Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Friday, April 16, 2010

Piracy Gets Real

Piracy has long been a favorite bogeyman for electronic game publishers (and the music industry, too). THe tough part has been actually quantifying the size of the piracy problem.  Ars Technica has a post on the government's attempts to really look at what's known about piracy. It seems that when you look at it more closely, the claims about economic impact are impossible to quantify, and the numbers that have been bandied about before aren't to be trusted.

Really, I've found the whole piracy debate (which has since become important in traditional publishing and paper gaming as well, with the spread of e-books) to be missing the point. To me, the salient facts are that (1) piracy exists and (2) there is no way to prevent it, technologically. (Despite many attempts.) That being the case, I think publishers have two choices for constructive action about piracy. They can (1) Ignore it, or (2) Use it. How do you use it? I think we're seeing that with the free-to-play model, for one example. If the game is copied and distributed freely, that helps the publisher make money. Another variation is the free version that you can upgrade to a paid version. Give the customers a taste so they know what the product is, thus satisfying curiosity that might otherwise lead to piracy.

Bottom line: Make piracy work for you.

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever though of the prates as "unfulfilled customers"?

    I have incorpated the "freemium" business model into my company and it has done very well to curb some piracy. But there will always be people who will take thing for free. As long as I focus satifying my customers (aka people who buy), I will be OK.