Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Much Better Article About Piracy

Not that I thought my little rant about piracy was revolutionary or anything, but TweakGuides just posted an article about piracy that puts mine to shame: http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_1.html

Even if you're on the side of pirates -- or perhaps especially -- you really should read this article so that you can get your facts straight. It makes several claims that really threaten to shatter the most prevalent anti-DRM arguments out there, and so you owe it to yourself to check this stuff out instead of blindly accepting what you've heard from some guy on a forum. The author of the article clearly has his own opinion on the matter, and one could argue that it "taints" his perspective, but he's up front about it and he backs it up with tons of data that you can't just ignore.

It is a very long article, so I'll summarize most of its major points:
The claim that DRM "doesn't work" because it hasn't completely stopped piracy is akin to saying locks don't work because skilled thieves can still break them. DRM is a deterrent, designed to minimize piracy in the first few weeks of a game's release, and especially to prevent pre-release piracy. The claim that piracy can be stopped by making better games also appears to be flawed, as data suggests that the most pirated games are also the most popular and critically-acclaimed ones out there. (I was particularly infuriated to discover that World of Goo has been heavily pirated; it's made by an independent developer -- literally 3 people -- and it's generally agreed to be an incredible game.) Sales figures appear to indicate that piracy is indeed hurting the PC games industry, though of course this can always be debated, since there are several other reasons that people prefer console gaming. (Personally, I feel this is the one weak point in the article, but it's not a crucial one, and it's still hard to argue that piracy has NO negative impact on sales.) DRM may be inconvenient and may cause some problems for legitimate customers that are quite unfortunate, even unacceptable, but most of these issues have been resolved or are being worked on, and the claim that they install "spyware" and "rootkits" is largely untrue. (This is unlike what Sony did with music CDs a few years ago. PC Gamer also confirmed this in their latest issue.) Overall, there are a few things both sides can work on to resolve this issue, but it involves keeping a level head and examining the facts rather than spreading rumors and buying into propaganda. DRM needs to evolve into something that's less obtrusive to the legitimate consumer, but there are very legitimate reasons for its existence, which can't simply be ignored or circumvented if we want the PC gaming industry to continue to thrive. That is, unless we want PC gaming to consist of nothing more than shoddy console ports, MMOs, and casual games.

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