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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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

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