Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 20, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 20, 2014
PR Newswire
View All
View All     Submit Event





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


 
4 Simple Tips for Combating Game Piracy
by Betable Blog on 10/11/12 02:42:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Captain Jack Sparrow

Game piracy is a huge problem. All app developers suffer from it, but game developers are particularly vulnerable. One acclaimed indie developer suffered a 95% piracy rate for his PC title, and the problem has carried over to many developers on the mobile platforms, especially Android. After months of hard work, one Android developer found that over 40 piracy blogs had picked up his game within 24 hours of launch. Mad Finger Games recently did an interview where they said they saw a 60% piracy rate across iOS and Android.

For solo developers or small teams, the best way to combat piracy is to do their best to prevent piracy in the first place. Here’s some anti-piracy tips to make life harder for those swashbuckling app thieves.


Tip 1: Switch to Freemium

It’s sad but true: the majority of pirated games on Android are Paid titles, not free ones. By making your game free, you are removing a significant amount of the incentive for others to pirate your game. There are numerous other benefits to freemium, but piracy is especially important on Android (and may help you monetize better to boot). For a detailed walkthrough on how to switch your app to freemium, Rovio’s Michail Katkoff wrote a guest post for our blog on the topic.

But freemium is not a silver bullet: IAP piracy exists
Yet while switching to freemium definitely deters pirates, freemium piracy still exists. On Android, programs like “IAP Free” and “IAP Cracker” give pirates the ability to spoof transactions locally to fool your game, or send fraudulent transactions to your game server. The majority of these tools are most commonly used on Android, but jailbroken iPhones are likely culprits as well. Hackers have even figured out how to unlock “free” IAPs on Apple’s own App Store, though using it was considered universally to be a bad idea.

The good news is that you can fight in-app purchase (IAP) piracy too, with methods that aren’t obnoxiously difficult for players to wade through. After sifting through countless forum posts, articles, and email threads on mobile piracy, here’s a short list of the simplest and most effective methods for making a pirate’s life difficult.

Tip 2) Remote communication

The baseline for any anti-piracy efforts on mobile is to have the app communicate to your game server remotely. Even if it’s a single player game, recording player IDs and actions to your server is the only way to fight piracy. You need to be able to understand if piracy is occurring and hopefully take action. This can mean shutting down account creations from a particular country if the majority of purchases from that country are fraudulent, by removing the ill-gotten purchases from users accounts, or shutting the offending game account down entirely. This is especially effective when used in conjunction with our next tip: online registration.

Tip 3) Online registration

Hero Academy email registration
Hero Academy is a great example of an online registration system.

The most commonly cited elegant solution for preventing piracy was online registration with an email address. Whenever the user goes to play, they need to authenticate with their email address (automatic sign-in is fine after the first visit). Doing so creates a gate that you can use to prevent pirates from accessing your game. Then, when you catch a user pirating IAP your game, you can shut out that email address and the pirate will lose everything they gained illicitly with the loss of the account.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can ask for email verification from players as well. You should choose the right place to do this within your game, but it should always be before in-app purchases can be bought. This ensures that pirates can’t use a fake email, and makes the piracy process more difficult because you’re adding more work to each piracy cycle. Each time a pirate gets caught, they now have to create a new email address in addition to creating a new account in your game.

Tip 4) Encryption

Lastly, to make a pirate’s life much more difficult, use encryption for all communications related to in-app purchases, especially IAP purchase confirmations to your server. This adds an extra layer of protection between your purchases that will deter many hackers, even if it doesn’t prevent all of them. And if you want to take your app’s encryption to the next level, you can use a third-party encryption service like Molebox to make your app extra difficult to crack.

An ongoing battle

The sad truth is that no matter what platform you’re on or how well you build your system, you’re never completely piracy-proof. That said, you can make your game so difficult or time-consuming to pirate that the majority of would-be offenders will give up. No one should let their lives be consumed by fighting pirates, so hopefully you can "set it and forget it" with these tips and endure much lower piracy rates with minimal maintenance.

--------------------

If you liked this post, check out our educational developer newsletter.


Related Jobs

Cloud Imperium Games
Cloud Imperium Games — Austin, Texas, United States
[10.20.14]

Release Engineer
Filament Games LLC
Filament Games LLC — Madison, Wisconsin, United States
[10.20.14]

Game Engineer II
Filament Games LLC
Filament Games LLC — Madison, Wisconsin, United States
[10.20.14]

Game Engineer I
InnoGames GmbH
InnoGames GmbH — Hamburg, Germany
[10.20.14]

Software Developer Analytics / Big Data (m/f)






Comments


Ian Richard
profile image
Another one that I feel is important is to INTERACT WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS. People are for more likely to steal from a faceless company than they are to steal from a friend.

Post articles, talk to them on your forum, find out what they want in the sequel. Consumers who feel an emotional attachment to a developer are far more likely to pay for a product.

There will still be people that pirate your game... but they will be far more likely to pay if they want you to create more.

Alex Leighton
profile image
I don't know that making legitimate customers jump through more hoops to access content does any good. You're basically just sending the message to your players that you don't think they can be trusted to do the right thing.

And suggesting locking out a whole country if their piracy rate is too high? Well, you've just caused that country's piracy rate to go from whatever it was to 100%. People won't just sit down and say, "Oh poo, I guess I'm not allowed to play that game because of what my fellow countrymen have done" and leave it at that. They're going to just say, "I guess he doesn't want my money", and pirate the game like everyone else. And if you ever try to release a game in that country again, you can bet you won't get much sympathy from those potential customers who you dismissed as criminals because of where they happen to live.

Andy Lundell
profile image
I agree.

If players in East Elbonia are 90% pirate, the only thing you accomplish by locking out East Elbonia is that you LOSE the other 10%.

I know that there's great emotional satisfaction in defeating pirates for the sake of defeating them. But if that crusade starts to COST you customers, I don't understand how you could justify it.

Betable Blog
profile image
I played Hero Academy and didn't feel like I was jumping through hoops. Instead, I was registering for a service. As long as it's dead simple (just asking for an email, no verification required to play and no hex code or CAPTCHA), then you won't hamper player experience in a significant way

True, if you have 10% legitimate players in a country then you shouldn't shut it down; that's not fair to them. But in some cases, there were countries where 100% of players are pirates and the developer was not seeing a single legitimate download from it, so they shut it down. It's a harsh tactic that's not right for everyone, but it is effective.

Andy Lundell
profile image
Ok, but the goal is still to make money, right? Punishing pirates does not in and of itself make money.

Even if East Elbonia has zero legit customers and a thousand pirates, unless the game requires server-side resources, I don't understand what you gain from shutting them down.

Besides the feel-good factor, how does cutting ties with the East Elbonians help my business?

Lance Douglas
profile image
@Andy Lundell

Statistically speaking, when people are punished for committing crimes, the crime rates do go down. When people are not punished for committing crimes, what you get is Somalia.

Andy Lundell
profile image
Like I said, I'm sure there's a feel-good factor to making an insignificantly small contribution to a moral victory in faraway lands..... But I still don't understand how it would make me any money.

Lance Douglas
profile image
Because the only time anyone ever changes their ways is if they are shown there are concequences to their actions. Otherwise they just feel proud of themselves for getting away with the crime. There is an ongoing war between creators and parasites. The parasites actually want to take away your rights. If no one fights back, you could eventually see your rights stripped from you. This is not an exaggeration. There is a concerted effort to take rights away from creators.

Amir Barak
profile image
@Lance
Your argument is inherently wrong since the proven way to reduce crime is better education, better health facilities and better financial stability. None of these come from harsh laws, they all come from working hard through communication...

Tyler King
profile image
Also rather than feeling remorse and changing themselves they usually just change games.

Lance Douglas
profile image
@Amir Barak

Better education may indeed reduce crime as well, but that doesn't disprove that laws reduce crime. One has absolutely no bearing on the other. The flaw in your logic is called a false dichotomy, false dilemma, or the disjunctive fallacy.

Lance Douglas
profile image
@Tyler King

You haven't seen someone come groveling back after they have been punished? I have. Not everyone will, but a significant number will.

Amir Barak
profile image
lol, you're not reading what I'm writing it seems. Laws are meaningless without proper enforcement. The laws are there, DRM isn't law, it's an enforcement mechanism (like police). It's also a weak enforcement mechanism because it hurts both the developers and the players (that is when you make games and not free-to-play/freemium crap that's only after significant returns). A better safety mechanism is communication and community. In regards to your whole murder analogy fallacy, there are places in the the USA, Canada, Australia, Europe, etc. where it is illegal to kill (ie. murder) yet crime rate is through the roof... why?

Lance Douglas
profile image
@Amir Barak

This website, along with many other blogs, requires you to register and log in to post comments. It sure hasn't stopped you. Are you being hurt right now by the requirement to log in? Is the website being hurt? As I stated elsewhere, MMOs like World of Warcraft and games like Minecraft use the DRM of online registration. Are they or their players hurt by this practice?

I'm glad you agree that laws are meaningless without proper enforcement. If your mother was brutally raped and murdered, would you say that the perpetrator should not be punished at all? Nearly all nations, towns, and tribes in the known world have rules and punishments for those who break those rules. Why would human beings go to the trouble of punishing rules breakers if it had no impact whatsoever? The whole point of using murder as an example was to show that you can't stop every single instance of it, no matter what you do. But, most people in the world would not say that you should just stop trying to get rid of it. They wish to live in a safer society, and the idea of just letting criminals get away with their crimes is abhorent to them. Community and communication may indeed help to reduce crime, but using both the carrot and the stick is more effective than using just one or the other.

Hakim Boukellif
profile image
So basically, "make your game into a service". Personally though, I don't believe that combating the unethical behaviour of others justifies partaking in unethical behaviour yourself.

Lance Douglas
profile image
So according to you, plumbers, electricians, taxi cab drivers, dry cleaners, doctors, lawyers, accountants, postal workers, security guards, janitors, garbage collectors, and concierges are all unethical? In fact most jobs are a service based system. You go to work, you get a paid. Does that mean when you collect your paycheck you are being unethical?

Adam Bishop
profile image
Most plumbers, taxi drivers, dry cleaners, etc. operate a "service" which is very much like the traditional gaming model: you pay a set price for a clearly defined result. A dry cleaner basically sells me one cleaning of a suit at one particular cost. That's just like buying a game for one up-front price. The dry cleaner does not require me to sign up for any kind of ongoing business arrangement with them. "Getting paid" is not at all the same thing as the ongoing service model of games; game developers and publishers have been getting paid for decades without it.

Lance Douglas
profile image
@Adam Bishop

"The dry cleaner does not require me to sign up for any kind of ongoing business arrangement with them."

But if you go back to the dry cleaner, you have to pay again. This is because it costs them money in overhead and manpower to do the job again. In the same way running servers and constantly updating a game costs money in overhead and manpower, and is providing a service.

"game developers and publishers have been getting paid for decades without it"

But the level of piracy for decades hasn't been at the level it is now. Before, it was hidden on private servers with restricted access, and you had to know a friend of a friend who could get the cracked versions for you. And only a small percentage of the population even knew about them. Now, as statistics have shown, you can expect a 95% piracy rate on your game. The pirates love to say, "Adapt or Die!!". But then when we adapt, they whine like babies. So clearly, they just want us to die.

Amir Barak
profile image
Yes, but you don't have to go back to them to get your clothes dry cleaned, you could even, not get your clothes dry cleaned (crazy, eh?). And let's say they go the extra mile and make you call them once a day, just to make sure you haven't skipped town, makes sense, doesn't it? I mean it's a good service, they just wanna stay in business...

It's akin to your friendly neighborhood plumber coming in, telling you that if you get another plumber he'll break your knee-caps then once he fixes your pipes (ohhh that sounds kinda dirty) he's gonna charge you a dollar every time you flush the toilets, you know, it's a service, right?

Lance Douglas
profile image
@Amir Barak

That all makes so much sense. Game developers do indeed break the knee caps of people who don't play their games, and they do all the other things you ranted about as well. Your slippery slope fallacy riding on the back of a deranged straw man in no way resembles the psychotic fever dream of a mental patient who has lost touch with reality. Please keep bringing us your wonderful insights. They are so entertaining and educational.

Amir Barak
profile image
No, but ironically, with severe DRM schemes and idiotic punishment mechanisms they actually break their own knee caps :D

I'm never sure whether knee caps are two words, should be hyphenated or just a compound...

Hakim Boukellif
profile image
@Lance
There's a difference between a service that has merit in existing as a service and a service that's only a service because that way is more profitable to the provider. No one can afford to gain every skill/knowledge/facilities/time needed to do everything they may need/want to do in their life, so there's nothing wrong with someone offering those things as a service, as they can't be offered in any other way to the audience you're targeting.

The same cannot be said about something that doesn't need to be a service to work, which is the case for most non-MMO games. If something can be a product just as well (if not better) as a service, then it should be a product. Making it a service in that case would create an unfair relationship between customer and provider where even after the customer has gained the right to access what the provider has made available, he is still unnecessarily dependent on the ability and willingness of both the service provider and the provider of the infrastructure the service is built upon to keep the service continuously accessible.

Lance Douglas
profile image
@Hakim Boukellif

So you admit that many MMO games do offer a service that is valid and not unethical? If so, doesn't that illustrate that games can indeed offer a service without being unethical? Clearly, not every game company is ethical. But that doesn't mean that a game company that does offer a service is automatically unethical. And as to what a game 'should' be, that's a matter of opinion. Would you want other people to dictate to you what ways you as a creator can and cannot espress yourself or innovate? Restricting the growth of the industry according to narrow guidelines would leave it handicapped as the rest of the world moves forward. Developers need to be free to adapt and evolve as the market shifts. Otherwise the industry will wither and die.

Hakim Boukellif
profile image
@Lance
I'm willing to acknowledge that there are a few cases where full service-dependency can be justified as a necessary evil. These are rare, though; MMOs are pretty much the only example I can think of.

Anyway, I was speaking within the context of this blog post, which is essentially recommending people to turn their game into a service in order to combat piracy. But that's the thing: if it were necessary for a game to be a service (such as in the case of MMOs), then it would already be one by design and it would have all the justification it needs, so this post isn't targeted to people making games like that. That leaves the rest: people making games that don't need to be services. But if your only justification to make a game a service is combating piracy, then you're definitely crossing some ethical line somewhere.

Also, I don't think you quite got my point, so I'll repeat it:
If something doesn't need to be a service, then it shouldn't be a service.
At the very least, it shouldn't be exclusively available as a service. This is in no way hindering progression or innovation, because if a creator can somehow express himself better by the game being a service, then being a service becomes a necessity of the game; it's as simple as that. But again, those cases are very rare and the majority of times a game being a service just results in inhibiting what and when the customer can do with it while getting nothing in return.

Lance Douglas
profile image
@Hakim Boukellif

You seem to have this preconceived notion that a game is something that comes in a box that you buy in a store. And that was a wonderful business model while it lasted. But that era is over. You know what games were before that era? Arcades. You had to put in a quarter for each session of the game you wanted to play, and it only lasted as long as you could keep winning. There were no saves, no reloads. When you were dead, you were dead. And you had to put in another quarter if you wanted to start over. From the beginning. So by your narrow definition of what a game 'should' be, video arcades were unethical. But that's how it all started. And now we are, in a way, returning to how they used to be in the beginning. Except now you get much more for your money than you did back then. So the idea of games as a service is nothing new. It's been around since the beginning.

I think developers should be able to make any kind of game they want. And I think it's a shame that the world is full of dishonest people who think its ok to take and give nothing in return. But lets be honest, it's the pirates who are taking and giving nothing in return. When you pay for a game, you do get something in return, you get to play that game. If you don't like the agreement, then don't play that game. Go play some other game. That's how the free market works. No one is forcing you to play that game. On the other hand, the pirates are the ones forcing us to adapt to their parasitic behavior. "Adapt or die." That's what they like to say.

So if a developer feels the need to change the structure of his game in order to fight piracy, then I blame the pirates. And I think it's sad that people who claim to be developers would give the pirates a pass and level the blame on their fellow developers. There are people who want to take away our rights to possess and profit from our own work. They don't want us to have any rights to what we create with our own hands and our own minds. I wish this was an exaggeration. I wish this was hyperbole. But it's a fact of our reality. And it seems like there are so many creators who are so willing to just give away their rights without a fight.

Hakim Boukellif
profile image
@Lance
Who said anything about a business model? You can sell a game as a disc in a box at a store and still have the game be a service (Ubisoft's Online Services Platform comes to mind) or you can use a model where the base game is offered as a free download, but you have to pay for separately downloadable addons, without the game itself being a service. All I've been talking about is games as services.

Speaking of which, I think you're still not quite getting what I've been trying to say here. The principle of "if it doesn't need to be a service, it shouldn't be a service" isn't preventing anyone from doing anything creatively, all it prevents is shady business practices. Arcade games have merit in being services, so there's nothing unethical about them being so.

Just so we're clear here, this is not me saying that games should be products because that's what they've always been, which as you said is simply not true. This is about with the most common way games are played today, i.e. on the customer's own equipment, offering a game that doesn't need to be a service as a product is the most effective and customer-friendly way. In fact, offering it as a service instead would be so customer-unfriendly that it's downright unethical.

Also, blaming the pirates is like blaming the weather. By all means, carry an umbrella against the rain, but don't found your own nation within a biodome and only allow those who are willing to perfectly adhere to your tyrannical rule inside just to avoid getting wet.

Lastly, I'll say this: developers (or any company for that matter) are not divine entities who are generously giving the foolish masses the opportunity to enjoy some of the delights they've constructed. Quite the opposite, they should be humbly offering some entertainment in exchange for a reward to his majesty, the Customer. The fact that someone chose to become a company's customer by his own free will doesn't change that the company has responsibility towards this customer. This is even more true for creative industries, because unlike utility products and services, one creative work is not necessarily exchangeable with something else. Furthermore, just because customers are currently willing to deal with games that are unnecessarily services, either because they consider it worth it despite this, apathy or are simply due to being uneducated on the topic, doesn't mean it's good for them or the industry in the long run.

Lance Douglas
profile image
@Hakim Boukellif

This idea that the customer is always right is complete crap. If you have worked in any type of service capacity, like cashier, waiter, or customer service rep, you would know that customers often make outrageous demands. They will try to trick, manipulate, and deceive you into getting things they think they are entitled to. And in the case of games, 95% of your so called customers are stealing from you. It is often the customer who is the tyrannical little brat, proclaiming "Off with his head!" if you don't butter her roll the way she wants.

You keep saying that just because I don't agree with you, that I don't understand what you are saying. I do understand what you are saying. And there are many companies that deal in unethical business practices. A company does have the responsiblity not to deceive or manipulate the buyer. But just choosing to rent your product instead of selling it is not automatically unethical. In the case of games, selling is actually easier. Creating a service involves infrastructure, servers, support, billing, and account management. It's much simpler just to make your game, put it online, and ask for money. You say that people need to be educated on the topic. Well I think everyone should try to start their own business, if only for a short time, so that they can understand the full landscape of the situation, not just their own limited perspective. Starting a business is very risky. Success in a business is never guaranteed. You have to adapt to the market or you won't make it. I always find it funny that people who have no experience starting a business think that they have enough expertise to tell others how to run their business.

The only way your argument would be valid is if the customer was forced to buy from the seller. But that's not the case. Customers have the right to choose what they want to buy, and what they dont want to buy. But they dont have the right to dictate the terms of the transaction. The owner has the right to determine how they share their property with others, and if they wish to share it at all.

How would you like it if someone rang your doorbell and said, "You are going to sell your house to me. You have no say in this. I have the right to buy it from you, and on my terms." No doubt you wouldn't appreciate that. Some governments actually do that. It is fascism. Now lets say you are going to be away for a year, and you want to rent out your home, so that the bills can continue to get paid. While you are showing your home to potential renters, one of them says. "I love this home. I am going to buy it from you." If you dont want to sell it to them, does that make you unethical?

This is basically the difference between a bookstore and a library. Now just because a library could do business like a bookstore doesn't mean they are unethical if they don't. And it doesn't mean they are customer unfriendly. If you want to keep the book, go to a book store. If you only want the book for a period of time, then go to a library. It's your choice. That's your freedom.

Lets say you have a bike. You can sell the bike, rent it, or just keep it to yourself. That is your right of ownership. Just because someone wants your bike, doesn't mean it is owed to them, or that they have the right to dictate to you what you do with it. That is your right, not theirs. If someone wants to buy and own a bike, they can go to a bike store. But they have no right to your specific bike. They are free to either buy or rent a bike. You are free to either sell or rent your bike. Both sides have freedom. Trying to dictate to the owner of the bike what they have to do with it is the opposite of freedom.

If you put up the money and manpower to contruct a biodome, then you absolutely have the right to say who can use it and who can't. You built it. You paid for it. It belongs to you and no one else. No one has the right to tell you what to do with it. You can choose to rent it out for a day, or you can choose to let people buy passes to come in and see it and walk around for a while, you can choose to sell it outright, or you can choose to keep it all to yourself. It's yours, that your right or ownership. If someone else wants a biodome, let them build their own.

Lets say you made a piece of interactive artwork for your sweetheart. It has her name all over it. You made it specifically for your anniversary. She is so proud of it she shows it to her friends. One of her friends says, "My girlfriend has the same name. I want that so that I can give it to her," and demands that you sell it to him. Is that his right to demand that? Your sweetheart loves it because it was made for her, not some other girl. Do her feelings have absolutely no value?

Lets make this very clear. I am not entitled to your property, and you are not entitled to my property. If I want something you have, then I have to agree to your terms. You can choose to give it to me for free, to sell it to me, to allow me access to it for a period of time, or you can choose to not give it to me at all. None of those choices are ethical or unethical, especially when we are talking about something that is just entertainment. Watching entertainment is not required in order for someone to live. But getting paid for their work is indeed required for an entertainer to live. In this case, the entertainer has the greater need.

Just because someone wants something, doesn't mean they are entitled to it. And if they try to steal it from you, you absolutely have the right to stop them. Owners trying to sell something don't have the right to deceive or manipulate the buyer. But the buyer does not have the right to demand the terms of service. Sellers have an obligation to be up front and clear about the terms of the transaction, so that the buyer can make an educated decision. If they can't come to an understanding, then they are both free to part ways. The customer is free to buy from a different seller, and the seller is free to find another buyer.

Piracy is not like the weather. People have free will, and they are responsible for their actions. They can choose not to steal. They can choose to be honest. In fact, piracy doesn't have to exist at all. It is this basic lack of respect for their fellow human beings, this selfish narcissism that makes people think that just because they want something, that it is somehow owed to them. Piracy is not a force of nature. It is a disease caused by greedy, self entitled people. And it should not be just accepted as a fact of life anymore than any other crime.

Hakim Boukellif
profile image
@Lance
The customer is not always right, the customer is king. Even the king must be made aware when he's wrong and in the worst case, impeached, but in the end you won't be able to do anything without him, so it's important to realise that the provider is supposed to appease the customer not the other way around. ESPECIALLY because people don't need entertainment to live, but entertainers do need money to do the same.

At no point did I say that customers have the right to dictate the terms of the transaction. If you don't want to sell something, then just don't put it up for sale. I'm saying that the customers you have should be treated respectfully and ethically, because they did contribute to your paycheck. Constantly looking over your customer's shoulder to make sure they're not doing anything naughty, preventing them from doing anything you don't like even if it's not illegal and putting a time limit on how long they can access something (all inevitabilities if you're running a service) even when it's not functionally necessary, is doing neither. Even if the customer is fully aware of this and consenting (which is not always the case and even when it is, is often the result of underestimating the implications), that is simply not how you treat people, especially not the ones that are keeping you alive.

The library example is exactly the sort of thing why I keep saying that you're not understanding me. A library exists as an alternative to buying, not as a replacement. Almost everything you can access in a public library, you can also buy elsewhere, because there's every reason for it to be so and no reason for it not to be so. Anything that you can't, such as newspaper archives, are simply not practical as products. No one is going to buy a century worth of newspapers just because they happened to need them for that one thing.

As for piracy, indeed it's the choice of the individual to partake in piracy. But you don't need a master's degree in social sciences to understand that the larger the group of people you're dealing with, the bigger the chance there are bad apples among them. In that regard piracy is just as inevitable as the weather changing for the worse. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do anything against it, just like your home should have a roof and it's better to take an umbrella or wear a hood when you're going outside in the rain, but it also doesn't mean that innocent people should suffer the most to accomplish this. Or would you say that people only being allowed to go outside their homes if they're accompanied by a police officer, because they might murder someone, would be a desirable situation?

Anyway, that's what I meant with the biodome analogy. Certainly, if you own a biodome, then you have the right to decide who is allowed inside and who not and what rules the people inside have to follow, no question about that. But should you even be building a biodome and found a authoritarian state inside it just to shield against the rain?

Lance Douglas
profile image
@Hakim Boukellif

I don't believe in kings. I don't believe in aristocracy vs. peasantry. I don't believe in the stratification of social classes. I don't believe in hero worship. People are just people. Everyone is created equal. No doubt there are people who, just because they exchange money for goods, wish to be treated as if they are special. They aren't. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Until they do something bad. Then they don't deserve respect anymore. Here is a humourous example of why customers shouldn't be kowtowed to:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell

My favorite line is "After the 13th revision, I fired the client." Anyone who has done graphic design for a living can relate to this. There is a certain point at which you realize that you have to assert yourself as the expert. If they could just do it themselves, they wouldn't be paying you. One reason some people choose to make games, instead of doing graphic design, is so that they don't have to deal with clients like that. Of course, players will whine. They always do. But you don't have to do what they say. Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”


"Constantly looking over your customer's shoulder to make sure they're not doing anything naughty, preventing them from doing anything you don't like even if it's not illegal..."

Some games do this to keep people from cheating, and the players are grateful for it. Blizzard realized that they couldn't stop all cheating, but they were pretty good at detecting it. So they do something about it. They ban the cheater. Many players love the fact that they stop people from cheating. This article is pretty eye opening:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/167781/Indepth_Extravagant_che
ating_via_Direct_X.php


"A library exists as an alternative to buying, not as a replacement."

Do you think that all games will become service based? Is that what you are worried about? As I said before, that is actually the harder path to follow. And it probably isn't even cost effective in many cases. Games offering a service exist as an alternative to buying, not as a replacement. And they offer things that other games don't. So they are like libraries in that way.

I'm glad you realized that the word 'biodome' could easily be replaced with 'house'. The reason people build a house is so that when they go to bed, they don't have to hold an umbrella over themselves in their sleep. People want safety and security, from the weather, and from other people. A man's home is his castle, as they say. If someone breaks into your home, you are legally allowed to shoot him. People who play a game also want that security. This goes back to my point about cheating. Many players prefer a game that keeps people from abusive behavior. That's one of the services you can offer them. They want that security, and are willing to pay for it.

"Or would you say that people only being allowed to go outside their homes if they're accompanied by a police officer.."

If you are saying that there are games that police you while you are outside of their game, then I would agree that is definitely unethical. But that has nothing to do with the game being a service.

Hakim Boukellif
profile image
I'm well aware of how troublesome unreasonable clients can be. And as long as you realize that "firing" a customer means you won't get paid and can damage your reputation, then that's your decision to make. But that's in the case where you can pick your customers and the terms of the transaction can be negotiated, which is usually not the case with games. Are you going to treat someone disrespectfully, even though they've already paid you? Mind you, there's a line between treating someone with respect and completely pandering to your audience.

On that same topic, as you said yourself earlier, customers don't need entertainers, but entertainers do need customers. And yet, once someone decides to become a customer, the balance of power reverses: the entertainer now has more power than the customer, because he gets to decide what the customer will be receiving in exchange for the payment. Wouldn't you think that given his greater position of power despite him being more dependent on the other than the other on him, it should be possible to expect he doesn't abuse that power? Keep in mind here that people usually become a customer because they want a game, not because they want a service.

"Some games do this to keep people from cheating, and the players are grateful for it. Blizzard realized that they couldn't stop all cheating, but they were pretty good at detecting it. So they do something about it. They ban the cheater. Many players love the fact that they stop people from cheating."
That's fine for multiplayer on the official servers, but for single player and private servers, there's no reason why you should be allowed to tell people what they can and can't do, nor would anyone be grateful for it if you did.

"Do you think that all games will become service based? Is that what you are worried about? As I said before, that is actually the harder path to follow. And it probably isn't even cost effective in many cases. "
I'm sure most indies won't be going in that direction, but it is an increasing threat. There's also the unsettling rumor of next-gen consoles preventing used copies from being played, which would effectively turn every game on the platform into a service. Nothing confirmed, but worrisome nonetheless.

"Games offering a service exist as an alternative to buying, not as a replacement.
"So they are like libraries in that way."
It's not the same at all. If you make a game accessible as both a product and a service, then the existence of the service won't prevent piracy at all, because people will just pirate the product version. So developers who make their game a service for the sole purpose of combating piracy are not going to offer that alternative.

"And they offer things that other games don't."
If there are parts of the game that can only be implemented using a service, then only make those parts dependent on a service. That's no reason to make the whole game a service.

"If you are saying that there are games that police you while you are outside of their game, then I would agree that is definitely unethical. But that has nothing to do with the game being a service."
Even if you're walking within police jurisdiction, that would be pretty darn unethical.

Lance Douglas
profile image
"as long as you realize that "firing" a customer means you won't receive your payment and can damage your reputation"

Games ban people that break the rules all the time, and it doesn't hurt their reputation; because the general feeling is, if the person broke the rules, they deserved to be banned.

"Are you going to treat someone disrespectfully, even though they've already paid you?"

Banning someone who broke the rules isn't treating them disrespectfully. In fact, it is the rule breaker who is disrespecting the other players by breaking the rules.

"And yet, once someone decides to become a customer, the balance of power reverses"

The buyer always has the option not to buy the game. That's where his power lies, and that power is never taken away. The game designer has the freedom to design the game however he likes. That's where his power lies. As long as you can stop playing the game and stop paying, the power is always balanced.

"there's no reason why you should be allowed to tell people what they can and can't do"
"Even if you're walking within police jurisdiction, that would be pretty darn unethical."

A game designer always has the power to determine what the player can and can't do in the game. That's what game design is. Every single thing the player does in the game has to be coded by the developer. If the developer doesn't code it, the player can't do it. The very act of game design is deciding what the player can and can't do in the game. And it is the boundaries that the designer sets that make the game interesting. If the players could do anything they wanted, the game would be very boring.

"no reason why you should be allowed to"

Should be allowed to? Should be allowed to? So you want to give yourself more power by taking away power from the game designer. You are never forced to play the game, but you think that you or some other authority has the right to take away the designer's freedom by forcing the designer to do what you want? That's fascism. And fascism is UNETHICAL.

"So developers who make their game a service for the sole purpose of combating piracy are not going to offer that alternative."

Game developers don't owe you anything. In the same way that nobody is entitled to your specific bike, or house, or anything else you own, you are not entitled to any specific piece of entertainment. Take it the way they offer it, or not at all. Those are your options.

Hakim Boukellif
profile image
"Games ban people that break the rules all the time, and it doesn't hurt their reputation; because the general feeling is, if the person broke the rules, they deserved to be banned."
"Banning someone who broke the rules isn't treating them disrespectfully. In fact, it is the rule breaker who is disrespecting the other players by breaking the rules."

How is he disrespecting other players if they're not affected by his actions? And why do the ones who are playing by the rules have to take the fall for the ones that aren't? Personally, I don't believe in collective punishment.

"The buyer always has the option not to buy the game. That's where his power lies, and that power is never taken away. The game designer has the freedom to design the game however he likes. That's where his power lies. As long as you can stop playing the game and stop paying, the power is always balanced."

Except the buyer usually doesn't know exactly what he's going to get other than a vaguely-defined "game", but the seller know exactly what he's going to get: the asking price.
And where does game design come into this? Game design has nothing to do with this. If being a service is a necessity for the game design, then obviously that justifies it as a service (or at least the part that requires the service). Shoehorning in features for the sake of making it a service is a bit more questionable, though.

"A game designer always has the power to determine what the player can and can't do in the game. That's what game design is. Every single thing the player does in the game has to be coded by the developer. If the developer doesn't code it, the player can't do it. The very act of game design is deciding what the player can and can't do in the game. And it is the boundaries that the designer sets that make the game interesting. If the players could do anything they wanted, the game would be very boring. "

Again, game design has nothing to do with this. If someone wants to play a game he's legally entitled to without an internet connection and the game doesn't have any functionally that's dependent on one, then he should be able to do so. If someone wants to play a game he's legally entitled to ten, twenty years after release, when the servers are long down, and there's in terms of game-functionality no reason why that would prevent the game from running, he should be able to.
And even as far as game design is concerned, if someone wants to cheat so badly, or change the graphics or balancing of the game or make new levels, as long as he's not affecting anyone else by doing it, why bother preventing him?

"Should be allowed to? Should be allowed to? So you want to give yourself more power by taking away power from the game designer. You are never forced to play the game, but you think that you or some other authority has the right to take away the designer's freedom by forcing the designer to do what you want? That's fascism. And fascism is UNETHICAL. "

Someone can't take away someone else's freedom, but everyone in society has to follow certain rules.

"Game developers don't owe you anything. In the same way that nobody is entitled to your specific bike, or house, or anything else you own, you are not entitled to any specific piece of entertainment. Take it the way they offer it, or not at all. Those are your options."

So as long as the manufacturer tells the customer that the heating wires of the toasters they produce are made using cat intestines, that makes it A-OK? As a matter of fact, the large majority of game publishers don't even do that. You usually don't get to hear what exactly you'll be receiving until after you made the purchase. And when you do, the description is written in a language the target audience is unlikely to understand.

Rob B
profile image
'we definitely know that not every game cracked means a lost sale, there’s no easy 1:1 conversion here. We are also of the strong believe that any game will be cracked, no matter how we try to protect it, so our philosophy is that adding DRM or anything similar only annoys the people who actually pay for it.' - Felix Bohatsch shortly after mentioning the over 95% statistic.

Lance Douglas
profile image
"any game will be cracked, no matter how we try to protect it"

That's like saying, "Well, murder will always happen, no matter what we do. So we might as well just legalize it." Just because you can't stop every instance, doesn't mean you can't reduce the frequency.

Amir Barak
profile image
eh, yeah, almost.

A. Not every person on the planet will be murdered if we didn't have laws against murder.
B. There are under very specific conditions mitigating circumstances for killing.
C. You ever served your country in the army, that's called legalized murder.
D. Making murder illegal hasn't actually solved the problem or reduced it, it only gives you avenues of punishment. Enforcing the law via police patrols and detective work is what you're thinking of and people fight for their civil liberties (I should hope so anyway). Why not just say, everyone has to have a camera in every room of their house and be recorded 100% of the time. Put lots more cameras everywhere, make it legal for the police to arrest and brutalize you, force citizens to call a centralized place once an hour and be done with it. I'm sure murder would go down significantly... can you tell me why this hasn't happened and hopefully won't?

Lance Douglas
profile image
@Amir Barak

Wow. You have convinced me that murder should be made legal. Your logic is impeccable and completely sound. It's quite amazing. You should write your congressman, or whatever you have, about this. I'm sure he or she will be very impressed. You might even win a nobel prize. And make sure that you explain to the families of murder victims your clear and undeniable logic for legalizing murder. No doubt they will be comforted that "Not every person on the planet will be murdered" and fully appreciate your keen insight. Bravo!

Stanley de Bruyn
profile image
I agree with lance douglas. To me it seams I hear to much advocates of the devil/ pirates.
Wenn you have a law where murder is a crime and have police force hunt murders. These crimes will not go away. But in regions where crime rate is high because poeple have a low status. It doesn't mean it does not work. It does. Even with high crime rates. Because drop the law and murder will sky rocket everywhere. You get wild west anachy chaos.

While it true everyting can got hacked. But hacking just take a bit of time. So the solution against hacking is just keep them bussy as long as prime time of game sales cycle got largly overbridged. Like using 100 artifical bugs

It make no sens to me to not activily take on pirates. Because it hurts customer? Like I should make a huge problem that my house door or car door have lockes wich is so inconvinient.

So I expect some inconvinience as a paying consumer, as long as it effecivly reduce piracy.

For dev who think otherwise like those of sin of a solar empire. If you let it up to the consumer to pay. Wel if piracy is okay with the dev then why wold i pay for it to meet pirates online wich get the same experience for free and the dev find that oke.

I am registred on a lot of forums so for a game it so huge problem? Make no sense only if you are a pirate.

Jason Wilson
profile image
Tip 5) Make something people want to buy and forget all the other tips.

Arnaud Clermonté
profile image
If you don't elaborate on how exactly you achieve that, your tip is pretty much useless...

How do you make a game people want to buy,
as opposed to a game people just want to play?

Lex Allen
profile image
I lost money trying to protect my game from pirates, but you could also submit your own fake pirated build before the pirates do.

Lance Douglas
profile image
Another tip that should be in there is to be careful who you hire. Find out what they think about piracy or copyright law before you hire them. The industry is full of bad apples who think piracy is ok. If you aren't careful, that cracked copy of your game that went online before you even released the game most likely came from a "trusted" employee. A game developer hiring someone who supports piracy is like a department store hiring someone who supports shoplifting, or an accounting firm hiring someone who supports embezzlement, or a bank hiring someone who supports bank robbery.

Amir Barak
profile image
heehee, I know of someone that was sooooo paranoid about piracy he even suggested releasing his game at lower resolutions so that people wouldn't be able to steal the game art, lol.

One can be against DRM schemes and stupid practices like a constant internet connection without supporting piracy you know...

Lance Douglas
profile image
Congratulations! You passed the test. You are exactly the type of person we are looking to hire.

Amir Barak
profile image
lol, thanks, you guys sound like just the dev shop for me too! let's exchange numbers :D

btw, how do you propose that we find out whether our developers are into piracy? ask them? If someone is dumb enough to answer "yes I pirate games" when they go into a job interview at a game development company I'm sure you don't want them, not because they pirate games but because they're probably too stupid to work for you.

What's some of our other alternatives?
Shall we go through their personal files? shall we trace what they do for a few weeks? Shall we force them to disclose their entire internet search history? (is porn alright for game devs to watch?)

Lance Douglas
profile image
It's pretty easy to tell what a person actually feels about the subject, even if they deny supporting piracy. Many people on this website claim that they don't support piracy, but everything else they say makes it crystal clear how they actually feel. Game companies get hundreds if not thousands of applications continuously. This is just one more criteria that can be used to help separate the wheat from the chaff and save us time in choosing potential new employees.

Again you go to hyperbolic extremes to try to prove your point. But doing a background check on potential employees is routine for many businesses. Could you imagine a day care center not doing a background check on the employees who will be handling people's kids? So doing a google search on the person to see what they have posted publicly online is not unwarranted, and is in fact what many businesses do. Don't want to find out the person is a serial killer 6 weeks after you have hired him.

Rachel Presser
profile image
I really don't think locking out an entire country from downloading your game would be effective. If anything, it would actually ENCOURAGE piracy because you're essentially branding anyone from Country X as a pirate.

Why switch to F2P if that's not the kind of game you want to make? How is collecting information just to play going to make gamers feel like they're not being punished? Once again, it's something that would probably encourage piracy out of spite.

I agree with the previous commenters that how you deal with people is what will make or break you if your game has been pirated. After all, you can always do what Sos did and turn piracy into a marketing tool. McPixel got huge and ended up getting Greenlight'ed: hell, they even listed Pirate Bay in the Special Thanks section of the McPixel website!

Betable Blog
profile image
Wow guys, awesome discussion here! Really interesting to read all of the different opinions on piracy. It's clearly a subject up for debate, but I think the key takeaway is that it's your game, so you make the call. There's a balance between user experience and anti-piracy that should be struck by each game individually.


none
 
Comment: