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Valve's Gabe Newell On Piracy: It's Not a Pricing Problem

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-in-fact-all-about-the-benjamins dept.

DRM 466

New submitter silentbrad writes with a followup to our discussion this morning about Ubisoft's claims of overwhelming game piracy. An article at IGN quotes a different point of view from Gabe Newell, CEO of Valve: "In general, we think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the U.S. release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty." The quote was taken from an interview at The Cambridge Student Online, in which Newell speaks to a few other subjects, such as creating games for multiple platforms and e-sports.

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466 comments

Hmmm (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170786)

And yet Steam has that USD=Euro conversion and region locked pricing.

Re:Hmmm (5, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170818)

It has the region locks only because certain publishers insist on it. Valve doesn't use it on any of their own games.

The Euro issue I don't know about. Try emailing Gabe about it.

Re:Hmmm (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170834)

It persists in large part because Steam allows it to. Considering how dominant it is as a store, I have a hard time believing that they're being strong armed on the issue.

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170902)

If they tried to block "games aren't allowed to be unlocked at different times in different regions", all the publishers have to do is consider Steam the "last region" - not putting their games on Steam until it's made its worldwide launch. It's too simple to get around in a way that's bad for Steam.

And Valve isn't responsible for enforcing their ethical practices on others. I'm sure they're happy to take a cut of anyone's money.

Re:Hmmm (-1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171046)

You're right it's not their responsibility to do that. But not for the reason that you think, they've unleashed this pox upon the gaming community, but it isn't their responsibility because their responsibility is purely to the shareholders.

Just like how there's no guarantee that they won't at some future time take everybody's games away or require a subscription to access them.

Re:Hmmm (5, Interesting)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171070)

You're right it's not their responsibility to do that. But not for the reason that you think, they've unleashed this pox upon the gaming community, but it isn't their responsibility because their responsibility is purely to the shareholders.

Just like how there's no guarantee that they won't at some future time take everybody's games away or require a subscription to access them.

Corporate suicide is not in the best interest of the shareholders. And if you read the article, (Asking a lot I know) you will find Gabe saying that actually serving your customers IS in the best interest of the shareholders.

benefit to others (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171348)

Corporate suicide is not in the best interest of the shareholders. And if you read the article, (Asking a lot I know) you will find Gabe saying that actually serving your customers IS in the best interest of the shareholders.

No one prospers unless he renders benefit to others.
        -- Tadao Yoshida, founder YKK zippers

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171080)

Your point isn't very good. Please try again.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Unoriginal_Nickname (1248894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171252)

Steam allows it to persist because they want to serve the interests of their customers and their shareholders.

Steam is only a good service if it carries the games that people want to play. Most people want games from big publishers, and the big publishers won't sell to a store that won't let them conduct business as usual. They just aren't smart enough.

Re:Hmmm (4, Interesting)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171438)

I smell the EA fiasco in your comment.

Valve got pissed off because of EA's DLC store for bioware games.

EA retaliated by pulling crysis 2 and any future releases not set in contract.

now we have origin. which sucks, but we can't play BF3 without it.

Steam is losing customers at a slow trickle.

I would rather use steam.

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171288)

Just like how there's no guarantee that they won't at some future time take everybody's games away or require a subscription to access them.

Duh, yes, there is. As annoying as they are, ToS, EULA, purchase agreements, etc go both ways. And the way Steam's is worded, along with applicable laws, means they would have to either make the game available for download without Steam DRM, or refund you the purchase price.

Short of going out of business in a spectacular fashion (which is always a risk with an online service), the customer's purchases are reasonably protected.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171296)

You're right it's not their responsibility to do that. But not for the reason that you think, they've unleashed this pox upon the gaming community, but it isn't their responsibility because their responsibility is purely to the shareholders.

Just like how there's no guarantee that they won't at some future time take everybody's games away or require a subscription to access them.

Valve is a private company, they don't have shareholders.

Re:Hmmm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171504)

*every* company has shareholders, private or public.
Its the only way anyone can own the company. A company without share holders doesn't have an owner and ceases to exist.

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

bignetbuy (1105123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170822)

And they continue to screw the Aussies on game prices with most games costing TWICE as much as their U.S. versions.

Re:Hmmm (4, Interesting)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171440)

The reason is that multinational retailers, etc set their prices based on an exchange rate at a specific date, and then don't tend to change it based on the fluctuation of currency exchange rates. This is even more obvious for books in North America - most publishers use the same print for US & Canada, and on paperbacks they list MSRP as something like "$9.95 US, $13.95 CA". That was true in about 1990, but it's $1 US : $0.95 CA today!

In 2009, $1 AUS = $0.60 US Today it's almost 1:1. $80-90 AUS for a game that's $60 US wasn't too bad in 2009, but now it *seems* horrible in comparison.

On the up side, the Australian dollar is kicking ass against most foreign currencies right now, so Australian travelers are getting great deals these days.
  It's not like there was 40% deflation in the Australian currency, though, so you no one is going to be too sympathetic. Software may be weirdly priced, but other physical imports should be cheaper. Probably not the best for the domestic tourism industry, though...

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38170952)

Steam's exchange rate fixing just illustrates the problem even better as secondary Steam resellers like g2play.net moved in to make a business on top of the regional price differences.

Just because Gabe is aware of the problems doesn't mean he has to have already fixed them everywhere, especially if you consider he can hardly make all decisions just by himself. He has to listen to publishers too.

Re:Hmmm (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38170984)

You can (mostly) blame the supply chain for that one. In order to preserve their business model, distributors and retailers (both online and brick-and-mortar) demand things like region-locking and region-specific pricing to make sure that digital copies or physical copies from other regions are no more appealing than the ones they are distributing. Physical distribution would likely need to be cut completely out of the content delivery model for anything to change, and the chances of that happening in the current global market could be described as "a cold day in hell" for a large variety of reasons (broadband penetration, bandwidth caps, consumers who will not buy digital copies out of preference/principle, etc.).

Beyond that, there are also laws in several countries that might require a customized version be sold to avoid breaking laws (Germany's violence laws come to mind). There's also the issue of using reduced price points in less affluent countries in order to boost number of units sold, which circles back around to the previous argument.

Re:Hmmm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171168)

And yet the Muslims continue to eat the shit out of the asses of other men and dogs. They bow to their faggot liar fake god and smoke cocks. Muslims are disgraceful and asshole.
 
Fuck Mohammad. Fuck Allah. Fuck Islam!!!!!

Re:Hmmm (1)

j_sp_r (656354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171298)

20% VAT versus 0% sales tax explains a big part of it, still 10% more expensive than in the US depending on the exchange rate (1 Euro is about 1.3 USD).

Too true (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38170804)

I was about to buy a copy of GTA IV on Steam during the sale they've got going. With credit card in hand, I found out in some reviews that the PC version requires Games for Windows Live for saving and installs SecuROM. Dealbreaker right there and I never purchased.

Re:Too true (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171000)

Yea whats that all about Gabe?

He's too busy being fat obviously.

Re:Too true (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171054)

I was about to buy a copy of GTA IV on Steam during the sale they've got going. With credit card in hand, I found out in some reviews that the PC version requires Games for Windows Live for saving and installs SecuROM. Dealbreaker right there and I never purchased.

Yeah, GTA4 requires you to log into Steam, then asks you to log into some Rockstar thing, then requires you to log into GFWL. It's an absolute abomination, which is why I now check very carefully for a GFWL infestation before I buy any games on Steam.

Best part is that after you've logged into Steam and then skipped the Rockstar login and then started the game, GFWL will demand to update, which forces you to exit the game and do the whole thing again. What were Rockstar thinking?

Re:Too true (2)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171152)

Is Games for Windows Live actually required? My steam account made me create a local profile for the last Batman game, but it was local to my computer. There was no connection to Microsoft's computers. It was actually kinda annoying because it took a few moments for me to figure out why I couldn't play Street Fighter 4 online even though I was signed into GFWL, and then get signed up for an online profile.

For what it's worth, GFWL does an awesome job matching me up with players on SF4. The service does have some merits. Also steam launches & logs in automatically when I start a game. The only thing that's annoying is the Rock star log in. Yeah, that's nuts. They should just use the Microsoft GFWL API & Login for Pete's sake. There's really no reason not to at that point. Burnout Paradise did the same thing and it was annoying there too.

Re:Too true (4, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171180)

You have to create an account and log in if you want to save your game. Not because it saves your game 'in the cloud', but because it refuses to let you save if you aren't logged in.

It's yet another layer of DRM, and is the reason why I doubt I'll ever buy another Rockstar game.

Well, that and the fact that GTA4 is boring as fsck compared to Saints Row 2.

Re:Too true (0)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171242)

fsck

What could that word be, I wonder? It's a complete mystery!

Re:Too true (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171512)

It's not one word, but rather an abbreviation. "FSCK" stands for "File System ChecK" and is the Unix and Unix-like operating systems' equivalent of the old SCANDISK.EXE for Windows. "Boring as fsck" means "as boring as watching the computer make slow progress through a file system check, methodically testing volume structures and clusters and blocks for errors." The fsck routine often requires unmounting a disk to perform maintenance, and the system may not be very interactive, and thus boring for the user, if the main system disk is unmounted. Less computer-literate people picked up this expression, but in a corrupt form, much as children may with error acquire knowledge from superior elders or barbarians may crudely imitate more civilized nations. Thus we find the underclass saying "boring as fuck" instead of "boring as fsck." The proliferation of this error points to a degeneration in society, an apostasy from the golden era in which Slashdotters ruled the world and a fall into one where the zombie-like hordes of HuffPo and FoxNews openly display their ignorance without the shame their ancestors would have rightly felt. You can help reverse that decline, however, and together we can take back our nation and our world, if you promulgate this truthful narrative of history to the more credulous of the savages.

Re:Too true (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171526)

It's an acronym-ish. It means, "Filesystem Check." Which is a boring, utilitarian thing computers have to do every so often. And if done incorrectly, can cause the very problems it's looking for...

Re:Too true (5, Informative)

RsG (809189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171256)

Actually no, I'm gonna chime in here as another person who owns Arkham City and does not have a live account. Your statement is incorrect.

What happens instead is, you get prompted to log into GFWL, and can click "cancel" to just work offline. Save game still works, no features lost. You can't do online scores, but who cares, really? Dunno if it'll require a login for DLC, but I rarely bother with that anyway. And, just to be clear on this point, I'm currently a quarter way through the game, have never made a live account (I dislike Microsoft), have saved plenty of times and am playing a non-pirated, bought off of steam version of the game.

I don't know where you got your information, but it's either out of date, was never correct in the first place, or something got misunderstood along the way.

Re:Too true (1)

RsG (809189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171264)

(Crap, I just realized you might be talking about a different game; I responded as if you were replying to the GP about Arkham City, but now I suspect you were referring to GTA4. My bad if I misunderstood.)

Re:Too true (5, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171534)

This is why I think Good Old Games is the true hero in all of this. They have a no compromise policy- if you want to sell games on their site, you have to sell it 100% DRM free (Steam is DRM btw), with a lot of additional free content (like PDF manuals, soundtracks, codes, etc.). You can re download your game as many times as you want, copy it to wherever you want, give it to whomever you want. And with the success of the Witcher and its sequel, they're attracting interest and acquiring more publisher agreements. GoG is the real future, not Steam.

I for one... (-1)

Godskitchen (1017786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170820)

...think DRM is a good thing. It will ensure games continue to be made. DRM discourages piracy and most people have internet connections.

Re:I for one... (4, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170840)

DRM does not stop pirates, they are smart enough to circumvent it, it only annoys legitimate users.

Re:I for one... (4, Insightful)

smellotron (1039250) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171248)

DRM does not stop pirates, they are smart enough to circumvent it

DRM stops "casual" pirates (pre-crack) and it increases the R&D cost for serious pirates. Take the PS3 for example: it was not cracked until the removal of Other OS. Increasing the cost of legitimate hacking and made the USB solution more attractive to research. I do not say this in support of DRM, but any counter-argument must be honest in order to succeed. DRM works for certain definitions of "works", and that angle must be addressed head-on rather than brushed aside.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171286)

Or you could say the PS3 wasn't cracked until the platform picked up steam. Why bother to crack a platform that nobody cares about?

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171306)

You need to correct that. Pirates didn't *bother* to crack the PS3 UNTIL OtherOs was removed. It was then cracked rather easily then after. Every implementation of DRM thusfar has been an abysmal failure. They have all been easily and rapidly broken. DRM is broken from the get go. It does not work. It does not prevent the casual pirate nor the hardcore pirate. Casual pirates wait for the hardcore pirates to crack it then download it from them. It serves no purpose whatsoever as it does not prevent piracy at all. It hardly even slows it down. All it does succeed in doing is infuriating legitimate users and prevent them from buying from your company in the future.

Re:I for one... (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171522)

DRM does not stop casual or any type of pirates, from everything the general public has been told/seen from cracking groups Ubisoft with their draconian DRM was just as fast and easy to crack as every other game ever released.

And the PS3 has nothing to do with it, that is all hardware restrictions.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38170848)

Or, I can just wait for a crack before I install a DRMed game whether I purchased it legitimately or not - with the net result being less DRM related issues.

Re:I for one... (5, Insightful)

zcomuto (1700174) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170860)

I'd say DRM encourages piracy more than anything. I'd rather a game just work, than having to jump through hoops to make it work. If a game has something like Securom, frankly I'd rather pirate than have to deal with it. DRM never works, it will always be cracked. There's no getting around that fact.

In truth I never like pirating, if a company makes a good game I'm of the opinion that they deserve my money, but sometimes they don't make it easy to take. Dreamfall is a noticeable game I remember, I have the boxed copy which uses a disk check, but thankfully there are loads of DRM-free .exe's the pirates have provided.

Re:I for one... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38170866)

I for one like brushing my teeth with dog-shit. It ensures that people I don't want to talk to avoid me. Dog shit also discourages plaque growth due to overwhelming levels of bacteria, and most people have teeth.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38170880)

Hahahaha. Haaaaaahahaa.

I think you're joking , i hope you're joking. It's funny....

Re:I for one... (2)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170886)

Except it doesn't discourage piracy at all. It encourages people to break DRM. Sure most people have internet connections, and they are interested in breaking the DRM, they will use that connection to follow the instructions people post online on how to break that DRM.

Re:I for one... (1)

Godskitchen (1017786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171310)

Does that logic hold true for home security? Should I do away with locks and alarm systems because all it does is "encourage" people to circumvent these safe guards? DRM serves a similar purpose to locks/alarm systems. It would prevent, or at least discourage, people who don't have the technical savvy to get around it from pirating (most people I know who pirate software are just kids/young adults who don't want to pay for anything).

Re:I for one... (5, Insightful)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171410)

Let me translate that:
Locks on homes prevent people you don't want from coming in
DRM prevents people from accessing the content

Only problem is... the content providers WANT people accessing the content. Locks on homes are like having a firewall, patched software and some sort of AV software on your computer... the house would work just well without the security add-ons, and so would your computer. The add-ons make it more secure.

With DRM, the entire idea is to prevent access.

Now, a real counter argument is that if people are grabbing pirated copies of the content, there is nothing to prove that the content is still secure and hasn't been monkeyed with by the pirates, to, say, add botnet software, a keylogger, or something else nefarious.
Then again, some of the DRM software includes keylogger and/or botnet-like hooks that the Bad Guys can leverage, so it's probably a wash.

If your home security system only worked when you didn't have a cold, and only worked for some members of your household, or otherwise prevented people with the right to access the home from doing so in an accustomed manner, you'd find that security feature hobbled in some manner pretty quickly. Then you get the appearance of security without the benefit... just like with DRM.

Re:I for one... (1)

Godskitchen (1017786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171488)

Don't quite follow. If I have a key/alarm code I can access my house. If I have a valid copy of a piece of software, I can access the software. Seems simple to me.

Re:I for one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171446)

s/don't want/can't afford/

Re:I for one... (1)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170938)

Honestly, DRM keeps me from spending a single cent on computer games. As a musician and VJ, I need a responsive low-latency system and full control over my hardware. The unwanted crap that almost any game will install is just unacceptable for me. So it's no games for me. And for pretty much anyone who has to rely on his machine it's just the same.

Re:I for one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171162)

Yeah, it certainly helps me run those games I bought a few years back, especially the DRM that's not Windows 7 compatible.

Re:I for one... (0)

Godskitchen (1017786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171344)

Being modded down because people don't agree; cute. It think ya'll need to read the moderation guidelines again.

Ah, Purchasable? (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170870)

Sorry but the only instances of pirated games I have ever seen (and btw didn't download) were cracked versions of a game that could be downloaded for free. I haven't seen a site offering to sell me someone else's game for a fee. I agree its a matter of convenience in a lot of cases - when something cool is out people want access to it now - but I think it must be a much less common thing that people buy the game from a pirate. I have never associated piracy with a separate sale arrangement, just people who want something for free, or simply want it where its not available or (as noted by an Aussie above) its grossly overpriced and people feel ripped off.

Re:Ah, Purchasable? (4, Insightful)

vAltyR (1783466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171138)

Sorry but the only instances of pirated games I have ever seen (and btw didn't download) were cracked versions of a game that could be downloaded for free. I haven't seen a site offering to sell me someone else's game for a fee. I agree its a matter of convenience in a lot of cases - when something cool is out people want access to it now - but I think it must be a much less common thing that people buy the game from a pirate. I have never associated piracy with a separate sale arrangement, just people who want something for free, or simply want it where its not available or (as noted by an Aussie above) its grossly overpriced and people feel ripped off.

The pirates charge less than the game companies. The fact that the price is $0.00 doesn't really matter; you're still paying less than if you bought it legally. If I were to make a bunch of copies of a game disc, and go around handing it out to people and paying them $5 (note, *I'm* paying them to "buy" my product), then I'm selling the game at an even lower price than the pirates. Yes, it would be incredibly stupid to do that, but that's not the point; the point is, just because the customer isn't paying doesn't mean they're not sales. I think Gabe's got it spot-on. In economics terms, the pirates are competition; competition who is selling a better product, more widely available, and cheaper. You can't beat competition like that by crippling your product even further.

Re:Ah, Purchasable? (2)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171212)

One can refer to piracy as a purchase, as a humorous euphemism. For example: "I just bought the new COD at the Pirate Bay."

It's Just Wrong (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38170872)

I think there is way too much justification and rationalization for piracy, but it really is all about getting something for nothing and knowing they won't be caught.

As someone who is a software developer, I know how much time and work goes into creating these products, and I think its simply just wrong that people pirate software.

Maybe it is because I'm a good Christian, but I take the commandment "Thou shalt not steal" very seriously.

Re:It's Just Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171086)

And what about all the other parts of the bible - like keeping slaves?

Re:It's Just Wrong (5, Funny)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171544)

But Jesus was the first pirate. He "copied" bread and fish for tons of people who wanted it. Doesn't that mean that good Christians should advocate sharing and copying, or as you refer to it, "piracy?"

He does not know Brazil... (4, Informative)

CmdrEdem (2229572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170874)

here prices are sky right and population's consumption power is not first world, mainly because of taxes that double the game's cost for the consumer. Prices here are not as bad as Australian's as far as I know, but it's the major player into piracy decision making, besides the growing culture of "only dumb people pay for what you can get for free".

Re:He does not know Brazil... (2)

hjf (703092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170948)

Same in Argentina. Why does a game have to cost $40 in USA and $120 in Argentina? (No, no country has 200% tax).

Re:He does not know Brazil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171050)

Same in Argentina. Why does a game have to cost $40 in USA and $120 in Argentina? (No, no country has 200% tax).

If it's considered a "luxury" by your country's legislature, then it may, indeed, suffer from a 200% tariff.

Re:He does not know Brazil... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171432)

After you've added in the corporate-imposed fees (taxes by corporations) for blank media, corporate-imposed fees to cover the overheads of DRM research, development, deployment, litigation and compensation for damage inflicted on consumers, and all the other corporate-imposed fees that have nothing to do with legitimate costs and legitimate profit margins, you've already probably got a 200% tariff. It's merely that because it's by an unelected body with nobody to answer to that it doesn't bother people.

But, yeah, the ruling elite in some countries may well impose special "luxury gaming" taxes as well as any import duty, sales tax/VAT, corporate tax on the importer, etc. No individual tax need be that high for a large enough list of them to become significant.

Re:He does not know Brazil... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171088)

I'm Brazilian and I use Steam all the time. The Orange Box costs $10, and gets you HL2, HL2: ep1, HL2: ep2, Portal and TF2. Pirating these would cost me much more.

Unfortunately, I don't think enough people know about Steam. Store prices are outrageous.

Well, duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38170888)

The last game I ever bought was Riven (so that gives you an idea of how long ago). I was planning on installing it on a sub-mini notebook (predecessor to what is now called a netbook) and playing it during a long trans-Pacific flight. I did so based upon the assurance that it could be loaded onto my hard drive.

After loading the disks onto my hard drive and trying to run it, I was delivered a rude message that it would not run without disk 1 in the DVD drive. Uh, the whole reason why I loaded it onto my hard drive was so I wouldn't need the (external and requiring AC power) DVD drive to play the stupid game.

At a friend's suggestion, I downloaded a hacked version from a Russian site. Fortunately that hacked version didn't carry any malware. I didn't feel the slightest amount of guilt; I had BOUGHT the damn game after all.

After I returned home, having solved Riven on the flights, I deleted it. I never bought, nor played, another PC game again.

Steam has all of these (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38170898)

Region locking/filtering, region based pricing (CoD Black Ops is a whopping $99.99 where I reside), DRM, etc

Irony of ironies, it used not to have them when the service started (same catalogue and pricing everywhere, Steam as the only authentification method).

What is his point? That he is a supporter of piracy by making sure the main reasons for it are found on Steam as well?

Re:Steam has all of these (0)

sstamps (39313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171072)

No kidding.

My first thought when I RTFA was "no shit, sherlock".

What you said became pretty much my second thought. Heights of Hubris and Hypocrisy in one message, I think.

Re:Steam has all of these (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171100)

Steam as the only authentification method).

What is his point? That he is a supporter of piracy by making sure the main reasons for it are found on Steam as well?

I don't believe any of these things apply to Valve's own games, other than Steam itself, which is pretty tame as DRM goes. He's only responsible for his own games, not those he sells for others.

Finally somebody understanding piracy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38170960)

The problem has never been about price. Piracy is about a need in the market that has not been fulfilled.

Some people see an unfulfilled need in the market as a business opportunity. But unfortunately most of the old media only see it as a threat to their old business business models.

Re:Finally somebody understanding piracy (3, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171508)

Business models aren't even that much of a factor. A trivial case in point -- there are lots of cult TV programs out on DVD in Britain that cannot be obtained anywhere else because of region locking and formatting -- and will never be made available anywhere else. That is not a business model, unless bleeding small markets dry then deliberately killing them is a business model. To me, that's simple perversity.

The US is more... interesting... in that respect. Disney, for example, have released DVDs of some of their US television shows ONLY overseas and not within the US at all (or, when they have, only under extreme pressure and half a decade after everywhere else). Again, what kind of business model is that? It's a blatant attempt to kill a market, which is no business practice I am willing to recognize as a model of anything (except perhaps a Death Star).

Multifaceted (5, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170992)

Having a service problem doesn't mean there isn't a pircing problem as well. The three biggest issues IMO are pricing, service, and respect, although I'm sure other issues play a role as well. However, the respect problem isn't the 'pirates don't respect intellectual property' garbage, but rather, the lack of respect for customers from copyright holders. The FBI warnings on DVDs being a good example of disrespect that only affects those that actually BUY the product.

Re:Multifaceted (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171116)

game company's just like to smash the pirate button rather then admit there own mistakes ea pulling there games from steam to use there own i wanna be stream but with even more drm nobody whats basically wanting control. cd sales are dead for the same reason why most people have turned to steam it has the least amount of drm works offline etc. ubisoft a;ways online drm killed sales of 2 good games on the pc but blame pirates for crap sales. all content providers have lost there minds.

Re:Multifaceted (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171430)

The pirates have little cost except servers and bandwidth and every incentive to steal. It's still theft whether you agree or not. There's no debate on that issue. It doesn't matter if you respect intellectual property, when you don't pay for it legitimately, it's theft. You can equivocate all you want. That's your moral hazard and you have to live with yourself. Just don't whine when they arrest you.

Pricing is a factor too .... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171016)

When the pricing of a software package gets to be too outrageous (not in terms of value but simply compared to how much cash one has on hand), then pricing becomes a significant issue as well. For example, a graphical WYSIWYG HTML editor, a graphics editor, a text layout tool, a math package, etc. each for $400 makes it quite difficult to afford the software. Most people are willing to lay down some sizeable dough for one program but, when you need to lay out $400 for your office package and 10 others each of which will need upgrades for $200 in several years it gets to be an investment that is not very workable.

OTOH, if the same software were available 24/7 for immediate download (with no support unless paid for) for a much reduced price -- say $50, the quantities sold will be much higher and the software company can reduce its costs by eliminating Best Buy and a host of other stores that take 50% off the top anyway. Additionally, there is no packaging, manuals, DVDs, etc. that need to be printed / burned nor shipping. The costs for the software company will go down and their sales will go up. I might be even tempted to try software that I wouldn't ordinarily buy simply because the software is not cost prohibitive.

The Apple Appstore is really a good example of this. Yes, the software is underpriced compared to an office package on your office PC but it does drive home that you don't need to charge $40 for a game and you can do it for a $1.00 instead -- a 40 fold price reduction. Oh, yea, Angry Birds has about 500 Million downloads now .... If Photoshop were $10 - $20 and available for instant download, I suspect that Adobe could make a lot more than they do. Especially when they double charge you by printing the "manual" in book form and then your having to buy it from the Last Bookstore in America.....

Primate behavior at it worst... (4, Insightful)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171044)

Piracy is a natural response to people who want to "CONTROL". The issue is not about IP, its not about getting something for nothing. Time and time again research, the research generated by the very vendors of IP, says people are happy to pay for something of value. That they simply want what they want the way the want it. It is the unbridled need, addiction to, the control of something that has become the crux of the piracy debate.

The irony is, that by punishing consumers for the fear of being robbed, precipitates the actual robbery. People just ask to get their music, movie or game, simply, easily, and accessibly from any technology they possess. It is the draconian measures which now threaten to destroy (SOPA) the very conduit our collective futures rely on (the Internet), that is a clear extension of the avarice and need to control. These people have enjoyed decades of complete control, allowing an infrastructure of suppliers and middlemen to rape artists at one end and consumers at the other. With the advent of growing technology, old paradigms fail. For these people, the answer is not to learn how to leverage the amazing power of the new technology, but strangle it so they can bring back the bad old days. We need to make it clear to our representatives in no uncertain terms, that the future demands that the internet be free, broad and democratic.

Re:Primate behavior at it worst... (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171304)

Write your Congresspeople on this. I wrote Bob Casey(PA) on this, and he seems to be currently in favor of ProtectIp. I told him that it is a matter of free speech. He wrote back telling me it isn't a matter of free speech. I told him that his own website is infringing on the ProtectIp bill because he links to Facebook which in turn links to copyrighted material. Nearly every website on the Internet is infringing if they have a link outside their website. Enforcement isn't a matter of whether or not a site is illegal, it is "Who gets control to shut down any website they want?" This is one of those things that makes or breaks me voting someone back in, it should do this for you too.

More lies from gabe... (2, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171052)

... sorry but pricing is a major issue. How this man cannot say that it is't when games go on sale for 75% off on his site frequently seems ludicrous. The big things effecting modern games are:

1) Game quality
2) DRM
3) Buyers avoiding paying more then $15-20 for DRM laden crap they don't own.

Lots of people avoid buying games entirely because of DRM and low game quality. There are those of us who buy games at extremely deep discounts (5-15$ at most) on steam because of DRM we refuse to pay full price for DRM infested games that we don't own but we do want to support PC developers and have few alternatives since many small developers release on steam.

Gabe has done a lot of marketing to brainwash people and get people to thinking he's a good guy but he's not, if he was the good guy games would deprecate their DRM after a year and the exe's unhooked from steam. The purpose of steam is to datamine users for 'business reasons' and he's putting this massive spin his datamining operation. This means more metrics driven game development as if we didn't have this enough of this alread with the constant clones every year.

Quit whining, you sound like an entitled brat. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171530)

Buyers avoiding paying more then $15-20 for DRM laden crap they don't own.

Yeah, there's some serious fucked-up valuation going on here.

It is extremely strange that people who will happily pay $30 on going to a movie, $60 on eating out, potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars on a vacation - things that by their very nature you can only possess for a very limited period of time - will then complain that $30 is "too expensive" for a game that provides many hours of fun, simply because in theory they might no longer be able to play it if in many years' time a DRM server is hypothetically switched off without a no-DRM patch being released.

I mean, seriously? Even if Steam's servers were turned off tomorrow, the games I've played on Steam would still represent some of the best value for money of any of the entertainment/leisure purchases I've made in the last few years.

Seriously, try applying your logic to a restaurant some time. Go in there and announce that because you bought a full-price meal there five years ago, they owe you more food whenever you demand it. When they try to explain that it doesn't work that way, accuse them of being immoral and denying you rights that you self-evidently possess.

Enjoy explaining your actions to the cops when they arrive. Then grow up and stop acting so fucking entitled.

Also, I am using far too many emphasis tags. Sorry about that. Your dumbness is rubbing off on me.

Standard excuses . . . . (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171058)

Standard excuses for not paying for this or any other game (pick any that apply):
1) I will pirate it first and then pay only if it is PERFECT. As in, every thing else in life that I will consume and then not pay for if I decided I didn't like it after the fact.
2) My pirating is good for the software developer (more people playing, even without paying is good, it gives them lots of free publicity). Piracy increases sales! I am doing them a HUGE favor.
3) I am a cheap ass.
4) There is no such thing as copyright (or shouldn't be). Other people should create art, music, games, films, and entertainment for me as a favor and fund it out of their own pocket.
5) Piracy is a fact in the gaming world. Get used to it. It's the developer's own fault because they should have taken it into account in their business model (besides, they should have been working on this full time as an open source program for free anyway).
6) You charge too much. And if it is only $10, or $5, or even $1, then pirating it shouldn't be that much of a burden to the developer.
7) I do not want to try the demo because the only meaningful way to try out a game is to try out the ENTIRE game.
8) Who cares if there is 99.9% piracy, all the developers need is to make just enough money to fund developing another game. They don't need to get rich (after all, I'm not).
9) "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
10) Because I have never had to create, develop and market a game and I don't have a clue as to what it takes to run a business.
11) It is just normal human nature to take the product of others' labor without compensating them.
12) Pirating something NEVER results in a lost sale. Not even when spread over thousands of people.
13) Because copyright law that protects GPL software is no more to be observed than copyright that protects content.
14) Personal honor is such an outmoded concept anyway.

Re:Standard excuses . . . . (2, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171314)

Other people should create art, music, games, films, and entertainment for me as a favor and fund it out of their own pocket.

Not aware of any pirates who want to force or coerce other people into creating things for them for free.

10) Because I have never had to create, develop and market a game and I don't have a clue as to what it takes to run a business.

Never heard anyone use that as an excuse.

12) Pirating something NEVER results in a lost sale. Not even when spread over thousands of people.

Not really aware of any that think that, either (Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough?).

Of course, all pirates are evil little thieves that desire nothing more than to see developers starve. It's almost like how all people who like copyright are corporate shills.

Yes, yessss (4, Insightful)

harvey the nerd (582806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171084)

Newell said that the "service problems" are the primary problem. He's right.
I will not buy region locked disks precisely because my family lives and works between 3 regions. Region locking is an absolute ripoff, at least for us.

Anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer
Is anything less ever acceptable in this day and age?

Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty."
He's being polite. DRM is mostly a form of defective products and sales fraud.

Price *is* an issue, it needs to be reasonable. But I won't even think about that until *all of the above is out of the way* or your "product" simply doesn't exist to me.

Re:Yes, yessss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171258)

I buy and let my son buy games from Steam when he sees a good deal. Expensive games? He likes to "try it first" and then buy it, when it is on sale.

I can attest to this (5, Informative)

cowdung (702933) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171160)

I live in Latin America and have the following options for movies/music/games:

1. Get it on DVD from a pirate (approx cost $1) [ILLEGAL]
2. Rent a pirate copy (approx cost $2) [still technically ILLEGAL]
3. Buy it on iTunes (cost $1-$4).. but I can only do this because I've figure out how to get around regional limitations [psuedo-LEGAL]
4. Buying on Netflix/Amazon is not an option [N/A]
5. Going to threater (movies only).. sometimes, when/if it arrives at a timely basis (cost: $4-$5) [LEGAL]
6. Buy the legal DVD (cost: $30-$100) [LEGAL]

As you can see a great option is iTunes/Netflix/Amazon but the industry has systematically cut off those options from us. Also the legal DVDs are sold at much higher prices than in the US.

So do you wonder why there is so much piracy around the world??

There's no viable affordable legal option.

Of course it's a service problem... (0)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171202)

So let's say The Industry sets up a system where you can legally get, for a fee

  • any movie/TV show/piece of music ever made
  • including those currently in the theaters (delayed by, at most, 2 weeks - let's let them have that much, shall we?)
  • at high qualities, specifically targeting devices (why download the 9GB 1080p MKV with all the audio tracks, subtitles, etc. if your target is an iPhone, right?), including the originals
  • available at any time you want
  • both streaming (if applicable) and for download
  • without DRM
  • without in-content advertising
  • without watermarking
  • without piracy warnings
  • including any disc/box art, etc.
  • set up deals to interface it with e.g. IMDB, popular songtext sites, YouTube, etc.
  • allow unrestricted (except to the content) public access
  • set up an easy 'account' system, let people log in using facebook (I dunno, people seem to like it, I guess), Google, whatever. - but don't require it (one-off buyers)
  • don't track people's purchasing behavior other than for the purposes of recommending further content
  • allow unrestricted access to APIs to easily embed e.g. lists of favorite movies, etc.
  • allow previews
  • price it at, say, $0.99/song, $1.50/TV episode, $3/movie
  • allow payment by whatever form is in popular demand - Credit Cards, PayPal, Google Checkout, whatever.

Personally, I'd make use of such a service immediately.

However, an entrepreneuring Pirate will just duplicate the above (in no small part helped by it - why cam/rip/whatever if anybody can download, legally, and supply?) and offer an additional service: Free.

Yup. Sounds like a service problem to me.

Re:Of course it's a service problem... (4, Interesting)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171380)

I agree completely.

Check this out.... I played bf2 so seriously and competitively that my clan has won a world championship (TGL 8v8). My clan, including me, has been awaiting bf3 for years. It recently came out, and I still don't own it.... they require you dl and install EA's clone of steam and run it alongsde the game, and then the server browser uses an external web browser...... uhhhh.. no.

I won't accept that trash. Game looks awesome, and I very highly anticipated it (having spent thousands of hours on the predecessors)..... but they're asking too much of me. I will pay an extra $5 on the price if that mde them happy, but in truth they want more from me than I'm willing to give.

I know I'm not the only one to hold out.

Re:Of course it's a service problem... (1)

j_sp_r (656354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171424)

If the above service is provided, it has a huge advantage over pirate content to most people
- No need to download using "torrents" from a shady site with shady advertising
- Avoids viruses/trojan from the less reliable file sharing sites ( not a big problem now, but that could be "arranged" by the power-that-be)

I think the price can easily be
$1 a song
$3 a TV episodes (how much does a single viewer bring in in advertising fees? Might add a selection $1,00 with advertising, $3,00 without)
$5 - $6 (50% of a movie ticket seems reasonable, smaller screen, worse sound system). Multiple views allowed.

$1 - $2 for a one-off streaming solution to your whatever-player connected to the TV (Same pricing as renting a redbox DVD).

And a netflix-like streaming service for older movies.

Do not try to limit personal sharing by DRM, but distribute huge, high-quality sites over a really fat internet pipe that can be streamed, so the price you pay is partly for the convenience of not having to copy the file, walk to your friend, copy it to his computer and watch it.

pot-kettle-black (1)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171318)

this is funny because a lot of people pirate steam games because they don't like being treated like thieves first.
a pirated version of a steam game can be played at any time. not when you have a internet connection and for a lot longer then what their off-line mode allows.
a pirated steam game is not forced to update which in turn breaks mods like what happened in skryim.
a pirated steam game will be playable longer to as you will not loose the game when the steam servers disable said game.

It's also a quality problem. (3, Funny)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171332)

One of the main reasons I'll download a cracked game is to try it out. Nobody releases demos anymore, and you can't trust reviews with all the goddamned shills out there. I did it for SC2, because I didn't know if it would be my thing. Well, sure enough I liked it, and bought it online the next day.

Case in point: Need For Speed - The Run. I knew it was coming from EA Black Box, responsible for all the "wigger" installments of the NFS franchise. Installed, played for about 10 minutes, deleted. Had I paid $70 for it, I would have put it in a box, shit on it, and Fedexed it to Trip Hawkins' home address with the note "Fixed it for you".

So, yes, Gabe is right, 'service" aka availability is a primary issue, and while price itself is not the most important factor, VALUE is. A staggering majority of major-brand games today lack value. They cost more than they're worth. In that sense, NFS The Run held very little value for me, because it's a shit game produced by a cut-rate studio and certainly does not belong in the same price bracket as, say, Skyrim, Arkham City or even F1 2011.

Rocksmith (1)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171364)

I would LOVE to buy Rocksmith.

However, it is not only not for sale in europe - the american version does not run on european XBOXes, unlike most of the XBOX games available.

Conclusion: I will buy it in the us, much cheaper, for sure, than they will sell when (or if) they release it in Europe, and then use a pirated version downloaded from somewhere in order to actually play it on my own console.

Would be much easier it they stopped bitching and just sold the damn thing - either here, or unlocked.

Gabe is right... (2)

Holammer (1217422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171366)

Almost. It's nice to buy games on steam, but unless there is a sale you pay a premium for games. Take MW3 for example, it costs 59,99€ on Steam and I just ordered it for 43€ with shipping included from a brick and mortar store and that is ass backwards. One would assume that digital distribution would have the potential to be so much cheaper than a physical product, but in Gabe's magical lala land prices are higher and they hardly ever drop at all. While I'm already mentioning MW3, lets look at Black Ops, it still costs 59.99€ on Steam but at the same B&M store I can buy it for 27€ with shipping. There are few real perks for buying the games on Steam, unless you have lots of money to burn and you really want a 'genuine' TF2 item.

True, but... (1, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171394)

What he says is spot on, but I think pricing is still a problem. $60-80 for a game is simply too much. I won't pay that, and certainly not when I have to put up with onerous DRM, micro payments to make the game worthwhile or allow me to be competitive online, and in game advertisements. You can't have it all; I'm looking at you, EA.

So that's why I take what I want for free. It's too expensive, and there's enough of a disconnect between the legal definition of theft and copyright infringement that I feel it's an ethical choice to make to say I'm not going to support the current copyright model, I'm going to undermine it by making it less profitable.

Eventually when things change maybe I'll start participating in the market again, but copyright, patents, "IP" was meant to be a two way street. Lobbyists and interest groups have thrown up road blocks on the side of the street that flows back to the public good. So I feel no responsibility to hold up my end.

The value of open. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38171420)

Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty."

Of course charging for something diminishes it's value. Just look at open source.

My pirate years (3, Interesting)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38171528)

From my personal experience, I'd say piracy is a pricing AND a service problem. During my student years, I pirated almost every game except a select few I absolutely wanted to have. 50€ was alot of money for me, and downloading something from the internet was more comfortable than getting a copy from a store and sticking the CD in every time I wanted to play. I didn't have Steam back then.

Now I'm using Steam and have a job. I've probably spent around 200-300€ on games this year, taking up many of the special discount offers on Steam, even buying games "legit" that I have pirated CDs lying around. Steam makes it easy, and now that I have the money, I don't think twice about spending 20€ on a game every month or so. From this experience I'd say that piracy has nothing todo with greed, bad intent or trickery. It's just plain lazyness and circumstance. And DRM is a waste of time that only makes things worse for paying customers.

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