Seven Ways to Stop Piracy WITHOUT DRM

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dgrmouse

You're OK with being unable to reinstall and revisit games after a system upgrade. That's great, but you're maybe not in the majority here. You're also completely failing to imagine some scenarios that are important to families. As a parent or owner of a shared computer, I'm sure the situation would be more complicated. I'm sure that it can't be much fun trying to get two boys to share one Steam account or telling them that they can't install BF3 because Origin and Punkbuster aggressively scan daddy's work and financial documents. Giving them their own accounts on the machine doesn't help, because the games all require administrative rights and use services to bypass reasonable authentication controls. I'm so glad to hear that DRM doesn't bother you, but the lengths that publishers go to in this age has crossed the threshold into unethical and even illegal territory and it needs to end.

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aferrara50

what they're doing is far from illegal. We claim more rights to privacy than we have. Actually read our laws. There is very little privacy that we are guaranteed, not really any.

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dgrmouse

You're wrong. Sony has been prosecuted successfully by at least one state DA for its DRM. The rights that producers are claiming in their EULAs are often at odds with governing state laws. In Florida, for example, no EULA can compel you to forgo your rights as a consumer. It's called an implicit warranty instead of a guarantee, but you're still wrong.

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aferrara50

Nearly all laws can be contracted around except for those specifically laid out in the constitution, discrimination laws, and subject matter jurisdiction.

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dgrmouse

You're crazy. Contract law is pretty well-defined, and although you're free to draft and endorse any contract you wish, it doesn't create bindings that supersede law. EULAs, in particular, are often viewed as contracts of adhesion and contain "unconscionable" terms, both being factors that weigh against them in legal contest.

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Eoraptor

And yet the courts uphold them time and time again because while the law makes everyone equal, justice goes to the highest bidder.

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aferrara50

with the exception of federal courts that is since higher standards are expected of attorneys that are willing to take a case that far (should pass client off to another if you know not qualified or are likely to be sanctioned). At the appeals level you're either paying an arm and a leg or the other party is going to on your behalf (if you're the plaintiff)

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dgrmouse

I detest the "perks" idea. Every piece of software out these days seems to feel entitled to reach out to the internet on a whim. I don't want my games to phone home every time I fire them up, and single-use codes enable this behavior. EA is the worst offender, with games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect requiring one to login every time the game is launched in order to access purchased content. They are single-player games, for God's sake - I don't need "social" or "community" features. And, please, don't try to tell me that single-use codes are an effort to fight piracy. That's a load of garbage. The true goal is to extract the maximum amount of dollars from your pocket, with profiling for marketing purposes being a close second.

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Eoraptor

+ infinity

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win7fanboi

+1

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poee

Cheap broadband is the one of the main reasons so many steal games and apps: it's easy and fast. Back when we were all on dial-up, piracy was only for the extremely determined.

But even faster bandwidth will eventually fix this issue for the most part. When our bandwidth gets fast enough where we can play games off of servers in the cloud, with the same experience we get playing games installed on our PC, then how will pirates steal games? Developers will simply refuse to make versions that will run locally. This is the future of digital entertainment. Rampant piracy and the ineffectiveness of DRM will insure it. It will just take some time to get to the speeds needed to make playing remote "installs" as good as local installs.

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silk42

Let's not forget that when we used dial-up Internet, we were playing games that came on floppy disks. Even though the speed was slower, the size of games were also much smaller. I guess we could argue your theory from the other perspective and solve piracy by making games that are huge in size and thus nobody will pirate it because it takes too much time and effort to download it. I like the idea of having the option to play games remotely hosted as I would be able to play the games from any machine I had access, but as I argued in an earlier post, what happens when those companies go out of business? At least today, if a company I bought a game from goes out of business, they don't come to my house and take all the media that I already bought.

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OccultAssassin

Worst idea I have ever heard. Just because the internet has faster speeds higher bandwidths is a main reason for piracy. Piracy has been going on since before the internet and will continue with or without its assistance.

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jaymz668

Piracy was rampant on the commodore 64, the amiga, etc. Well before the "internet" there were BBSes with pirated games, groups of people would hack games and then send those copied games on discs everywhere.

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dgrmouse

You're so very wrong. Back when a fast modem was 4800 baud, game developers were already experimenting with a whole host of schemes in hopes of curtailing piracy. Look at some of the scene-related stuff, like group names/origins and even file formats (.nfo, .diz, etc), and you'll see that a lot of it harkens back to the day of BBS systems and sneakernet floppy swapping. The difference is that developers today, unfortunately, feel empowered to turn your computer into a black box.

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Jaeger_CDN

Ahh I fondly remember the days of C-64 and 4/5ths of my game inventory being bootlegs since I was teenager without a credit card, a car, or money for that matter. I think my folks still have a few boxes of my old C-64 stuff with the code wheels, code pages with the red plastic gel and manuals/logs with code words. Back then, if you bought a game it was yours and could sell them in a computer store on consignment to pay for your next game unlike today when you simply own a licence and are still considered a thief even if you paid for it (looking at you Ubi).

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JohnP

And the answer is ... Steam. I bought a TON of games over the holidays during the Great Steam Discount. I get DRM free games, I get a great price, I get software updates without having to go root around for them, I get pristine downloads without worrying about physical copies or keys, and I get the satisfaction of paying for the game. Shoot, I might never even play some of these games but a $5 a pop for some oldies, I get my money back by just playing the tutorials. Its a great win for me...

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silk42

What happens if Steam goes out of business? It wasn't that long ago that I bought several songs from Walmart's online music store. It used DRM and several years later they shut down that business. The next time I tried to listen to that music I couldn't because the system used to connect to their servers and validate the DRM no longer worked. My options were to either pirate what I had already bought or buy the music again from a different source. How often does this need to happen before people realize that this DRM system doesn't work for legitimate customers? In fact, I might argue that the use of DRM is what turns legitimate customers into pirates. Treat customers fairly and they'll remain customers, but if you step on them and treat them like pirates...well... they might as well become them.

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bling581

"What happens if Steam goes out of business?"

A valid concern, but with the success they have I seriously doubt it will happen. If it does it won't be for many, many years.

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silk42

I thought that same thing about Walmart before buying my music, but that didn't stop it from happening. It doesn't matter when or why, the fact that I bought something that can at any time be taken away from me is an issue that I have problems with.

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bling581

Well, I can understand why you would think that about a successful store like Walmart, but you have to realize that it's just a sub-category for the store. They can potentially cancel anything if they don't feel it's profitable. On the other hand Steam is basically Valve's main product other than the few games they write. It's not like they're going to just shut it down. They'd have to go out of business first which is not likely to happen.

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dgrmouse

Steam doesn't free you from DRM. There are TONS of games on Steam that use SecurROM, GFWL, proprietary login systems (phoning home), and a whole host of other DRM schemes. Batman: Arkham City, for example, requires GFWL AND SecurROM for the Steam version.

There are a lot of Steam fans, but Steam isn't offering anything special. I'd much prefer DRM-free games where my ability to play isn't dependent on some third party. If the Steam client's features are important, you can always launch the (non-Steam) game through Steam.

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JohnP

As far as I can research, all Steam games are required to remove ALL their DRM before they can be sold on Steam. See if you can find a web page that is NOT someone's opinion (like yours dgmouse) but a solid example. I would really like to know the real answer to this so I will keep looking too...

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dgrmouse

There are so many turds who post here, I kind of feel like you're trying to bait me or something. Anyway, Steam will generally tell you which third-party DRM a game is packing in a prominent location on the game's storefront page. Unfortunately, Steam doesn't count GFWL and many proprietary systems (Asian markets, for example, have some REALLY obnoxious DRM that Steam doesn't generally report). Look just under the Metacritic rating and just above the ESRB rating. A quick glance at the store pages for Batman:AC, GTA:IV, Test Drive Unlimited 2, and other AAA titles will confirm my statements with trivial ease. On the sales page for TDU2, it even states (although nowhere near as conspicuously as it really ought to) that you are limited to four activations - this means that even though the game will be provisioned for your use within Steam indefinitely, your ability to reinstall and operate the game is absolutely controlled by third parties which argue that they have no legal obligation to guarantee your ability to play the game you paid for. Note, too, that the outages that are currently plaguing Ubisoft's DRM-laced games absolutely includes the versions that were sold on Steam. I'm not sure why Steam doesn't mention Ubi's DRM on the store pages of the Ubi games, but it seems dishonest to me - maybe they feel like stating that an internet connection is required is sufficient, I don't know.

ps, what kind of "research" did you really do before deciding to refute me? http://bit.ly/xz7Jcw

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genghiskhen

Reselling a game is not piracy and no amount of song and dance will convince me it is. I can sell a book, a CD, and a game as long as I don't keep a copy.

I never do this.

What happens is DRM intended to stop me from selling a game makes it too difficult for me to play again next year. I forget my login or change email accounts etc.

I don't buy EA games. I don't buy UBISoft games. I RARELY pay $60 for games. I just wait until they are reasonably priced.

I am a successful professional, so I haven't bothered to pirate a game in many years. I don't have much time for gaming, so games I buy are old, well reviewed, and discounted.

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nealtse

In the article, you attempted to reinforce, multiple times, the fallacy that each download equals a lost sale. I think that most of those downloads would be by people who would never have purchased the game in the first place. The reasons for that are worth exploring, but the sliver of the pie of people who were willing to give money for the game, and then decided to just download it instead, is probably about equal with the number of people who downloaded the game, and then bought it outright.

Also, offering the download game for the same price as the boxed makes sense, otherwise you will very deliberately and immediately kill physical distribution. Granted, that may happen soon, but I don't think anyone in the business is in a hurry to rush it. No one will buy the same product for more when given a concurrent cheaper sale. It would just result in either a bidding war until the game's not worth carrying at all, or we just see prices normalize again back at their higher rate. Another point, remember when games were 50$, and now they're 60$ for no reason? They aren't interested in maximizing value for consumers.

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aferrara50

They're $60 bc of inflation. Back in the 90s a n64 game cones out to ~$90 in today's currency valuation. Games have actually gotten cheaper

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Jox

*Also, offering the download game for the same price as the boxed makes sense, otherwise you will very deliberately and immediately kill physical distribution.*

Gotta disagree with you there. The ONLY reason to buy a game via digital download is to save money. If I have to pay the same amount as a boxed version, I'll go to the store and buy the boxed version (assuming I want the game badly enough to warrant buying it at all).

The advantages to the boxed versions are numerous: It doesn't effect your monthly bandwidth allotment to download the game client/files. You have a physical disk, so you don't have to download multiple times if you have a drive failure, or update your hardware. The boxed version frequently has additional features like a physical manual (vs. a PDF) or a collectible item (maps, audio CD, art book, etc.)

Digital distribution removes much of the costs publishers incur to get their product to market. Why shouldn't those savings be passed along to the consumer?

-Jox

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axiomatic

You missed the key part of the problem. Eliminate all upper level management and marketing executives from the "Should we add DRM?" meeting and keep things in the hands of the engineering developers.

That alone should fix most of the issues. It sure did at my company. Piracy statistics stayed at exactly the same level it was ( a tad lower actually ) and we saved a whole lot of money that would have been blown on the DRM implementation.

Sure the executives egos were bruised a little. We all got over it.

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genghiskhen

The hardest games to find on Usenet are the ones without DRM. People don't bother to upload games without cracks.

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Wonko33

yeah, The Witcher 2 is REAAAAAAAAALLY hard to find.

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kixofmyg0t

Or they could release it on PS3....where piracy is negligible.

Its there still yes. But its only a few hundred as opposed to tens on millions on PC.

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OccultAssassin

If that isn't sarcasm than that is the most uneducated statement I have ever heard.

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silk42

I like how the story changes over the years. At one time we were told we weren't allowed to sell movies, games, or music because we weren't actually buying the media it came on, but we were paying for the right to watch, listen, or play it. I'm fine with that, but if I've already paid for the right to watch a movie on VHS, why do I have to pay again to watch the same movie on DVD and then again to watch it on Blu-Ray? I thought I already paid for the right to watch it. I know some companies are now offering a digital copy, but I believe most companies would see their customers as pirates if they wanted to download a version of a movie that they already paid for.

You could make the same argument for games that you have to buy multiple times if you want to play it on your phone, tablet, computer, and console. I'm all for giving a company money for creating content that I want, but I think they need to find solution that doesn't force a customer to buy the same thing multiple times.

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chronium

I would like to point out something that most people don't seem to think about when it comes to lawsuits. They are a viable option but it is pretty stupid to target the people that downloaded games when there target should be the people who uploaded the games you know the ones that have the software on their computers and letting people download it. If you make it more difficult to find games then steam and the other digital distributions become more popular options.

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noobstix

If Bethesda (or any 3rd-party that uses the Gamebryo/Creation engine) didn't consistently release shitty games, they wouldn't have to worry about "providing high levels of support and quality control". Besides, the talented modders from The Nexus make their own tweaks and fixes to the game that rival what the actual developers do (they'll probably do some more incredible things once they get their hands on the Creation Kit). As far as BF3 goes, playing the Beta actually deterred me away from touching the game in any form (retail or pirate).

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thematejka

I like that MaxPC both discourages pirating but sticks up for the consumer at the same time (I mean, they are consumers too). I wonder sometimes if it is not possible to stop pirating in a pain free way for consumers, as long as there are pirates? As long as there are pirates, I wonder if they will continually find ways to bypass security measures? I only just mapped out what the case is at the present. Pirates will be pirates, and developers will have to protect their booty as they deserve to get paid for what they make. Pirating is just plain selfish. So in the end, I don't think that pirating will stop until either the pirates give it up, or developers make some sort of absolutely pain-in-the-ass unbreakable DRM. Will either happen? Lets hope so.

All the arguments for pirating are relatively weak in a way. To name a few:

Are you made that you have to pay so much?
-developers put oodles of time into making a game, they deserve the money. Game/software making takes up tomes of time and resources.
-if you can't afford it, maybe you should first worry about being able to acquire the money. If you can't, maybe you don't need it. Even though electronic related "things" are important nowadays, they are not equal in importance to say...air, food, water. Things we take for granted.
-it's supply and demand buddy. People will pay for something if they like it enough, even if it's shitty. Take the last iteration of COD for example...

Are you pissed that your games are riddled with issues on release?
-be patient a wait a bit, waiting didn't kill ya.
-taking the game for free does not help developers progress in fixing the problems they have. If you showed them some love, maybe they'd feel more obliged to fix problems faster, or have less problems at release.

Pirating is just plain selfish, but I do agree that developers can step it up a little, or a lot. They are selfish too ;). I think we all stand to help each other out a little more, otherwise pirating will happen for a long time yet.

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Captain_Steve

The problem with DRM is that is doesn't acutally deter pirates from pirating games; it only creates an obstacle that can be overcome, and it only needs to be overcome by one of them before it's no longer an obstacle. A game isn't a bank vault; there can be millions of people trying to break in at once, and once one does it they can all get in.

DRM only creates added issues for people who legally pay for the game, because now there is something else that can go wrong between them and their paid for product. There is now a problem for millions of people that they must fix before they can use the product as intended. It's like the timer on the vault being broken; a good thief can still get it, but all law abiding people can't.

I think this is why the PC always has a month or two between their release date and the console release date; they're hoping that people will choose to buy for console rather than buy for PC, so they shrink the pool of potential people who are interested in pirating it as well as eliminating as many tech support problems as they can (since they already bought it on console, they won't buy it again on PC).

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Bullwinkle J Moose

news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-57369463-75/windows-xp-still-hanging-on-as-dominant-os/?tag=mncol;editorPicks

OH LOOK!

The Number One Operating System is STILL XP!

These numbers are in direct opposition to the Maximum Propaganda stating that DRM'd versions of Windows 7 have surpassed the Non-DRM'd versions of XP!

People around the World are realizing that Microsoft's Licencing Agreements are Null and Void when Microsoft has repeatedly lost Court Case after Court Case by incorporating source-code from 3rd parties into (their ?) operating systems without permission

Once Again for the NOOBS....

You are not authorized to enter into a ONE SIDED Licencing Agreement with Microsoft that violates a 3rd parties Copyrights, Patents, Licences, etc

That's why Non-DRM'd copies of XP that do not contain the ILLEGALLY obtained software from a non-consenting 3rd party to prevent YOU, the End User from "STEALING" what Microsoft is "STEALING" are still the most popular among those who refuse to listen to the propaganda!

DON'T BE A SAP!
Do what Microsoft does untill we have the "right" to do what Microsoft does

Create Locked Boot systems to Lock out DRM'd, Closed Source Operating Systems

Ban ALL Spyware Based Registered Copies of Microsoft Products from your Networks untill the Source code is Opened for examination and the spyware is REMOVED PERMANENTLY

Better yet, BAN ALL closed source software and all software found to contain spyware even if it is Open Source!

If you cannot write software that simply WORKS out of the box without monitoring what we use our computers for, you need to be dealt with like any other terrorist organization!

and then..

Ban all software runs to the EvilNet for updates and DRM management and prevent any remote software and hardware from accessing and controlling our hardware directly by bypassing any open source Operating System without allowing us the ability to monitor what is being done and what data is being encrypted and/or hidden on our hard drives or any embedded memory area on our systems without our knowledge, consent and make it illegal to incorporate wireless network access into motherboards, CPU's, and any other "Necessary" device to have and use our computers without our ability to REMOVE such hardware

Network access from BIOS should be Illegal EVERYWHERE on the Planet as well because we cannot simply remove the drivers to prevent remote access to our systems when the drivers are embedded in those systems

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CHR15x94

For the guys who were going on about acid and how great it is in that Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates article the other day, here's a great example of why you shouldn't use acid. :P

Seriously, what the hell are you on? If you're so worried about Big Brother watching you all the time, make your own software/hardware. Or better yet, stop using it all together.

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Biceps

Dude, pro tip. If you write in all CAPS with lots of exclamation marks, no one is going to take you seriously. Welcome back to MaxPC.

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Bullwinkle J Moose

TO THE MAX!!!!!

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mattman059

IM SO EXCITED!!! OR ANGRY!!! YOU JUST CANT TELL!!!

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Ghok

I used to be really impressed with Epic, as they used to not even require the CD in the drive when playing the original Unreal Tournament. This was a big deal at the time. They'd release free bonus content and patches and that was the only time you needed the disc in there. I thought it was a great idea.

It shouldn't be a crazy idea that treating your customers well is better than treating them like pirates. Developers also need to realize that despite all the downloads, I'm sure VERY VERY VERY few actually cause lost sales. Look at the sales you're making instead of the ones you think you're losing. There are more than enough people willing to buy your games.

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Eoraptor

Agree with austin43. You're never going to STOP PIRACY. The reality is you need to reduce it to the point where only the geniune scoff-laws will engage in it. Right now, as the article points out, people steal products because
1.) Products are often over-priced for value (real or perceived)
2.) Production studios such as EA treat their customers not as cherished business partners but as actual (not potential) criminals and that ill will spreads to the entire industry, warranted or not and
3.) There's little incentive not to pirate given the first two.

If more companies stopped treating their customers like thieving little cogs in the machine and instead engaged them through that thing called the intwerwebs, asking questions like "what do you feel is a fair price for this item" and "how can we make this item more enjoyable" and most importantly "what games do you spend the most time playing"; rather than spending millions of dollars pumping out "that battle game I played three times before now with more tessellation!" and then spending most of that 300 mil suing and punishing their own customers, Piracy would drop off substantially.

of course that's just IMhO and YMMV.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

"For some reason—let’s call it crazed avarice—digitally distributed iterations of the same software often costs the same as their boxed up, marked up cousins."

Anyone remember cassette tapes? When CDs first came out, publishers let it slip that they were cheaper to manufacture than cassettes, and consumers should expect to see a savings at retail. Instead, the biz sold CDs at twice the price of cassettes.

Likewise, the biz expects consumers to pay more than standard retail for low-bitrate, DRM-crippled junk downloaded at almost no cost to publishers. A full dollar or more for a 128 Kb junk rip? Really? Greed is ever so irritating.

If music publishers had more brains than greed, music piracy would never have gotten off the ground. Music would be sold by the megabyte, FLAC encoded, and cost less than a physical CD.

Fuck 'em all. I'm talking about the music publishers, here.

Why would someone pirate a Serious Sam game? Croteam is awesome. Those guys rock. I'd never dream of stealing their work.

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devastator_2000

I think that the Game, Move and Music industries need to learn the same lesson: Lower your prices. To me, no game is worth 59.99. No DVD/Blu Ray is worth 19.99. And no CD is worth 13.99. I think that games should all be 39.99 or less. DVD's should be 14.99 or less and CD's 7.99 or less. Now I know that each of these items could be sold for 5.00 each and some people would still pirate them. But for the most part, reasonable prices (and for games, no bugs) would end illegal downloads.

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MBK

They will not lower prices because of piracy, rather, they will lower prices when the products do not sell. If you think a product is too expensive, don't buy it. In no way does anyone's opinion that something is too expensive justify obtaining it without paying for it.

As far as games go, they are under priced right now anyway (shh, don't tell the publishers ;) ). Cartridge games cost around $60 YEARS ago, so games have done pretty well to avoid price rise due to inflation.

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austin43

The market sets the value. If the price is too high, then people will stop paying it. If piracy becomes too much of an issue, then they will lower their prices.

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CaptainFabulous

Dude, are you blind? People have been buying less and less content for years, yet instead of price reductions all we see are increased extortion attempts, delay windows, more invasive DRM, attempts to gut the used sale market, on-disc content locked up as DLC, and SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA. Along with an absolute REFUSAL to lower prices and instead place the blame on he big bad boogey man Piracy for all their troubles. "Oh look, our crappy overpriced game full of DRM, first buyer codes, and DLC purchases required to play the entire game isn't selling! It must be due to piracy!!!" Seriously?

Not only are they lying to us, they're lying to themselves. Piracy doesn't hurt industries. Industries hurt themselves thru their own flawed business models and refusal to treat their customers with respect. Piracy is just a symptom of this failure, not a cause. You will never, ever stamp out piracy. Ever. Trying to is simply foolish and a waste of time, money, and resources that could be used to make your game better and find new and innovative ways of engaging your potential customers instead of alienating them.

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