Piracy is the purest form of Free-to-Play.

Posted on Sat 22nd September 2012 8.25PM


This blog was originally posted on GamaSutra. I do think piracy is a problem, but I will always put my customers first:

Yves Guillemot recently claimed to have statistics showing that PC game piracy rates (95%-93%) are as high as non paying F2p users. Using this data point he that asserted Free to Play is the future. Indeed to me this data proves exactly the opposite. It shows that the current model with paid-for products and a high piracy rate is the way to go.

If you are going to have the same conversion rate to paying customers whatever you do, you should do as much as possible to remove all barriers to entry and reduce costs to ensure a higher profit margin. Spending time and money implementing IAP's, the inevitable complex "always-up" server back-end and other mechanisms, is wasteful and is an unnecessary burden on your business.

It's also damaging your IP: Many users don't want to see their favourite games made free. Despite its success in the mobile arena, on PC, the prevailing opinion on publishers moving to FP2 is motivated by greed or a "me too!" mindset. Or even worse, some players are starting to see it as an admission of a failed, unprofitable product. This is entirely wrong of course, but it's what your customer thinks.

The current implementations of F2p breaks long standing game features and mechanics, not to mention it is almost fundamentally incompatible with narrative driven single player experiences, the bread and butter of the PC gamer. Whether you like it or not, singleplayer games are a massive and expanding market.

The best way to reach this market, as ever, is word of mouth. Piracy is now a huge part of this. If you are in the top 100 most pirated games list on The Pirate Bay, you are reaching several million eyeballs a day. You need to suck up your pride and broken common sense and target pirates as potential conversions, instead of beating them away and breaking your game for your paying customers with poorly conceived F2p elements.

Maia game. No IAP's here.

With Maia, I have already reached out and promised to add extra humorous content to the builds I will be uploading to the pirates via bitorrent. It's had an almost overwhelming positive reaction, helped build my community and even been a significant boon to my shoe-string marketing.

What's more, it will cost nothing on my part. The network will handle it all for me. No down time or maintenance costs. No bandwidth. No servers or log-in databases to be hacked.

No problem.

Piracy, a full free-to-play implementation at the drop of a hat.

(2) comments :

Comment by Raufgar on Wed 26th September 2012 12. 36PM

I wholeheartedly agree, making a game F2P OR always-online will impose limitations that restrict and lessen a game's overall feel, especially for games where the player is supposed to make an impact on the game world at large. Having another 200,000 people doing the exact same thing cheapens the experience, since it is no longer solely about the player.

There are places for cooperative play, and there are places where individual achievements should be encouraged.

P.S. The link to this page on the main Blog Page is not working :D


Comment by Ortwin on Wed 26th September 2012 1. 46PM

The way society at large is dealing/needs to deal with digital goods is rapidly changing.

Individual developers or small communities are currently far ahead in understanding how 'the new world' works.
It will take time before larger companies will see reason, what CEO or lead game dev of some big game publisher would dare say 'Piracy is better than FtP'?

The fact that the gaming audience/market is expanding in all directions is not making it any easier for large companies to deal with.

PS As Raufgar said, the link to the full blog post is not working.



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