the variety of mission and length of play.

So, what you distribute for pay are:

1. Additional allies
2. Premium Armor and Weapons
3. Side Quests
4. Additional major quests
5. Additional classes (Soldier only enabled in the main software)
6. Premade faces and bodies for Shepard

That's only 6 items, but that's enough to put in a respectable basic store for the product line. It does not have to be prohibitively expensive, as many fear - after all, if little beggars in the Philippines can afford to game, first world citizens could probably do so, too.

For brick and mortars, they could sell these items ala carte as the online store does - only they sell it by disk or by drive and payment is up front at the store for each purchase. Their costs, go down, too, you see. No need for inventory. No need for warehousing. Less staff.

I think it's quite enlightening to study East models of software sales to offer a counterpoint to events in the West.

Excellent post LarryC.

As for the rest - I do get the points. But I also think anyone saying (as a surprising number of you have) "never never never" are missing sone amazing games that are already DD only, from braid to castle crashers to everything iPhone to flower or the new magic.

I agree with you about that, but I feel so strongly about it, I would rather vote with my wallet.

Even buying one game via DD feels, to me, like I would be selling out my principles.

Corey - Nice Job - All i can say is Shawn Who?

Just reading the few posts above on Direct Downloads and different pricing models.

Games, Movies, Books, Music, Art, Photography etc. are all inherently electronic media, or perhaps sensory media is a better term.

They can be distributed in a variety of ways. They mechanism for distribution should not be a topic of debate per-se. The rights associated with what is being distributed is what matters. And that one topic
can go on forever.

We are focused on games thinking it is some sort of one off from the rest of the industries out there.
This is games - not even that important (in all honesty). If you want to get your hackles raised go look into copy rights on genes. I think some highly un-ethical things being done in that area which effect the actual health and well being of the human race. Do we even want to look into pharmacuticals - same thing.

Larry - Awesome Post and I agree 99.9% with it all.

"However, the extending of the copyright duration now means that copyright holders can use product made in two years of work to support themselves and their children long after they are dead which, frankly, is an insult and an injustice to those of us in the service and production industries"

So would you hold this same thought against John Lennon or Paul McCartney? I don't know copyright law and welcome you clarifying it for me but my thought is that this specific statement you made is also a viable statement in other medias.

I understand that it is not the same in that big corporations are holding the copyrights etc.
If they churn out "crap" - we can't blame them if we buy it. Simply don't buy crap.

It's called boycotts - an old fashion term which I don't think as a society we would ever do successfully again because we don't simply care enough.
We'd rather get our cupcakes and grumble about it costing $0.25 more then it really should, and the fact we can't share the cupcake, instead of banding together and not buying the cupcake.
It's only a cupcake. In and of itself it is not that important in comparison to what the cupcake company is doing on an ethical basis.
But in all honesty the price of games really is very very low. It is not like games are necessary like food, shelter, etc.
And the irony is that we'll bitch about game pricing and EULA while we go out to Bugaboo creek have dinner and drinks and drop $50 in 4 hours.

I agree on how price fixing happens - and I think it happens in all industries in the US now.

And here is my knee jerk, gut spewing, lack of anger management, half informed conclusion and social dribble.

The original spirit of capitalism has been lost since Regan caused an amoral shift in the american way of thinking regarding the accumulation of wealth and our social responsibilities.
JP Morgan and Carnegie, although absolute horrendous bastards in industry, (robber barrons), inherently felt guilty about the wealth they accumulated at others expense and became philanthropic later in life. One of the was even quoted as say something to the effect that anyone who dies wealthy failed at life - or something like that.

So in the end - we create our own demise as we, as a collective social group (aka society), could effect change. But it requires sacrifice which non of us really want to deal with - after all - I'd only end up saving about $20 a game if we live in the utopia of gaming distribution. Which figures out to $240 a year lets say. is it really worth it in comparison to tying to lobbing, boycotting, going without games for a while?

Edxactly:

Yes, I do. I actually do feel that Mr. McCarthy, even as influential as he has been in the past, should get off his keister and actually make something new, even if it turns out to be total crap. I want him to be working for his bread, just like the rest of us. And yes, I think Disney is ripping us off by requiring us to pay for content that's half a century old! In this economic model, IP becomes not a service or media content, but virtual land and companies like Disney and EA behave like feudal landlords - defending their rights to that land, and charging us for the use of it, long after the acquisition costs for it have been paid for twice over.

I think it's a broken model and it's impeding economic advance into the future. More than simply wanting games, I want society to realize that all these guys are pulling the wool over our eyes. Piracy is NOT bad - as long as the software producers are duly compensated, why NOT distribute the media to all places as efficiently as possible?

I think the way of the future is to view software and content generation not as production activities, but as service activities - we pay for work, now, but we will not continue to pay for it if there's no continuous activity being done for it - and we will only pay what the cheapest cost demands, as the ideals of capitalism aim.

In this sense, I believe that the piracy-ridden lands of the Far East are far more progressive in terms of pricing and creation models, because software producers there have been forced to deal with uncontrolled piracy - which is nothing more than an efficient mode of distribution. It's unfortunate that they are unable to protect their work at all (and that's killing Hong Kong cinema, unfortunately), but I think it's good for all of us that they were unable to protect it with ridiculous copyright laws. This forces them to create new models of monetization (which they have) and to be more efficient (which they are).

Piracy is far more effective at forcing this change than simple boycott. Boycotting a product convinces the producer that there is no demand. Piracy tells him that his product is desired by millions of people - but that he has to monetize his work in some way OTHER than demanding ludicrous amounts of money for it (and price fixing this with other artists).

Some people would balk at this and point at the inferior graphical quality and different content of online Eastern games - MMOs like Perfect World. What they fail to consider is that the bulk of the customers for these games pay minuscule amounts of money. Because they can't pay more than that. Some of them are street beggars, for crying out loud! It's amazing that such people could support the production and distribution of MMOs at all.

It is astounding to me that an 8 year old street urchin in Thailand, as deplorable as his situation is, can afford to set aside a small portion of his daily money to play Ragnarok or FreeStyle or Dance Audition for a couple hours. How many poor people in industrialized Western nations have this entertainment option? Indeed, what entertainment options do they have at all?

I thought the first explanation was pretty out there. But this is just convoluted garbage being used as a rationalization for piracy.

Jayhawker:

Read it again. I do not pirate my software. I want software companies to be better - more efficient - more productive. Open your mind and go beyond the piracy=stealing moralist stance copyright holders are telling you. Think for yourself.

This seems like a good point to interject with a link to a relevant talk on piracy, its effects on various markets and how it can drive progress and innovation when competed with.

Matt Mason on The Pirate's Dilemma

Jayhawker wrote:

I thought the first explanation was pretty out there. But this is just convoluted garbage being used as a rationalization for piracy.

How does - I want to buy a game on disc with the manual and all the cool bits that come with it equate to piracy?

And before I forget (again):

Corey - you did a really good job as host.

Larryc -I think I understand your point a bit.

I think your arguments would be better served by not using the term piracy. As I don't think you are using in the the same common "term" sense that everyone else does.

Edxactly:

You have a point. I did consider whether or not to use the term, but ultimately, I did, so as to head off any tangent about me sort-of "stealth-advocating" piracy, and to highlight that very point.

This point is made a lot more eloquently by Matt Mason in the attached speech, and the one thing I've been talking about for years now. When western-style software development companies went belly up in the East sometime around the early 2000's, I thought, "That's it, software is now exclusively Western, and it's all because piracy is a destructive force."

But then something really strange happened - the companies copied the pirates. Instead of trying to squelch P2P activity - which cannot be done - they used the technological infrastructure to distribute their content, and then found an alternative method to monetize their product. The success of this approach is mirrored by the rise of Mount and Blade - which SHOULD be an obscure unknown title that never got off the ground. However, its creator initially distributed the uncompleted game for free, and basically begged all his fans for money - which worked!

The "fact" that software piracy is "evil" is a way of thinking that big media companies are hammering into the minds of the gullible in order to propagate their influence and obsolete business models. Not compensating software producers is a bad thing, but using P2P to more efficiently distribute content is not.

Lard wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

I thought the first explanation was pretty out there. But this is just convoluted garbage being used as a rationalization for piracy.

How does - I want to buy a game on disc with the manual and all the cool bits that come with it equate to piracy?

Well, it doesn't. I'm not sure where you get that I was implying that.

You might want to re-read the posts. He is supporting digital downloads and loads of micro-transactions. Since this doesn't seem to happen naturally, he thinks piracy is a much better way to spur this on than a boycott. I don't think he is on your side, either.

What kind rubs me the wrong way is the lack of respect he seems to show the publishers of the content. He wants them compensated on his terms only. And his rhetoric demonizes the people that provide the games we love to play (and make the music and movies we enjoy as well).

And this rubbish about homeless kids being able to afford to play games is just disturbing on another level. It seems to me that the entire argument was built backwards to justify piracy. I'm kind of disappointed that his remarks have been taken as seriously by some here.