Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

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#1 Ghostfreak  Icon User is offline

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Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 11 October 2013 - 12:00 PM

I really wanted to start an indie project with a friend and hopefully make this somewhat of a full time thing. I was reading an interview with a company called Nexrage and decided to look up some stats and the piracy rate for indie games is higher than 90% it's ridiculous...

I always thought gamers supported the indie gaming industry but...But 90-95% piracy rate? Seriously? How does piracy get THAT high? Does this happen for movies/music too? That literally 90% of potential sales are going to people who don't pay?

Source: http://www.8bitgamer...iracy-game-dev/

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#2 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 11 October 2013 - 12:08 PM

I don't believe that there is a way to accurately put a percentage on piracy. It is, in my opinion, wah factor for projected loss of revenue.

But seriously, this is a huge can of worms that is often opened. Piracy can be looked at from so many directions. Did the company really lose money, was something really stolen? Everyone has their own opinion, & in the end, quality products will fetch high-dollar yields.
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#3 Ghostfreak  Icon User is offline

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 11 October 2013 - 12:11 PM

That's an interesting point...I never thought of it as "Was anything really lost?" But you didn't really give your opinion...I mean I can't entirely imagine piracy really helping a product in anyway...But then again I have heard of artists who become popular after letting people pirate their music...

What is your own opinion on piracy then? Do you think it varies with every product?
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#4 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 11 October 2013 - 12:12 PM

Bah... two things about this. First is that there are a lot of gamers who claim to support indie games, but not with their wallet. The reality is that there is tons of piracy going on in the software industry as a whole. This leads me to the second thing, even though piracy is high I have a hard time believing it is 90-95% across the board. I would be interested to know the stat from other games, both indie and not.

One explanation for a high rate like that would be that it is a popular game and they didn't create their game to discourage misuse. They themselves said in the interview that they haven't discouraged gamers from playing, but if you want to make some money on your indie title you should build in misuse mechanisms in from the start.

But yeah all software has pretty high piracy. I heard that Adobe is one of the most pirated software companies out there. I can get cracked versions of all their software and games are not that much more difficult. I would find 50-60% more reasonable for piracy. So build that into your model too. Make enough money on the 40-50% who pay that even if you have this piracy group not paying, you can still stay afloat financially until you deal with them.

:)
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#5 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 11 October 2013 - 12:14 PM

So... the experience of a single developer is indicative of everyone? Really? What are their sales? How, exactly, do they measure this?

From another developer:

Quote

"Roughly 10% of our paid app users are coming from piracy." That's Guy Goldstein, CEO of PageOnce, the company behind Personal Assistant, a top-selling organizational app.
-- http://gizmodo.com/5...hone-app-piracy


At least that one is "top selling," whatever that means.

You will find many, many positions on this point, from marginalizing to dramatizing. Choose your poison.
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#6 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 11 October 2013 - 12:15 PM

Why would you assume gamers support indie developers? Gamers tend to selfish and self gratifying. Why pay for it if you can expend a modicum of effort to get it for free?

Depending on the type of game this may not be a real detriment outside of lost potential revenue, or with server-required games space/hardware/bandwidth being used.
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#7 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 11 October 2013 - 01:18 PM

*
POPULAR

90% is ridiculous.

Oh there certainly is piracy, but it is not that prevalent, and of course you also have ways to combat it as well. Actually indie game developers, if done right, can have a lower risk of piracy due to the available tools they have.

First here's a paper on piracy of video games done by MIT: http://www.mit.edu/~...l_paperID16.pdf

It'll show piracy numbers not of indie games specifically, but games in general, torrented on the internet. And the numbers that come back, though large, are far smaller than the game industry reports. I don't have a lot to say on it, the paper is rather dry to read, it's more or less there as quantitative evidence that the huge claims publishers like Ubisoft (Ubisoft is who has claimed directly they have a 90% piracy rate... note a small indie house doesn't have the resources to track their actual piracy rate, they probably pulled their statistic from elsewhere).

I'd also go as far as to say that indie games are the least pirated games. And it's really the big titles that get pirated most.



Now to indie house developers. This is something I've given great thought into as I myself have been working towards and indie game release.

If you sell your game online through your own distribution and don't include copy protection, well yes, you're going to suffer cracking. You just are. But that's the least of your worries... the market saturation for an indie game is so minimal, and marketing so limited, selling your game through your own website seldom works. You might get some cult hit like Minecraft who pulls it off, but most fly under the radar. Minecraft of course is the exception to my statement about indie games being less pirated than big titles, but that's because Minecraft, despite being indie, is a BIG title.

Indie games almost never released on disk. If you're an indie house and decide to go with a hard release, what is wrong with you!? Indie game turn arounds are seldom ever over 1 million dollars, and are most often in the 400k range over the first year or so of sales. And that's IF you get relatively good marketing.

Most indie games will be released through game services like Steam, Games for Windows, and console marketplaces like Xbox Marketplace and the Sony Playstation Store. These services come with built in, high quality, copy protection mechanisms. Steam and Games for Windows aren't perfect, true, but damn good. Xbox and PS3 are very good, you almost never see that being bootlegged (not saying it's impossible, just the hassle required makes it where no one really does it).

Great thing about these services is that it is also a route to get cheap marketing as well.

Also always consider things like 'Humble Bundle' and sales on Steam. You shouldn't do them immediately after release, but they can definitely create resurgence in sales months after release when sales start to dwindle. Sure things like Humble Bundle bring in much smaller per unit sales, but the quantity of sales that gets makes up the difference. It also treats your buyers nicely who otherwise may have bootlegged it. Check out communities like 4chan who jump all over these sales... they love giving their money to developers, they just don't have a whole lot.

If you want proof of these sales doing good check out this interview with the 'Hitbox' team who made the indie title 'Dustforce':

http://www.indiegame...-participation/

Quote

When the Humble Bundle 6 launched in September of last year, Dustforce was one of the games included. The Humble Bundle promotion not only brought Hitbox Team roughly $153,915, but they also saw an uptick in Steam sales, following the conclusion of the promotion.


They made 150k off of the humble bundle alone. That 150k of their nearly 400k they made in the first year... more than the Steam sale a few months earlier which earned them only 100k.



Don't look at piracy when considering what your game is going to make. As long as you adequately make it difficult to pirate, as well as giving your customer base easy acces, you should be fine. And as indie releases go... it's pretty easy on you to do that.

Be more concerned about actual sales. That's the ONLY indicator of what you'll make.

Pirated games are just that, pirated games. Those are already lost sales that you won't be getting, and you probably never would have gotten in the first place.
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#8 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 11 October 2013 - 04:08 PM

Oh, I just realized I should validate my sttement:

Quote

Actually indie game developers, if done right, can have a lower risk of piracy due to the available tools they have.


I say that indie games can be at lower risk not because they have better tools available. It's not like big publishers don't have access, furthermore they have more access to other stuff as well.

Thing is indie's have a few things in their favor.

1) disk based games historically have been easier to hack, unless you make your disk based game just a physical distribution of your digital model. But if you go just full disk, it can be easily hacked. Especially in the console realm... the hassle of cracking a digitally distributed game on the xbox is a BITCH, but copying a DVD and modding is a pretty low bar for a pirate.

2) a consistent route of distribution keeps buyers happy. Big complaints in the gaming community is all the different 'security' models that pop up. Just think about the EA Origin crap, everyone shits all over Origin just for being Origin. The model is hardly different from Steam, but everyone poo-poos it. Indies usually have a small pool of publishing routes, creating a consistent experience for gamers. Consistent, enjoyable, purchasing experiences is what keeps customers coming.

3) you're low on the radar. This means fewer sales than a AAA title, but at the same time, not as many pirates. When there's not as many pirates, maintaining the distribution channels for the game gets difficult.

Think like torrenting movies. Finding the latest Pixar film is cake-walk. Go on pirate-bay, search it, once its hacked there it is and there's thousands of seeders ready to share it with you. Now search for some art house film from 1995, or some weird indie film from Italy... not so easy to locate. If you find it, often it's just a dead torrent with no seeders, or maybe a single seeder. There's no demand.

The black market is still a market, and it follows a lot of the same rules of regular markets. As demand falls, distributors reduce supply.

4) Cheaper cost of entry.

Here's the thing, a lot of people like to paint pirates as people who just don't want to spend the money. The thing is, studies have been done, pirates aren't necessarily just looking for a free ride (some are of course, but not most of them). Piracy is usually a result of high cost of entry, and difficulty of access. For example, music piracy was HUGE in the late 90's and early 2000's... but it has waned since.

Why?

I can get a song on itunes for 99 cents, with a single click. It's downloaded and ready. Bootlegging that same song is far more difficult, I'd rather just spend the 99 cents. Now of course a full album costs 12 or so bucks... but the cost of ENTRY is only 99 cents, and the convenience makes up the rest.

The same thing is going with services like Netflix and Hulu. People still bootleg, but more and more people are leaving the bootlegging behind because a cheap 5 dollar a month cost of entry, and all the tv/movies I want is so much easier. Of course Netflix keeps fucking up by not having a nice full library... I'd pay 10 bucks a month if I could find good 90's art house movies on their damn database for streaming.

Anyways, indie games have the convenience of publishing routes, as already covered. But they also have super cheap cost of entry. 60 bucks for the latest AAA title is a HIGH bar that the main gamer demographic (12 to 25 year olds) to enter. The older gamers don't mind spending that money, but they don't buy as many games... I'm 30, I don't buy or play as many games as when I was 20.

Thing is a 20 year old don't have the money to buy a lot of games. They have to be sparing with their purchase. Indie games though, 10 to 15 bucks a pop? Shit... that's pretty cheap. Especially when a Humble Bundle comes along? I can pay whatever I want? Sweet.

And that link above that showed you the sales of 'Dustforce' is the evidence you need to prove this.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 11 October 2013 - 04:17 PM

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#9 farrell2k  Icon User is offline

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 12 October 2013 - 04:29 AM

I remember reading a few years ago about World of Goo having a 90% piracy rate on the PC.

In the end, there is not much you can really do, if you plan to sell the product outright. Of course that's not the only way to monetize software. You could do something web based, or even monetize it via in-app purchases, which is what I would do.

I don't think the makers of MineCraft have man problems with piracy.
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#10 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 12 October 2013 - 02:06 PM

They don't have a problem with it in the sense that Notch has publicly made it known he doesn't mind that people have pirated and hacked his game.

http://www.geek.com/...ord-it-1458249/
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#11 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 12 October 2013 - 02:38 PM

Anyone want to qualify what a "piracy rate" measures? When you tell me you have a "90% piracy rate" it certrainly sounds ominous, but what does that mean?
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#12 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 12 October 2013 - 05:00 PM

To tell you the truth I'm not sure exactly.

I'm guessing it means that of all copies out there that exist, 90% of them were pirated.
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#13 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 12 October 2013 - 05:16 PM

Quote

I'm guessing it means that of all copies out there that exist, 90% of them were pirated.


That's a reasonable guess (that is, that was my guess too :) ) but it'd be nice to know for sure that we're all talking about the same thing.


The Notch Option is an interesting one, and sort of blurs the line in some ways that many people will be uncomfortable with. It's a good pragmatic decision if you take it as given that people will pirate the game in any case,and it sidesteps a costly and annoying arms race with the pirates.

I always like the Infocom method. They realized that people were copying their games, so they started making their packaging very elaborate and including clues to the game in the packaging. This made it a lot harder for users to copy the games, but not impossible. However, it also made the games much more appealing - they'd usually have some printed matter (a "spell manual" or the "case notes" on a murder investigation) and a few little tchotchkes (a "zorkmid coin", or some "evidence" in the investigation, for the murder mystery games).

Of course, this worked a lot better before scanners were common and when download speeds were slower. Today, you'd just look here (assuming you could find the game files somewhere)
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#14 Logical94  Icon User is offline

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 13 October 2013 - 12:37 AM

I feel the piracy issues today are not fully because there are numerous amounts of smart crackers out there, but that the developers themselves have not implemented security measures that are appropriate.

The common method is the basic serial number evaluation. we all know this. (Upon Installation, Check if entered serial number exists on the database)
This is a horrible way to evaluate the integrity of the software, because traditionally you can use the same serial as many times as you like.

What more people should be doing, is hardwareID (HWID) verification as well as serial number verification, plus having the owner of the serial number be affiliated with a user-account (upon purchase of software, have them register an account)

Place a cap on the amount of machines that your account is linked to as well.
Of course a method to prevent bypassing these verification checks needs to be implemented as well.

Essentially, developers continue to complain about their products being cracked and distributed for free, but rarely do I ever see a company that put in the extra effort to protect their property to an effective level.
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#15 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Piracy for Game Development is Outrageously High

Posted 13 October 2013 - 01:01 AM

View PostLogical94, on 13 October 2013 - 02:37 AM, said:

Spoiler

Essentially, developers continue to complain about their products being cracked and distributed for free, but rarely do I ever see a company that put in the extra effort to protect their property to an effective level.

.. you did see the word 'indie' thrown around, right?
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