Who pays the development costs of the first copy?
Pirate parties explainin their websites how “all benefit from sharing of culture”. I almost agree. Yes, when product is created, and if sharing costs are zero, that indeed means that the whole world can enjoy the existing culture for free. Everybody wins?
Almost. Except the chap who created the first copy. The original piece of culture.
If all games would cost zero and everybody would just use pirated copies, the situation is pretty good. There’s just one question. How do we support those who create new culture? (I’m not saying we necessarily should, but in case we wanna create new culture, who pays the price?)
Game developers blame that pirates are selfish, since pirates don’t give their money to game developers. Pirates blame game developers being selfish, since game developers want to take pirates money.
Both are correct.
And then pirates suggest alternative models, such as these:
Game developers should get money from selling mugs, t-shirts and other stuff. Like angry birds does
This is same as pirate would be saying:
“Let’s produce more plastic crap that somebody else than me should buy”. This means that we will need to start producing crap in order to make games. I find the idea of “in order for me to make games, the world must produce more t-shirts” pretty damn unmotivating. I don’t want more t-shirts and mugs. I want more money, so that I can produce more culture.
Game developers should get money from advertising
The situation is pretty same as with the previous example, but instead of developer getting the money (or mug industry), now the game advertising industry gets the money, and we want world to produce more advertising systems.
Aka, this is same as pirate would say:
“I don’t pay, but those makers of product X should pay so that I can get culture for free”
As a developer, I don’t necessarily want another middle man who would start finding advertising deals for me, taking cut from each sale. This means my funds are used to support producing advertisement systems in the world. Or, if I don’t want middlemen, I will need to spend time hunting down ad deals, which is time I could spend make games (been there, done that)
I too am selfish, like you pirates, but at least I have the guts to admit that. (I’m also pretty good at trolling sometimes).
Also, advertising model clearly isn’t what pirates want, since pirated versions often take those ads away. So, it’s slightly odd to suggest “advertising” when pirated versions lack ads in the first place, or are downloaded through sites that show ads yes – but revenues go to somebody else than the developer.
Game developers should make distribution more convenient, like pirate bay
Pirate bay gets support from ads. Google too. They are big distributors, which make it handy to get stuff for free. This is essentially as saying:
“I don’t wanna support the creators, I wanna support the distributors for showing adult, dating, casino ads, and possibly other industry ads too, which then support those industries – but I don’t wanna support the guy or company who created the first copy. As long as somebody else pays, I’m all good.”
“Game industry needs to develop better ways to distribute”
I think AppStore, Steam, Desura and others are much more convenient distribution channels already for those who are not technically advanced. I’ve tested torrent systems, but I tell you: AppStore for example is a very handy way to get stuff.
And if it’s the “distribution” or “convenience” that you are against, why don’t you do the following:
- First get pirate copy of the software
- Send money to the developer
This way you would cut all midmen, but developer would see his money.
I know why. Because: “I don’t have money”, said the pirate and took a sip from his ale filled with grog.
If you sip grog, instead of giving that money to a developer. Then you are supporting grog sipping, not culture creation.
Equally well I can say that if I’m spending money I get from game development to grog sipping, this means I’m sipping grog in the expense of the pirates. The difference is this:
- I have the guts to say this.
- Currently all my game dev money goes back into creating more game dev, and to support my family (and to buy Moomins toys at the expense of your – and mine – grog sipping).
You cannot have cake and eat it too
I’m not totally against piracy. I think it’s okay for example students without money or well, anyone without money to pirate games. As long as these guys then remember to support later when they are productive members of the society and can show support to the industry creators too.
The bottom line is this:
- Piracy means you don’t want to give your money to the creator (nor other parties involved)
- Suggesting that we should produce more grog drinking mugs means creators should not get money, but grog mug makers.
- Developers are selfish, yes – and we have guts to admit it: we want all the money we can so that we can keep on producing culture, and to sip some grog if money is left.
- Pirates are selfish, but they hide behind some “all for common good by sharing culture to all (let’s forget the chap who created the piece of culture)” clause, meaning they have more money to sip grog.
All this boils down to this:
- To whom we give our money, gets to decide where it goes (after governments take their cut and spend it to build roads and statues in cities). If pirates keep the money and keep pirating, they decide who gets it. They can give it to developers or to grog industry.
- We as developers of course want that we get the money (plus some leftover to sip grog).
- Pirates wanna of course keep the money, so that they have something to buy grog.
At some point developers claim that “hey, we help children by giving to charity” to which pirates respond “so do we, by not giving you the money in the first place”.
Game devs say that “if we have more money, then we have more time to make games” and pirates reply “if I have more money, then I don’t need to go to work so much so that I have more time to play games”. Whose free time is more precious?
I think ease of distribution is important, but totally forgetting the guys who created the stuff that is distributed is somewhat worrying.
I think we are all selfish, all wanna keep decision power at our hands. There are couple of pretty fair models. Kickstarter is one: there everybody gets to decide how much they spend money so that something gets produced. Of course there’s quite a long waiting time, and some stuff doesn’t get produced if there’s no money – but that’s life.
I’ve seen some honest pirates too. They say they pirate because they don’t wanna pay, period. I think there’s nothing we can do about those chaps. They’ve chosen that we creators should not get a penny, because they wanna buy bigger monitor and faster computer to play games. I think in a free society, this must be allowed. We can respond by stopping making games, so that pirate no longer has new games to play. If that’s what society wants, so be it.
But then I’ve seen these pirate parties, who claim that “all win if sharing is free”. That is simply not true. It’s the developer who is funding the development then. The first copy costs.
I’m not saying that it’s the “right way” that it’s the players responsibility to pay – I just feel it’s one of the most fair way. Those who create get money from those who consume the creation.
So, what you think.
Who should pay the first copy? Developer? Players? “Somebody else, as long as it’s not me”?