Piracy Helps Hardware Sales

About a year ago, I read an article about digital products and piracy. In the article, it was said that “kids like to buy MP3 players, but hate to buy music”. Basically, teenagers were willing to put 300 dollars for a device that plays music, but wouldn’t be willing to pay for the actual music. That should be free.

Today I saw an article that reinforces this view. While the article is about PC manufacturer’s attitude (according to the CEO who was interviewed), it still reminds us that people are more likely to pay hardware than software.

I suppose it can help hardware sales. If people know they get to play all the good games for free (illegally), then it can boost sales.

I don’t know whether PC manufacturers view piracy as hidden benefit or not, but in my opinion it’s not their problem to solve. We game developers could suggest alternative business models… or just keep making so bloody good games that people can’t wait to pay for them.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I read that article as well, something along the lines “hardware companies dirty little secret” ;p. And indeed, its not their problem and I can imagine them benefiting from it.

    I start to love digital distribution models and things like Steam, XBLA etc. Or Guild Wars for that matter .. those are all kind of ‘hack proof’ (requires authentication, but I won’t say 100% of course) and the pricing seems right as well. I mean, I just payed 15 euro’s / 24 dollars for Team Fortress 2. Wow that felt nice. Same goes for the Castle Crashers game that will be purchased soonish :)

    The other difference with a platform like Steam is that they can support constant updates to the game (keep it fresh) and it has a 24/7 open store and don’t have to fight for retail shelf space for example.

  2. I wonder how it would affect sales and piracy if the companies change the way they interact with their fans/players/community. Remembering back to the launch of Aquaria.. I went right to the order form, placed my order and couldn’t wait until the download was finished.. and I’ve never played the demo. I think it was a very well executed product launch. Also, the developers themselves keep interacting with their fans on the forums.

    Or the way you are developing the zombie game for a community that can’t wait for the next demo.

    I like to compare it the kind of asian restaurants were you can watch the cooks prepare your meal. Your mouth gets watery as you absorb the smell and you just can’t wait to get your damn plate. It also helps bonding with the restaurant, ie. you go back there.

    I think that other companies can learn something from “the small guys”. For example, in my opinion, Blizzard is doing a great job with the launch process of Diablo 3 and StarCraft 2.. slowly introducing more stuff, giving sneak previews and all that kind of stuff. It helps getting people into the mood. At least it does for me. :)

  3. Piracy doesn’t drive drive hardware prices up for the reason that those who manufacture games (for PC) are not manufacturing PCs.

    With consoles it’s bit different: for example, Xbox is manufactured by Microsoft, so Microsoft can set the rules for “xbox game development”. There’s no “owner of PC system”, so hardware prices are not going up because of piracy.

  4. So, some consoles are cheap because they are counting on licensing deals and software sales to make up the price, right? Does this mean that piracy might drive hardware prices up to cover the creation of software now?

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