Fighting piracy

The lunacy of these so called, industry bigwigs, or fat cats is really starting to get on my nerves. After so many years of making vast profits from recording artists and gaming studios they are now furious that people are stealing their stuff. Why? Because no longer are the people of today old, sorry to the old of you, but the younger, and hell, even the older generations are changing, if not already.

We no longer want to traipse around shops looking for DVD’s or brave the aisles of HMV with the studded punk youths of old to find a good LP. We want the stuff we like. We want the stuff we like right now, delivered to my desktop, for me to own. No license. No usage limits. No DRM. Just the things I want that I paid for; for me to use whenever I want.

If that means downloading stuff then so be it. Until the industries meet our needs in a way which works for us, delivering the best possible product at an acceptable price point with a solid digital delivery method, people will find a better product. It’s the most basic economic precept. The fact that the government want to back these idiotic fools in their quest to ban everyone from the internet to force us back into shops is absurd. What’s more, they want to charge us £500m for the priviledge! Outrageous. (ref: Anti-piracy costs consumer £500m, Telegraph.co.uk). Although this isn’t the first time that big business has decided to tinker in the Internet. Net neutrality, a topic unto itself, was and is still a bone of contention in the US. Imagine having to subscribe to all your websites? Imagine having to pay to get bandwidth? Sounds bizarre, well that’s because it is. Read more at, Savetheinternet.com

A recent article on the BBC said how viewing habits of people in the UK had changed considerably since the launch of iPlayer (the BBC’s on demand internet TV) and so it should. This is fantastic news and should be showing industry that with services like these, TV in the traditional sense is dead. Since the launch of Sony movies on PSN you can now rent movies direct in the PSN store and download them for rent or to buy. Great you think, but oh no, Sony will only let you rent an HD version and buy a SD version. C’mon guys, get with the program. As soon as someone starts selling HD movies online, you’ll be out of the loop and out of pocket. We need more movie services like this though to increase competition and foster innovation.

The movie industry pumps billions of dollars into fighting piracy every year, to ensure that they can take that long vacation and that they don’t need to change their business models to cope with a changing customer demographic. The sooner these wastrel middle men go out of business the better in my opinion. Has anyone considered that the sheer volume of money that these people pile into fighting piracy could be better spent on researching their business sector and surveying their customers to find out what they should be doing. Guys, it’s time for you to listen to your customers rather than trying to dictate your terms to us. We are already moving away from film because of their total lack of engagement with their primary customer base, we are moving to computer games! (ref: Gaming bigger than Film, Telegraph.co.uk). Hopefully the services like Sony Movies on PSN, will change this as these two media sectors merge.

It doesn’t even end there, if you don’t know about the tactics of the recording industry in the US, then you are in for a serious shock about just how corrupt they are, in order to secure their profits. Have a read about Joel and his fight against this insipid corruption. I think that the music industry is probably, the only one of the ‘media’ industries which has made serious inroads into digital delivery and changing the way that it does business in order to keep up with the changes. The irony of having companies taking the initiative and on the other hand industry lobbyists fighting for government legislation to back them is crazy. I can only hope that the lobbyists lose out to solid modern music related businesses like Last.fm and Spotify. Big thanks to Apple for creating a highly popular portable media player, which I feel has been a massive driver in the uptake of digital music.

The attitude of fighting your customers has been rife over the last decades in computers mainly and now into other IP/license based products. Talk of Windows Vista having a secret back door for UK police to essentially legally hack into your computer without your knowledge! I think not. My computer. My hardware. (ref: Police hack home pcs, Telegraph.co.uk). Frankly I think it’s tantamount to burglary. Music that you can pay for but only listen to on one device or computer? It’s no wonder that some recording artists have decided to release music themselves, and good on them. Just remember folks, give them your money, otherwise the whole thing won’t work. Vote with your wallet/purse.

We have the power right there. The money in your wallet is the biggest factor in determining who lives and who dies. Look at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, rife with controversy yet still managed to move 1.2 million units in 24 hours! Our power is being able to spend £1.73 billion on games in a year. (ref: CoDMW2 tops Amazon, Telegraph.co.uk)

Wallets, well, that should surely lead to the corporate gaming publishing vampire that is EA (Recycling rocks! EA to kill PC gaming, extremetech.com). I think that’s an entirely separate post about how terrible a company they really are. I’ll never forget attending a gaming event and watching the EA pr guy get boo’d from the moment he walked into view to when he started speaking. It’s not hard for these people, in their huge offices packed with marketing types dressed in suits to completely miss the whole point of gaming. I think anyone can understand that the industry has changed over the last two decades, from Atari’s and Commodores, through PC, to Playstation3 and Xbox, although I think along the way the true spirit of gaming has been watered down and tarnished. Granted, most think it’s a geeky thing played by closet loonies in the dark. That might be true, but there is a nobility to the gaming industry, a sense of spirit when you played that amazing game that you know someone with a mind like Galactus had spent months creating. I’ll pause here to let you cast your mind back to some of those awesome memories.. Zelda? Super Mario World? Street Fighter? Doom? Quake? I mean the list goes on, and that’s newer stuff. Hell, think about stuff like LHX, Asteroids, Double Dragon, Stunts and loads more!

With all this history and heritage behind it, why has the gaming industry become such an evil, twisted and warped semblance of what it once was? I really, honestly, in my heart can’t blame piracy for that. I blame the publishers. All of you. Even Eidos, okay, perhaps not Eidos, or Ubisoft. I blame the faceless, mindless, non-gamer types who think they can control an industry by pumping out franchise crap year after year and then invest those profits in fighting the very people who paid for the games! Starforce, SecuRom, DRM, these things hurt the consumer. Hurt, okay, kill in some cases. I can’t play Splinter Cell because starforce doesn’t work on anything except WinXP, because the dodgy root kit cdrom driver won’t install. Okay, -1 for Ubisoft on that one. Bioshock, fail. -1 for Take2. Spore -1 for EA. All of these games, just off the top of my head, caused a massive backlash from gamers everywhere, as they plain broke what was supposed to be a fantastic title.

I can’t imagine how it must feel as a developer to have spent so long creating a fantastic game like Bioshock only to have the publishers slap copy protection on it and break your game and turn all your potential fans against you. The best example I can think of is Hellgate London, a game which was destined to be great, until the publisher dropped them, and EA picked up the title and said that it’d go freemium. (paying for the good features) and that was the end of it, it now only lives on in Korea I think it is, and all other regions have been closed and Flagship Studios has closed down. Good job that Bill Roper managed to snag a post at Cryptic then I guess. Good luck with Champions Online. The rest of his team have cranked out Torchlight, which is a great title. Still, after driving him out of business EA still feel it’s fine to release Diablo3, and essentially just piss on his face. Again, -1 for EA, and that’s from a Diablo fan, I’m eagerly awaiting D3!

If you push the marketing as EA so loves to do, and they do it well. You MUST deliver. Every. Singe. Time. What did the developers do when they couldn’t patch their games over the net? I’ve bought brand new PS3 games, unwrapped them, sat through hours of installs only to have to patch?! We should be used to this having gamed on PC’s for year? Well yes, I suppose so. Then again look at Steam. The undisputed king of digital games distribution. EA Store, Direct2Drive etc don’t even come close. Good work Valve, your product, branding, pricing and delivery are all top notch and you well deserve your top spot! *cough* bias *cough*

STOP. Stop wasting money on fighting pirates and spend it on your development teams, your QA departments, on DELIVERING. On giving your customers, the dedicated gamers, who save and bust ass earning to pay your wages, what they want. Give us what we deserve for our ever rising gaming title costs. Give us the credit that if you don’t pump out garbage rammed with anti-piracy that we will buy it. Give us some credit.

Profits are not owed, they are earnt. So stop fighting your customers and work with them to better your output, your industry and your image.

Futher reading,

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