Report article RSS Feed How can we lower game piracy?

It is a little disheartening to hear stories of high piracy rates of new indie games, dependent on their fans support - so i'd thought i'd pose the question why this is?

Posted by INtense! on May 7th, 2011

For over 9 years now we've been running ModDB and in that time we've never been exposed to piracy since mods are free. But now that we run IndieDB and moreso Desura, we are starting to work with indies that come with a price tag, and are attempting to help them sell games. It is a totally new and challenging area for us, as it is for most indies and one of the tough facts of life is piracy.

Now I get that not every pirate is a customer, but when newly launched DRM free indies (yay) are released and have 10,000 players in the first day via torrent sites but only a handful of sales, I cannot help but feel frustrated and disappointed for them. For a lot of developers their first game either makes or breaks them, as they have invested a ton of time and effort into its creation, so I wanted to kick off a discussion to find out why you pirate (or don't), so we can share this information with others.

So imagine for a moment that it was impossible to pirate games, would you buy more games than you presently do? If your answer is yes... then why do you pirate some now?

To help you answer I have kicked off a poll, with the options:

  • I don't, I buy them!
  • To try them, but I usually buy if they are good
  • It is easier to pirate than to buy
  • They cost too much
  • Because I can
  • To avoid DRM

Because I for one would hate to see promising indie game studios have to rethink if they are doing the right thing and stopping making games, and I certainly don't want people justifying the use of DRM just to gain a few more sales.

Post comment Comments  (0 - 50 of 297)
j-pnator
j-pnator May 7 2011, 12:13pm says:

it depend i usually torrent them and if i like the game i torrent i buy it

+37 votes     reply to comment
INtense!
INtense! May 7 2011, 12:16pm replied:

So try before you buy? Do demo's help you decide if the game is worth the purchase?

+32 votes     reply to comment
Heaney
Heaney May 7 2011, 12:45pm replied:

I personally hardly ever buy a game that doesn't have a demo unless its a sequel.

Demos with links to buying the game definitely reduce piracy...

+27 votes     reply to comment
Captain-Arse
Captain-Arse May 7 2011, 12:50pm replied:

i find demos to be lacking in alot of aspects of the finished product, if the demo was a slice of the full content with a full workshop of all features without content like full levels but still keeping all of the props, effects, doodads, textures models and if part of the design weapons, i belive people would buy more of these titles from IndieDB, i admit i have pirated quite an extensive list of games but in the end and not out of guilt i buy the game because i have a full view of the extensiveness of the full aspects of the game. however indie titles will forever be hard to come by on torrent sites thankfuly it should stay that way as alot of the titles on IndieDB are fantastic to play. But alas games like Overgrowth with extensive work and development i have seen on quite a few torrent and direct download sites. This will always be a great dissapointment and of great consequence to all of those small devs out there trying to start out with great concepts and beautiful work.

+12 votes     reply to comment
INtense!
INtense! May 7 2011, 12:58pm replied:

I'm the opposite, most times I find demos give me more than I need and I only buy the game if it is super addictive and I need more content

+12 votes     reply to comment
Joshy_
Joshy_ May 7 2011, 3:35pm replied:

Personally, I would love to see more demos for games coming out. I think it gives you a good taste for the game and provides so much more than media and trailers do.

I have pirated a fair share of games, but end up buying the one's I really do enjoy a lot. Typically if I don't like a game I've just pirated I usually remove it within the hour of getting it. To me it's useful to be able to get into the game and try it before you fork over the cash, so that's why I do pirate games time to time.

If companies put a little more time in the development process and made demos then obviously I would get the demos. Honestly, I think that would help a lot more with the piracy issue. It seems though that the trend for game companies it to just get the game out as quickly as possible. You know when they have taken that extra step with doing things like demos, or releasing well done modding SDK's.

+11 votes     reply to comment
Tetsuo3
Tetsuo3 May 8 2011, 3:50pm replied:

That is complete ********.

"To me it's useful to be able to get into the game and try it before you fork over the cash, so that's why I do pirate games time to time----Useful to being able to get into the game before you decide buying it"

This is ridiculous, you watch trailers, download demos, find friends who have it, go to the shops and ask about it etc. It's not a privilage to be able to pirate games for your personal shopping choice benefit - which I highly doubt actually happens anyway, buying it after I mean. Making it sound so relaxed is exactly what is wrong with the pirate industry today.

"I have pirated a fair share of games, but end up buying the one's I really do enjoy a lot."

Maybe so, but I bet you don't do it as often as you think you do. I'm not just directing it at you either, but a lot of people do this.

"If companies put a little more time in the development process and made demos then obviously I would get the demos. Honestly, I think that would help a lot more with the piracy issue."

This is also a load of ********. Free game demos are released all over the internet that you can download off many different sites and aswell in magazines. It's just often though people ignore them and go straight to the torrent sites instead because they can't be bothered to pay or download the demo.

+9 votes     reply to comment
Joshy_
Joshy_ May 8 2011, 7:02pm replied:

"This is ridiculous, you watch trailers, download demos, find friends who have it, go to the shops and ask about it etc. It's not a privilage to be able to pirate games for your personal shopping choice benefit - which I highly doubt actually happens anyway, buying it after I mean. Making it sound so relaxed is exactly what is wrong with the pirate industry today."

Of course, of course. When demos aren't available though I want to actually get a chance at some gameplay. I use piracy for the sole fact of gauging the quality and appeal that the product has to me. Have you not ever tried a program or something and found it nothing like you expected? Even if you did your research on it?

"Maybe so, but I bet you don't do it as often as you think you do. I'm not just directing it at you either, but a lot of people do this."

A lot of people do, yes. However, I own almost every game on my computer now. I don't own Black Ops, but I own it on the PS3 and I much prefer it on the PS3 so I'm removing it. I also don't own Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, but I'm buying that too. So, that makes two games of my 22 that I have.

"This is also a load of ********. Free game demos are released all over the internet that you can download off many different sites and aswell in magazines. It's just often though people ignore them and go straight to the torrent sites instead because they can't be bothered to pay or download the demo."

I don't order game magazines so I wouldn't know about demos from there, but I don't see many demos these days.

I'm not trying to be all "relaxed" about piracy. Some people purely pirate games and never buy them which is stupid. On the other hand some games are terrible and I'm glad I didn't waste my money on them.

This guy sums up my thoughts:
"Piracy has done a lot of good for me.

If it was a **** game. I'm glad I didn't buy it.

If I really loved that game, I bought it.

It is that simple."

-4 votes     reply to comment
[Q]uik
[Q]uik Jun 12 2011, 2:16pm replied:

well, I tend to buy indie games more often than AAA titels
why?
same quality, less money.

60$ or 10$ for the same, or better quality? 10$ ofc.

+4 votes     reply to comment
MuteWitness
MuteWitness Sep 3 2011, 8:34am replied:

This guy has my thought process nailed. I buy indie games because generally they are far better for the price compared to Triple A titles. They usually have quick bug fixes and updates, and from my own experience are friendly people no matter the situation.

I'm not going to say I don't pirate, I do. But it's few and far between because there is sweet **** all in the triple A category I want. Skyrim & Rage aside (Both which I Pre-ordered).

+3 votes     reply to comment
vicolata
vicolata Oct 11 2011, 3:45pm replied:

I think demos and especially trailers are ofen polished up (not for every game but for a lot). It's like you play the best level in the demo and afterwards when you finally buy the game, you find out that it was not worth your money.
I remember buying titan quest based on a demo... it was fun for the first levels but after buying it i found out that it was quite monotonous afterwards. Same goes for stalker, was a real disappointment after finding out that the game was full of bugs (half not found in the demo...)
So yeah I get what u mean, but i'll continue to pirate games for testing purpose.
Now Im NOT talking about indie games, paying 10 bucks to get a game from alpha to release is low price enough to get me to pay for it based on videos demos and comments and I think thats the way to go...

+3 votes     reply to comment
Dmorgan
Dmorgan Oct 12 2011, 7:08am replied:

I love the misguided comments telling us how us pirates are such bad people who should go without.

Right, whatever high horse quest your on to protect your favorite games company is as misguided as you are.

None of these big companies need your defense they spend more money trying to stop piracy every day than families spend on food.

And little good it does, 2 days later its completely useless, The stupid fools would lose less money not protecting the software but just telling everyone there was protection.


And just how do you feel about hiring games then? I can hire a pc title for $5 finish it in 2 days and return it, Much more effective use of money compared to buying, If piracy dropped off the world hiring would be "KILLING THE GAME MARKET" next.

There is always something for misguided drama queen-defenders of the companies who don't need protection, To do battle with.. Next week tune in for Television killed the Radio.

And indie games never appear on my radar They aren't my taste.

+2 votes     reply to comment
singingbush
singingbush Jan 5 2012, 6:51am replied:

you're wrong. game developers (especially smaller ones) often go under. It's a sad thing that many talented people put so much effort into creating a product only to find people taking it without paying. While some larger companies will still make millions anyway, it's the small businesses that are affected - often leaving skilled coders and artists unemployed.

+3 votes     reply to comment
newbie2356
newbie2356 May 7 2011, 9:50pm replied:

I haven't played a demo of a game in over 3 years. Yet I don't pirate.

Most of the time I wait for sales on steam, or try to save up enough money to buy on release.

So I either buy on release(as in preorder), or wait a few years for the price to come down on a game that interests me.

It would be nicer to have the old duke nukem method back where you get the first 3rd of a game, and then can buy the rest if you enjoy the game. Another reason I don't download demos is my download limit is quite low, I could buy a magazine with demos, but the cheapest one is $15 and then again, that $15 could better go towards a full game.

+9 votes     reply to comment
robinerd
robinerd Dec 14 2011, 9:51pm replied:

When deciding to buy a game, it's about so much more than just trying a demo or pirating it to try. I have bought lots of games just from watching trailers and previews, not even trying it out. A good example was Trine 1, which I now own four copies of. They totally got me just with trailers of the great content.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Turkeys
Turkeys May 7 2011, 3:04pm replied:

Demo's don't help much for me personally when compared to a full game torrent as it is easier for them to for example show the small well-polished part of the game when the majority of it could be buggy and unfinished. If I torrent the full game I get to see all of it, and if it is well-done then I buy.

+10 votes     reply to comment
robinerd
robinerd Dec 14 2011, 9:42pm replied:

But why would you buy it when you've played through the whole game? It's great if you do it to support the developers, but I suspect most people are simply to lazy to buy a game they've already completed.
I always buy a game if I like it, but I still think lazyness is a huge part of piracy.

+3 votes     reply to comment
sniper77shot
sniper77shot May 7 2011, 3:33pm replied:

The price, and demos help me decide if I want to buy it, I don't pirate but it does help me decide if I want to try it. Usually I watch a ton of gameplay then download the demo, the whole process takes 2 weeks.

+6 votes     reply to comment
thunderising
thunderising May 7 2011, 11:42pm replied:

demos do no help, they dont give any picture of the game, for all we know, they might demonstrate the best 30 minutes of the 8 or 6 hour game.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Crispy
Crispy May 8 2011, 5:43am replied:

Demos have also been shown to reduce sales in some circumstances. If you show too much (or, for example in a Beta, it lasts too long), people who would have bought the game to see what it's like would no longer buy it, ro, people have simply had their fill (in the case of a multiplayer beta).

I'd rather deal with the people who will buy the games and serve them better than focus on why people are pirating; most don't have a cohesive argument, including why "it's not theft" is justification for circumnavigating the price the author has set for their creation. Ultimately it's a question of respect, and the anonymous and remote nature of software piracy remove the barriers of social acceptability that would otherwise prompt the pirates to think twice. The fact is piracy is socially acceptable: tackling that mentality is beyond what you can do as an indie dev.

+8 votes     reply to comment
altercuca
altercuca May 8 2011, 10:24am replied:

yeah demos really helpED << me decide if i wanted to buy the game or not. Fact is that now publishers release demos after the game comes out!? which defeats the purpose of them having us buy the game at launch. I either wait for the demo when there is one or i just wait for steam to do a major *** discount week and i buy it.

+2 votes     reply to comment
john415
john415 May 22 2011, 9:52pm replied:

demos suck

-4 votes     reply to comment
Torabi
Torabi Jun 3 2011, 11:54am replied:

Yes.
I will be honest here. I pirated a new release.(Not an indie game) I played a bit and then I said to myself. "I've got to buy this game! The developers deserve the money."
And that's that. Buying the game next week or whenever I am done with my school stuff.

+5 votes     reply to comment
[Q]uik
[Q]uik Jun 12 2011, 2:03pm replied:

I am totally supportive of demos, but theyre getting fewer and fewer, as the greater companies say: "they cost to produce", and thats true.

however, I have definitly seen a decrease in demos, both on indie and AAA, which is quite sad.

I try before I buy, and if I see a demo I grab that one instead of the torrent.

Also: Multiplayer helps, i know all games cant have it, but it helps

+1 vote     reply to comment
Masri24
Masri24 Jul 25 2011, 1:03pm replied:

what if it dosent have a demo like alot of games dont have

+1 vote     reply to comment
STOKK-E
STOKK-E May 7 2011, 6:07pm replied:

Me to and demo's sucks you never get into the game so you can think of buying.
And some games cost to much and i don't buy the but will play them.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Kanealii
Kanealii May 7 2011, 10:14pm replied:

Id have to agree, I pirate but If I like it, I do buy it. If I do not like it, simple do not buy it. Some Demo's are outdated versions of the game that come out before the came is even complete. In the end though, its a personal decision about integrity, whether or not you will buy the game you really enjoyed.

+3 votes     reply to comment
MajorBanter
MajorBanter May 8 2011, 8:11am replied:

Isn't that a flawed viewpoint?

Furthermore, are 'mistakes' that make a game less than what YOU believe decent justification for performing a morally wrong and illegal action?

The hours that developers - not publishers - invest in these games does not mean you can dismiss piracy as 'the industry's fault'. It's the pirate's fault; surely if a game is flawed, why spend money on it?

Society's obsession with 'needing' things distorts actual requirements. You have never needed a game, and you can spend money on better things. If those points are correct, why pirate if you're not going to buy it?

I buy my games because it's easier, quicker, helps developers and above all because I enjoy playing things that I have chosen to invest in. Not generic crap I pirated.

While this argument is flawed in many ways, and can be countered, it's my viewpoint and I won't impinge that on other people. I simply feel that piracy has gained an image of anti-whatever and generates a bizarre sort of superiority in pirates.

Piracy a few years back was an underground 'get the things you can't afford' process, not a factory-line process of thievery that somehow gives people an excuse to look down on developers.

I will always excuse the poor. I will never excuse those who can afford the privilege of gaming.

+5 votes     reply to comment
WhatYouAre
WhatYouAre Oct 27 2011, 3:02am replied:

I byn mist of my games, since my Xbox outran my computer a year ago or do. But I still pirate a few indie-games, and yes, I'm ashamed of myself. The simple reason to this is that I don't have acess to a Visa-card, which makes it sort of impossible to buy Indie-games.

0 votes     reply to comment
willy-wilson
willy-wilson May 7 2011, 12:23pm says:

I just don't see any reason to pirate at all. If a games not worth my money its not worth my time.

+22 votes     reply to comment
Tallon_hunteR
Tallon_hunteR May 7 2011, 5:05pm replied:

what this guy said

+6 votes     reply to comment
BananaPancake-Chan
BananaPancake-Chan May 7 2011, 5:37pm replied:

How would you know if it's worth your time and money then? A game is beyond just pictures and videos, and advertisements.

A great example of this is Homefront, all the advertising, media, and whatever, for what? A 4 Hour singleplayer game? How would anyone know about that unless they play the game or read critics?

Then again, most of these critics are unreliable now aren't they? And the best way to tell if a game is worth anything at all is to see it for yourself isn't it?

+12 votes     reply to comment
Betelgeuze
Betelgeuze May 7 2011, 7:21pm replied:

How would you now? Read reviews! Get informed! It's not that hard...
It's also not so hard to find reliable sources, sites like metacritic.com might give you a nice hint too!

Often you just know what games are going to be good, you just have to make a personal selection. The problem with pirates is that they don't make a selections, they just want everything!

+1 vote     reply to comment
vader333
vader333 May 8 2011, 9:42am replied:

I think you should go for a shopping trip. I learnt the importance of first hand experience in - no, not my history lessons and their Source Based Questions, not my literature essays - but in a clothes store. Reject Shop, to be exact. A shirt may look real swank up front, but you never know if it fits you. It may be your face, your build, your height, something. There are too many variables in defining the quality of the game for you to simply judge a game by second hand sources. Thus First Hand Experience is Important.

"The problem with pirates is that they don't make a selections, they just want everything!"
Really? That's a hell of a sweeping statement. It scores F9 in my school for history essay. It's like saying "All Jews are evil".

+4 votes     reply to comment
((;^GrimReaper^;))
((;^GrimReaper^;)) May 7 2011, 7:45pm replied:

i have to say that when it comes to gettin games..i tend to be reallly good at pickin good games...mind they have some parts i dont like...but for the most part the game was worth my money...like last two games i bought that i consider worth the amount i payed for them...Black Ops and Crysis 2...i guess i could put MW2 in there but too many hackers on there...my next game will be BF3...so i can usually tell when a game is good or when it is bad...i just have the nose for pickin good games

+3 votes     reply to comment
epic461
epic461 Nov 5 2012, 3:39pm replied:

I always just watch a bit of the game play on YouTube, easier then pirating, same effect

+1 vote     reply to comment
Radu_IceMan
Radu_IceMan May 7 2011, 12:27pm says:

I usually don't pirate Indie Games, but when I do I end up buying them. I mainly torrent them to try it out or because I'm lacking money at that time.

But I guess the main reason that people torrent stuff is because it's there for free and everybody likes free stuff, even if it's wrong to do so. Nevertheless, torrenting an indie game and then not buyint it will totally leave you with a guilty conscience.

+8 votes     reply to comment
Mkilbride
Mkilbride May 7 2011, 12:29pm says:

Because when life presents you with doing nothing in your free time when you're not trying to survive, and doing something to keep you sane, I chose sane.

That said, I do have a large Steam library and tend to purchase games I like.

Multiplayer plays a huge factor into this. I have trouble purchasing 50-60$ SP only games, and MP only games I won't pay any more than 15-20$ for. If I buy a game, I want to get at least 40 hours out of it. If a game is only going to give me 6-7, I don't think I'll purchase it.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Sanguinius
Sanguinius May 7 2011, 12:35pm says:

My salary is low and i live with a younger brother and a sick mother. So when i see a game selling for 50-60$ i go into rage. Of course i am going to pirate or download it from some warez site or torrent. Everything is expensive these days so its not sad to pirate the game, you usually save yours and others people's money by doing it. Maybe you have a good job with a good salary and 50-60$ for a game is nothing to you but for some people its a lot. Don't tell me you never downloaded a game or movie for free from torrents or some warez sites. Everyone did it at least once but people like me do it all the time because of the situation we are in. Thank god to all the people who pirate games out there. They make our life easier and more enjoyable. So long story short, half the world does not have the luxury to buy all these games so the only way to get them and play them is to pirate. I hope you understand. I am sorry, there is probably lots of grammatical errors but English is not my main language. And if this is really a trick poll then please go ahead call the authorities :P Hope i didn't insult anyone. Take care Moddb rock!!!

+12 votes     reply to comment
Dra6o0n
Dra6o0n May 7 2011, 12:56pm replied:

This, people still thinks 50 dollar games are nothing.

Game pricing is a definite problem in the industry because not everyone can afford them while sustaining their current lifestyle. And it doesn't help with the mass majority of the internet thinks it's status quo that everyone has more money than they use.

The keyword is Standards. The game industry probably already foretell the prices increase, and decided to set a standard so any sad sob that buys it will be paying them in bigger chunks of money.

Don't get me started in development cost. Development cost rose because of the standards being higher. It's not expensive because they got uber technology or skills, but because they can and will charge you for it.

Sometimes, there isn't a need to employ a mass 100 employees to release one frikken game! Corporate development has NOTHING on exceptionally skilled indie programmers and game makers. Where it takes 200 to debug a game, and fail, it takes one professional programmer to solve.

Personally for me, I'll pirate what I want, and what determines me paying is what I determine is a sufficient game.

+10 votes     reply to comment
moci
moci May 7 2011, 1:24pm replied:

Sorry to say, problems with your family do not give you the right to pirate. Illegal is and will be illegal no matter how you look at it.

When I hear people complaining that they have to chose between buying a game or paying rent/eating I always feel that the problem is bigger than the price of games.

If you are in this position, that buying a game will break your finances, what are you still doing behind your computer?

Let's look at it from a different point of view, what if your decision to pirate the game because u need to save the money - makes it difficult for someone else to pay the rent or help is sick mom (developers have moms too you know).

You have brought up a pretty common argument, but in the end it's YOUR problem that you do not have the money. The world does not run on sympathy.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Sanguinius
Sanguinius May 7 2011, 2:16pm replied:

moci your arrogance blinds you. You must stop thinking that only your point of view is the right one. These video game companies make millions of dollars each year and their every employe gets a 4-5 digit salary every month and they still release a game full of bugs some even released a game in Alpha or Beta stages. So we pay 50-60$ for a game full of bugs and glitches. After a year of endless stream of patches and fixes(which still didn't fix anything) they release pointless and stupid "DLC" packs or other addons, but here is the catch, its for even more "Money". Why should a fat dude sitting at his computer making models get a 4-5 digit salary ??? What retard made that up ??? Here on Moddb/Desura people from around the world join up in "groups" and make games that rival game companies and some of them are even better. They do it all in their free time, and the best part is they put a price 3 times lower, or none at all(i won't name the games but if you are smart enough you can find them). And we can understand if a game has glitches, at least they say its a Beta. So why exactly should i pay 50-60$ ??? I never pirated a indie game and i never will, if i like it i will buy it. At least they are not greedy bastards who only think of money and fame like these others game development companies. Activision,EA and other douche bag companies should lower the price, release less bugy and repetitive games "cough" CoD "cough" or just stop whining about pirating coz we will never stop. Its like Irregulars using guerrilla tactics fighting vs. some bad president until they accomplish something :P

EDIT: DRM SHOULD DIE!!!

+7 votes     reply to comment
moci
moci May 7 2011, 2:24pm buried:

(buried)

Yes you're a real hero. (sarcasme...)

If you are just jealous at how much they earn, learn the skills and apply for a job. I don't like DLC, so I don't buy them and in fact try to avoid games that are built with DLC in mind (which is, sadly, most of them these days).

-14 votes     reply to comment
Sanguinius
Sanguinius May 7 2011, 2:38pm replied:

Wow its really pointless to even try and communicate with you, its like i am talking with a wall. You make my every comment into a dispute. I am not jealous, why should i be ??? I am just asking why is a dude sitting at his computer and failing at his job (we can see that by the quality of games) making more then hmm lets say a Cop ??? Who was so smart to think of something like that ???

+6 votes     reply to comment
moci
moci May 7 2011, 3:13pm buried:

(buried)

Someone who wants to get payed more than others.

-12 votes     reply to comment
Garyn Dakari
Garyn Dakari May 7 2011, 3:23pm replied:

There is no excuse to pirate games. Either wait for the price to go down, or don't buy them. It's really simple.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Jashin
Jashin May 7 2011, 9:13pm replied:

Unfortunately it ain't that simple in the real world GarynDakari.

+5 votes     reply to comment
Halfmoon
Halfmoon May 8 2011, 12:18am replied:

Piracy has done a lot of good for me.

If it was a **** game. I'm glad I didn't buy it.

If I really loved that game, I bought it.

It is that simple.

+12 votes     reply to comment
AirborneRangerZz
AirborneRangerZz May 8 2011, 2:26am replied:

Same for me. I first download a game when the release is and I test it myself if I like it. So if I like that game, I save up money for it and buy it or I wait for a sale on Steam.

+2 votes     reply to comment
vader333
vader333 May 8 2011, 9:53am replied:

If you like thought experiments (ya, I learn a bit of philo ^_^), consider this:

Is a person without money, not deserving of luxury?

Is luxury (or entertainment) a right, rather than (ironically) a luxury?

Is luxury, like housing and food and employment, a necessity that must be governed and regulated, as contrasted to a Laissez Faire Market?

+9 votes     reply to comment
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