Saturday, October 31, 2009

How About You Ask The Pirates?

Ars Technica is running a piece about Borderlands and the fact some players were able to snag a boxed copy of the PC version days before launch only to be greeted by failed authentication attempts preventing them from playing the game.
Borderlands was a highly anticipated release on the PC, but a one-week delay of the PC launch meant that console gamers were able to enjoy the gun-collecting goodness ahead of their PC gaming brethren. A few gamers were lucky enough to find stores that were willing to sell the boxed PC copy of the game before the street date, however, but when they installed the game and tried to play, they found that without the title being authenticated online, the disc and key were worthless.

The problem? They forgot that buying a PC game doesn't involve a product, but a license.
Gearbox big wig, Randy Pitchford, responded:
"I don't know if something can be done to unlock copies for people that somehow get a copy before the street date... I certainly can't do anything about it, but I understand and am sympathetic to the frustration,"
He doesn't know. The man responsible for the game doesn't know if it can be unlocked before its street date. Maybe he should have asked the pirates that were playing Borderlands DAYS before the official street date.

It constantly amazes me the things that Publishers and Developers push off on piracy. Pirates don't buy games. Stopping them does not generate any revenue. There is not a single developer that has proven that piracy hurts their game sales. In some cases it has proven to help sales just as a free copy of a ebook often spurs sales of the hard copy!

Yes, piracy does hurt the bottom line when pirated versions are allowed to negatively affect the community and service built around a game. However, rarely, if ever, does a pirated copy equal a lost sale. That is NOT my opinion, its proven fact. Unfortunately, few companies are willing to admit this.

One time, just one time, I would like to see these companies learn a lesson from piracy. Make the game easily accessible, with no restrictions, and allow players to play as soon as they have their hands on a copy. This makes for happy and repeat customers (an educated person may have noticed that pirates tend to come back again and again to the same hacking communities that put out the best product).

NOTE: I do not pirate games or endorse piracy.
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