It will be interesting to see the fallout from the Pirate Bay decision. I'm one of those people that is all about the industry moving forward, as technology and pirates always will.
What do I mean? Well the point is that Pirate Bay (and it's use of bittorrent) was generated from a bunch of smart people finding a convenient way to share files, and do you really think that will ever end? This decision will slow down the "overt" sharing but it's an impossible battle to win. It's like Sony when they release new firmware updates for the PSP handheld because hackers keep breaking the previous one. After countless firmware updates, at some point you accept that this battle is going to go on forever. Jail-broken iPhones being another example. It's actually impressive to last a full 24 hours before the next crack happens.
Blu-ray movies are already cracked and freely available on the internet. I'm sure they are all over the Usenet by now. Luckily for us, we are an interactive medium so we have a chance of control.
So what can you do to change the video game piracy paradigm? People are trying... For example, China, where Piracy was a massive problem until they switched to server based games. That stops it stone cold. I personally am investing my money into game streaming, hoping that it will give people a dramatically cheaper choice, and (for pirates) be way more convenient than having to download, burn, install, fix drivers and patch (then worry about malware.)
Media companies waste countless dollars, manpower and sales trying to fight that system, so ultimately the attorneys are the only winners.
The REAL way to beat piracy is to focus on "convenience", "quality", "access". I once heard a speech about the "right price" for music. That's a price where you'd rather pay for the quality, proper meta-tags, "The Real Thing" etc. That's nearly what iTunes offers, but it's too expensive (as the speaker said after his analysis), and so the first company to actually work out that "not worth piracy" price, will suddenly make piracy "inconvenient". You don't have to agree, but it's an interesting idea.
Downloading a Blu-ray movie would be a total pain, and you would only get the video stream, not all the other "features" on the disc, so again, there's a price that people would pay for "The Real Thing", even when offered a free (reduced experience) online.
I don't expect media companies to consider this option, they will keep charging more and more and more and more (just like the video game industry is doing), the prices will continue to rise, and piracy will be fuelled. I call it the "money wall" and we just keep making it higher, making the barrier-to-entry worse and worse. It doesn't require an MBA to see that's not a good strategy.
So for me the only thing that really happened with the Pirate Bay legal decision is that this will slow down "public" piracy a bit for a short period of time, until the next method surfaces (with absolutely no traceable central command, nobody makes money off it, nobody to sue), comes along. Will this happen? Of course it will, it's a certainty!
Our industry has very smart people too, and so if anyone can get this right, our industry can. But the solution isn't to fight in courts, or to play "revision ping pong" with hackers, it's to move forward and design convenience, quality and access at a mass market price. That's what will get people to pay, even if there's an inferior pirate version available on some dodgy website.
At Acclaim.com, ALL our games are free to play, you only pay if you fall in love with the game. For me, there is no better business proposal for the gamer. Secondly, if file sharers share Acclaim game files, they actually save us money (as we don't need to pay for delivery bandwidth). We have ZERO piracy, and file sharers our are friends!
My message is simple, look where the industry is going, and get on that train. Or, set up a direct deposit account with your attorney, so they can rack up thousands of hours pretending to protect you from these scary "Pirates!".
No lawsuit will make them go away, and continuing to raise prices is just throwing fuel on the fire.
I remember seeing Michael Moore get hit with the question of piracy on his work, and his response was kinda surprising:
Anyway, to be clear, I think our industry focus should be on generating new business models, new ideas, and move with the times. We have a unique advantage over static media and are just one step away from being the #1 form of entertainment.
In a weird, twisted way, the pirates of static media (movies & music) are going to help get us there.
Posted by: Aleshka at May 24, 2009 1:37 AM
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