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Have been trying to figure out a way to convert people who have pirated the game to buyers and this looks like an option. Sorry for the long text and the image of offensive quality, did my best to keep it short. So… how about a selection screen (accessible via the main menu) with some pretty art and in-game avatars where you show off your relationship with the game (well, the way you got the key)? It would be a point of pride for anyone who has purchased a key, and an easy way for people who do not own a key to buy one. What is the point of such a screen if we are not concerned about piracy? To see some nice art and feel good about yourself. Something along those lines (please pay no attention to my awesomazing graphics skills): It can have a few categories such as Digital KS backer, Physical KS backer, GOG or Steam (probably different labels), with different characters (or classes, or differently equipped versions of the same character). For each category there should be a male and a female to click on. Once you click, the avatar appears in slightly bigger version, in the middle of the screen, together with some descriptive text that goes with the selection* (read below). Also, there should be an easy way to purchase a game key from there ** (another note below). Such a screen would fit in with the rest of the game and could help with piracy. * The idea of the text (as well as the avatar) is to show the personality of the backer / purchaser through the game world lore. For example, the text that goes with the GoG avatar selection would be something about “You are a character that does not agree to be ordered around by merchants how to use their wares. The adventuring gear you buy is of the finest quality – without protective charms that make it duller, just so other people would not try to steal it.” Ok, that was quite a bad example but you get the idea. The kickstarter backers can get text about how they plan and prepare well for adventures and that they support merchants and other adventurers. No matter which way you got your game key you should be equally proud to have it (be it as a backer, DRM-free at GoG or Steam, assuming these are all the distribution channels), so each text description and avatar representing these should be equally great, too. ** The more important point – there should be an easy non-intrusive way to buy a key should you want to. Clicking on an avatar that minimises the game and opens a browser is not non-intrusive. I guess the developers can figure out the technology of how to offer that. Maybe there could be additional text or small image next to the GoG and Steam sections. If you press it, it could open a window inside the game asking if you want to minimise the game and open the browser to get a game key “to gift” (just a bit less intrusive). Then either GoG or steam website could open, or even some Obsidian web platform – after all it’s selling just keys, the player already has the game running. The majority of players would already have a key and just pick one of those (the last avatar you click on should stay selected even when you restart the game) and feel good about it. If you pirated the game, it is just a quick 30 sec to buy a key for that game you really, really like (provided the devs find a way to implement a process that quick and painless – paypal, google checkout, amazon payments, whatever) and then feel good about it! Some assumptions I have made: The game will be pirated. – I don’t think there is any doubt about it. Many of the people who pirated it will like it so much that they would feel really good about buying it. – Possible, even probable, I think. DRM is bad / does not work – Not worth talking about. A couple of other things: There could be other stuff like equipping the avatar with different gear, etc. – something like a minigame. However, this would be counterproductive as it would shift the focus. The one and only purpose of this screen should be to make you feel good about how you purchased the game. And about *how*, not *if*. (Plus the unofficial purpose of selling game keys).The image I put started with the idea that these would be in a cave, smaller avatars would be on something like ledges, the big one on the cave floor (bet you couldn’t have guessed that ). This is just one idea, they might as well be in a city, in a forest, anything. This could even change as the game progresses and new areas are accessed (backgrounds could be selectable once they have been unlocked – could help with people coming back to this screen, especially after the game is completed and people are pumped up and ready to buy it if they have not already, and more so after they see an amazing new selection screen). Please refrain of making this a discussion about piracy in general – the goods, the bads and so on. Lets try to find a way to make P:E earn the money it should so it can fund the expansion we’ll be looking forward, P:E 2 and all other Obsidian projects. What do you think about the upsides / downsides of this idea? Could it make enough returns for the invested time / energy? What are some ways to improve it? Any good alternatives instead?
Hormalakh posted a topic in Pillars of Eternity: General Discussion (NO SPOILERS)I start this thread with a little hesitance simply because I am aware of the ire I will likely provoke with this topic, but I believe it must be discussed. This conversation deals with the topic of piracy and DRM for Project: Eternity (hereafter, P:E). Before I get started, I wanted to point to the two sources for my inspiration for this topic. The first is a well-researched (and very long) article on PC gaming piracy and a from the guys at Extra Credit. Much of the arguments heard from both sides of this issue have been discussed in these two locations. I recommend reading and watching those before continuing. With that out of the way, here goes. I am a backer of P:E as are many of you on the forums. We have all given a portion of our own hard-earned money as an initial investment to Obsidian towards the production of this game and IP. We have been promised DRM-free copies of the game and Steam direct downloads. The backers of this Kickstarter are obviously not pirating this game. They have already invested in it. Yet, this conversation affects us and the developers the most and it is these two groups along with future P:E buyers whose attention I want. Simply put: At least in this game, there should be a zero tolerance by all parties for piracy (or copyright violation). Now, I’m not here to argue numbers, lost sales, used game sales, piracy in non-targeted markets. I’m not going to call pirates “thieves” because they aren’t stealing tangible property. But, let’s not kid ourselves either. In this particular instance of P:E, they aren’t "valiant defenders of freedom” either. I’m here to say that even a single pirated copy takes away from what all of us the backers have invested in and what all future buyers of the game are investing in: the creation of a new intellectual property and RPGs in which the profits from the game go towards continuing the trend of getting PC-only for-gamers, by-gamers RPG games. Remember when we were counting down the minutes before the kickstarter ended? How we would hope just one more backer would join us? How "every backer counts!" was the rallying cry for many of us? Well, the pirates are the ones who didn’t back this game, are waiting for the game to come out, and then demand to get a free copy “to try.” They didn’t take the risk of paying money in investing and now want to reap all the rewards of our risk. They are the true free-riders and this time, they are riding on the backs of us, the gamers. Not the corporations. Us. The Gamers. Pirates often state that “the games are too expensive, so I’m going to pirate it because it’s a rip-off” or that “publishers are rich, so it’s ok to not pay them for this game.” If $50 is too much for a pirate to spend on the game later, how about $20? That’s how much P:E is right now (until December 3rd). Yes, they run the risk (however low) that the game doesn’t come out, but then they could put that $20 aside right now, and continue to add to it until the game comes out. At that point they’d likely have enough money to buy the game. Pricing isn’t an issue right now, so why aren’t pirates backing the game now and taking that risk? Why not pay that extra money that the rest of us don’t have to because we took that initial risk? We took that risk and it cost us, why shouldn't it cost pirates? And Obsidian isn't the bad guy here either. They are the actual developers of the game, a mid-tier software development company that feeds its employees by making games that we love. These are not guys in suits. They are normal people like you and me trying to make a living making games we love. As the video from Extra Credit says: Feargus, the CEO of Obsidian himself said, Now whether it’s 1-5% or 91-95% of the copies pirated, that’s taking away 1-5% or 91-95% of the profits that can be used both for the P:E expansion and for a more important reason. By reducing the sales numbers of games for the PC, we are effectively showing publishers that the PC market is “dead” or not profitable (both of which aren’t true, simply based on the kickstarter numbers). Now, some argue PC exclusive titles were killed because of piracy. I don’t believe in hyperbole, but I do believe that piracy is one of many factors for why we have less PC-only games. From the article, I quote: Now like I said, I’m not here to talk about numbers, lost sales, used game sales, piracy in non-targeted markets or anything else like that because those arguments have many pitfalls. Whatever excuses prior publisher-invested games bring to the piracy debate, kickstarting a game invested by the players, has demolished. This is a new paradigm and the rules are not the same. What I want to tackle is what is called “day-zero” or “day-one piracy” in markets which are targeted. If the game is localized to your language, it’s targeted to your market. Localization costs money that the developers could have used on another aspect of the game. I want Obsidian’s sales numbers of the game be truly indicative of how well-liked the game actually is. If a game has 2 million people who actually love the game and play it, but only 50,000 sales, developers can’t prove that games like this are still worth making to publishers in the future. Obviously, if P:E fails as a good IP or game, then we would not need to continue to support it in the future. But if it is good, and people like the lore, story, mechanics, etc then we must do whatever we can to support it to show that games like this are what gamers want. Here is where my proposal lies. I believe that piracy for Project: Eternity can be deterred most effectively through several avenues: Backers: Do not enable pirates or allow friends to pirate this specific game. What you do with other games I don’t care. As I said, whatever excuses prior publisher-invested games bring to the piracy debate, kickstarting a game invested by the players, has demolished. This is a new paradigm and the rules are not the same. If they want to share a copy to see how the game plays, they should check out the forums and the updates or write to the developer asking for a demo. The less money Obsidian makes on this game, the less money there is to make a better expansion (or to make a case in the future to publishers from other developers that PC-only games do have a market). Enabling pirates either in forums or actively giving them a copy of the game takes away from both you and the developer. Developers: For those of us who have backed the game, as previously stated, DRM-free copies should exist. We have taken a risk in backing the game, and thus are both investors and legitimate purchasers of the game. The DRM clearly does not apply to us. You have listened to us and we thank you for it. This is where I'll lose some of you, I'm sure, but the developers should find ways to discourage piracy from the general public by giving DRM-enabled or some other copyright-protected copy - with caveats. Developers: Determine if DRMs are neccesary or if other methods of copy protection would be suitable. A one-time online activation check or phone activation would be fine, but there might be more effective methods. If you do use DRMs, use the most cost-conscious and effective DRM protection you can without being “intrusive.” Do not use always-on DRMs. Honestly, developers come and go these days. While I would hate it if Obsidian closes its doors, it happens. Don’t let players fear the day that their “good old game” would no longer be playable because the company servers no longer work. Developers: Give a toll-free, easy to reach tech support line for DRM-related issues to legitimate buyers while the DRM is in effect. They should not have to pay “several dollars a minute to call tech support regarding issues that are no fault of their own,” nor be held behind computerized answering machines. I also agree with the article when it states “Emailing tech support on these issues is also a complete waste of time due to vague stock answers, so email support also needs to be shored up.” Developers: The DRM should be disabled after a year with a patch. As time passes, a DRM-free copy makes sense. At that point the game will have likely been cracked anyway, and DRM only affects those who have purchased the game. But this early DRM will stop some from stealing the game and purchasing a copy. From the article: Players and backers: Support Obsidian in its choice. We are the players, the buyers, and the backers. If Obsidian has shown us respect, we should support them in their decision and fight against illogical public outcries and mass hysteria when it comes to DRM. Educate yourselves first about the DRM and support them. Developers shouldn't have to deal with hysterical and misinformed customers (sometimes egged on by pirates themselves) alone. Now, I don't mean that everyone who has concerns abaout DRM is illogical, uneducated, or hysterical, but it is possible that they are misinformed. It would be truly abhorrent to first support these folks by investing in them, but then to turn around and allow others to take away from what ALL of us, supporters, buyers and developers, have helped to create. If we show that we are there beside them, Obsidian is less likely to back down. Developers: Be upfront with your fans and customers. Employing DRM itself has a cost, both financially and with goodwill. When you have made your considerations, tell us why or why not you don’t want to employ DRM. Be honest about different pricing for games in different markets where the salaries of the population does not allow for a lot of disposable income. Whatever you decide on your prices make sure that it is fair. Finally, developers: And this doesn't necessarily go to you OEI, but to other developers possibly reading this. Do not ever take advantage of the social contract that we the gamers have made with you. DRM is a hot topic for us. If you make a promise, stick with it. You aren't seen as the "evil, money-grubbing publishers." Don't lose that goodwill now by getting greedy. Some developers have gone this route before and have - to this day - lost support by gamers like me. Do this and gamers will pirate your games. You have been warned. Whatever excuses prior publisher-invested games bring to the piracy debate, kickstarting a game invested by the players, has demolished. This is a new paradigm and the rules are not the same. I am a gamer first and foremost and I want good games to continue to be made. If I have to take a little bit of heat for it, then so be it. As long as those games keep being made for me and people like me. Respectfully, Hormalakh Special thanks to Inkblot for the list of quotes from Feargus in this thread. Edit: There have been other copyright protections suggested by members, these might be worth looking into instead of utilizing other DRM-software.