On piracy

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About this time last week I wrote the second of my monthly columns on Edge, this time about defending the rights of developers to take legal action against pirates of their games.  You can read it here.  The genesis of the post was me reading about CD Projekt, developer of The Witcher 1 and 2, deciding to take legal action against pirates of its games, as well as some recent appalling statistics published by Torrentfreak about piracy of PC and console games in 2011.  This made me decide to write about two things: (1) my views that the arguments opposing legal action vs pirates aren’t actually that good; and (2) that I feel really sympathetic for developers like CD Projekt and Crytek, whose bottom line has been savaged by piracy.  Anyway, so I wrote the column.  Then the Internet got a bit excited for a day or so.
The Escapist wrote a nice piece here; Kotaku wrote a pretty negative piece here.  My friend Will Luton of development studio Mobile Pie wrote his rejoinder to me here.  And there was a lively discussion on Twitter, some useful extracts from which I thought I’d set out at the end of this post (see below).
Clearly everyone has different views about piracy and how to reduce it: the purpose of my Edge column was to point out that legal action is one, valid route, and that the arguments against using it don’t really stack up in my view (although equally the way it’s been deployed to date haven’t been great either).  On the other hand, as I’ve said time and again on this blog, generally legal recourse is one important option open to games businesses BUT it can’t build a good business for you – only you can do that.  That’s why technological solutions and innovations in business models should be the real focus, supplemented by the law when necessary.

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