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Self Interview 1: Shareware
by Maurício Gomes on 09/03/10 03:43:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Hello! I am starting today, on this post, a series named "Self Interview", basically, I will interview myself!

But there are some additional rule: YOU can interview me too! What you need to do, is send me an e-mail to self.interview (@) agfgames d0t com ,I will read the ALL e-mails sent to this mailbox, select the best questions, and ask them too (and put credits to you, if you want). The theme of the next self interview is not decided yet, so ask anything, and I will reply those that I think that should fit (even if slightly off-topic). I don't have a formspring, but this is not a problem ;)

Welcome! I am Mr. Ferreira, your presenter and interviewer, today we will interview a small game maker that claim that he is making a shareware game.

Ferreira: Hello Gomes! So, I've heard that you are making a shareware game, is that true?

Gomes: Yes it is!

Ferreira: This mean that your users will be only able to play 30 days in the final version, or have a not complete game?

Gomes: No no no... That is not it! My intention is not distribute crippleware, as I call this infamous stuff that "took over" the shareware name, even if not literally. But I have to explain that later.

Ferreira: Crippleware, what do you mean with that word?

Gomes: This is for software that is crippled by design, to encourage people to buy a non-crippled version, I dislike this concept, sellers today call those Demo, or Trial, or unfortunately, just Shareware, generating some confusion with Shareware that does not use these practices.

Ferreira: So, if you are not going to distribute a demo, or a crippled version of your game, what you are going to do? I mean, are you really expecting that someone buy something without seeing it first?

Gomes: Exact the opposite, the formal definition of shareware in some shareware developer associations, like ASP , and thus that allow crippleware, is that shareware is any software that allow the costumer to try it before buying.

Ferreira: So, if the person can try it, and it is not crippled, you will ship the entire game, for free? I mean, really?

Gomes: Yes! Really!

Ferreira: Why not call it, freeware then?

Gomes: It is freeware, but it is also shareware.

Ferreira: You confused me... how it can be both at the same time? I mean, freeware usually are free, and shareware is this crippled stuff...

Gomes: That is what I was talking about earlier, freeware is any software that is free! But people prefer to use that word specifically to proprietary software that is not sold in any form, in my case, I DO accept registrations of the game for 4 USD, but the user is not obliged to do it, so the game is free in the sense that he can download it, and play it, but it is not freeware in common sense, because I ask for money, even if the payment is voluntary.

Ferreira: So, you are asking for donations? Why not call it donationware?

Gomes: I could do that, but this is because I am not asking for random donations, I am offering a exchange, people pay me, and register the game, like old Apogee shareware.

Ferreira: Oooh, I understood now, maybe... So, the user can download it, play it, and if he wants he can register the software with you, paying 4 USD for that?

Gomes: Yes!

Ferreira: But, why someone would do that? I mean, they already have the game for free, they would never pay you!

Gomes: I will have to expect good faith of them, I will make awesome games, and those that want me to continue making awesome games will support me.

Ferreira: That is not expect too much? I mean, why not just make the demo thing instead?

Gomes: We are in the information freedom era, no information can be hidden after it hits the internet, no matter how well you try, this also includes software, thus if I made two versions, a demo, and a full, paid version, the result would be the same, people would still download the full version, and some that have good faith would pay.

Ferreira: You don't only need to put some way to prevent piracy?

Gomes: I can't prevent piracy... No one can in fact. So, I decided to use them, like Apogee did.

Ferreira: What do you mean?

Gomes: You ever though of why shareware is named shareware?

Ferreira: Humm... no... Oh, sorry, please, continue.

Gomes: Thanks... Continuing, shareware is named shareware, because it is about sharing!

Galactix, a early shooter shareware, you could download the game and play all 100 levels for free, it can be still be bought. I finished this game in 97

Before internet existed we had BBS, some offered pirated software, you would login there, and people would share with you the software they had, without paying, Apogee idea was encourage people to do that with games, but also charge for them, so some do gooders would pay, and it would spread the game faster.

Ferreira: Interesting, that sounds rather clever! But why noone do it anymore?

Gomes: People still do it! Even in other forms, but the reason why the traditional model faded away, was that the amount of people that actually pay the game is quite low, as the companies got bigger, they needed a less risky business model, and thus they invented the crippleware model.

Ferreira: But why you decided to return to this shareware model?

Gomes: Because we are like in BBS age again, shareware was invented, because everyone was sharing stuff without permission, as games got bigger, this became too cumbersome, allowing you to sell them on stores, and give away only smaller copies, but crippled, but now we have broadband, and really good file sharing technology, thus sharing is king again.

Ferreira: I see... You just said that shareware actually don't died, how is that?

Gomes: We have this free to play model for example, you play the game for free, and if you want you spend more money on it.

Ferreira: Those are not closer to crippleware? I mean, you need to spend money to get all features

Gomes: Several of them yes, but not all, there are several games that you get the full game for free, and only pay for extra things.


Blazblue palette DLC. Yes, you have to pay to have new palettes :(

Ferreira: This sounds like those DLC games too...

Gomes: Actually, my game can be labelled as that too, but I don't see the point in labeling it as that, because it remembers people of certain companies selling useless stuff for high prices, like the... infamous horse armour.

Ferreira: Horse armour? Why infamous?

Gomes: Yes, Bethesda to test the DLC system or something, put on sale some horse armour for Oblivion, it did nothing important, and it was infamous because it was priced 2.50 USD, this is a quite high price for a utterly useless item in a game, my entire game is 4 USD.

Ferreira: I see... So, you said your game can be labeled as DLC, but you are not going to do this, because you are not selling useless items, so what you will sell?

Gomes: Episodes, like those episodic games... Actually, I will sell maps, all of them with new content and gameplay, not only reusing gameplay from old maps, I can actually make a entire game within a game, in those map packs.

Ferreira: So, these you will charge for them normally?

Gomes: Yes, and they will not be available to download for free, but I will not try to prevent piracy of them.

Ferreira: This does not make your game crippleware? I mean, like if you was giving away only half of the game...

Gomes: No, because the game will be a full game, it will feature no data that you need to pay to "unlock" like you can see for example in Burnout Paradise, or those games that they slash the story in several parts, and leave the player in a cliffhanger, so he is forced to buy other episodes to see the end of the story, I will ship with the free game, two level packs, with start, middle and end, people can even play only one of them if they feel like, there are no continuity between them.

Ferreira: Oh, I think that this made things a bit clearer to me. So, there are examples of games like that from Apogee?

Gomes: Yes, of course! Wolfenstein 3D for example, was made during the transition of pure shareware to crippleware, and thus is a perfect example of a episodic game, the first episode was free, you could download it, play from start to end, and it does not ended with a cliffhanger or anything like that, the first episode was contained within itself, and was sufficient to make you happy for playing it.

Ferreira: If that is so, then what motivates people to buy other episodes?

Gomes: It is like getting the sequel, you get the first, you like it, and you get the sequel to get actually more of the same, but with some new things, if you want something totally different you get something else, if you want totally the same, you play the same game, if you want it slightly different, you get the sequel. The idea here is that the first entry in the series is free, the sequels are not, and to make the production cheaper, the sequels use the same technology and assets as the first entry. Later this was named "expansion pack", and now it is named "DLC", but it is the same thing.

Ferreira: Thank you Mr. Gomes, I wished I could talk more with you, but our time, and our readers time are limited, so we will end the interview here.

Gomes: It is me that need to thank you. And after mentioning Apogee so much, I must say that they do still sell their shareware games, and that I recommend the game Raptor, it is really cool, and one of the inspirations for Paddle Wars: Hit The Wall, even if remotely.



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