Spirit of the Century gets Pirated. So what?

edited May 2007 in Story Games
Lenny just got word today (and passed it to me) that Spirit of the Century got pirated today -- it was posted about on, I think, 4chan? Not a place I frequent.

Clearly, it was done by way of a fan. The files posted were legitimate electronic forms of the game, so they came from some purchase-source in the past, and the file included a character sheet that someone from the fan community had created. And most of SOTC is free already, due to the OGL. So the exposure here's pretty minimal.

The IP that got exposed, here, was the layout I did, the setting material, and Christian's art (plus maybe a couple other things). Normally I wouldn't pay this much mind -- PDFs are really just opportunities to convert to print sales, the way I look at it -- but it's not just Evil Hat's stuff on the line. Our artist retains the rights to the art used in the book (we just got the right to publish those works ourselves), and as such I gotta take action on his behalf. So I dropped a mail to the filehosting site's abuse address asking them to take it down.

I doubt anyone who might read this did this, of course. But I just wanted to put this out there. If you are someone who wants to share our game, we've got a bunch of free and legal ways that won't force me to take action that can be done to share (most) of our game with folks you want to get on board, to learn how it's a cool thing. All of those free and legal forms of SOTC are available on FateRPG.Com. If you're looking to share, please point people there! We'd love to "meet" 'em.
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Comments

  • This happened to Panty Explosion last year. It all turned out well in the end. We saw a sales dip for about a month, but then a steady increase in both site traffic and sales. I had a lot of luck getting the file hosting sites to replace the file with the free 30+ page demo we offer on our site. At the time I was pretty pissed off about it, but as I said, it all turned out for the best.

    Funny, I was just run off 4chan's RPG page the other day for posting stuff about Classroom Deathmatch.


    Jake
  • 4chan is a shitty, shitty place.
    For what it's worth, I too think that it doesn't hurt on the long run. People that get the .pdf illegaly and never buy the game would probably never buy it anyway. I mean anyone into indie rpgs at all knows how everything works and would shell off the 10-20 bucks it costs to buy the game and support the makers.
  • You know, there are times when I authorize download of the PTA pdf and I get notification of like 8 downloads throughout the day, and I wonder what's going on there.

    On the other hand, there's nothing that prevents someone from buying my pdf and then sending a copy to all their friends.

    Sometimes that there honor system can be nerve wracking if y'get to thinking about it.

    BTW Fred, side note: does IPR still use the Forge Bookshelf?
  • Nope, IPR's PDF delivery mechanism is now managed by its shopping cart software.
  • That just makes my skin crawl, Fred. I feel bad for your artist. You're definitely doing the right thing.
  • edited May 2007
    It's interesting. I was just listening to the latest episode of This Week in Tech (TWIT) last night, and they broached on this very subject. Both Leo and Dvorak felt that giving away their books in PDF format increased hard copy sales. I have no idea if that was a theory, or something they had hard data on. So, if worse comes to worse, maybe use this experience to see if there is an upswing of orders from IPR. Try and make a positive from the negative is all I m sayin.

    Ch
    EndGame
  • Matt - I ended up downloading PTA about three times due to a clonky CD-ROM burner and, well, owning three computers. So there's that.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyMatt - I ended up downloading PTA about three times due to a clonky CD-ROM burner and, well, owning three computers. So there's that.
    True that. If I buy a PDF, I usually download it once or twice on my home PC to different locations, and once at work. Or it's actually more realistic to say "I make most of my PDF purchases at work: I download it once or twice there, and then download it again 1-2 times when I get home".

    I remember I had problems with the Beast Hunters PDF, so it took like 5-8 downloads over 2 days from 2-3 PCs to get it to work.

    Thanks!

    -Andy
  • I don't know if we want to discuss warez in depth here, but I'll just start with my own experiences.

    I had Universalis as a pirate PDF. I played it, then bought it along with some other story games. (Totally offtopic: Fred, I received the Roach cards friday, they're awesome, IPR rocks.)

    I never bought a PDF version of a game and I'm not afraid to admit that I have a total of 5 gigabytes of RPGs on my hard drive - doesn't make me proud though. D&D and Universalis were the only ones I've ever played. I've read maybe 2-3 books this way, the rest of the books I just skimmed through one or two times. Why downloading them you ask? I started with it to get back into gaming without taking any financial risk (unused books), and continued so "I have this book about angels and demons just in case of emergency," then I downloaded some books to share them with the warez community (which exists and is in fact, a nice community). After maybe one year of activity I stopped downloading because I realized I do nothing with the files.

    I'd say there are four types of people in RPG-warez land:
    • The ones who don't care about what they download. They'll never read it, they wouldn't ever try to buy it. This is the masses.
    • "Community builders." They download so others can download the same files later. The part of the crowd that actually uses chat to communicate with each other.
    • Interested people. They'll download the book, read it, maybe even play it and seriously consider a buy. I'd say if it comes to a play session, a good portion of them will buy the book afterwards.
    • Real warez users. These are the ones who'll not buy the book if not necessary and will use what they download. Most of them are students or people from East-Europe, Asia or South-America. (This isn't an excuse, just a remark.)
    I'd say if your target audience consists in a large part of students, you should do whatever you can to stop illegal downloads. And I totally and fully understand Fred's problem with not wanting other's work (illustration in his case) getting pirated by whoever wants to do it. It's totally the way to go if you want to be a serious business partner.

    If I'd be asked for advice (which isn't the case but here I go anyway), I'd say try to ask for removal if you encounter an illegal copy of your game, but never threaten (threatening gets your game into the "pirated and buy not considered" section). Offer a demo (or "no layout and illustrations") version to be uploaded instead of the illegal copy if you can. (People download files, not links - I'd say an URL doesn't get you much attention. You should still include it in your request though, who knows what happens.)

    As an aside, I consider getting people from warez-land interested in playtesting games. If I'll ever get so far and have a game ready to playtest outside my gaming group, I'll totally try it. Hopefully they'll not ban me forever thinking I'm a "spy."
  • Case study:

    Someone on RPG.Net was talking about Donjon. I downloaded an illegal copy of the PDF. In the back pages of Donjon, Clinton mentioned the Forge as a source of cool games. This led--after a bit of sampling through play and whatnot--to purchasing

    * The Donjon Bestiary - $5
    * The Shadow of Yesterday (though I'd already DL'd the open version) - $20
    * Sorcerer - $20
    * Sorcerer & Sword - $15
    * Sorcerer's Soul - $15
    * Sex & Sorcery - $15
    * Dictionary of Mu - $20
    * Trollbabe - $10
    * Capes - $20
    * Breaking the Ice - $20
    * With Great Power . . . - $12
    * Mechaton - $6
    * The Questing Beast - $2

    I still have warez versions of the original Burning Wheel, Dogs in the Vineyard, and (I think--can't remember whether this one is legal or not)--Primetime Adventures. All of these will be made legitimate when I play 'em. I feel somewhat guilty about this--and if Luke, Vincent, or Matt requests it, I'd happily legitimize it--but my general principle is to pay for what I use.

    Ripping off Clinton for $5 makes me feel bad, but it led to pumping $180 into the Forge community, including $25 to Clinton himself, which wouldn't have happened without that initial theft.

    I realize it's only self-selected anecdotal evidence, but there it is.
  • edited May 2007
    Rock out, James! I can't tell you how many times I authorize people for the Donjon Bestiary that haven't bought Donjon from me. I usually just go ahead and authorize them anyway.

    My "rock out" isn't an endorsement of illegal downloading. I used to illegally download music years ago, and quit when I wrote a game and now I have mad respect for intellectual property. But that doesn't mean I don't like finding out that illegal downloads actually do help sales.
  • I've written a couple posts on my journal about how gaming PDFs have changed how we do our gaming* -- primarily in that when I buy a hardcopy game I have the ability to loan it out, but when I only have the game in PDF I can't legally "loan" it out to a friend by giving them a copy.

    So, I've been involved, technically, in pirating Dogs in the Vineyard to my gaming group. Result: I don't think there's anyone in my group now who hasn't bought a copy.
    After talking with Fred, I've done that with Spirit of the Century. Result: Almost my entire group has bought a copy.
    I've also done that with Burning Empires. Result: We haven't caused any more sales than my initial two, but we're actually able to play the game because everyone who was interested in reading the rules before we started playing was able to do so. And that's a game that really needs that level of involvement.

    Now, my gaming group could leak this out to the world, but I have talked to them about now doing so, appealing to the fact that I know a lot of these folks personally and that it would be nice if they bought copies to support these folks. They've been pretty cool about it. Legally, it's the same thing as my putting it up on a warez site and them downloading it from one, but we'd like to think that it allows us to keep doing our hobby the way we use to do it -- by being able to so book loans to create buy-in and knowledge-share.

    (*If you're interested, you can read them at: http://macklinr.livejournal.com/tag/thoughts+on+pdfs )
  • Posted By: Matt WilsonYou know, there are times when I authorize download of the PTA pdf and I get notification of like 8 downloads throughout the day, and I wonder what's going on there.
    Matt, when I bought Trollbabe I had to try a number of times to make the download work, because the way the Forge Bookshelf and my particular installation of Firefox were interacting - Firefox wasn't recognizing the file as a .zip. I ended up downloading it through IE (hisss, spit).

    Ron noticed and emailed me to ask (politely) what was up. I told him, and there an end.

    Some of your multi-downloads may be a similar situation.
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: Clinton R. NixonMy "rock out" isn't an endorsement of illegal downloading. I used to illegally download music years ago, and quit when I wrote a game and now I have mad respect for intellectual property. But that doesn't mean I don't like finding out that illegal downloads actually do help sales.
    I like CRN Games for two reasons: its great games, and its progressive Creative Commons policy. It's my favorite gaming company, and without Clinton's commitment to the Forge community in his game text, I never would have been turned on to any of his friends' games.

    Also, Tony Lower-Basch sold me on Capes by encouring people to share the PDF's with their gaming groups.
  • People who are actually looking for these things:

    Out of curiosity, is Polaris available on any of these networks? I ask because I don't have a PDF for sale, and I'm trying to figure out how that figures in.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • Doesn't appear to be on NullusNet, Ben--unless you're secretly H.P. Lovecraft.
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: Ben LehmanPeople who are actually looking for these things:

    Out of curiosity, is Polaris available on any of these networks? I ask because I don't have a PDF for sale, and I'm trying to figure out how that figures in.

    yrs--
    --Ben
    yeah Polaris is out there man.

    Edit: OK I can't find it right now so maybe I dreamed it or something. :(
  • Thanks for discussing this, people. I wasn't upset about it (some folks seem to be responding as if I was), but I did want to get it out there and see how everyone poked at it. The pokings have been enlightening. :)
  • edited May 2007
    I totally share James' story, although the games differ and I've dropped a lot more money on indie games. I think I ripped off Jared Sorensen to begin with, getting my hands on inSpecters and ocTane. Now I owe my soul to IPR. :D
  • edited May 2007
    I find this subject very interesting.

    I tend to keep an eye on alt.bin.ebook.rpg to see what's there. This all started when Drive Through started and had all that shitty DRM and watermarking on the PDFs they were selling. As expected, the DRM didn't stop stuff appearing. Within a couple of days of Exalted 2nd going up for sale, files started appearing with names like exalted_2nd_edition_dewatermarked.pdf. So obviously watermarking and DRM don't help prevent piracy.

    I look at his stuff mostly because I think that it gives me a decent cross section on what people are playing. Although that is probably not very accurate, because I imagine that most of the stuff people download goes into an archive and never, ever gets read much less played.

    I've downloaded files of games to see what the file was like (although, for moral reasons, only stuff I already owned). Generally they fall into three camps:

    Actual commercial PDFs.
    High quality scans
    Rubbish scans.

    A lot of the commercial PDFs aren't actually the exact same commercial PDF that is for sale. Quite often it's a PDF print of a PDF, if that makes sense, which has been created to circumvent DRM. A typical 250-300 page pdf is about 15 megs, depending on artwork, optimisation etc. All the ones I've seen look pretty good (as in, they look like a commercial PDF).

    High quality scans are usually very readable. Although they are generally just scans with raster images of the pages of the book. Not as attractive as a commercial PDF, but readable. You could read a book like this and if you printed it it'd probably look OK, but obviously not the same as a "proper" PDF.

    Rubbish scans are pretty awful and borderline unreadable. I can't imagine anyone wanting these at all. But I assume that people download them to hoard.

    Needless to say, what you see most of is D&D. Also stuff like D&D software tools (etools and the like) appear all the time. I don't really see much indie stuff. In fact, I can't remember seeing any, although I've not been checking as much lately. White Wolf stuff appears all the time, especially the newer stuff. There's a massive amount of "Nostalia" stuff there too, like there'll be a Star Frontiers or Gamma World 1st ed flood every now and then.

    I have downloaded stuff that I've actually used, but only stuff I already owned the hardcopy of. Like for printing the tables and whatnot in the back of a book. I've also bought a ton of PDFs over the years, and although I've never given PDF copies of games to my players, I have given printed copies to them. That is, when we played Paladin, I printed 3 copies and the players got one each so they could learn the rules. I don't know if this is strictly legal, but I do know that it didn't reduce sales of the game because the guys in question aren't games per se and don't even own their own dice. Also, there's no chance of them selling a copy that's basically just a duplex laser print with a staple in the corner (and I thing Paladin is now downloadable for free anyway).
  • edited May 2007
    The one thing that came to me when looking at the MERP material I had downloaded was: Oh, the horrid crap we used to be impressed by! This is... appalling.

    That's the main reason for me to ever download a PDF is to briefly look at Ye Olde Games. And then be appalled. This "historical perspective" use is somewhat akin to skimming the book in a store. You wouldn't ask ANYONE to play it with you.

    In my town, Copenhagen (Denmark), you can buy Indie Games off the shelf at a gaming store. That rocks so hard. I saw Roach and Carry, and I was blown away. The possibility to transcend the PDF and also, to be able to buy indie games on an impulse: wow.

    James: Good point. The LIST-OF-GAMES-AT-THE-END is a super marketing tool. Please, authors, add it to your game, today.
  • Actually, I was very surprised when I checked some days ago and did NOT see SotC, Agon, Don't Rest Your Head[*] on the emule network: I checked out of curiosity, and was impressed. This means that people who bought these games chose not to put them online. It's not like the pdfs are DRM protected, or watermarked. It just seems that people who buy them think that the author should get some bucks :)

    I sometimes download pdfs to take a look at stuff, especially if I don't really intend to play the game... it's really more akin to reading excerpts of the book flipping through pages inside a FLGS.

    But really, I don't think downloads will impact very much on sales: if anything it will create some new customers in the small percentage of the downloaders that really go and read the book, and then play it.

    OTOH, I copied the SotC pdf to my players to help them finish their characters (we live far apart and only meet infrequently), and I think this will be a good marketing value for evilhat in the long run: I am converting them :-D
    (hope Fred will be cool with it)

    [*] all games that I own (or are still arriving from lulu... darn shipping times!).
  • Not trying to break your heart, but SotC and Agon both are on the emule network. SotC has an Availability rating of 21, so it seems to be pretty popular. You can also find scanned copies of Sorcerer and all its supplements; you can also find Capes, DitV, Dead Inside, Burning Empires and TSOY. I only mention "indie" games, obviously you can find every WW or WotC product ever conceived there.
    Real warez users. These are the ones who'll not buy the book if not necessary and will use what they download. Most of them are students or people from East-Europe, Asia or South-America. (This isn't an excuse, just a remark.)
    I've been having a lot of (small) success spreading the FATE gospel using the SRD, not here, in Mexico (I would be the South-American student from the example) but in Spain and Finland. I don't send a copy of my (original) PDF to anyone. Will this generate some more sales for Evil Hat? I have no idea. I hope so, but, from the player perspective, that is not the to do it; I just do it because I love the game.

    However, if my friend Carlos in Finland asks me why I'm behaving like a raving lunatic about Dogs in the Vineyard, the easiest thing for me to do is to point him in the direction of an illegal PDF. I can't lend him my own dead-tree copy (bought on a second hand bookstore, BTW, I have no idea if it's original), and no amount of chatting is going to express the pure awesome of the game. Will this lead to a new DitV sale? I know I gained a new DitV convert, but in this whole transaction not a single dollar went to Lumpley games (besides, maybe, from whomever bought the original copy).

    On the other hand, I'm strongly considering buying TSOY. I have read the free html version, but I KNOW that if I want to run the game, I will need an actual book in the gaming table. The same could be said about almost any other game, really.
  • edited May 2007
    Selfish plug warning:
    I've struggled with the idea of downloaded pdfs and used books. My cohorts and I discussed this on the 6th episode of Canon Puncture Podcast. Check out the show.

    I discuss my feelings about buying used copies of Sorceror books and we migrate to pdfs. Honestly, we don't get deep into the warez discussion, so the episode is more of a companion to this discussion (okay, maybe a sickly companion, but allow me some puffery).

    Over the years, I've downloaded out of print Dungeon mags that I already own and some I saw in an index and thought it might have a cool adventure in it. I've downloaded some other books for a look see, but as I stated in the podcast, I get this sickly feeling with small press downloads that I don't with larger RPG companies, esp those with $40 books. I really, really have to be interested in a book to pay $40 for it. Heck, that's two normal books from IPR and free shipping!

    (edited to remove a stray letter)
  • Posted By: renatoramOTOH, I copied the SotC pdf to my players to help them finish their characters (we live far apart and only meet infrequently), and I think this will be a good marketing value for evilhat in the long run: I am converting them :-D
    (hope Fred will be cool with it)
    I'm always 100% happy with this. You're basically doing the things you would do with a book (pass it around for folks to look at), so honestly, that's "functioning as intended" as far as fair use of the PDF goes.
  • I'll chime in with a comment on something I think the Indie community is, by and large, doing right in this area - and which probably decreases any tendency for people to pirate. Most often, when you buy a print copy, you get the PDF version either free or for a nominal additional charge. This makes the game very easy to use for those of us who use computers a lot for prep & reference purposes, or who like to hack rules/setting/etc. I have dl'd D&D stuff in the past, and probably will again, simply because it's not available legally as a PDF for a competitive price and I don't want to pay twice for the same content in two formats. Being able to quickly and conveniently create handouts, copy text into Word and hack it up, build custom versions of a game... these are important to me, and PDF makes them possible. Having a book I can curl up with, carry on the train, lend to a friend, pass around the table, hit people over the head with... these also are important.
  • edited May 2007
    Here is another site for pirating RPGs in case people want to check on their games.

    chaos-wasteland.enlightning.de:6969

    EDIT: Linked directly to tracker

    You may have to have a login for this, I dunno.

    Fred: You've been pirated since 04/27.
  • The copy of Godlike that's floating around is some kind of pre-published pdf which I found strange(lots of ''look at page xx'' and ''block text here'' and no art).
  • Posted By: elmago79I've been having a lot of (small) success spreading the FATE gospel using the SRD, not here, in Mexico (I would be the South-American student from the example) but in Spain and Finland.
    "Not here, in Mexico, but in Spain and Finland."

    Not on topic, but that is the coolest damn thing I've heard all week. Rene, you rock. Especially if you can tell me how to make an "e" show up with an accent mark over it.

    On topic, I typically download pirated RPG .pdfs for research purposes, with a followup purchase of a dead tree version if I actually decide to use the material. I suck at screen-reading long documents, so a hardcopy is vital for actual play. Oddly, the only other indie game I've ever seen up for grabs besides SotC is Jack Aidley's Great Ork Gods, cards and all.
  • Posted By: Landon Darkwoodcards and all
    Hrm. And I thought The Roach had a built-in copy protection measure!
  • See, the first step on the ascension ladder of publishing is, you know, being published. The second step of glory is to be pirated. Only then does one achieve the true status of publishing master and is properly worshiped by the masses.

    (Doesn't look like I'm there yet :)
  • I assumed Agon was pirated the second the PDF was available. That's the world we live in. If someone loves Agon, they'll probably love it enough to give me some money by buying the printed book. I figure that the people who are straight up stealing my IP are not my customers anyway, so I'm not really losing many real sales.
  • Posted By: John HarperI assumed Agon was pirated the second the PDF was available. That's the world we live in. If someone loves Agon, they'll probably love it enough to give me some money by buying the printed book. I figure that the people who are straight up stealing my IP are not my customers anyway, so I'm not really losing many real sales.
    Yeah that's probably the case. Although I have to say this: If someone downloads Agon for example, because he wants to see how the game looks and plays, unless that person cares about the indie community there is a very small chance he'll buy the pdf. I mean he already has it, why pay for it again? I think that's where someone might lose some sales.
  • I love PDFs for reference, but now having bought a couple I wish I had sprung for the books instead. I like being able to do searches and the like, but I'm not going to play 'em without having dead trees involved. (Morto-arborism? Or not. Definitely not.) Which means I'm paying for the ink & paper anyway, so I'm not SAVING anything by the .pdf, except to be happy to be able to reference it (at work, without the book handy). With that in mind, having it available DOES make me more likely to buy the book[/album/whatnot] because I want to see if I'm going to be interested.

  • Fred:You've been pirated since 04/27.
    Oh, pretty recent, then. I checked a month or so ago, and sotc was not on emule (AFICouldT)

  • I'm always 100% happy with this.
    Yup, I seemed to remember you felt like that :)
    You're basically doing the things you would do with a book (pass it around for folks to look at), so honestly, that's "functioning as intended" as far as fair use of the PDF goes.
    Exactly: if we lived more closely I would simply pass them the book. Besides, I have 4 players, and two of them are brothers and actually OWN the softcover book :)
  • edited May 2007
    This thread is making me smile, because I really like how people, especially the publishers, react to warez of the games.

    To add another point of data:

    My first pirated RPG was Wushu. I'd heard about it through various forums and had been meaning to check it out for a while, but without a credit card, buying the books would have been work and so I just asked people on the froum about what this game is like and so on. (Obviously, this was before Wushu Open.)

    One fellow forum user offered me a bunch of files from Dan, amongst them the Wushu core, various Guides and a few other things from bayn.org. (I have no idea where he got them from, but I assume he bought them.) I accepted, read thzem and was instantly hooked.

    Since then, my girlfriend got herself a credit card and so I could finally buy stuff over the internet, and I used it to buy practically everything Daniel Bayn published since then, from Wire-Fu to the Tempus Guides. (I also bought Roanoke. ^_^)

    Now, I sometimes download stuff to check it out and to see if I like it. (If that's the case, I'll buy it.) I also downloaded Nobilis even though I already have the GWB, so see how good the scan was and to use for handouts. And last but not least, there are many games out there that I'd love to get and could probably download (Godlike, for example, which would cost over 50€ last time I even saw a copy. *sigh* Well, at least I have two nice copies of Wild Talents in my room. ^_^), but don't, because it would feel wrong. *shrug*
  • In my eyes, there is a world of difference between a GM passing a copy of the PDF to players (who, as people pointed out, often end up buying their own copy in the end) and just uploading a file on a p2p site — the difference between sharing and broadcasting. The first case is similar to the GM lending a physical copy of the book to friends; the second is a form of black market commerce. The first contributes to sales, the second is just as likely to short-circuit them.
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: AnemoneIn my eyes, there is a world of difference between a GM passing a copy of the PDF to players (who, as people pointed out, often end up buying their own copy in the end) and just uploading a file on a p2p site — the difference between sharing and broadcasting. The first case is similar to the GM lending a physical copy of the book to friends; the second is a form of black market commerce. The first contributes to sales, the second is just as likely to short-circuit them.
    Hmmm, dunno, seems a bit too simple to me.

    For example, many people here check out stuff over P2P and later buy it if they like it. Without checking up on it first, many people probably wouldn't buy it. (I also know that I have bought quite a few games that I wish I'd checked out first, because then I'd saved the money.) There are also people who will download stuff that they'd never ever bought, wether because they are obsessive collectors or just don't value it enough for their money.

    Add people who upload on principle (Information wants to be free, Fuck DRM, whatever) and all the other types of users and things are far from being as clear-cut as they seem in your post, IMO.

    EDIT: And that's even without thinking about the "Piracy=Advertisment?" issue...
  • We are never going to know, in the bigger picture, whether file sharing increases or decreases RPG sales until there's some big picture analysis of RPG sales. That is, when there is someone who is paid to figure out how many RPGs are sold by who to who in what locations over what time periods, then we might have some idea what we're talking about. Until then, it's woolgathering.
  • I dunno, it seems like the music and movie industry have people who are payed to do exactly that, and I don't think anything conclusive has come out of those efforts either. In other words, it might be woolgathering even then.
  • I must be crazy or something. I've never even THOUGHT to go out and pirate copies of, say, SotC, via some warez site. (Then again, I don't pirate software, either.)

    It's gracious of some of you designers to not care that much about it, but I think it's pretty shitty for someone to steal copies of games and then proudly boast how it made them buy some other product.

    Whatever.
  • edited May 2007
    It's gracious of some of you designers to not care that much about it, but I think it's pretty shitty for someone to steal copies of games and then proudly boast how it made them buy some other product.
    I recently posted a bit of info about Classroom Deathmatch on another forum, where I was instantly accused of trying to advertise my game. One person came on and said "someone post a torrent of this game so I can download it for free just to piss this jerk off".

    That's the kind of stuff I hate. That's the kind of stuff that gives filesharing a bad name. That's the kind of stuff that makes me not want to offer PDF's at all.

    On the oetehr had, I don't have any problem with someone buying one of my PDFs and sending it to a friend. I don't even really have a problem with someone downloading the book off a filesharing site. I might raise a fuss about it, but in my heart of hearts I really don't care.

    What I do care about is the mentality that I've seen developing where downloaders act as if they are entitled to everything for free. This sin't something I see here, but in other communities. The idea that everything should be available for free and anyone trying to sell something is a jerk or an asshole and is open to attack. I find this attitude repulsive and.... I don't have word for it. It kills me a little bit.

    What I'm seeing here is a lot more acceptable to me. I don't believe for a minute that everyone who dopwnl;oads a product that they really like will pay for it anyway. That's just not true. I've stolen enough stuff to know it. I do thank that some people work like that. I also think that there are plenty of people who are happy to get something that they want and will use for free. I don't really blame them for this. I put my PDF's out there knowing that. I do think that some good word of mouth advertising can come out of something like this. I think you can build a fan base for later releases. I think that someone who got your PDF for free might be more inclined to buy a print copy of your book if they see it in a shop. I also think that these people are far outnumbered by people who want your game and don't want to pay for it. And these people are far outnumbered by people who just want your game because they can take it and it makes them feel good to hurt someone.

    But we all make a choice when we make our games available in any format. We don't go into this blind. Not really.

    Jake
  • Posted By: JDCorleyWe are never going to know, in the bigger picture, whether file sharing increases or decreases RPG sales until there's some big picture analysis of RPG sales. That is, when there is someone who is paid to figure out how many RPGs are sold by who to who in what locations over what time periods, then we might have some idea what we're talking about. Until then, it's woolgathering.
    The fact is that at least a number of people are hooked on a game after they downloaded it illegally. At least some of those people, or other people exposed to the illegal download end up buying the product. Certainly not all people do that. The fact that the PDF sales of a game are bigger than just one unit (contrast it Windows Vista sales on China) means a lot of people do want to buy it. Would it really be important to know the impact on sales? Would any of the owners of IP rethink their positions if they learned that Piracy has small impact on their sales? or if it had a huge impact?
  • Would any of the owners of IP rethink their positions if they learned that Piracy has small impact on their sales? or if it had a huge impact?
    If I found out that the piracy of Panty Explosion had cost me a huge amount of sales then I would not release a PDF version of my next game.

    If I found out that the piracy of Panty Explosion had generated a huge amount of sales then I would not only release a PDF version of my next game but try to find a way to get it into the hands of more pirates.

    I think having this information would make a huge difference.


  • If I found out that the piracy of Panty Explosion had generated a huge amount of sales then I would not only release a PDF version of my next game but try to find a way to get it into the hands of more pirates.
    FWIW, that's what microsoft has been suspected to do for ages: the day before the release of a new product, somehow on the p2p circuits magically appeared "smuggled" enterprise versions with no activation whatsoever. :)
  • FWIW, that's what microsoft has been suspected to do for ages: the day before the release of a new product, somehow on the p2p circuits magically appeared "smuggled" enterprise versions with no activation whatsoever. :)
    Doesn't suprise me at all. I'm not completely convinced that having the PDF pirated was a win situation for us. It certainly didn't turn out badly. We're styill in business and Panty Explosion still sells well. But I've had people tell me that the copy of the game they own is one they downloaded for free, and that they don't see a good reason to buy a hardcopy or pay for the PDF. I've also had people tell me that they downloaded the game for free then bought it at a retail store later when they came across it. So it's hard for me to tell. Reports of the former outweigh reports of the later, but not by much. there has definetly been an increase in positive word of mouth about the game. and while sales did slump for awhile, they did eventually go back up. At the moment I put the whole thing in the "no harm done" catagory, but it's hard for me to say.

    Jake
  • It's good for Microsoft not because they sell more copies to the people who pirate their OS. It's good because these people learn to use it. If you use pirated Windows your whole life and all around you use it too, your company won't install Linux or some other OS you have no clue of. They will buy the one their workers have experience with. Or at least that's why I think it's good for them.
  • They will buy the one their workers have experience with. Or at least that's why I think it's good for them.
    Yup. Not only that, but in times where some competition actually existed (amiga, os/2, and so on) it helped smash it; microsoft has the advantage that the os hooks you into a specific market (you are going to need other products in the future, and guess what, they'll run on ms only). And uses very strong lock-in tactics. Nowadays, the market is already in ms hands, and that's why it is a bit more difficult to circumvent the protections.

    Games are a different beast, though: the only system that has (imo) something similar to the "vendor lock-in" spurred by not wanting to change system is dnd/d20. A lot of people started with dnd, learned that, and don't want to try anything else.
  • I think the piracy argument comes down to this:

    If you have a desirable product, it will be pirated. If you make music, people will rip your CDs and upload the resulting MP3 or FLAC files to usenet or a P2P network. If you make a film, people will rip a DVD or just film the damn thing in a cinema with a camcorder and it'll appear on P2P. If you write a piece of software, someone will crack it and sell CDs on ebay. If you make running shoes, a sweat shop in china will make near identical pairs and sell them around the world for a fraction of the cost you sell yours for and you will not see a penny of that money.

    Thinking there's anything you can do to prevent your product getting pirated is incredibly naive. Like it or not, P2P and Piracy is here to stay. The music and movie industries can't stop it, so what chance does the RPG industry have?

    Various studies have shown some facts about online piracy: Most of the people who download don't read or use any of what they download and wouldn't have bought the product anyway. Some people download to try stuff out and buy the stuff they like. And, yeah, some people who used to buy stuff stopped when they started downloading. So undoubtedly, there are sales lost to piracy (although there's a strong argument to suggest that also sales are made due to piracy). Do people lose sleep over the idea that their games are pirated? Probably. Does that do any good, is there anything anyone can do about it? Not that I can see. Before P2P, people used to just steal books from the damn shop! I guess that hit the retailer rather than the publisher, and obviously it wasn't on the same scale as P2P. But still, a dishonest person who's determined will get what they want without paying.

    What a publisher can do to reduce piracy is perhaps make it easier for people to get their work legitimately. Make a PDF available, otherwise people who want a PDF will have no choice but to pirate the game. Make that PDF cheap, otherwise people have more incentive to pirate it. Make cheap delivery possible on shipped items (Offer the "slow. but cheap" option where possible), because most people would rather have the dead tree edition of something and the PDF is not as good to those people. Like it or not, people can, with very little effort, get your game as a PDF for free. You have to work around that.
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