How lost sale is “lost sale by piracy”?

If you were in a situation where two things are about to happen, and you can prevent only one of them. Which one would you prevent from happening?

  • All your assets, home, money, stocks, everything would vanish. Poof. They are gone.
  • Or 100 million players are pirating your $10 indie game.

Now you can choose. Either you prevent (1) destruction of your assets, or (2) you can prevent 100 million players pirating your $10 game.

Which one would you prevent from happening?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. The question is a bit loaded.

    It is important to understand the meaning behind the second choice. We all know that preventing 100 million players from pirating your $10 game does not translate into 100 million purchases, though I understand you could make the argument that a percentage of these pirates (1% sounds reasonable) would buy the game if they found no other alternative way of playing it.

    Regardless, it’s more interesting to figure out if you think of the second option in terms of:
    a) Preventing the loss of income from the potential customers.
    b) Opening new possibilities for revenue by limiting people’s options of playing your game.

    I believe we deploy more energy to avoid loosing something of perceived value (even if this value is not understood) than to gain something of value (even if this value is well understood.) Thus, the potential loss of income would have to fight against the very real loss of what is familiar, meaningful and valuable to you right now.

    Even if we take a look at this from a more positive outlook, we find that the prospect of forcing the small percentage of pirates purchase the game by taking piracy off the table isn’t so appealing.

    100 million pirates are 100 million players, which means your game is getting crazy exposition. This is a sign of success in of itself. Even from a business point of view I’d propose that it’s more valuable to put efforts in converting pirates to paying customers (while leaving piracy and the massive distribution opportunities it gives people open) than restricting access to the game with some sort of draconian DRM scheme* that will have a big chance of alienating your customer base.

    *I’m assuming you’d have to do something like this to pull option b) off.

  2. sure no1. 100mil pirates are possible customers. you just need to find the right price. tell me. is your game worth 1 billion?

  3. What’s the point on this? Trying to make people think that piracy could worth 5 million as hermitC said? Or preventing 100 million pirate copies doesn’t have any relevance in your life? (If actually no pirates buy the copy)

  4. On a similar note, would you rather become a pokemon trainer or attend Hogwarts?

  5. When there is piracy there are honest people as well. Without honest folks there won’t be piracy. Selling games when there are just freebies would be illogical.

    Let’s assume buyers count just 1% of the pirate mob, speak 1 million sales. That would be 10 million $. After middlemen and taxes ca. 5 million are left for me.

    I think there is no choice, is there?

  6. Heh, this is tricky!
    Assuming I don’t receive income from this game otherwise, and assuming that at least 0,5% of these people purchase the game after pirating it, I’d still end up with more money than my current total possessions are worth.
    So I would probably risk (but this is silly).

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