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[Everything in this post is purely my own personal opinion, and may not reflect the opinions of everyone working at Mojang Specifications!]

Posted by Kizzycocoa on Sep 14th, 2010

[Everything in this post is purely my own personal opinion, and may not reflect the opinions of everyone working at Mojang Specifications!]

Large parts of the culture these days exists in a world where copies are free. Copying a physical book costs money, but copying a digital movie is free. In fact, simply moving a movie from one hard drive to another actually copies the movie first, then deletes the original. Copying games is also free. No resources are lost, nobody loses any money, and more people are having fun.

To people who want to get paid for their digital works, myself included, that is a bit of a problem. All of society and economics is based on an old outdated model where giving something to someone would rid the original owner of their copy, so everyone who wanted a copy had to buy one from someone else who would lose theirs, and the only source of new copies was you. There might be actual development costs involved in making these copies. For example, for every wheel in the market, someone had to make that wheel. With digital copies, you only need to make the wheel once.

I won't bother analyzing why people copy games and other digital media, as that's really a moot point. We've got an amazingly effective way of distributing culture that is extremely beneficial for humanity, but it clashes with our current economical models. Piracy will win in the long run. It has to. The alternative is too scary.

If someone pirates Minecraft instead of buying it, it means I've lost some “potential” revenue. Not actual revenue, as I can never go into debt by people pirating the game too much, but I might've made even more if that person had bought the game instead. But what if that person likes that game, talks about it to his or her friends, and then I manage to convince three of them to buy the game? I'd make three actual sales instead of blocking out the potentially missed sale of the original person which never cost me any money in the first case.

Instead of just relying on guilt tripping pirates into buying, or wasting time and money trying to stop them, I can offer online-only services that actually add to the game experience. Online level saving, centralized skins, friends lists and secure name verification for multiplayer. None of these features can be accessed by people with pirated versions of the game, and hopefully they can be features that turn pirates from thieves into potential customers.

Please don't interpret this text as me being fine with people pirating Minecraft. I'd MUCH rather have people pay for it so I can reinvest in hiring people and developing more cool games in the future. It's also quite possible that if I get into a business deal with a larger company, there might be a larger push towards fighting piracy mostly because they'd require it, and I understand why they'd want that.

But why fight the biggest revolution in information flow since the printing press when you could easily work with it by adding services that actually add some value beyond the free act of making a digital copy?

In other news, I'm voting for either Piratpartiet or Miljöpartiet in the Swedish elections on Sunday.

(development blog link)

Post comment Comments
Original_Speeder Sep 14 2010, 5:30pm says:


I was going to write a blog post about that same thing on my own blog, and also mention Pirate Party (that unfortunately here is not formalized yet).

+1 vote     reply to comment
xXMaNiAcXx Sep 14 2010, 5:34pm says:

I think like you, brother.
But well, is there any how to pirate Minecraft? I don't think so...
If there was, Notch wouldn't have sold more than 70k copies of the game, but really, I love this game!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Nebcake Sep 14 2010, 6:38pm says:

You have a very optimistic view.

0 votes     reply to comment
Lockdown323 Sep 14 2010, 7:02pm says:

@ MaNiAc, Yes people can pirate the game fairly easily. The thing about most games, and especially indie games, is that on torrent websites if people find a game they download especially good, they almost always buy it. In the case of indie games even more so because they know the developers actually need the revenue.

So almost like what you said in the post, about how you could have 3 potential customers off of one pirate, instead of just one potential customer.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Lockdown323 Sep 14 2010, 7:42pm replied:

In fact I even see the people who upload these torrents encouraging people to buy the game, torrents are just another way of exposure, like posting videos on youtube.

+2 votes     reply to comment
xXMaNiAcXx Sep 16 2010, 11:57am replied:

Agreed, just ignore my other post, you make sense.

+1 vote     reply to comment
TheJx4 Sep 14 2010, 7:08pm says:

Lockdown has it all right! I'm not going to lie, I've pirated my share of Retail games, mostly for reviewing purpose. If I like it, I'll buy the game. (I know that still doesn't make it right). But, I would NEVER, pirate an Indie game. Just doesn't seem right.

+1 vote     reply to comment
0kensai0 Sep 15 2010, 12:18am says:

whenever they have a centralised system of distribution, it'll put a big dent into piracy (itunes for music, steam for mainstream games)....one of the reason so many ppl pirate so easily is because the torrent/usenet sites collate and categories torrents so well. I mean I'd say mininova at its prime and even monova now is set up better than steam and itunes combined.

0 votes     reply to comment
AlekZanDer Sep 15 2010, 1:40am says:

Pirating= Sharing.
If we are talking about SP games (you buy them, play them to the end and never install them again), then it's better to go to the pirate servers, but MP games (as long as there are players playing) are better to be taken from shops. And yeah, pirates let you have a taste of the real thing.
Personally I and my family use pirate servers to get movies, games, software e.t.c. (even operating systems), but sometimes I'm forced to buy things ,usually because of data lost during the sharing, bad cracks and other reasons.
And I'm from the people who wouldn't give much money for a combination of 0s and 1s (I know, it sounds stupid, but that's me).

0 votes     reply to comment
haliphax Sep 15 2010, 9:29am replied:

Yes, that's quite stupid. It's also quite arrogant that you post such a comment here, of all places. I can understand wanting to try something before you purchase it, but "not wanting to pay for a bunch of 1s and 0s" is just plain ******* rude and ignorant.

+2 votes     reply to comment
guesswho311 Sep 15 2010, 8:43pm replied:

tnk_x5000, so do you think pirating indie SP games is the right thing to do? People who make great single player games need the money too. I am actually currently working on my own SP game, i have put months of work into it, as has the rest of my team. Do you think we dont deserve to be payed, and people should just pirate our game since they'll only play through it once or twice? However we do plan on releasing MP content in the future, but i was just offering some food for thought.

+1 vote     reply to comment
haliphax Sep 16 2010, 9:36am replied:

I think that is indeed what he's saying. Your blood, sweat, and tears are meaningless to him and his selfish user experience.

+1 vote     reply to comment
SpookyShadow Sep 15 2010, 3:41am says:

I always torent games before I buy them and i have 2 reasons.
1) To see if the game runs smoothly on my computer.
2) If I like the game.
If I dont like the game, I just delete it from my harddrive.

I wasn't so sure about buying minecraft at first. But after playing it for about 20-25 min, I buyed the game.

I think there are many other people like me ( i know 2 persons who did also).

So, I think piracy is sometimes good.

+2 votes     reply to comment
The_Game_Pope Sep 15 2010, 7:33am replied:

It's the same thing i do. If i like the game, i buy it. If i don't like the game, waste it. In case of minecraft. I like it. realy. But i don't have paypal and my dad don't wants to get it. Because i'm only 15, i can't buy the game myself. And i don't find somebody, who buys it for me (i would give him the money). And as far as i know, lots of people have this problem. So please notch, add a payment method like paysafe-crad

+1 vote     reply to comment
haliphax Sep 15 2010, 9:30am replied:

You don't need to be 18 to get a bank account, nor do you need to be 18 to get a debit card.

+1 vote     reply to comment
The_Game_Pope Sep 15 2010, 2:35pm replied:

In germany (where i come from) you need to be 18, to be able to do online purchases with your bank account. Thats the other problem

+1 vote     reply to comment
badsector Sep 16 2010, 12:30pm replied:

This depends on the country and the available banks in your area.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Magrathean Sep 15 2010, 12:25pm says:

As a fellow indie developer we agree with your points about extending product functionality into the cloud so that people with the pirated version end up missing out a lot (on cool features). Could even have leader boards and groups, achievements, high scores for different activities that make the investment just make sense and very much worth it.

Normally the argument is that "pirates offer a better product" well if you offer an even better one in that regard. Making the pirated version seem pale in comparison to a paid version with an account is a great way to encourage people to become customers :)

+3 votes     reply to comment
badsector Sep 16 2010, 12:32pm replied:

It is a good strategy, but it doesn't apply to all types of games. How are you going to add MP support to an adventure or (single player) RPG game for example? Or to a single player only action game?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Kizzycocoa Author
Kizzycocoa Sep 16 2010, 3:00pm replied:

half life( 2): death match. portal 2. Mario kart etc. etc. :3

+1 vote   reply to comment
Dorggingoa Mar 4 2011, 2:18pm says:

You should also add a way to pay with minutes from a cell phone (I bought the game anyway but would have got it faster if I could have used my cellphone minutes as payment) Sites that you can use to setup cell phone payments are :paymo(dot)come and allopass(dot)com

+1 vote     reply to comment
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