Spiderweb Software on How to Fight Piracy

May 11, 2011 -

Sole Spiderweb Software founder, developer and employee Jeff Vogel offers what he calls a decisive statement on what developers need to do in order to deal with piracy - and includes some examples of how dumb he has been in the past. In case you don't know, Spiderweb Software develops classic CRPGs for Mac and windows. Past releases include the Exile, Geneforge, and Avernum series, Nethergate: Resurrection and its latest release - Avadon: The Black Fortress.

Vogel starts out (on his blog The Bottom Feeder) by saying that when fellow develops ask him what they should do about piracy he tells them to do "the minimum amount you can get away with."

Vogel learned the hard way that implementing complicated copyright protection systems turns off players. Only the most loyal of customers (those that like your games and know that paying for it will mean that you make more games in the future) will jump through your hoops to pay, while the rest will fall off. Spiderweb Software used a system like this for 15 years. Vogel says that he has boxes of games and hint books gathering dust to remind him of his failure. He adds that he might as well have gathered together a pile of money and burned it.

So what is the real answer to piracy in Vogel's eyes? Do the minimum amount of nagging to get customers buying the game. From the blog post:

"You need some way to force people to pay. Not because they are evil or dishonest, but because they procrastinate. Registration is a pain. They'd rather be spending their time playing your game! If you don't do anything at all to make them pay, they'll just forget.

But tread lightly. Once you have any barrier in place at all, you'll get your payment from all the honest people, the people who know that, if nobody pays, you won't make more awesome games for them. Anything beyond that will inconvenience your paying customers and do little to nothing to prevent piracy.

It took a long time for me to learn this. Too long. And, whenever I start to forget, I look at the monolith of boxes of old hint books gathering dust in my garage. If you're an Indie developer, be nice to people. In the end, the ability to be nice is one of the best weapons you have."

Comments

Re: Spiderweb Software on How to Fight Piracy

I'm fairly sure that what I'm reading is that his solution is to do nothing to prevent piracy. Or next to nothing.

The idea is so rediculous, it just might work! (Not really)

I think APE had it right when they made Earthbound. That was really the coolest anti-piracy measure EVER.

Google it, if you don't know what it is. You'll love it.

_____________________________________________________________________________

"Power means nothing without honor and pride."

http://grifsgamereviews.blogspot.com My video game review site.

Atlanta Video Games Examiner for examiner.com

Re: Spiderweb Software on How to Fight Piracy

"You need some way to force people to pay."...

Force?  Some developer should try this experiment instead:  At the end of the game, ask the user if they would like to rate the game.  Then, have a 5-star system to rate graphics, audio, game controls, plot, overall enjoyment, and 'would recommend this game to friends'.  Then also track how many hours they spent in-game actually playing to get from start to finish.  Finally ask the user how much money they spend on average to watch a 2-hour movie.

Let's say I spend $2 per 2 hour movie, that's $1 per hour.  Then, let's say the game took me 10 hours to complete.  Now let's say my average rating came out to 4 stars.  0.8 * $1 * 10 = $8.  Now the developer can put this number in front of the user (along with the math) and then ask for a credit card number.  Developer gets money AND valuable feedback.  After paying with a credit card, offer one more field so they can share any additional thoughts.

Sort of the restaurant model of game development.  You don't pay for the meal until the end when the bill comes.  If there are problems with the meal, restaurants work it out so you don't pay so much.  And there are usually feedback forms at the table that no one actually fills out because it takes too much effort.

- Left4Dead

Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.

- Left4Dead Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.

Re: Spiderweb Software on How to Fight Piracy

Forcing payment I dsagree with, making it so people want to pay, that should be it in my opinion.

Re: Spiderweb Software on How to Fight Piracy

"And when someone does pirate your game, you find them and KILL THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES!"

"Yup, that'll keep them from doing it again, won't it?"

_____________________________________________________________________________

"Power means nothing without honor and pride."

http://grifsgamereviews.blogspot.com My video game review site.

Atlanta Video Games Examiner for examiner.com

 
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