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New survey sheds light on how UK devs feel about piracy
New survey sheds light on how UK devs feel about piracy
October 28, 2013 | By Mike Rose

October 28, 2013 | By Mike Rose
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    35 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



An overwhelming number of game developers in the UK are adapting their games and business models to best deal with piracy, according to a new survey.

UK trade body TIGA asked game studios for their thoughts on piracy issues, and found that 87 percent of those surveyed believe that adopting new business models that better combat piracy is favorable to introducing stricter enforcement.

Although 57 percent of those surveyed said that piracy is having an effect on their businesses, 73 percent of overall respondents disagreed that those people found to be illegally downloading games should have their internet connections slowed or cut off.

This follows reports over the last few months that UK broadband providers have been collating information on illegal downloaders, with the potential for throttling connections for those found to be committing piracy.

40 percent of those surveyed did, however, believe that educating consumers on the effects of piracy on UK games businesses is still important.

Notably, 37 percent of respondents said that they don't believe piracy will be an issue anymore in five years' time, thanks in part to business models like the free-to-play model, and requiring online security checks for games or apps every few days.


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Comments


Rui Mota
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(...) 87 percent of those surveyed believe that adopting new business models that better combat piracy is favorable to introducing stricter enforcement. (...)

How about working with? The truth is Pirate distribution channels are much more consumer friendlier and often faster on release.
Region locked platforms! Different release dates for digital content! No full trial or demos! obligatory internet connection just for checks! etc.. please stop.

Harry Fields
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Pirate distribution channels are more consumer friendly?!?! REALLY? It's not like 3 out of every 4 torrents are infected with some variety of malware. If you don't like the way these businesses sell their product, fine... don't buy it.... but don't use their practices as justification for theft.

E Zachary Knight
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Harry,

I think they are pretty user friendly. Go to the Pirate Bay. Search for the game you want. Find the torrent with the most seeders. Read the comments to double check that there are no virus. (it may be surprising to you, but pirates are rather protective of their computers and constantly take measures to avoid viruses and malware.) Click download and go.

Those "virus laden" torrents will fall off the map real fast as the comments blow up about the virus and people stop seeding it.

Harry Fields
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That was in general, not Pirate Bay specific. I'm just trying to make a point. Everyone uses this "DRM" excuse and it's just that. I've never had a "consumer unfriendly" experience acquiring a game. I've been able to go my many a year without ever stealing a game (and I have thousands). A good percentage of them were dirt cheap (sales, bargain bin, etc). I can't and won't ever justify piracy. Be it of music, movies or games. Something worth having is something worth paying for.

E Zachary Knight
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Harry,

If we are going to use generalities, then i would say that based on the general legal methods for obtaining and playing games for the computer are pretty crap. They are pretty terrible and anti-consumer.

But if we want to compare specifics, I would compare the most successful legal service, Steam, to the most successful pirate service, The Pirate Bay. Hands down, the pirate bay offers the better service. No account to create. No DRM to deal with. No online connectivity to play. If you uninstall a game and lose the installer, it is available without hassles.

Now, does any of this justify piracy? No. Of course not. But I don't think it justifies forcing paying customers to install DRM on their computers either.

Kyle Redd
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@Zachary

And no privacy concerns either. This is the one "perk" of piracy that is almost always overlooked. Being a law-abiding gamer today pretty much demands that you surrender a great many of your personal details up front and, in many cases, submit to real-time monitoring of your hard drive while the game's required client is running.

Pirates have no such worries.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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@Harry
"Pirate distribution channels are more consumer friendly?!?! REALLY? It's not like 3 out of every 4 torrents are infected with some variety of malware."

I would advise you to not click torrents without either the green or purple Jolly Roger indicating trusted sources, its not even that hard, it says "trusted" on it.

"...theft."

Can we please not use that word in the discussion of piracy; also otherwise known as copyright infringement. If it was theft it would be prosecuted as theft with the same penalties as theft (actually far more lax than any prosecuted piracy case to date)
The fact is it is not theft, it is copyright infringement and/or gross copyright infringement (trademark counterfeiting) if you are selling the infringed content and distributing it.

I wished people would stop trying to falsely criminalize the act with this language, in opposition to what the law actually says about it, which is that its actually not a criminal act and not theft (Dowling v. United States, 1985).
This of course applies to downloading torrents and/or illegally obtaining copies of software etc, and not gross commercial copyright infringement which is covered by counterfeiting laws already anyways (your chinese knockoff Nikes and bootleg DVDs, etc)

Not to mention in some countries (Canada, etc) downloading software for personal use is completely legal as long as you don't distribute it.

So lets not jump on the "theft" bandwaggon to be edgy.

Maria Jayne
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It's interesting how belief works, they believe they are losing sales. How can you know even 1% of people who pirate games would actually buy your game?

If piracy was prevented overnight, just as with consumers in general, you have a limited amount of spare money. There are many games available to purchase at varying prices, nobody buys all of them. Stop a pirate pirating 10 games a week and it doesn't mean they then go out and buy those 10 games every week.

Not every pirate download is a lost sale, and if every pirate download isn't a lost sale, how can you possibly know you lose any sales at all?

If I could get free stuff I certainly would use it, that doesn't mean I would or could buy that stuff if it wasn't free. I would love many things, but I happily live without most of them. Making software harder to steal might force people to choose what is important, but there is no guarantee that a video game is going to be the winner in that conflict.

Mike Jenkins
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Real world example:

My college roomate had a spindle of burned Dreamcast games. He spent 40~ hours a week playing games, and never bought any.

If piracy didn't exist, which do you think would happen?
A) He'd buy every single game that he had pirated
B) He'd buy zero games, and he'd take up a completely different free hobby, such as reading at the library
C) He'd buy some games (like most people) and continue the hobby he clearly enjoys and spends much of his life on

Matt Boudreaux
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I've never bought this line of thinking. According to a survey done a few months back, they recorded 12.6M people pirating various games over a 3 month period:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/emmawoollacott/2013/05/15/finally-som
e-objective-figures-on-games-piracy/

Are you really suggesting that those 12.6M people would not purchase any of the games they had pirated if the pirating option didn't exist? Not a single one? I agree that pulling tangible numbers out of pirates for conversion to paying customers is near impossible, but I think it's silly to think that if piracy didn't exist all pirates just wouldn't play games.

Paul Speed
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It's not about that. It's about the fact that a pirate illegally downloading 40 games a week is not going to suddenly start buying 40 games a week should his ability to download them suddenly stop. In fact, he may not even buy one game a week. Maybe not even one game a month.

So when you take "number of games illegally downloaded" and try to guess some "loss of revenue" from that then it's impossible. Just not possible at all. Even the most generous interpretation is that the loss of revenue is probably several orders of magnitude smaller than "number of games illegally downloaded" * "cost of game".

It's extremely hard to put a value on something that has close to zero friction to acquire.

Katy Smith
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It's still a non-zero value, though. That means some money is lost on sales. I'd be very interested in seeing more research done on people who pirate games. How many would they purchase if it was impossible to pirate? What makes people pirate games?

Craig Dolphin
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If the pirating option didn't exist....


Just stop, please. The option will always exist. Always has. Always will.

The question is not how many extra sales you would get in your fantasy situation, but whether those additional sales would make up for the number of paying customers who are unable or unwilling to jump through the drm hoops you'd need to require in order to tilt at the piracy windmill once more.

The vast majority of Pirates never have to deal with drm, only your paying customers do. So just stop wishing on a star. Piracy is real, it's immoral, it sucks, but it isn't going away and the efforts to fight it are only making the paying experience worse and worse. If you want more paying customers, how bout you try treating them to a better experience than the pirates do? More conveniece, not less.

Israel Lazo
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Most of pirates I know will never buy any digital product even if the couldn't pirate. But also I know a bunch of pirates that quitted doing it as soon as Steam started to give a really good value to having your licensed games in one place and being able to download them fast from any computer with other nice features such as could-hosted save game, extra content for free (steam workshop), discounts and a lot more.

Still not a reason to pirate something, but it gives me something to think about... Maybe a good way to fight piracy is to give an extra value to those who bought the game.

Nejc Eber
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"What makes people pirate games?" Not having money?
Like it says in Forbes article, most piracy comes from Romania, Croatia, Ukraine, Greece, Poland, Italy, Armenia and Serbia. The country I come from the average pay is half from what people get in USA, yet new games in retail cost 70€. That is 96.5$. Imagine paying 193$ for a single game. Most hardcore gamers only get to buy 2 new games a year. Most people play F2P games (MOBAS, World of Tanks, War Thunder, Path of Exile, Team Fortress 2, Battlefield Heroes) and buy games only on Steam Sales for a couple of euros and on other type of sales (like Humble Bundle). But that requires a credit card. Kids who have lots of free time, little money and no credit cards all pirate games. You have to know that even while this are not economically strong countries, they still have relatively good internet connection. I do the same. Buy games on sales, play F2P games, and when I was a kid I pirated plenty of games. Not being able to play games when I was young at all, would I even play and pay for games now? I don't know.

Nils Pihl
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Katy, it might be a non-zero value, but guarding yourself from piracy is a non-zero cost.

Sean Sang
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@ Craig, well if piracy didn't exist then there would be no need for DRM. At Maria's original question I certainly believe there are some lost sales. Certainly not 1:1 but far less. The fact these people sought out those games is an indication of interest which is the first step to purchasing a game. With limited funds they would be choosier in which game to purchase but in any case one game purchase is better than none at all.

Richard Black
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I've worked a lot of physical security in the past, domestically and internationally. You often have people who don't understand where threats come from paying more attention to the illusion of security rather than actual security and the same people almost always over estimate the threat. This generally leads to blowing an awful lot of time and money in ultimatey a completely wasted effort.

Is it worth it?

You've got airlines for example trying to be more efficient in boarding planes and largely inconveniencing people with ordered methods people don't care about or care to learn about for null ultimate effect. Then you have Southwest who did a few studies and found out even if passengers do what they're told in whatever method you've come up with the time saved simply isn't worth the effort nor is the money trying to implement such systems let alone maintain them. So fuck it, people board their planes whenever the plane is ready for them.

The main problem with games these days is you have a lot of consumers disillusioned with a system. Games are frequently over priced and often suck. Yet rarely can you try before you buy or return a game if you're unsatisfied or feel like you were misled by promises that didn't materialize. Once you're burned a few times are you really gonna keep touching the stove? So people started waiting more and to combat sales what started happening? Pre-order bonuses. Hey give us money before the game is released or anyone tells you it sucks and you can have cool extra shit that you can't get once it's being retailed. It's not really surprising the next step is people trying to crowdfund games to try to get a little trust and life back into a loved industry and hope to know who's making their product that isn't designed by commitee and answerable to the marketers.

Basically though if people are going to steal then they're going to steal. Wasting you're own money trying to make it harder is likely just going to make it more fun for the kid that breaks it so you may as well just throw him a party in Vegas, it'd likely be cheaper. You're not going to come up with the Enigma Device so why pretend? Even that got broken pretty fast so all the money, time, and tought you devote to anti-piracy at best will give you 48 hours before it's broken and it's all wasted. If you're game isn't selling I really doubt it's because of piracy, and if it's being heavily pirated great, the pirates might look forward to your next game and feel like parting with some of their money - provided they have any of it. You're better off just building loyalty, which is the main way governments prevent spying far more than any of thier other counter measures.

Katy Smith
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@Nils

True, but do they balance out? Is it cheaper to just not worry about piracy? I think the game industry comes at this from a "STEALING BAD!" perspective, and while I agree stealing is bad, maybe we need to start with "hey, do you know you're stealing?" I'd like to see more information, because I think this is an interesting topic, and it doesn't seem to be well studied from the perspective of the people pirating the software.

Sterling Reames
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The real problem is that most companies think they can get rid of piracy by making it harder for people to play their games; when in fact they are only making gamers want to pirate their games even more than if the developers hadn't gone out of their way in the first place.

Platforms like Steam have shown that people really don't mind paying for games if the price is right, and the technical barrier for entry is low. Even to buy a mobile game, all you literately have to do is tap "install" and type in your password to confirm a purchase. As the games industry as a whole moves towards digital distribution, I think we will start to see that more people are willing to pay for games if the experience is hassle free.

Harry Fields
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I don't like that a Ferrari is several hundred thousand and that I have to negotiate and sign papers to buy or lease one.

Until Ferrari makes a car whose price is more akin to my desire, like 20,000 or so and make it so I can swap my credit card and drive, I am going to just steal Ferrari's.

It's Ferrari's fault I am stealing from them!

E Zachary Knight
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Harry,

Yes. Because your game is a Ferrari.

Nejc Eber
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Pirating =/= stealing.
If you could make unlimited gold, water, food etc. would it be worth anything?
You can't compare physical and digital goods. Physical goods are limited, while digital goods have just an artificial barrier.
Would you be punished for stealing if the object would just multiply if you stole it? You want your neighbours car? Bam! You both have it. You are hungry? Bam! You just have a exact copy of an apple from the store.
It's not that it's creators fault that people pirate, it's just that they don't feel bad for doing it. It's not about feeling entitled, it's just trying to enjoy your life, without actually hurting others. If you don't have money you try to enjoy things that you can get for free. Hugs, kisses, walking in a park, talking with a friend and playing a pirated game. If you could download a Ferrari you would too. You could never afford to buy it anyway.
F2P is huge because there are still plenty of people who don't have a lot of money for games. And people who have money like to play games that everyone else is playing. That is also the reason that some high'end f2p games are not as successful as games that can run on a toaster.

Robert Schmidt
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This is a non-starter. People are not entitled to steal whenever they don't like the price.

JD Jackson
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They will, though, so it doesn't matter if they're entitled to.

Sean Sang
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@ Nejc, the very nature of games is that they are experiences. There's really nothing tangible about them, games are simply just digital information. The disc, cartridge or whatever is only a vessel to deliver that experience. So when you pirate a game you may not be stealing the delivery vessel but you are stealing that experience. That's why when people pirate a game they don't feel the need to purchase it because having that shiny disc does nothing to improve the experience or change it.
The real problem I feel is cultural. There's a lot of people out of there who feel there's nothing wrong with pirating and to them it's just natural. It's not even about money, they know they can get it for free so they don't understand why they should even pay for it. Some of the people I know who pirate the most are also some of the wealthiest.

Nejc Eber
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@Sean Sang: Yeah, but we still treat it like it's a thing. You can resell your game, you can lend it, you can play local multilayer with 4 friends, and for people that is ok. It works the same as with physical things. You can lend your Ferrari, you can resell it, you can drive your friends. You can't really share physical experience, like going on a concert. You can talk about it, you can make pictures, you can write an article, but you can't resell your ticket, you can't lend it for another concert, you can't invite 4 friends over that don't have the ticket. But everybody that get to play a game can get a similar experience. Should than lending and reselling also be forbidden? People who buy used or borrow this game are not actually paying for the experience to the creator. And now with Steam and Xbox One introducing the option of sharing your digital libraries, the line blurs even more. What is sharing and what is pirating? The amount of people that experience that licensed copy? If they are experiencing it at the same time?
Maybe it's a cultural thing, but my experience with who buy things is different. People who care about games and have money pay for them, people who care about games and don't have money tend to borrow, pirate, buy used copies, play F2P, wait for a sale.
And like Rui pointed out: Downloads =/= plays. Even with bought content:
http://kotaku.com/lets-be-real-about-our-unplayed-steam-games-746
326390
I for one haven't played 37 (41%) of all my games on Steam. How is every pirated game a stolen experience if people haven't even experienced it.

Wes Jurica
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On Android, our game, ULTRA4 Offroad Racing, has sold about 16k in the first month at $2 price point. According to some basic analytics I put in there, it has a 9:1 piracy to purchase rate meaning about 150k pirated copies, with most of those coming from Russia and China. I don't think this has had a significant impact on sales. Call it denial or whatever, but judging from the time I spent in Russia, most people don't buy games no matter what.

There are undeniably some people in Western countries pirating our games, but given that the main purpose for ULTRA4 Racing to lend its name to our game was to promote their racing series, it's a good thing. We are making plenty to make another game and ULTRA4 gets the exposure it wanted. I'm okay with it.

Israel Lazo
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And google play is banned in china.

Sean Sang
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@ Wes, you're only ok with it as long as you are making a profit. If piracy increases, especially in countries where you were making your most sales this would be a very serious problem for you. I can only see piracy increasing in developed countries as the younger generation has grown up on pirating their entertainment without a second thought.

Wes Jurica
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@Sean
Piracy has been a thing in software since software was a thing. I grew up pirating games and now I buy them. I live in a developed country. Even back in the pre-Doom days PC piracy was huge. The shareware model was developed partially to combat this. There have been doomsayers telling us that piracy was going to kill the software industry since forever and 30 years later we are still here.

Sure, if piracy increases and no one buys software anymore, I won't make any money, but nothing is making me think that piracy is going to get to that point.

Israel Lazo
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For example this is very sad and it shouldn't happen http://www.destructoid.com/only-4-of-volgarr-the-viking-players-b
ought-the-game-264070.phtml. And it makes me feel if is really a good thing for indie games to be 100% DRM free. Like I said before is always a good thing to give some extra value to those who bought the game but is not applicable to every game out there.

Rui Mota
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Downloads are very different than played games. Even bought games are http://kotaku.com/lets-be-real-about-our-unplayed-steam-games-746
326390

And yet how many indies would´t like to be in their shoes? a 2x kikstarter game + x25 players for every sale (according to their 4% number) sounds like a good exposure for the first studio game

Anyway pulling numbers without context (mine included) does not help understanding the problem. An indepented solid cientific study spanning over various country's is yet to be made

George Burdell
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As we have seen in the piratebay case: don't educate consumers on piracy, it will only increase piracy.

Robert Schmidt
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I think the DRM controversy is a distraction similar to the complaints from the gun lobby, "regulating my hobby is the same as calling me a criminal which makes you a bad person". In the case of games they then use that personal insult they say they have suffered to justify stealing from the company. While I agree that DRM should be as seemless as possible, people are not entitled for there to be no DRM. You can always vote with your feet but if your feet take you to pirated software, you are a criminal. In my opinion the best DRM is single use online registration keys that earn you additional content. This also addresses the used software issue. I think in the long run we are going to see an online subscription model but first people have to wrap their heads around the idea that we don't own computer games, and we never did.


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