Gaming Not-Roundup: An Easy End to Videogame Piracy? You Wish

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AntiHero

I will pay for a game with good reason. I pay for World of Warcraft because of this reason, and this reason alone...I get the service I require, when I require it. Got player troubles? Create a ticket. Someone harassing you? Create a ticket. Found a bug? Create a ticket. NPC won't respond to clicks? guess what you do! create a ticket. It makes a very useful thing. Why would you pay for Call of Duty's gameplay? So if the internet is down you can't play single player? I remember one day my internet was out for repair, and I tried to play BF2...didn't work, then tried to play Half Life, steam refused to work since the offline mode's been broken since the new "improved" update allowing Shift Tab to be the way to open steam, couldn't even play CoD4 without a mountable .iso (since it was on steam), which luckily I had...otherwise I would've been forced to do absolutely nothing since it was a blizard outside. (hence why it was being repaired) DRM is bad for gamers who still have 56kb connections because the response time could take a while. (i know people that do, in small rural towns)

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Mindflux

Like many gamers I am not made of money.  I will only pay one subscription at a time.  I'm currently cancelling my WoW account so that I can play WAR.

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dorerd

There are very few games that I will run out and buy as soon as they are released. In fact, the only two games I have bought recently (in the past two years) were Neverwinter Nights 2 and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I even bought the collector's edition and all the other expansion releases for Oblivion.

For me, while the first Diablo was fairly fun, I enjoy the depth of character creation that NWN2 and Oblivion give. I also like good, solid oldschool D&D-style games like Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind where the story isn't quite so linear.

Piracy is often the scapegoat of developers as the reason their games sell poorly. I could have waited and downloaded either NWN 2 or Oblivion for free from pirate sites, but I support these companies so that they will continue to develop these types of games. I am perturbed that I can't back up my game disks easily as I like to keep them in good condition and relatively scratch-free (impossible but I try), but it's a sacrifice I can live with.

Thanks, atomaweapon, for the reminder that there may be patches for cd-less play. That fact escapes me far too often. And I agree with your statements.

 

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kiddcreole99

One thing that is so often overlooked when you are talking about a subscription based service such as WoW is that there is not a one time cost of developing and producing the game; there is also a maintenance cost associated with maintaining all of the servers and the network that supports the 15million accounts. (I would love to see their data centers!)

Being and IT person, I can assure you that it's not an easy task to maintain the kind of uptime that you get with online services, be it the servers, the network, or the ISP connections. There is a lot that goes into maintaining an environment like this, and all the while, people screaming about 30 seconds of downtime when there is a hardware failure. How many PC issues (bluescreen, hard drive crash, blown power supply, etc etc) have each of us had in our PC-gaming lifetimes? The servers that run these games are hardware just the same...and require maintenance...which requires people to do that maintenance, and trust me...they do not work for free.

This doesn't even touch on the fact that, as with any good game, there are regular patches for bug fixes, game improvements, etc. So it's not a "set it and forget it" approach to programming. People have to be paid to do that piece as well.

This all being said, I think to have a subscription based requirement for EVERY game would severely dissuade me from purchasing additional games of that sort. I would tend to gravitate to one or two games that I would play on a regular basis to minimize the impact to my bank account.

Not all games need to be subscription based though.Counter-Strike (a previous fav of mine) wasn't fee based because the aforementioned server environment was user-maintained...anyone could set up a server and host the matches, ergo less or no staff required to keep things up and working. With WoW, DAoC, WWIIOL, etc, the entire game was run off of managed servers...you don't have in-game consistency otherwise. A subscription makes sense in these cases.

With games like AoE, any of the Civilization games, Call of Duty, etc, you can host a LAN game or play single-player. Games such as these should not require a monthly fee PER GAME, unless it were something like a subscription to the hosting server that just acts as a "LAN" or a pointer to the other servers, and that fee should be minimal. 

I guess the point I am trying to make is, keep in mind that there are people who have to be paid to maintain some online services. Be a little more pragmatic about games rhat require a subscription rather than assuming because you spent $40-$50 for an on-line game, that you should get to play it for free, forever.

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atomaweapon

Personally, I'm not a fan of pay-to-play. Atleast I feel like the gamers who have grown up gaming, are now grown-ups themselves and don't have the hours and hours to devote to games. The second I see "subscription required" on a game I immediately discount it. I'm not into renting games, though I'm not complaining about it as a viable business model. I think WoW works obviously because it offers a lot for your monthly fee. But the hundreds of MMO's that are trying to cash in on WOWs fame are struggling, because they don't replicate the quality.

 Personally I play Guild Wars, it's free to play and I can come back and forth no matter how long the abscence. I'm sure sometime in the future, somewhere down the line, the servers will get shut down, or something. But the games were only 30 to 40 bucks so I can deal with t hat.

What I can't and will not deal with is draconian drm. I still use no-cd patches for the games I purchase, because I don't want to have to hunt for a cd or keep it constantly logged in my machine to play a game. People can say "well consoles do it" - but a pc is a different beast. A console is a pure game machine, provides no real other function besides playing games. A pc, for a myriad of people provides so many other things. I will not and have not bought games that require me to "phone home" , limit my installs by having to check a server, etc. I simply don't purchase the game.

Back in the day when I was a poor college student, I did occasionly pirate some games, but in actuality it led me to purchase them because I played them so much. Unreal 2004, Neverwinter Nights, and AoE I own all of them today ( purchasing all 3 $50+ CE editions) because of my pirating ways. To tell you the truth it's simply better for me to just go and purchase a game from amazon than spend time hunting for an iso that may or may not work on my machine. If a game is priced reasonably, 20 to 40 bucks, I'll purchase it. 50+ dollars for a game that's strapped down with DRM does not warrant a purchase in my opinion.

Personally I don't think you can ever truly beat pirating, but there are ways you can curb it. For one, provide some REAL incentive for a customer to purchase a boxed copy, such as soundtracks, posters, how-to videos, making of's, etc. I remember back in the super nintendo days you'd get a free t-shirt or soundtrack cd when you pre-ordered. Those were nice bonuses and some of those items I still have today. If you think about it, gamers have a real "collectors" aspect about them, and like have boxed copies and goodies with a game. I know I do, all the recent big gaming purchases I have bought the 60$ plus collectors editions. AoE, Unreal, Neverwinter Nights, and Guild Wars are all CEs. I feel if a company makes a good game, treats it's REAL customers fairly, and provides some little bonuses for going out and purchasing a copy, this pirating thing isn't as big as they make it out to be.

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brianm.cc

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WindowsXP

Simply put, im not spending more on a single game after I spent
$50-60 on it. PC gaming will surely die if we are having to "buy" a game over and over.

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Wildebeast

Maybe this is an obvious thing to say, but I really thing subscriptions are a big step in the wrong direction.  I can accept that there are major costs for the people putting out the software & supporting the servers.

I've never played WOW or any of the other subscription games.  My take has always been that they've turned what might have been a drain each month (compared to the sale price of the game), into a massive gold rush scenario --for their balance books.

I've always suspected that if they were less committed to "ass-hattery," it might be $20 to buy the game, $10 for the first month to cover the cost of seting up your account, $2/month or less after that to maintain the subscription,  and maybe $5 for a month with a major patch after the first year.  I also think that the major ISPs should be able to roll that $2 monthly fee into their normal rate, since they can provide so many customers.

I see no reason why a "successful" subscription game must mean basically a license to print your own money.

For practical purposes, I guess I'm thinking in terms of a games service, rather than a price/payment model for just one game.  Then you run into problems where one publisher refuses to use another's service, blah, gimme gimme...

 

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Edwincnelsno

I would pay $15 a month to play any Ubisoft title if they set up a Steam like service that allowed you to download and play one title at a time, but access their entire catalog at any given time. An additional fee could be added if you would like to play more than one title at a time. If each developer set up a system like this I think for less than $50 a month you could play any game from any company you wanted. That seems like a lot of cash but I spend more than that now buying the games themselves, but I only have my library of titles to fall back on.

This model is working for movie rental stores like Blockbuster and Netflix, and it's working for music stores like Napster and Rhapsody. Why not games? 

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katwomansz

If you want game rental, I used to love Gametap but they recently upped their subscription price but it was near 1000 older games on the PC for $59 a year.

They are several console rental sites like gamefly.

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chronium

the subscription based system would only be a temporary measure, you will just see a rise of pirated servers. The only real reason why the pirated servers aren't affecting the current wow subscriptions much, is because of the community and lack of knowledge of their existence.

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Studdybear

This is all good and well but have these companies ever considerewd what affect this would have on countries with a weakler economy.

 

Consider where $15 is a months groceries. We spend months saving for a game only to find we will have to pay more. Piracy is the only way forward for some communities. 

 

Companies need to think beyond 1st world countries. When almost 75% of PC have pirated OS then there is someting wrong with pricing.

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Shalbatana

 If you would like to charge me a NOMINAL subscription fee, by all means do so. However I would then expect the initial cost of the game to be under $10.... since I'm buying "crippled" software.

That way, buy the time I'm finished with the game, I've payed my full $50.

_______________________________

"There's no time like the future."

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Rmart

At least for me...

I refuse to play a game I have to keep buying over and over and over and over...

Look, admittedly, I've been around a while. That means I have a wife and kids, a home, two jobs, lots of bills, and many other duties and responsibilities as well. I don't have the time for PC gaming that I used to. I also don't have the money to be spending on monthly subscription fees for a PC game.

Brief history here:

Back in 2003 Digital Anvil and Microsoft produced an awesome space combat game named Freelancer. The game cost around $50 to purchase. It had a good story line and action in single-player mode, and anyone could run a server if they had a decent enough connection.

It never had any updates other than a patch to help protect against cheating on a MP server. The patch really didn't do all that much. What kept the game alive was the multiplayer community.

Up until February of this year (5 years), there were hundreds of Freelancer MP servers out there, many vanilla, many others running mods of some kind or another. There were thousands of players out there. Microsoft dropped support for the Multiplayer aspect of the game by shutting down the global connect server that centralized the server selection list. Since then, all FL servers have seen a dramatic decline in new players to their servers.  Many have shut down due to the significant reduction in player population. Currently however, there are still over 130 servers online. This after five years.

I am running a FL server that still has a couple thousand accounts registered. My server has been up since 2003. It's free to access and free to play as long as you have the game CD.

What this means to me is that for $50 I got to play a game (single-player) that I enjoyed immensely, and for five years have been able to share that experience with others for a total game cost of less than $10 per year. Over those five years we've had tens of thousands of player accounts on our server.

Now, if I were to play EVE Online for example, it would cost me $15/month, correct? Over a period of 60 months it would cost me $900 to enjoy this game. Am I the only one who finds that ridiculous and unreasonable? If I wish to play EVE Online I have one server I can play on. The upcoming Jumpgate Evolution will be set up the same way. I as the consumer have no choices. If I wish to play the game but don't like the server or the community, I have only one choice. To play the game or to not play the game. This is not consumer focused thinking. This is only income focused thinking.

What I've seen over the years is a significant increase in the action and excitement of PC games while at the same time, a significant reduction in the choice of game types available. Most significant games today seem to be of the first person shooter type, or the first person role-playing type games. Where are the combat flight simulator games (Freelancer, X-wing vs. TIE Fighter, etc.), the puzzle games (Myst anyone?), the whacky/zany development games (Impossible Creatures), even the weird stuff (Armed & Dangerous, etc.).

Visual quality, intensity, excitement, has been much improved. The system requirements have also become much more. Why do I need to upgrade my Operating System to play Halo2 or Crysis? Why do I need a $400 - $600 video card (or two or three) to get playable framerates? Hell, back when I built my first PC I put a top of the line Creative Annihilator2 Geforce2-GTS in my system for about $230 bucks.

In my humble opinion, what has not been improved is the actual quality of the game and game experience. Sure, they look pretty and are fun to play but, how many other games out there are still running MP servers after five years? How many other PC games out there have captured the imagination and heart of the player the same way? As a matter of fact, how many games out there still allow the individual to set up their own server? (Most of my gaming time has been spent running the Freelancer server, so I am a little out of touch in that area). What I do know is that we lose a good number of our regulars every time a significant new game comes out, only to have them return within six months or so once the novelty of the 'mistress' game wears off. How many games or servers out there have players that continuously return to a game, even after five years?

It's my opinion that the gaming industry is focusing too much on the bottom line and 'monetizing' their product. The game is designed around making a buck rather than making a really good game with a really good gamer experience. Believe me, as a flaming right-wing capitalist pig I'm all in support of a company making money. I'm not criticizing the desire of the artists and producers of the game to capitalize on their product. I want them to create a product that has real value to me the consumer. I want them to create a product that is focused on me, the player/gamer/consumer.

The reason game consoles are so huge is, and I'm not revealing anything here that most of you don't already know, you only have to buy one piece of hardware, it's not ridiculously expensive, it works with every game written for it, you don't have to upgrade any part of it, and you don't have to worry about drivers or compatibility. For that convenience you have to sacrifice some features and visual effects/quality. Most people are fine with that as you can see in the huge increase in demand for game consoles and the significant reduction in PC, and especially gaming quality PC sales.

Until PC game companies get back to writing awesome games that will run exclusively on mainstream PCs, PC gaming will continue to die. You can't make a buck focusing on a very small part of the market without pricing your product beyond the reach of the people who are inclined to purchase it. Didn't General Motors learn that lesson with the Camaro/Firebird?

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samduhman

Subscription fees will not work. People just can't afford multiple payments a month. Then as you mentioned you feel like you have to play and invest time. I feel that way with WoW and I refuse to sign up for any more subscription games. This comes from a hardcore gamer who builds/mods my own pc. I own hundreds of pc games. I buy pc games and never play them due to time constraints so they just end up in a collection. So if you can't sell this model to a hardcore pc gamer there is no way it will fly with the average public. Subscription fees will fail if they attempt it. I like the PSX and cheaper price comments. I buy the huge majority of my pc games when they get to $35 and less.

This is all a lame attempt by the publishers to get a steady stream of montly revenue. How about working on making better unigue gaming experiences and stop wasting time trying to figure out how to rip of gamers because you need to make your bottom line look good for your stock holders. Corporation envolvement in gaming is a huge negative :\

Steam is just as bad. Their DRM is basically big brother and "all" your games you buy from them are tied to one account. If they ever turn off their servers you will lose them all. For those people who believe they would remove the DRM if Steam ever went away you need a wake up call.  

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ferds7

I agree with some of the above comments.  It is pure economics. If you price your goods unreasonably high (CDs, DVDs, Games) people go to a black market to buy them. If you price them reasonably, the risk of going to a black market becomes less profitable.

$20 for a movie, $50+ for a game, is extremely overpriced and is the reason their is such a large black market. In fact the black market has technically became so big due to their overpriced goods that the risk of being caught has became lower as well, therefore also increasing the numbers towards black market.

It is my opinion these companies are ran by pure greed which causes stupidity and blindness to the obvious solution.

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Shilar

 While it's great people here trying to advise companies what to do to curb it, I have to play devil's advocate. An online service wouldn't work and increase piracy due to disgruntled customers, already trampled by the lack of computer stores and PC games being sold, turning quickly to cracks and hacks to bypass (WGA anyone?)

 As far as the physical "feelies," Piracy has worked around that for eons, and customers got tired of having to hold on to the thing cause they do get old. Heck, how many hold on to EVERY single manual for the games and electronics?

  Cheaper products mean someone will lose money (although I agree MS needs to slash its OS price, $400-500 for the things we wanted is too high, but I digress), but prices do encourage, correct. Adobe, Sony, 3DS, all are big piracy targets.

 The best way, iin my opinion, is to go to a one-time check, hard-coded into the games. The action is similar to PSX games: the disc has a physical defect on the first track. To date, no one has made a perfect copy of a PSX game (ie can be played on a non-modded system), why not the same for legitimate PC games? You buy it, it checks the disc for a defect, and goes along. no defect, or program alterred in some way, it throws up, and rejects the CD, closes, even uninstalls.

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Ashton2091

The PSX method would be perfect.  Although, i must add that if games were cheaper than $50...say...25-29...it would be a waste to pirate.  I feel far more comfortable spending 20 or 30 bucks on a game than 50 or 60. 

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Rmart

I agree under one condition. That replacement disks would be free or very cheap in the event that your disk is damaged. In order to get a replacement disk you would have to turn in your old one. For registered users who've lost their disks, a replacement could be slightly higher. (ie. original purchase $50, replacement due to damage  $5, replacement due to loss $25).

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Keith E. Whisman

Fry's has Crysis Warhead on sale for $23.99 that is a steal compared to the $50 bucks games usally cost. I think that if publishers make the games more affordable then piraters will be more willing to shell out their Hard earned $20 something bucks for a game that offers excellent online play. That is what you missout in when you pirate is online play. 

I'm getting my copy in the morning. BTW there is already a copy of Warhead being downloaded by hundreds on thepiratebay.org

If more publishers price their software more affordably then piracy will slow to a crawl. Same thing with Windows. Make it affordable and we will buy it Not just affordable to the rich and upper middle class but to everyone. Vista Ultimate for say $99.00 

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Vegan

A good way to curb piracy would be to bring back the ancient gaming tradition of physical "feelies." WITHOUT calling it a Collector's Edition and charging $100 for it. Give the buyers something they literally can't get if they pirate.

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TheZomb

If Subscription services like in WoW became wide spread and you end up paying $15 a month for each game you play it would only be acceptable if they had subsidized games and systems like cell phones.  Other than that something like xbox live for PC games would be fine.

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vistageek

I would be OK if games required to be activated online. That way, game makers would only OK product keys that had been sold, so a keygen or crack wouldn't really work.

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StarWolf

Have you forgotten about Steam! I am more likely to buy a game from Steam, besides its faults, has a lot of potential to be great. I can redownload the game and less problems installing and reinstalling. Although, again it is far from perfect.

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Vahn16

I haven't forgotten, but while Steam is convenient, people still pirate games that are on the service.

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MAJORzer0

 I don't like the idea of not getting a CD at all and if you cannot long in for any reason then you cannot do much of anything. I know it's not perfect and the system is still turning corners but if they started selling me games without discs then what's the point of paying that $50.... you're not shipping it and you're not pacaging it so I know the price should drop enough to be reasonable. I would like something more then just data on my computer. I like having my game library. From a collectors stand point. It's makes me feel better to know I can just install a fresh copy any time I want and not have to worry about steam goobering it up.

On  totally different note, I would rather see a game that lets you buy into it if you want to then subscription fees. I agree with some of the MMO's that are free and let you buy things with real cash. Every one has the same choices/options available so it's not cheating though it does give that advantage. The only issue I see with the whole idea would be PvP. You would have to restrict the use of those items or have specific lounges for the characters with the items and even open to the characters that don't have them and don't mind playing with the people that do have them. I would like to see fairness when it comes to the PvP aspect. PvE on the other hand I'm all for someone pillaging a village by them selves. More power to you for all I care. I will just say one thing though. The MMO without the comunity aspect is kinda pointless. Why even play an MMO if you will be a lone wolf?

I personally belive an incentive based 'donations' rather then a pay to play market would sell alot better then anything on the market. Imagine if WoW was free and to keep the servers up they opened special vendors in select towns that would sell items for real cash. Or simply started selling special items on the web and putting them in your characters inventory or even just selling their own gold. I mean people are making money off of that any ways so why not just undercutt them all with your own product? Maybe selling epic items or even magical things is a bad idea, you want those items to stay unique, but I know alot of people would buy crafting matirial or just special items that give you an exp bonus just by having them in your inventory. I'm not a WoW fan and my opinion of the game is not the question. I will say, though, if any MMO went to a 'donation' based payment system I would possibly give them anouther shot (WoW getting an exclusion from that 'any').

I'm with the other network tech when we  say, 'I understand the area they are comming from.'  People have to get paid and a subscription based system is more stable then 'donations', but I like to think outside the box when it comes down to a dicision on how to charge the consumer. Maybe not totally free but charged a monthly price if you don't "donate". To stop this from getting you wile you're not able to play, you suspend your account until you can get back online and spend time with your toon again.

I'm no stranger to running servers or to playing MMO's for that matter. I see how you need some kind of flow of cash to keep your severs up and running even Guild Wars has the idea down to some extent (buying packs of skills is not what I had in mind to get money from people). The market still needs more diversity when it comes to how they pull the green from our fists. The only worry I had from a 'donation' based system is it's life span. I would worry that it would burn out quicker if you started giving people too much power and not challenge them mentally. There's a balance that would have to be met to keep every thing going.

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duncan426

Subscription service would be something to consider, IF you had an all you can eat service.  If I am going to pay say, $30.00 a month I should be able to download any game and play it, including ONLINE play!!  As long as I pay I can keep playing.  Think about it, after a few months I am ready to play a new game anyway.  This would require a centralized download service and there is probably no way in Hell that is going to happpen.  I don't know, this justs sucks!  We should be able to just buy the freakin game and play it, Period!!!

Up the Irons!!

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