Thursday, January 26, 2012

What if piracy vanished?

There is a saying that you do not know how important something is until you no longer have it. With thoughts of SOPA and ACTA still in my mind, I wondered what would be the results if Santa Claus came down from the North Pole and gave old media the silver bullet for stopping piracy (hint, it is not SOPA or ACTA as those won't work anyway and is as like to exist as Santa)? If piracy were to become impossible, what would happen? Personally, I try not to pirate anything so for me little would change other then knowing that all the stuff I buy is fully legit. Looking at the excuses I have heard for piracy, lets look at the outcome based on the excuses. Percentages are an estimate of how many times I have heard the excuse and don't add up to 100% because most people have multiple excuses.

1. Can't afford to buy the stuff (80%). After piracy is gone, these people will still not be able to afford it. That means that they will not be buying it because they don't have the money to buy it anyway so it is not lost revenue. No extra sales from these people. Granted, some of these people are young and would likely buy stuff once they started getting money but they would have probably done so anyway the difference is that many of these also fall into point 3 even if they don't realize it so the negative sales would apply to these people as well. Net result is a harm to old media and a gain to new media in the long term.

2. Not worth the price (60%). These are people who think the price is too high. Quite often what they want to pay is much lower than what the price will ever be so the result is no sales. In the cases where the price does drop to the point that these people will be willing to pay for the item, some of them will buy the item but most will have found other (new media) equivalent stuff. Net effect is a big gain for new media. While there is a small gain for old media, it comes at a cost of exposure (see point 3) so a tiny short term gain but long term losses.

3. Wanted to see if it was any good (60%). This is the most interesting category as it is where the arguments against piracy fall apart. When you look at it logically, it is obvious that people do not want to buy something they are not going to like. Unless the price is really low most people won't take the chance. This means that there is no net gain from these people. This leads me to a personal example. Steve Gibson recommended the Honor Harrington series but when I looked at the book covers I took a step back. I know you should never judge a book by the cover and this series is an example of why. I would not have grabbed the series had the first two books not been freely (legally) available at . The free books got me to get past my hesitancy about the series and resulted in much more of my money going to Baen. There are a lot of cases I personally know of where a person has become a fan of something due to a pirated copy. Often these people don't buy copies of the stuff they have pirated (sometimes they do) but they usually end up buying new stuff that comes out from that series/author. If they had never pirated, they would not know they liked the series/author and not buy new stuff. Net result is a huge loss for old media.

4. Already Bought It in different format or DRMed (40%). The result of DRM is often products that don't work as good as the pirated version. Some people don't care for the less-functional version so will find a non-crippled pirate version of the product. These ARE NOT lost sales as a copy was legitimately paid for. Likewise, people who have an old record or tape collection do not want to buy yet another copy of something they already own so will "pirate" the stuff they already bought. I assume Santa's solution would cover both these issues so the net result is no gained sales as the pirated numbers were artificially bumped up anyway.

5. Because I can (10%). These are those people who pirate for the sake of pirating. The few people I know who fall into this category either are also in group 1 or buy an awful lot of stuff legitimately so if they were no longer able to pirate they would simply do something else. Possibly a gain for new media. No change for old media.

After looking at the world after the silver bullet I see old media dying at an even faster rate then they are now and new media growing at a faster rate then they are now. Not exactly the outcome that RIAA/MPAA and other MAFIAA type organizations are after. All I can say to the people from these organizations is to be careful what you wish for because you might actually get it and the results are not what you think they will be.

Friday, January 13, 2012

TMoD Twelve Months of Doomsday

What better day then Friday the Thirteenth to resurrect my Game Development blog. After all, Jason managed to rise from the dead quite frequently. True, a month between posts isn't exactly dying but I had to have a Friday the 13th reference. For 2012 I am planning on updating this blog every other week. To be a bit more precise, weeks that do not have new content on will be the weeks that I post articles here. When appropriate, these articles will provide details about whatever was posted on BlazingGames the previous week. If for some reason you want to read more of what I have to say, feel free to follow me on Google+.

The big game series that I am running throughout 2012 is Twelve Months of Doomsday (TMoD) which is my way of having fun with the 2012 end of the world theme. Statistically speaking, there is a small chance that the world will end in 2012. To my understanding, the end of the Mayan calendar didn't actually represent the end of the world but the beginning of a new cycle. Perhaps the 21st of December will be the beginning of the singularity that many science-fiction writers are predicting.

TMoD is a collection of classic-style arcade games tied to a twelve part over-arching story about how the cast from One of those Weeks try to prevent the end of the world. I actually enjoyed bringing back the characters from my 46 episode adventure game. The design of this series not only had to tell a story, but had to fit in arcade games similar to those I played as a child. All the games I write are my original code and I try to make the games as original as possible while still bringing back the feel of the old days (well, at least if you are 30+).

The first game in this series was actually chosen not because it was an arcade game but because it was one of the first games I ever typed into my Commodore 64. Lunar Lander was a text based game found in a book containing 101 BASIC Computer Games. While BASIC was not the greatest of languages, it came with the computer so it was the language of choice for learning to program back then. I probably still harbour some bad programming habits as a result. The game gave you a distance from the surface and you had to type in the amount of fuel you wanted to burn. This determined your speed as you approached the surface. There were a number of arcade versions of this concept which I modeled my game after.

You will notice that a large portion of the games deal with threats from space. This is partly because the main villain is an alien, but more because the childhood arcade games that I played tended to have science-fiction themes. There are a lot of really good games that I am planning on releasing as part of this series so please give the series a chance if you find you don't like the first few games.