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This is a complete recovery of all the original posts approved by Bruce Everiss and published on between 2008-04-23 and 2008-04-25. The key date is 2008-04-25, when Bruce, who simply repeats the thoroughly discredited claims from his previous article, deleted three posts all of which referred to that article.

NB: at time of writing (2008-04-27) the original page is still officially open and has received further posts, but is no longer being checked independently for edits or deletions. Killjoys pointing out Bruce's use of copyrighted photographs to illustrate his article are advised to read his posts on

Out of interest, Bruce's editing criteria as revealed here and clearly a direct response to the earlier discussion are "Note: This is my blog, with articles I have written that are pertinent to the game industry. It is not a public forum. All comments have to be approved by me before they appear. And I will only be approving comments that add to the subject. Non worthwhile comments will be deleted and browbeating, heckling, pedantic comments will be consigned to spam." Determining whether or not Bruce Everiss's deletions honour his own rules is left as an exercise for the reader.

The recovered page has been lightly styled to highlight deletions by Bruce Everiss but the message contents have NOT been altered in any way.

(Post later deleted by Bruce) Bruce approved this contribution, but later changed his mind and erased it. (Found on 3 out of 29 posts.)
(Post not deleted by Bruce) Bruce approved this contribution and did not later change his mind. (Found on 26 out of 29 posts.)

Game piracy


Games are a form of intellectual property, like books and film, that, once they have been created, can be copied. Copying a game is a lot cheaper than buying it because the copier is making no contribution to the cost of making the game in the first place. But, obviously, if everybody copied there would be no revenue for games makers and there would be no games.

There are two main forms of game piracy. There is piracy by the individual game player, these days usually over the internet but in the past often by copying using physical media, this is what this article is about. And there is commercial counterfeiting where a professional criminal mass manufactures the game, which is a different matter.

The profile of pirating different platforms is always different because of the technology, the demographics of the users, the state of the market at a given time, relative costs and a number of other factors. What is for sure is that when piracy takes hold on a platform many hundreds of thousands (sometimes million) of copies of a game are made. The huge scale of this theft deprives the publisher of vast amounts of legitimate income and quite obviously harms the game development industry. To think otherwise is to be in self denial.

Of course it is very obvious that not every pirated game is a lost sale. This is because simple price elasticity of demand tells you that far more units will be consumed at a lower price than at a higher price. Yet apologists of piracy use this as an excuse for their behaviour. They try and make out that piracy is a victimless crime. But obviously they are wrong because potential sales are being lost. And the lesson of history is that when piracy on a given platform gets out of hand then it causes huge damage to the game market for that platform. This is common sense really.

The Old Days


The first mass market game machine in the UK was the Sinclair Spectrum. Software was loaded via a tape interface so games were sold on audio compact cassettes. These were very, very easy to copy from a technical point of view. Especially when dual cassette players proliferated and became cheaper. Schoolyard and club copying proliferated on a massive scale and badly hurt the game publishers. Look at a list of games and you can see the many publishers that went out of business or were forced into mergers. A whole range of technical anti piracy solutions were introduced including, for instance, Lenslok. The publishers would not have gone to the huge trouble of these technical solutions if copying had not been a great threat to their businesses. Another solution was budget games, initially at GBP1.99, then at GBP2.99, prices at which they were not worth copying. That these budget games proliferated and came to dominate the market is yet another measure of just how bad the piracy was.

I was a director of the game publisher Imagine software, which went bankrupt in 1984, largely because sales came to an abrupt halt when piracy took off. (Imagine had other problems that made it especially vulnerable to a large and sudden drop in revenue.) Another publisher that was badly affected was Ultimate Play The Game (which later morphed into Rare), one of the most highly regarded publishers of games for the 8 bit home computers. Their initial response to the huge rise in piracy and drop off in sales was to raise prices from GBP5.50 a game to GBP9.95. The idea being that if customers paid more for a game they would be less inclined to give away copies. However this didn't work and they laboured on for just one more year after the demise of Imagine before switching their attention to the Nintendo Entertainment System, which did not suffer from piracy. Spectrum and other 8 bit computer owners lost out heavily as publishers put less and less resources into developing for their machine or quit entirely, as Ultimate did.

Then came the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST. Once again copying was technically easy so it was rife. Once again it was up to the publishers to come up with technical solutions. So a technology war broke out between the software publishers and the pirates. Measures would include copying in random pieces of text from the manual. The led to a huge amount of photocopying by the pirates until the publishers started using photocopy proof manuals. Obviously all this piracy made revenue generation difficult so the game publishing industry did not blossom in the way we see now. In fact piracy has often been cited as part of the reason for the downfall of these machines.

Consoles Arrive


Then came the game consoles. From Sega and from Nintendo. They had their games held on chips inside cartridges so they were technically difficult and expensive to copy. So piracy didn't happen anywhere near the massive extent that it had on the Spectrum, Amiga and ST. So the game industry blossomed into what we know today. This was the time when many of the great key franchises of our industry were established.

Cartridges were expensive to make so eventually the hardware manufacturers returned to recordable media. This way they could make vastly larger games with far lower production costs. The first to do this was the Sony Playstation (PSX, later PS1) in 1995 in Europe and America, which used a CD-ROM to load games. Sony had a whole pile of technical anti piracy measures which protected it from piracy for several years. However with the introduction of modchips and the development of PC CD-ROM burners that could burn data in the same modes that the PSX used it was game over. Chipping was nearly universal and game sales collapsed. Pirates were selling their copied games door to door in housing estates, at places of work, in car boot sales and anywhere else they could find a customer. This caused huge problems for game publishers. I was working at Codemasters at the time and we were forced to lay off about 60 people. This was terrible as there were no other industry jobs for them to go to, everyone was having the same trouble. The number of games published shrank dramatically. In 1999 there were 100, in 2000 there were 78 and in 2001 there were just 33. Yet the PSX remained in production till 2006, so software publishing for it collapsed just half way through it's sales life.

The Dreamcast from Sega came out in 1998 and used a special unique disk format called GD-ROM. Once this was circumvented with things like the Utopia bootdisk it was game over. Piracy became rampant and the Dreamcast died after just a couple of years with over 10 million sold. This piracy is sometimes credited with not only seeing off the Dreamcast but also removing Sega from the console hardware market completely (as ever there were other factors that muddy the waters somewhat, what is for sure is that losing so much revenue did not help). It was a huge loss to the industry.

The PC


The IBM PC has been around since 1981 and was the first home machine to be connected to the internet in massive numbers. So it obviously has a long history of software piracy and has been at the forefront of anti piracy technology. Often this technology had nuisance value as it actually impeded the use of the computer. But the pirates did bring it upon themselves. At Codemasters we published an excellent PC game called Severance, Blade of Darkness which was well received with a Metacritic of 75 and a user score of 9.5. This game was popular, building an active community of mod makers. Yet Codemasters sold very few copies of the game, most people just downloaded it for free from the internet. So the developer, Rebel Act received very little royalties and went bust. Once again piracy damaging the industry.

Nowadays it is virtually impossible to viably publish boxed PC games, most appear on the internet as free bit torrents before they are even in the shops. In fact it is far quicker and easier to pirate a game than it is to buy it. So most publishers, even those with a decades long tradition in PC games, have given up. And the PC gamer suffers. One casual game publisher reported a piracy rate of 92%, which is probably typical. When they tightened up their protection it didn't help much because people just moved on to some of the many other games that are available for free by bit torrent. Now Electronics arts have started releasing PC games for free, with their development cost supported by in game advertising and micro payments. But the real way to make PC games as a viable business is to make online games (MMOs), these are server based so impossible to pirate. One day virtually all games will be published in this way and piracy will be over.

Today's Consoles


The PSP is a very popular mobile gaming machine and media player made by Sony. They have sold 33 million. Yet it is a graveyard for games publishers. It has been hacked since early in it's life, it is simple to copy games onto and everything an owner can want is very easily available for free online. Here are some download figures for PSP games from just one torrent site:

God of War: Chains of Olympus - 94,154
Patapon - 112,183
Ratchet & Clank - Size Matters - 197,113
Crush - 48,959
LOCO ROCO - 163,904
Wipeout Pulse - 116,965
Castlevania X Chronicles - 102,354
Metal Gear Solid - Portable Ops (Not Including Plus) - 231,054
Burnout Dominator - 269,486

So most developers just don't invest millions into AAA games for it, they would be wasting their money. This lack of quality games on the PSP (obviously along with some other factors) left the door open for the Nintendo DS to become a massive success with 70 million sold. But even this is being pirated now using flash memory cards in dummy cartridges. This will impact heavily on DS game sales and could lead to publishers becoming reluctant to develop for it, as they are with every heavily pirated platform.

The current generations of home consoles, the Microsoft Xbox 360, the Nintendo Wii and the Sony PS3, are all at that stage in the cycle where there is a phoney war. All three machines have good technical anti piracy. Nintendo went so far as to embed a secret second CPU (an ARM) in the graphics chip to run some of it's system software (they lost $975 million to piracy in 2007). But all three have been cracked (not fully yet with the PS3), click their names for more details. Owners will be able to bypass the anti piracy and play free games. This hasn't taken off yet but there are signs that it is just starting to. If previous generations of console are anything to go by then piracy on these three machines could soon snowball. And publishers will move their development resources away.

In the meantime Nintendo are making successive popular game releases that look to see if the machine has been modified before they will play. If it has the Wii becomes a "brick" for that game. Microsoft use Xbox Live to look for modified 360s and cancel the accounts of any that they find. And Sony have the advantage that Blu-ray media is expensive to buy and difficult to copy. All these are just current positions in an ongoing technology war. Very many people are putting so much time and effort into cracking these machines that, ultimately, they will find a way round everything and anything the manufacturers do.



There is one thing that beats pirates on any platform. This is when a game is so big that it becomes a mass culture popular event. The current launch of GTA IV is a prime example. Then a far higher percentage of people just have to have the real thing. A pirated copy just isn't cool enough. And with these sorts of games there is a massive gift market. All this explains how the rare, exceptional title can still sell well on a heavily pirated platform.

There are the excuses that pirates make that games are too expensive (they are), but then Ferraris are too expensive and I don't go round stealing them. Then there is the game quality argument, that there is a lot of dross around, which is very true, especially on the Wii. Once again we live in the age of the internet and it is very easy to very rapidly find out everything about every game. Metacritic and Game Rankings will quickly tell you most of what you need to know. Perhaps, as an industry, we ought to publicise these two sites more, just to remove that excuse.

And the game industry continues to grow and prosper, despite the piracy. This is because the proliferation of platforms allows publishers to more easily abandon platforms that are pirated to the point of being uneconomic. Instead they concentrate on platforms where there are windows of opportunity to run a viable business. Either because the anti piracy technology is on top or because there is a sufficient number of honest customers to get a return, even sometimes with a heavily pirated platform. Games with an online element can often be made very pirate proof which has been a major incentive for developers to go down this route.

So for 25 years or so game players have been stealing games in truly massive numbers with zero chance of being caught and punished for their crime. Very often far more copies of a game title have been pirated than have been bought. This self evidently causes harm to the games industry, ultimately leading to less money being invested in games for the pirated platform. So, the game player suffers for his theft by having less games and lower quality games. All pretty obvious to anyone but the pirates who make all sorts of feeble excuses to justify their stealing.

Note: This is my blog, with articles I have written that are pertinent to the game industry. It is not a public forum. All comments have to be approved by me before they appear. And I will only be approving comments that add to the subject. Non worthwhile comments will be deleted and browbeating, heckling, pedantic comments will be consigned to spam.


#1 Forensic Gunk on 04.23.08 at 8:23 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

As someone who worked on Burnout Dominator, it's nice to see we topped the torrent charts!

Oh... :(

I'm always a little dismayed at how prevalent software piracy is within the industry. I know plenty of people in development who own PSP games with hacked firmware or dodgy DS carts.

Shortly after starting my first job in QA, the boss's son came in during the summer holidays with a massive CD folder of PS1 "silver" disks. This was a kid whose dad was worth millions... I thought that was pretty sad.

So, my own little battle against this is not to nod and smile when people around me talk about playing pirate games, but to let them know I'm distinctly unimpressed.

Until those of us in the business show a united front, how can we expect anyone else to follow?

#2 Jack McSmack on 04.23.08 at 8:52 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Piracy is not stealing. It is infringement. You can not steal an intangible good because by taking one copy of a game you are not depriving someone else of that copy.

Knowing that intangible goods can be copied for little to no cost developers and publishers need to adapt their practices to conform with the current market situation. They should either focus their attention on pleasing their current customers or give the product an extra value that the pirates can not.

See Stardock for example, they understand that pirates have infinite time and resources to break any copyright protection so instead of forcing their paying consumers to go through the problems copyright protection entails they release their games without protection. To increase the value of purchasing the game they release multiple free updates and expansions for their games.

Another example is Valve with Steam. Valve games can be pirated but legitimate copies have an extra value because of Steam's community functions and the free updates such as the new Gold Rush map for Team Fortress 2.

Instead of seeing piracy as a lost sale game companies need to see them as potential customers who just need a better reason to spend their money.

#3 Dinger on 04.23.08 at 9:33 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Okay, I challenge the core argument:

The profile of pirating different platforms is always different because of the technology, the demographics of the users, the state of the market at a given time, relative costs and a number of other factors. What is for sure is that when piracy takes hold on a platform many hundreds of thousands (sometimes million) of copies of a game are made. The huge scale of this theft deprives the publisher of vast amounts of legitimate income and quite obviously harms the game development industry. To think otherwise is to be in self denial.
I agree with everything but the last two sentences. That you called it "theft" has already been brought to attention, so I'll only make an aside that the quickest way to lose an argument is to make assertions that are neither factual nor shared by your adversary. "Massive copyright infringement," and "flagrant and illegal violation of our rights" are already pretty good, and more in line with the situation.

"deprives the publisher of vast amounts of legitimate income". We're now getting into the realm of counterfactual speculation. It's like saying "cancer deprives the UK of 200 billion pounds a year income". Either you're stating a practical impossibility (a world without cancer) -- in which case the argument is banal (sure, and if we discovered a practically free, renewable and environmentally-sustainable energy source tomorrow, the world would be a better place) --, or you're suggesting that the practically impossible is quite possible, in which case you need to show us how you'll cure cancer.
So then "harming the game industry" can be taken in two ways: either you mean "it's a negative force the game industry tries to deal with", with which most, but not all, people would agree, or "it's something we can and should stop," in which case I invite you to outline how you would stop it.

At most what you've shown is that piracy, like hardware limitations, is a platform-specific force that game companies need to understand and to work around in order to be successful. If you implement a hardware workaround offers increased performance at the cost of dramatically decreased stability, resulting in a game that crashes all the time, you wouldn't blame poor sales on the hardware.

Likewise, if you use this argument for your DRM scheme:
Often this technology had nuisance value as it actually impeded the use of the computer. But the pirates did bring it upon themselves.
And the game bombs while pirate copies soar, do not go blaming piracy. Your paying customers do not "bring it upon themselves," but it is they who are being punished. You've just made your product _less valuable_ to a paying customer than a pirate copy.

So am I deceiving myself?

#4 Peter St. John on 04.23.08 at 9:47 am

(Post later deleted by Bruce.)

I would like to point out for the readers that may have missed the previous discussion, that the Spectrum market had a healthy life for five years after Imagine's collapse, and three years after Ultimate became Rare, including huge successes like Robocop and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. While a lot of companies *did* go to the wall, there were plenty of successful firms like Ocean, Gremlin, Domark, US Gold, that continued to do well in the 8-bit market.

#5 Bruce on 04.23.08 at 10:01 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Peter St, John is wrong. He needs to read my article more closely.
The Spectrum market continued after the demise of Imagine, but it was hardly healthy. Schoolyard piracy was rampant and the publishers weren't successful. They survived, a few of them.

Ultimate got out of Spectrum games one year after the demise of Imagine, selling the rights to the name to US Gold. They switched to the un pirated NES.

Game publishing only really recovered when the consoles came along.

All of this is in the article with links to evidence that proves my points. Obviously the schoolyard pirates of the time thought that they did no harm. They may delude themselves to still think that they did no harm. But they did massive harm.

#6 Peter St. John on 04.23.08 at 10:13 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Not sure if my last comment came through, so apologies is this repeats the information.

* Sabre Wulf was one of Ultimate's most popular games, selling close to half-a-million copies in the pre-1986 imagined heyday of the Spectrum.

* Mirrorsoft's Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles sold 420,000 copies in ONE MONTH in 1990 on the Spectrum. This is well after the Imagine crash and the Stampers leaving for Japan. This was the machines last big hit, but it shows that the market was still fairly healthy years after Imagine, Ultimate, and other companies had stopped selling Spectrum games.

#7 Bruce on 04.23.08 at 10:19 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Once again Peter, this is covered in my article.
Occasional products come along that transcend piracy for cultural reasons.
And can you tell me where you get your numbers from?

#8 Gary on 04.23.08 at 10:19 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

The spectrum market WAS healthy, Bruce. It may have been healthIER without the level of piracy that there was, but to claim the market was in poor shape is incorrect. As already stated, a number of companies thrived during that time. In fact, I would go so far as to state that Ocean and Rare built their success upon those very foundations. If the market had been unhealthy then neither of those companies (and others) would have gone on to greater things.

#9 Peter St. John on 04.23.08 at 10:21 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

This will after several years of high-profile coin-op conversions and movie licenses, most of which didn't seem to cause Ocean much harm.

Sales figures come from Tony Rainbird and the pewter goblet he had engraved with the TMHT figures. :)

#10 Lloyd Mangram on 04.23.08 at 10:56 am

(Post later deleted by Bruce.)

Bruce, rather than just telling us we're all wrong, why don't you provide some figures? It's all very well claiming that piracy killed the ZX Spectrum market stone-dead almost immediately after Imagine folded, but that's all you've done, along with repeating ‘I was there!' at regular intervals. You've not addressed the very obvious fact that original, full-price Spectrum games continued to be released until the early 1990s.

No-one's claiming that piracy didn't affect the landscape, but your assertion that it effectively nuked it seems misguided at best.

Also, one other point, which I feel is important:

"When they tightened up their protection it didn't help much because people just moved on to some of the many other games that are available for free by bit torrent."

It also didn't help because honest customers don't like being treated as criminals. I'm sure I can't be the only person here to have bought a game that didn't work because of anti-piracy measures, thereby ‘forcing' me to download a dodgy version just to play the game I actually paid for?

#11 Kakkoii on 04.23.08 at 11:21 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

How can Nintendo claim to have lost 975 Million dollars?

How exactly does Nintendo know how much money it "should have made"?

That's not something you can know.

Did Nintendo not stop to think that maybe poor sales are mostly due to the huge economic crisis in America?

I'm sure many parent's aren't buying as many video games for there kids these past few years due to all the economic issues.

Wage loss to piracy is grossly over estimated every time I see a report about it.

Piracy helps promote games a huge amount also. It's free advertising.

You can't loose something that's not there. And the pirates money was definitely never there to be earned.

Ultimately, If a game is actually GREAT, then there will always be enough people who are willing to pay for it.

The quality of games has been declining, which is a major cause in why game industries are making less. As well as a constant rise in what people are expecting from a game.

These days when a new game comes out.. It has to top the game in it's genre that came before it, if it wants to be successful most of the time.

There's way to much of the same old crap over and over again with slightly different crappy story lines these days.

Spending to much time improving graphics, causing PC gamers to have to fork out money to upgrade there computers. Instead of spending more time on making an intriguing storyline and game concept/design.

#12 David A. on 04.23.08 at 12:22 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Piracy also hurts games (specifically PC games) in other ways.

Many bugs causing poor stability and CTDs are often created by hackers who do a bad job of removing anti-piracy measures before making a game available through bittorrent.

This then plays right into the hands of those who use the excuse "I'm not going to buy a game that might not run on my PC" - and when they find that their pirate copy is full of bugs they complain to the developer!

But worse than that is the flood of comments on the forums and blogs about Brand-New-FPS 7 being full of bugs, based on their experiences with a poorly cracked copy.

But what really makes it sting for the developer is when ‘reputable' games journalists, doing their ‘research', see all these complaints about bugs (that are only in cracked copies) and then mention the game's supposed poor stability in their reviews.

People say that piracy is good for the industry because it gets games into the hands of those who would never have played them otherwise, causing the potential market to grow. But clearly not all publicity is good publicity.

#13 Anshuman on 04.23.08 at 1:16 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

I have been one of those rare few Indians who buy shrinkwrapped software. Every piece of software on my system is either bought by me or is freeware.
Having said that, I can understand where the alarming prevalence of piracy in India comes from: the high cost of software, coupled with insane taxation and low per capita income levels.

What is encouraging to note, however, is that things are changing rapidly on the ground. Over the last few years in India I've noticed far more people buying legal copies of software in malls or over the Internet; this coexists with the vast underground "pirate" shops that sell DVDs of compiled copyrighted material.
I attribute this change to a phenomenal rise in income levels, in line with a desire to reward IP value creators. Being associated with the software industry, one can understand the toil & sweat that is channelled into the creation of software as complex as a game.

I agree with your overall assessment, however, as to the way the gaming industry is evolving. Hosted gaming is on the verge of becoming the revenue creator of choice for most studios and publishers.

Nice article! Cheers...

#14 Steve on 04.23.08 at 1:54 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

So you would not steal a Ferarri, as a consequence of not being able to afford one? Of course you wouldn't. None of us would. But what if you could get a Ferarri for nothing? Without depriving the original owner, or losing a sale? Different argument! This article is pretty much a repeat of the previous one. It reminds me of "The Curse of Dad's Army" that was featured in Viz many years ago. The article implied that a healthy jobbing actor got a job working on the comedy series, and yet, just 30 years later, died in mysterious circumstances. Another actor was only in 1 episode, but died age just 94. Another appeared in every series, but one fateful night, their cat was run over - with no witnesses. Basically, what's happening here is that information is being presented as cause and effect when there's no actual link. Could it be that the fry up I had this morning has lead to Beyonce and Jay-Z deciding to marry? Both happened today.

#15 t7d on 04.23.08 at 2:25 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Here's the thing:

You will *never* win the "war" against people who are determined to make copies of your software. It's simply not going to happen. At the very best, you can make it so that it takes a really determined effort to make a copy, or costs more (either financially or in terms of hardware compatibility with other software) than it's worth to do it.

I was part of what would probably be best described as a "cracking crew" back in the 16 bit days. We didn't make money from what we did (although it's quite possible that somebody else did), but we had fun breaking other people's copy protection. That was why we did it. It was fun, an intellectual challenge. 2 guys, one ST, one piece of software, and a stack of beers. It never took longer than a single sitting. Protection schemes that had been sweated over for days, weeks, rendered useless in a few hours.

You wanna know the best bit? I had access to pretty much every piece of software released on the ST. And yet every piece of software I used, I owned legitimate, paid for, boxed copies of.

Unfortunately, people still seem to think that "IP" must be "protected", but this is a fallacy. Look at DVDs. I go buy a DVD (and I do), slap it in my player, and I get a bunch of non-skippable crap telling me I shouldn't copy DVDs, that pirate DVDs fund terrorism, etc. But I'm one of the good guys. I bought my DVD. I shouldn't have to sit through shit like this, to be treated like a criminal, to be lectured at. Meanwhile, the guy who's downloaded a copy, or bought a hookey DVD at a boot sale, doesn't even see it. In goes the DVD, the film starts.

Music. I buy a CD, and it refuses to play in my PC, because I might make a copy. Or do I torrent it, and get a lossless copy that I can do what I want with? Trent Reznor got it right with "Ghosts". A bloody good album, pay the correct price, download a lossless, non DRMed copy to do with as you wish. Pay a bit more, get a real physical copy as well. Pay a lot more, get copies on vinyl, ect. The music itself - released under a Creative Commons license - "do what you want with it" means almost exactly that - if you feel like sticking up a bit-perfect torrent, making copies for your mates, etc, you're completely within your rights to do so.

Piracy is here to stay. It's been here since the first piece of equipment that made it possible to copy from one piece of media to another, and that happened a long time before the '80s.

Anti-piracy measures, of necessity, make life harder for the legitimate user, and don't affect the pirate in the slightest. It's a much better idea to spend time developing a compelling product than to spend it on futile measures. If Imagine had done this, they might have stayed around for a while longer.

#16 yg on 04.23.08 at 2:38 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Kotaku says GTAIV pirated before release. ( read here )

Not that it will stop GTAIV becoming the top seller of all time...

#17 Evan on 04.23.08 at 3:21 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Let's face it, the pirates need some new material -- the old excuses have simply lost all their entertainment value. For the convenience of all the pirates and aspiring pirates out there, here is a list of the justifications that just do not cut it any more:

1. The game was too expensive, so I stole it.
2. I stole the game because I did not like its quality.
3. If the distributor did not really want me to steal the game, he would have provided more value-added features.
4. I am poor, so it acceptable for me to steal games.
5. Even if I had not stole it, I would not have bought it.
6. Hey, it is not stealing, it is only "infringement".
7. All software should be free anyway.
8. Gee, all my friends do it!

#18 Scott on 04.23.08 at 4:15 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

"Piracy is not stealing. It is infringement. You can not steal an intangible good because by taking one copy of a game you are not depriving someone else of that copy."

If you make a copy, then by the laws of supply and demand, you reduce the value of the original. (If something is scarce, it is valuable. If it becomes commonplace, it's value diminishes.) If you're taking away the value of something when you take away a copy, then you are stealing.

Just because the legal language that has built up in the centuries since copyright was first formulated hasn't kept pace with the technological innovations of the last few decades, doesn't change the moral argument.

To me, the moral argument is more significant, and the question of whether it's theft, copyright infringement or breaking the DMCA should follow that one- not lead it.

I'm not arguing that the marketplace hasn't been massively changed- I used to copy Spectrum games by swapping tapes and so on the playground. Today, the same thing is happening, but the "playground" is the internet, and the scale of what's available to me to copy isn't just what a few hundred people I know have access to, but to everything that's available in the world. I completely agree that industries that rely on a product that can be copied with perfect digital accuracy *need* to adapt their business models to rely on selling something that can't be copied. Whether that's an ephemeral quality like Trust, Immediacy or Accessibility, or a physical product like a Guitar Hero controller.

But the "defence" of software piracy always sounds to me more like trying to slip through a legal loophole than actually defending one's actions. "It's because the publishers are greedy." "It's because so many games are bad, I don't know which ones I want." "It's because I'm a downtrodden member of society who can't afford the games that I should be entitled to in a free country." And so on...

#19 Whiner on 04.23.08 at 5:45 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

"But the "defence" of software piracy always sounds to me more like trying to slip through a legal loophole than actually defending one's actions."

Yes, but it can also be interpreted as a paradigm problem - one in which they ‘know' intuitively that they 'should' be able to get things for free but can't work out how to explain it. Why do they feel this way?

Perhaps because in most of society, paying for ‘culture' is a bit optional?

Many art museums take donations rather than fixed ticket prices. Street performers busk for money, but it's not illegal to listen to one without paying. Theater productions often do a pay-what-you-can performance to encourage the sort of people who don't normally do theater to come in, even if they only pay a dollar for it. Libraries loan you books and movies for free. Television and radio pour content onto people who aren't paying for them directly.

Is it any wonder people don't feel like they should *have* to pay for games? They know instinctively what the critics are still debating - that games are art. :)

I'm not arguing pro-piracy here, I'm trying to make a living in this business too. But I think one might make more headway by encouraging players to put dollars in the hats of artists they enjoy rather than yelling ‘THIEVES! JAIL FOR YOU!'

#20 Peter Perpendicularly on 04.23.08 at 7:49 pm

(Post later deleted by Bruce.)

Modestly, Mr Everiss does not link to his previous article in this series -- -- which originates all of the claims here, many of which are rebutted by the contributors who didn't have their posts deleted. Peter St John's patient citations of the reality of post-Imagine Speccy sales are particularly illuminating.

No doubt quite by accident, Mr Everiss continues grievously to misrepresent the facts. For example, in Mr Everiss's version, Ultimate, fatally wounded by piracy, fail in their last-ditch attempt to reverse collapsed sales by doubling their price, narrowly escape Imagine's playground-sealed fate and are compelled to abandon the 8-bits a year later for the unpirateable NES. This was not the case. Crash's issue 51 (April 1988) interview with the famously reclusive software house -- -- one of I believe only three; the others, around the same time and for the same shrewd purpose of publicising a recruitment drive for Rare, were with Personal Computer Games and The Games Machine and are regrettably not online -- reveals several fascinating facts.

According to the Stampers, the extremely controversial price jump from GBP5.50 to GBP10 with Sabre Wulf was indeed to combat piracy, for the reason Mr Everiss suggests -- someone who's paid nearly double the usual cost of a game is less likely to let someone else copy it. But Mr Everiss is wrong to claim this tactic failed. Sabre Wulf -- which, you might remember, like every previous Ultimate game, all of which topped the charts and stayed there, featured no tape copy protection of any kind -- sold between a quarter of a million and 350,000 copies on the Speccy. (Obviously this figure increases again if you count the Beeb, CPC and C64 ports.) As the interview says, this was when Ghostbusters was claiming to be the best-selling game of all time in the world at 250,000 copies across all platforms.

(There's an intriguing throwaway quote by the Stampers about the price jump: "It didn't make any difference to sales." The context is that the new price didn't, as was predicted after the announcement, dissuade purchasers, but we can also reasonably infer that previous Speccy games sold similar numbers to Sabre Wulf's. Indeed, the Wiki page for Ultimate helpfully cited by Mr Everiss refers to a recent history of the Speccy which calculates sales of Jet Pac, Ultimate's first game, as 330,000 in a market of 1m.)

Mr Everiss is also wrong to claim that Ultimate "laboured on for just one more year after the demise of Imagine (in September 1984) before switching their attention to the NES." Ultimate's subsequent Speccy games, including Underwurlde and Knight Lore, were also best sellers. (Strictly this required no "labouring on" at all, because both games had been finished before Sabre Wulf, but the Stampers shrewdly controlled the release schedule to maximise sales; something Mr Everiss would no doubt thoroughly approve.) The Stampers negotiated a lucrative sale of Ultimate assets to US Gold in 1985 but retained majority control and Ultimate games continued to appear until 1987. Dissatisfied with US Gold's handling of the label, the Stampers declined to release their Speccy swansong, Mire Mare, scheduled for 87/88, at all, pretending it was unfinished. This obviously does not support Mr Everiss's picture of a panicked company saying and selling anything in their desperation to stay afloat long enough for some nebulous rescue scheme to emerge, a description that of course neatly fits Imagine.

Mr Everiss is correct to say that Ultimate (as Rare) switched to the NES. The arresting and revealing part as explained in the interview is that they *planned* this migration *in 1983.*

It's perhaps difficult at this distance to appreciate the extraordinary foresight of such a decision. In 1983 -- the year of Jet Pac and Schizoids -- nobody in Britain gave the slightest thought to the Japanese market. (Amusingly, Hudson Soft at this time were trying to break *into* Britain; Stop the Express was one of theirs and the Bomberman series began on the Speccy as Eric and the Floaters -- .) A few companies briefly glanced at the MSX a couple of years later but weren't impressed and, Ocean's Konami coin-op licences aside, that was that. It was only around the time of Ultimate's Crash interview that Brit houses began to understand what was happening; and, of course, the Stampers by this time had invested eight months in learning the capabilities of the NES then several years patiently developing this into a partnership with Nintendo.

These facts lend an interesting colour to other claims by Mr Everiss. He repeatedly refers, correctly, to the difference in size of staff and premises between Ultimate (half a dozen people in a small house in a village) and Imagine (60 to 100 people in a huge city-centre building leased at extortionate rates along with two other city-centre properties left vacant) as an illustration of how exposed Imagine were when revenues collapsed. But Mr Everiss is wrong to present this as any kind of defence. As we can see, Ultimate were easily the equal of Imagine in clever advertising and leagues ahead in both games and ambition. The difference is that Ultimate also had sound financial management. Profits from their wildly successful games went towards their imaginative, far-reaching plan to conquer Japan and the US. As thoroughly documented at the time in the Commercial Breaks programme, the exemplary Crash articles, Sinclair User's astute news reports, financial-mismanagement-blaming mag features by Mr Everiss, etc, Imagine's profits from their wildly successful games went towards, roughly in order, motorbikes, big offices, not paying bills, fast cars, inventing a one-use Speccy 128K a year early without the sound chip that was never going to work properly and cost more every time anyone mentioned it ( ), monopolising a duplication plant over Christmas 1983 to produce vast piles of unsellable tapes, serially defrauding their own advertising agency and Pedro.

(If Mr Everiss's claim that the Marshall Cavendish advance was not refunded when the partwork publisher saw what they were paying for and immediately cancelled the contract, that means Imagine were, improbably, even more financially mismanaged than anyone thought, because that would be a couple of hundred thousand extra free pounds they ineptly lost.)

Thus Ultimate. It seems cruel to compare Imagine's collapse in equal detail with similarly high-maintenance Ocean's non-collapse, so we'll leave it at that, except to note that Imagine's glory days of high scores and high sales, perhaps last seen with Zzoom, returned almost immediately after Ocean bought the name from the official receiver, ironically for the label's history of frequently imaginative but seldom playable games to front their coin-op ports.

Mr Everiss has also referred to the expense and trouble incurred by software houses of instituting 8-bit anti-piracy devices such as fancy loaders and Lenslok. (As a reminder, no Imagine game featured any tape copy protection at all. Nor did, for instance, Ultimate's, barring two mid-period titles, neither of which was Sabre Wulf.)

In fact, very few loaders were created in-house -- Mikro-Gen's pioneering, nameless speedloader and Incentive's Powerload are uncommon exceptions. Reflecting the Thatcherite ideals Mr Everiss rates so highly, Speccy copy protection was almost entirely developed by back-bedroom entrepreneurs, freelancers who took all the risk (for example, in tests some early loaders were simply too fast or convoluted to be duplicated at the plant) and then shopped their systems around publishers who paid reasonable fees for time-limited licences. Speedlock and Alkatraz were the two most well known. Many games came with their own fancy loaders, written by the game's programmers; again, no expense or risk to the publisher.

Lenslok deserves a post of its own about sinking a clever idea with bad design and mismanagement, but in brief (as revealed in a footnote to the Wiki page helpfully linked by Mr Everiss -- ) the device was thought up by one bloke, developed on spec by a proto-VC firm and presented to software houses as a complete package on licensing terms.

Mr Everiss continues to do his argument, whatever it is, no favours by insisting on ignoring the thoroughly documented facts of the period. He has claimed that Everiss-84 (who unconditionally blames Imagine's collapse on financial mismanagement, a stance fully in keeping with the expansive supporting evidence) was misrepresented or simply too angry at the time to express himself clearly and that it has fallen to Everiss-08 to set the record straight.

If this is the case, why didn't Everiss-84 correct the record after cooling down? The financial-mismanagement-blaming Your Computer article, for example, was written by Everiss-84 in Nov 1985 -- and -- over a year after Imagine's collapse. That's a long time still to be furious enough to have your views significantly misrepresented in an interview with yourself over a paid two-page feature. And we know that Everiss-84 was happy to write to mags if something was published that conflicted with his memory of events -- there's a fairly trivial example at . It's possible I've missed something, but I can't find any contemporary disputations of , , , , , , etc etc.

Incidentally, budget games were not invented as an anti-piracy measure. They were invented to make money from a gap in the market. Many Speccy houses highly successfully ran budget labels parallel to their full-price lines (eg Firebird and Silverbird, Ocean and Hit Squad, US Gold and Kixx). Mr Everiss's implication that he created the GBP3 budget game at Codemasters by marketing sleight of hand -- -- is also wrong. The first GBP3 game was Spellbound, on the MAD label (Mastertronic Added Dimension, a spin-off from the company which nicked CSS's idea of budget games but made it work) -- -- which came out in December 1985, some time before Codies were founded -- -- by the Darling Bros who'd just given up their day jobs as, er, Mastertronic programmers.

#21 Adam on 04.23.08 at 8:13 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Piracy is theft, albeit in an indirect fashion. Yes, you don't deprive a legitimate user of his copy, but you do deprive the publishers and creators of a rightful due for the work they did.

I've noticed that piracy is most common among the young. When I was a kid, we didn't think anything wrong of getting copies of software on disk or cassette from friends... we had no money to buy it, no cars to drive to stores to buy it, no money for long-distance calling to BBS'es... you get the idea. Things haven't changed much, the playground (as said above) just got a lot bigger and more accessible.

The problem is when this culture of software copying becomes so ingrained that you fail to see anything wrong with it. I was lucky; I had an orphaned computer system in my teenage years, and so I saw first-hand the effect that piracy had, as small publishers folded one after another. My eyes were opened early, and my mantra is "If you like it, give the creator his due, if you want more of it."

Most, but not all, people who pirate software are not bad people. If you confront them about it, they're usually uncomfortable, or offer the weak rationalizations covered in the above comments. A lot of the time, a little confrontation will help them realize they need to stop doing it.

It's not easy, though. I remember going to LAN parties and having to refuse ‘copies' of software because I didn't own it, and had no intention of pirating a copy even for a night. It can be hard on friendships too, but my feeling is, if a friend willingly and knowingly "steals" software, then that's not a good friend to have.

#22 Sebastian on 04.23.08 at 9:02 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Bruce, you work in the gaming industry (even worse - you work in [i]marketing[/i] ;-) ), so I can totally understand your argument and where you're coming from.
But yet, I also believe you are oversimplifying the matter here. You list, for example, the Dreamcast as a system that was "killed by piracy" - which, in my most humble opinion, couldn't be farther from the truth. Instead, the DC's demise can more plausably be blamed on Sega's disastrous marketing, advertisment and sale policy. The DC was, after all, the most advanced system of its day (some even argue that it was superior to the PS2), but it failed because of lacking hardware sales and not because of piracy.

But enough picking nits. I see piracy as something very.... ambiguous. I understand (and, to an extent, even [i]share[/i]) many of the complaints and justifications the "occasional pirates" cite. Yet I also agree that piracy in its current scale is absolutely disastrous - and the Internet is to blame for that.

I've got to admit that I used to copy games myself, when I was a young kid and could only afford like 2 games a year. But those were the early 90s, and there was no internet, let alone p2p sharing. I had to rely on what my friends or schoolmates got for the PC, and we, well, "shared" or games amongst each other. So even with piracy, there was a limited supply of games I could play. This led to the fact - and yes, I know that's very hypocritical in retrospect - that I [i]vallued[/i] every game I played, even if it was pirated.
Nowadays, however, virtualy everything is available at the click of a button, at least for the PC (which still is my prefered gaming plattform). I think that this has led to some degree of - how to put it - "oversaturation" among those who pirate games. When you can play everything, the games you actually [i]do[/i] play are not as much of a value to you as they would have been if you could only play them (sorry for my bad english here, but I hope you get my meaning :D ). So maybe this is a point that the industry could work on. Provide something of "value", that gives gamers the feel they really own something.

But then again, maybe it's not piracy that's to blame for the demise of PC gaming, but "World of Warcraft". Piracy's been rampant since the mid- to late 90s, yet the PC as a gaming platform only started to diminish since 2004 or so.

#23 Paul Tunney on 04.23.08 at 9:43 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

As a marketer for development companies you have a view from one angle. As an ex-retailer I have a different view and the pirates have another. One can come up with a number of reasons why a product or a company failed but that will always be from one viewpoint. When a product fails it is easy to blame Piracy, sometimes too easy. As a retailer at the front end against the pirates (who would come in and boast!) here is my viewpoint. I am just going to read through your article and make some of my own observations...

1) Piracy is a problem and it is not fair to the developer. Nor is the fact that they get such a small proportion of the retail price. This has to change with downloadable content (XBOX LIVE, STEAM, SOCIAL GAMES).

2) When piracy on a given platform gets out of hand then it causes huge damage to the game market for that platform - no arguement there, without piracy many of these platforms would have limped on in their later years, like the spectrum didn't, oh wait it did!

3) Your repeatedly trot out the story that Imagine's failure was caused by piracy and not by the fact that Imagine's games were not very good at all (except for Arcadia). You wanted to make a dongle but a dongle cost too much so you wanted it to add some features but you bungled that one and in the mean time you shoveled out junk and were surprised that your market died. PS Nice use of the word "largely".

Ultimate raised their price because it was a better product and everybody and their cat knew it.

Ultimate left the UK computer scene in 1986. When did Imagine collapse?

So the question remains, why did they stop making spectrum games????

"The thing is, back around early 1984 the Stampers got ahold of Nintendo's new Famicom hardware, and were completely taken aback by it. They were convinced that, before long, it would become a sensation both in Japan and in the US, where Nintendo was planning to market it. In a burst of enthusiasm, they bought all the software available for it, and immediately set to reverse-engineering the system. They formed a secret subdivision of ACG called "Rare" to focus on Nintendo development, while Ultimate held up the public front, continuing its diligent Spectrum output.

By early 1985 the Stampers had hacked out the Famicom and had begun to write software for it; they brought some of that work to Nintendo, as a proof of concept -- the first Western developers to do so. Nintendo was sufficiently impressed to hand over the official documentation that the Stampers didn't even need at this point, and an official license to produce for the system -- albeit under a unique "freelance" scheme. Whereas traditional publishers, under Nintendo of America's "quality assurance" standards, were only allowed a certain number of releases per year, Rare was allowed an unlimited budget, provided they could find a publisher. And indeed, by the late '80s Rare -- by now the official company name, as it was in the Nintendo business for good -- was publishing more games per year than anyone in his right mind would suggest: from six to fifteen to seventeen separate releases.

The curious issue here is that, whereas the Spectrum was a smash only in the Stampers' corner of the world, that corner is also one of the few places left largely unaffected by the Nintendomania. So around the time Super Mario 2 was hitting shelves (alongside Rare's own R.C. Pro-Am (1988) and Cobra Command), British magazines were starting to wonder what happened to their wonder children, and why they were wasting time on this strange Japanese box that nobody had ever heard of. When Tim Stamper explained that the Spectrum was over, that it was a dead end and that Nintendo was the future, his peers thought of Donkey Kong and scratched their heads. When he explained that there were ten million Nintendo consoles in Japan, and that the system was also a runaway success in America, people took the statement much as you'd take statistics on Aibo sales. It just didn't register, or make any sense."

4) Your UK bias shows when it comes to the Amiga and ST. The Americans had moved their gaming onto console era 2 with the Nintendo Entertainment System. In Europe the Amiga and ST had a sound foothold through to the end of the 80s but both were buried from a gaming point of view in 89/90 by the Megadrive (Genesis) and the SNES (Super NES). Even the PC marched on past the two of them. They tried to upgrade and do packages but nothing could save them. The ST ran 1985-90 the Amiga limped on a little after that but the majority of UK/European development companies missed the first console boat (except for that little company called Codemasters...).

5) The decline of the PS1 - Syphon Filter, Driver, Gran turismo 2 were the only three PS1 games of note in 1999 . Could it be that, 5 years after it's launch we were all waiting for the PS2, that all sensible developers had moved onto the PS2 (development time). It launched in Japan in March 2000 then America in October 2000. The PS1 only continued to sell in other, less developed markets, certainly it was not selling in the UK. Most gamers got a PS2, handed the PS1 to their little brothers and sisters and with virtually no kiddy suitable software available they got shoved under the stairs to gather dust.

6) Honestly Bruce, do you have your fingers in your ears whilst you shout "la, la, la, la, piracy, la, la, la, piracy, la, la la" all day long? The dreamcast died because it didn't play DVDs - that was it! Sony won because it did. Even Sega recognised this in their death throws by trying to bung a free DVD player in with every Dreamcast but Who wants that? Also gamers moved on from aerials to direct connections with better picture quality with the PS1. Sega went back to an aerial! Sega bungled a lot with the Dreamcast. The piracy was simply a final blow to a great machine with a few fatal errors in design and distribution.

7) There never was a great market for PC games at retail. It was always a pain. Product just piled up on product with higher and higher PC specifications. Add to that a painfully short time to budget cycle and most retailers HATED PC games. I agree with you that PC development is going to come into its own now with better Internet based distribution systems and cheap PCs that should exceed the requirements of any game (if we can prevent Microsoft bloating our machines to death).

8) PSP - you have no arguement from me here! Other than... :)
If the industry wanted to - they could kill ALL bittorrents, it would not cost very much and would be painfully easy. I know how to, even the people who produced Pop Idol knew how to! So the question is, why are threats and prosecution the preferred option? I honestly do not know the answer to this one.

9) Good retailers avoided stocking the dross. We have killed our industry. The developers are the brains, the publishers and distributers the body and the legs and the retailers the feet. When we had specialist retailers the industry was barefoot and got lots of feeback from the customers (the floor). Now it wears clod hopping boots has no feedback, with people who know nothing about games (ASDA) selling to people who know nothing about games (MOMS). We need a new solution. I like your idea about publicizing GameRankings. How about on the box of good games they put gamerankings scores?

Conclusion - As a retailer it is always important to know how and when a platform is dying. That is how you manage your stock and orders. Stock purchase is a vital feedback into the distribution and production chain. All of that has been lost with the move away from the indies over to the mega retailers (Game, Asda etc). Fortunately game retailing is dying. Developers are celebrating but they need a new means of speaking to and listening to their customers.

Keep it up Bruce, together we might work out the solution!

#24 Justin Fleming on 04.24.08 at 12:41 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Ah Lenslok - what a nightmare. Apache Gunship was so tricky to get past the protection!

(has there yet been a decent helicopter game to rival the Spectrum ones?)

Piracy - hmmm. Does it REALLY affect sales? If piracy didn't exist (or wasn't possible) would sales REALLY go up? I'm not sure. I just think that most people only pirate out of lazy habit. If it stopped, I think they would do something else and not just start buying.

As for buying stuff - people always was the satisfaction of ownership. Piracy escalates because there is no achievement in gaining a new product - no shiny newness. No satisfaction that working all week was worth it because you can spend those wages.

So people pirate more to try and get satisfied. But that, I think, has nothing to do with actual sales. iTunes try hard to bridge the gap by having the artwork gallery to make you feel like you OWN something when you download it legally. Not sure it works, but it's a start.
People still don't really like downloading, but just make do. It's nowhere near as meaningful as going and buying a physical cd and booklet.

I think the pirates will always charge through a million games constantly but everyone else just can't be bothered as it doesn't lead to satisfaction - looking for cracks, trying to burn it, finding serials, can't play online, no updates, no box, no point in working all week because you don't need money to buy games...

#25 Dinger on 04.24.08 at 5:08 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Look, there's a strong reason why piracy is not "IP Theft." Anyone who's spent any time, even remotely, in this industry knows cases of IP Theft. It usually involves getting ahold of someone's source code and passing it off as one's own. This theft differs from infringement in that the thief asserts copyright. It's like if I have a ferrari, and you take it from me. I don't have it, and you do.
Copyright infringement is simply different. Deny that and you lose the argument.

Now, the ‘moral argument' doesn't work. Removing the mechanism of duplication, all you get is:
If you're taking away the value of something when you do X (without the owner of said thing's permission), then you are stealing.
If you're selling 19″ CRTs for $400 and I sell a 19″ LCD for $200? I am taking away the value of those CRTs by doing something against the owner's wishes. So I am stealing?

Here's the fundamental problem:

Property is an agreement between people about things. There's nothing inherent in my car that makes it my car: it is my car because we agree it is, and we document and support our agreement with a whole mess of prescriptive documents and documents of record.

For some things -- not coincidentally the same classes of things that many warm-blooded animals seem to resolve within the same species fairly well -- this agreement is practically unanimous and well regulated: territory, food, objects: the vast majority of humans will agree on a distinction between "mine" and "yours" in these things, even if they don't agree to respect those distinctions.

For other classes of things, the "agreement" is not always there, even if there is plenty of legal support and documentation. When an Italian city declares that the right to wear certain types of clothing belongs only to people of noble birth, rich merchants might disagree that they "own" such a right and infringe upon it. When the king decides that any object that killed somebody belongs to him, a peasant family might disagree and lie to the coroner in order to keep a valuable haycart.

So, intellectual property: humans are social animals. One of the things the brain does very well is take ideas and recombine them. Written texts have been copied freely and distributed for millennia. Before the modern period, we paid for written works largely by paying someone to produce something, whether commissioning an author to compose something or a scribe to copy it. We generally agreed that certain ideas, especially their expression in words, belonged to specific people, even if at times those expressions were identical. But this ownership didn't incur a right to be paid for the duplication of those ideas.
Only in the last couple centuries, when mass distribution (and serialized novels) made it possible for the royalty model to work, do we see copyright being asserted: the notion that someone can "own" not just a string of concepts, but the right to determine who can receive those concepts and how they can be expressed. This notion is neither obvious nor how things have been done for most of human history (even just the written parts). Copyright comes about largely to prevent mass duplication by competitors: the capital and resources required to duplicate a novel in quantities sufficient to compete are so high that very few can compete.
Now, enter computers. Just as humans excel at processing ideas, computers excel at duplicating them. So you get a notion of a distribution right that few understand (if you doubt this, try asking ten people what they can and cannot do according to copyright law in their country), some agree to, and that computers can negate quickly and with relative impunity. Replacing ownership with "Licensing Agreements" only makes things worse, since the content producer suddenly now unilaterally asserts something that the person who receives the content does not agree to: that not even the copy is "owned" in any sense.
I ain't justifyin' piracy; I'm just saying that there's a fundamental problem with enforcing copyrights in a digital age: humans are wired to share ideas, not restrict them, and computers are designed to duplicate them, not prevent them from being copied. And to sell a product, you need to make people aware of its existence, and the best way to do that is through an instantiation of the product.

If you want a ‘moral' argument against piracy, try this:
The work people do has value, and for the sake of those who voluntarily benefit from it, they should be compensated. The users of software are by common agreement the willful beneficiaries of a service constituted by the work put into to developing that software, and, moreover, it is the expectation of those who make the software that the users compensate them. Therefore, those users should compensate the workers.

#26 John on 04.24.08 at 12:57 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

One very important fact that isn't getting mentioned is the astonishing damage Imagine did to new developers.

Because of their outlandish displays with their vast amounts of borrowed money and tech, and their getting away with failing to repay any of it, banks declined to support other young dev teams needing loans to get off the ground. The high-profile nature of Imagine's financial ineptitude - the company receiving front-page appearances on national newspapers promoting them as the great white hope for the future, before they peed it all away - meant their collapse scared off investors.

The impact of this is impossible to calculate. It seems grotesque to revise history such that Imagine are the victims, rather than the greedy, inept and downright fraudulent company that ruined the potential of a generation of bedroom start-ups. Were I to have worked for that company at that time, I'd still be floating on the relief that I didn't go to prison for my involvement.

#27 cliffski on 04.24.08 at 3:32 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Wow, it doesn't take long for the deluge of pro-piracy people to come out and trot out excuses for taking someone else's work for free does it?
If you want to enjoy free games, download freeware or code your own, do not try and kid anyone that you are automatically entitled to MY hard work, because neither I, nor the law agrees.

#28 cl on 04.24.08 at 4:53 pm

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Mr. Tunney, loved your "customers are the floor that the rest of you and your industry walk upon". Great analogy. Makes me feel really respected and appreciated.

I think that is the bulk of your problems, as an Industry, and as a coordinated entity (developer -> publisher -> retailer). You view it as your right to make money off of people. Instead of being thankful that you have jobs, that you get to create and share your art and your visions, and that you get to help people find the entertainment and the products that they enjoy...instead you insult us with your trivial crap, your DRM, treating us like criminals, and milking us for every dollar we have.

We are not sheep. Sheep that not only need to be sheered, but force fed crap over and over again, and penned in to protect your interest. What about our interest. Wow me. Take a chance, put your money down on the table. Make a good product. Treat your customers with respect. Give them a chance to make a decisions about what THEY want. And then get out of their way.

It is just silly that you put so many obstacles in our paths. We shouldn't have to work so hard to spend our money on things.

You want to stop piracy? That is your problem. You are spending all your resources (mental, physical, as well as financial) on protecting yourselves and your product from people.

There are three kinds of customers. Those that are going to buy your product no matter what. Those that are going to try your product and maybe buy it. And those that will never purchase it.

News flash, category 3, never were sales. Never were gonna be sales. You didn't lose anything. Let me put it in turns that you will understand. Cat3 != income. Never gonna happen. Cat2 is simple, they will buy if they like it. So, once again, you (as an industry) are in control of your destiny. Make a game that is fun and works out the box, and doesn't make me jump through hoops to play, and I will buy it if I like it. Piss me off, treat me like a criminal, make the same game you did last year with a different title, make it easy to finish, quick, and lame...and you get nothing from me. I will just move on.

Category 1, well, they are always gonna buy games. No matter how crappy they are. They just like games. Like some people like movies. They will watch them no matter what. My friend is like that. He buys games. He plays them no matter how much they suck. No matter how like the last one he bought and played it is. He buys it...plays it to completion and goes and buys another one.

In the end, you hold your own future. Not the pirates. And just for the record Copying != Stealing. The reason you don't steal the car is because it is the only one. You can't copy it. It has a controlled distribution. You have to order it a year in advance. Farrari has have a close system. Games != Cars. Bad analogy.

Sadly Bruce seems all over the map on this one. So, I find it hard to take his opinion on anything. I will say this, he is a bitter dude. I probably would be too...but we live and die by our own decisions.

In the end you are never going to stop piracy. People will pirate. And they will legitimize it. I have some friendly advice from the floor: Stop worrying about the pirates and start worrying about your customers. End of story.

Here are your problems and not a single one has anything to do with pirates:

1. Games are shit. By and far they are boring. The same story just different title and different graphics. WRITE BETTER GAMES. Make something I may be inclined to spend my hard (and shrinking budget) money on.

2. Stop making it so damn hard to play the things. Get the code right. Ship it finished, not half done. Stop patching it. Make it right the first time. Make it so I can put it in my platform (PC, Console, what ever) and play the damn thing.

3. Stop writing them for nextgen equipment. Take a play out of the Blizzard play book...write for the common denominator. Stop trying to push the stupid graphical envelope. I want to play a game...not "experience" advanced hard ware. I just want to play a game for awhile.

4. Make it so I can get the game easily. Stop making me go through hoops to buy it. Deliver it on my terms. Internet, on the shelf, from a friend...what ever. Just get the damn game on to my platform. If I can't get it...I can't play it.

5. Stop fighting your market. You make games. Make freaking games. Don't make art. Don't try to take some one else's freaking cookie. Stop making that "big-budget" blockbuster to take from TV or Hollywood's pie. Just freaking make a good game.

6. And for Christ-sake stop treating me like I should be grateful that you exist. Get over yourself. You make a product or a service. You need me...I do not need you. Us that you call the "floor" have been entertaining ourselves for millenia. In the big scheme of things you are new. Make something I want to buy and spend my time on because you are working for me, not the other way around.

Stop freaking worrying about pirates and start worrying about me...your customer. And may I suggest a little change to your analogy. I am the sky. Not the floor. Your developer is the floor. He is where your industry rest on. Without his work, you make no money. He is reaching for the Help him get there and we will all get what we want.

You can not change culture, society, or pirating. Stop trying. Focus on me and you will be fine.


#29 ClockCat on 04.25.08 at 8:34 am

(Post not deleted by Bruce.)

Okay. I believe in pirating. Why?

1. Most games that people I know download, they would not have bought. They download it to try something they would not spend money on. In fact, I have played many emulated old games that I never touched, and are not even available for purchase now.

2. You claim MMORPGs are not pirate-able. This is a lie. Many famous MMORPGs are hosted on private servers, and many sites are available to tell you how to start your own server, and let other users connect if you wish. Many of THESE private servers, exist even after the original ones have ceased to exist. In addition, user added content frequently expands above and beyond what the original developers created, making something new from an old shell.

3. Trying to annoy, aggrivate, or otherwise insult your customer will get you...nothing. Making it hard to pirate, only makes a short delay before someone cracks it. You are just playing games with the public if you think it won't happen. What should you do then? Make a game that people want to play, and make it affordable enough or have content that makes people want to buy it. SAM AND MAX for example, is episodic at around $9 each. It is greatly enjoyable, and buying the game just to play it when it comes out is worth it over waiting a few weeks for someone else to make a crack.

I beat the first episode cracked, and found myself loving the game. I then proceeded to buy them all, and wait for each release to follow the story and witty gameplay.

Would I have bought the first game? Probably not. The demo was fun, but did not give me enough of an idea of the game to decide if I want to buy it or not. It's like using a blender on the first three settings, and being unsure if turning it to a higher one will be faster, make it break, or decapitate you. A cracked version on the other hand, lets you use it completely.

They understood this concept, and now the 4th episode of the first season is free to download, at a cost of $0.00. Why? Because companies lie to customers to get them to buy something, which ends up a bait-and-switch. Paying $50 for a game that entertains you for 5 hours, and angers you for 10 because of horrible "fetch this back where you were before" time lengtheners, or "play back where you were before" ones make a lot of new games NOT WORTH BUYING.

If I like it, I buy it. If I don't, I probably will delete it before finishing it and forget it ever existed. A lot of people do this, just like they do with music.

I buy my games, music, and everything else online. Why? Because I can usually actually get what I want, and find out if it is what I want beforehand. It's bonus points for places that give you extras, like Sam and Max will send you a comic, art, and cd collection for the games you bought online if you get the whole season.

But hey, god forbid people actually get what they pay for. Lets just put horribly crappy games in fancy boxes, and overmarket it so everyone pays money for something that doesn't fulfill the need they have for some kind of comparable entertainment that is appropriate to the investment spent.

Like E.T. for the Atari 2600.

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