PC game developer has radical message: ignore the pirates

This is a very sensible view on why not to use digital rights management. Ars Technica reports on one video game company who does not believe in including DRM copy protection on their video games because the pirates are not part of their customer base and likely will never buy the product:

Don't let people who aren't your audience control the titles you make, and ignore piracy. This is much like Trent Reznor's strategy, although the execution is different. Instead of worrying about pirates, just leave the content out in the open. The market Reznor plays to will still buy the music; he's simply stopped worrying about the pirates. He came to the same conclusion: they weren't customers, they might never be customers, so spending money to try to stop them serves no purpose.

"The reason why we don't put copy protection on our games isn't because we're nice guys. We do it because the people who actually buy games don't like to mess with it. Our customers make the rules, not the pirates. Pirates don't count," Wardell argues.


This is an interesting post for sure. Bill (my AA bro) and I have been thinking about trying to tackle this topic for a book-length project. I'm not sure what the best angle or audience would be; obviously a "real" scholarly project would have some potential, but my head is spinning trying to assess how we could get reliable data. Almost all the publishers pull figures out of their wazoo; 60% of sales lost to piracy, etc. I think I saw a figure like 90% the other day. Of course, the same is said for CD sales; no one considers the obvious fact that not every one who received a free copy would have bought one if the bootleg wasn't available.

The thing is, with time it gets to be more obvious why these games failed (rather than piracy). Maybe it had poor gameplay, cheesy graphics, whatever. Maybe the price was just too high. I don't doubt that people copy stuff like Adobe Photoshop just for that reason (and don't give me that, "We have a stripped down kiddie version for only $40" nonsense). ;) It usually seems that games prosper despite the copy protection.

In a way, I almost wish the copy protection would get much better, or at least much more onerous. That way, more people would be forced to consider free software. There seems to be a diminishing returns thing going on here.

Check out Barton's gaming blog at Armchair Arcade.