I originally posted this on my Knights of Soundtrack webpage on August 14 2009, and moved this here to my new blog.
Pros and Cons of Game, Music & Movie Piracy
If you combine the facts that a) I work for the game industry and b) I am often seen to wear a bandana, you might be unsure which side I am on in a talk about piracy. Me too, so let me take you on a Carribean joyride to find out.
Piracy Can Save Lives
Hold on! What did you say? Got you there. It’s only one side of the algae encrusted gold coin, mind you.
Piracy can help. There is no demo as good as the pirated and quickly deleted pro software which you need just to open one file. Try to find a converter for your rare video format, which you need just once for your client and which is not a test version that is secretly limited and unusable. I once downloaded a dozen of them in a row, all shite. Hard to resist the fluttering bittorrent site and her whispered promises of free sin.
There are also many people out there who learned the ropes with pirated software only to later chuck their eyepatch for a fancy expert monocle. Today they are sending bucketloads of cash to the same company.
I once worked for a publisher who was doing a sequel to an old game from their own roster. Unluckily, the publisher no longer had a copy of that original game at hand. And they needed it NOW. So they downloaded it from some cracker site. *lol*
It’s Like The One Ring: Freedom To Have and Never To Use.
Good to have invisibility. But you should never use it lest Sauron pwns your ass. Good to know that I always have this big gun with me, but I should never use it in discussions to underline a point.
Pirated software and games easily available, one click away, means Freedom. I get that. But it’s also a great feeling to do the right thing, to preorder the latest game by your favorite company. If I need to see Gears of Whatnow VI right now because I am going into a meeting about it in 3 hours, it is good that I CAN download it. It’s my choice. If I want to get this great job, but they need me to know all about that certain art tool I have never seen, and the demo is unusable, and I am jobless and poor, I cannot buy it…
You see? What is morally right here? You have to decide yourself, I won’t (Law does, but nobody is interested in your opinion, get out of my article). A world with every game available as illegal download, but nobody’s downloading it, would be OK. There is an army of girly butts out there which I do not touch unasked.
But, never forget about…
The Perils of Corruption
The Ring corrupts. It gets easier and easier to download everything.
“I wasn’t caught the last time. I am quite broke.. Well one more. I don’t really need that game, but well…”
The One Ring of Piracy wants you to use it. What does it really matter? I am only 1 guy. No, you aren’t. We are legion.
We are very happy about Nazi comparisons here in Germany, so here is a shitty 1944 quote for you. “It’s OK I’m killing jews, all the other guys are doing it too, so no biggy?” (eew, that was lame)
IT DOES MATTER.
It Matters In Music.
I have suffered heavy losses because one of my albums was downloaded a lot due to a big promo deal gone awry (100 different sites found in google who had it), but didn’t sell. Good record labels close (especially those that do not offer dumbed-down bite-sized mainstream). GUN Records is gone!? One top dream label for me. The distro giant SPV crippled? Don’t say “they sold crap that’s their #Epic #Fail.” They are slash were the backbone of MANY independent and alternative labels and bands.
Good bands decide to quit. Many of my distributors are in pain to pay their bills (hurts me too). Young bands get dumped. The whole industry slowly dies. Because of Corruption.
I am terribly sorry, I Think I Just Ran Over Your Band
You are killing bands. 😉 You might not believe it now, but you will feel it later I think. It gets harder and harder to grab a record deal and keep it. For me, it’s over. I am a Game Composer now (and do bands as a hobby). Record companies shrink, all your fav indie bands fall overboard off your pirate ship. I am not a scholar, but even I have seen at least a dozen good bands die due to this, I have talked to as many bands personally about that.
I believe, to be a young band with a dream is history. It’s as easy today to suddenly turn aristocratic.
If you think “bullshit” now, remember, they will not often tell you that they did not sell and that’s why they give up. People usually prefer “she wasn’t good enough for me anyway” over “she dumped me because I have a tiny penis”. And who listens to the losers (even if it’s your fav band)? The winners get the media attention.
New World Odor?
Your moral opinion about the value of creations is withering. Your belief in the just price of things is under attack. You can no longer be arsed to pay 10 bucks for a CD that is available everywhere on the Internet for free. I can relate! With Hi Speed DSL it’s a few seconds or 12 Dollars to pay for the CD which you drag-and-drop onto your Ipod and then stash under your couch.
Imagine, Peter goes to work every day passing 100 shops with signs like “Beer 10 cent”, “Free Beer”, “3 Beers 50 Cent”. What is the price he is willing to pay for a beer after a day, after a week, after a month? Corruption I say. The estimated worth of the product is melting away.
But on the other hand, it costs the same to record that CD, a lot of hard work, studio time, and all the employees of the label, management and so on, they all cost. Corruption makes you think music is free. Worthless. Everybody’s basic right like air.
It Matters In Games (Won’t He Ever Stop?)
A developer I worked for once told me “The game sold fine. But, we also have 100.000 user logged who pirated the game. We have their complete data. But, I think we will do nothing with that information.” Of course not, that would be a scandal and very bad publicity. But in that case I guess it was about 80% illegal consumers. And it was a well received title. I don’t want to live in such a world.
Publishers use copy protection. Consumers get angry, boycott, lynchmob. You wouldn’t yell at a restaurant owner who doesn’t like 90% of his guests to leave without paying? That’s because the value of food is not crumbling. Food’s not on Bittorrent. It costs to grow corn, everyone knows that, stupid. Games on the other hand sail down from the heavens. Must be fun to make them games, they shouldn’t get paid for THAT.
Recently, an article about a small Iphone developer twittered around the world, tiny game, 99% illegal downloads, read how the developer feels about that and whether he will be joyfully doing more games for you in the future with a big smile and complementary cupcake.
Too small? See how the makers of Modern Warfare feel about their high rate of illegal copies played.
Respect Your Zeldas
Examples are everywhere. They do not necessarily fail because they suck. They don’t shut down because you stole that one Pacman clone. They die, because slowly the world’s respect for Creativity is dwindling, for Artists, for Developers, for the very people who earn their bread-and-butter by making us forget how pathetic we are. We should sacrifice virgins to them. No wonder they feel like misunderstood halfgods (I am looking at you, Jonathan Blow).
It’s not getting cheaper to make that movie for you. But you think the price is a little high, because movies are for free anyway on that russian pornsite. To make a great looking game is not getting any easier or cheaper.
It’s so easy to be a weak Mothereffer and say “I can save a lot of money, and effort, and nobody will care, whether one specific guy does it or not”. I can’t tell you it’s wrong if you are from a very poor family and can’t afford a single game. I do not judge. But if you think you are a cool heavy metal collector and boast with your 10’000 leeched MP3 collection, I can only walk away and feel old.
What Can I Do? (preach preach)
I hate wannabe World Improvers. Thus, I hate myself, not newsworthy.
Hence: Nu rules for a nu pro artist society. Rules you will not follow, that’s why I do not return your calls.
In Other News: Pirates Are A Pain In The Arrgh
Pirates can be cute. Johnny/Orlando-style. But pirates do not necessarily make good husband material.
Germany’s new political minority, the Pirate Party (Piratenpartei), can be really annoying. They might have some good points, but I can’t hear a thing due to all them Shanties. The name puts me off enough. I will not buy from you, Mr. I-Trick-My-Customers, or Mrs. I-Eat-Children. Gamers have rights. These must be enforced! But to say “piracy is cute” with your name is nothing but a provocation (like the beginning of this lousy article), not a political program. Haven’t you read the last item of my rules I have just written a minute ago?
They are screaming all the time, lower the volume, tell me something beyond populism, what do you really want to do about the top 10 issues we have? Yes, I know you like to have more than 100 friends on Xbox Live, I mean politics. Ah I see, that’s boring Old-Europe stuff for those ancient fellas who actually get elected.
We already have a small party that can scream at the top of their lungs about whatnot and then do nothing, we call them the green party. The pirates’ entire support apparently comes from a generation who is practically “political starved”, or horny rather. Nobody tried to steal their votes in a long time. Hence, the Pirate Party is the saviour and can’t be wrong. They are blowing nerds like there is no tomorrow, and I shall support this? How does this help the economy again? Is there an export market for… let’s rather not go there.
And with an army of drooling zombie geeks who were not padded on the back for ages, you do not have to make any post-election-plans or actually any good points (I haven’t heard any yet, but I only live inside Twitter, what do I know).
An alleged child porn lover and a former holocaust denier among their ranks might look bad to some overly critical nitpickers, but still, the “Piratenpartei” can’t be wrong, because they know what the Internet is. They know my name! *vote*
They might be brilliant, but I will never know. I cannot trust the mob of mindless blind followers. I have played to much Lemmings in my life to follow a wobbly crowd with crazy hairdos.