Piracy and Indie Games

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies… even closer”
Mafia motto.
Last week, Gamasutra had featured an article entitled Pirated P2P Games: Free Electronic Distribution for Independent Studios. Piracy has undoubtely been an issue since the birth of this industry. The article basically suggests of taking advantage of the P2P model to freely distribute our games and always offer a multiplayer option where we could charge from it once we’ve got gamers addicted to our creation.

I’ve had the experience of commercially launching my first game a year ago at the most important stores in my country (piracy rates in Argentina are above 90%). It was no wonder to me that only after a couple of weeks: I’ve got to download my own game from e-mule. Some colleagues congratulated me saying that having your game on e-mule, is like appearing on TV or something.. (and yes, it’s a kinda cool). But on realistic terms, piracy really blocked higher commercial aspirations for my title, although it sold quite well for the standards here.

Piracy is a reality that not only affects the game industry, but all cultural industries due to the complete abstraction of the distribution model (digitalization). There seems to be a point of no return, and while musicians can make their money by playing live and movies by getting exhibited at theatres and TV; is making multiplayer games the only solution for us?

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One Response

  1. So many people assume that everyone who pirates their product would otherwise have bought it. Now don’t get me wrong, I support the makers of the games that I’m excited about. The ones that I really want to play. I go buy copies of those, and I generally don’t download software unless it’s for a test run. However, most people who pirate games do it so that they can have something new to do to alleviate their boredom. If it’s not your game it’ll be someone else’s. You have to think of P2P sharing of your game as marketing, the TV appearance thing is a good analogy. Don’t think of it in terms of being famous and having all these people looking at your stuff. Think of it in terms of how many people are going to find out about your company and look forward to its next release. Think of it in terms of building a fan base. Piracy may be an obstacle in our day and age, but it’s only as big an obstacle as you make it.

    (and no, multiplayer stuff isn’t necessary, you can sell uploads and add-ons for small fees which’ll keep your business going in between releases and encourage people to get legit copies of your game)

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