How to Handle Pirates (The Final Truth)

Makers of Demigod write that Demigod was pirated like hell, but nevertheless the game sold it’s way to top 3 (even though it was less on what they expected).

As Ars Technica was quoted on that post:

“The reason why we don’t put copy protection on our games isn’t because we’re nice guys. We do it because the people who actually buy games don’t like to mess with it. Our customers make the rules, not the pirates. Pirates don’t count,” Wardell argues. “When Sins popped up as the #1 best selling game at retail a couple weeks ago, a game that has no copy protect whatsoever, that should tell you that piracy is not the primary issue.”

Indie developer Positech has NO-DRM policy on their games and Cliff is one of the most successful true indie developer in the world.

If there’s pretty well selling games that have no DRM, then why shouldn’t we all learn something from this?

I believe that it’s much about the mindset you take. Which of these segment do you think you should focus, which attitude should you take?

  • Anti-pirate
  • Pro-customer

We cannot stop piratism no matter what we do.

So, that leaves us the option to concentrate on something else.

What we can do is to have 100% focus on customers.

When we ignore pirates, and put our focus on customers we also start to attract the right type of audience towards us. When our minds are focused on “how to get more customers” instead of “how to prevent people from stealing from me” we are getting forward.

The final truth is: Arr, ye should just ignore pirate scums!

Everybody wins then.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I agree you need to just focus on the customer. With mainstream games getting cracked within a day or two, it would just be a frustrating cycle.

    I don’t agree that a really good game is always rewarded with purchases. I think it depends on how easy crackers make it for pirates to get the game. Are there a ton of torrent feeds and easily installed cracks? I also believe that many pirates just don’t want to pay anything no matter what. They aren’t necessarily poor, they just don’t want to pay period.

    Since indie games tend to be a bit more low profile, some sort of DRM might actually work for a while. With less exposure you might fly under the radar, but that might just be wishful thinking. If I were to add DRM to something I developed, I would likely use a common or free system which is likely easily cracked anyway.

  2. Cliff eventually started using DRM. It’s just a matter of time when he’ll forget the pirates once and for all…

  3. I personally think Cliff (successful as he is) wastes too much time fighting piracy and could make more money (and feel better) just focusing on making great games.

  4. Cliff may not have any DRM, but he has strategies to face the piracy. I read a post from him mentioning something like fake torrents of his games. This is another factor to consider.

  5. If your product is really good, then the customers will buy it. They will indeed enthustically buy it, because they want the original.
    If it’s crap, they will not buy it, or pirate it and keep it for a day or two.

    To fight piratism, you just need to make good products. It’s hard to define a good product, but you know it when you see it.

  6. I’ve always been pro-customer. Focus on making better games and have better marketing than wasting energy on people that mostly wouldn’t pay anyway.

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