Tobold's Blog
Friday, October 26, 2012
 
Voting with your wallet

I got a mail this week asking me to promote a "private" server for a MMORPG. Not going to happen! I consider people playing on pirate servers to be no better than petty thieves, whatever lame excuses they have about sticking it to the man or preferring some previous patch version. The mail only struck a cord because it was right next to a mail from Kickstarter, with the 24th regular update on the one game I backed there, Banner Saga.

The contrast couldn't have been sharper: Here we have on the one side Kickstarter, where people pay just to see a game they would like to play *attempted* to be made. And on the other side we have pirate servers where other people like a game so much they spend hours with it, but are unwilling to pay the people who made the game anything.

Video game piracy and MMORPG piracy means voting with your wallet *against* more games of the kind you like being made. Given how cheap MMORPGs are to play per hour, and how many free to play options there are today, there really aren't any good arguments justifying to steal them.

Comments:
What would be your stance on defunct games?

For example SWG has a private pre-CU server running now. The original game has closed.
When Smedley was asked in AMA he kind of gave the impression that he was looking the other way.

 
"people playing on pirate servers to be no better than petty thieves, whatever lame excuses they have"

I am playing on a private server named Feenix and it is a vanilla wow server with thousands of people, old well known guilds, with full addon support e.t.c.

I was asking for a vanilla server in official forums of Blizzard lot of times and always I got trolled from the same guys...I do not consider myself thieve because there is not an official vanilla server. Also I have an active account in wow that pay monthly sub the last 6 years and I am still have my account open. So why exactly I am a thieve again?

Blizzard afraid to open a vanilla or TBC server because you know what will happen..the majority of people will move there and after that they will forced to admit that the last years they were produced only shit expansions...not to say that the hardcore players will move there for sure, leaving the farmville 40 years old woman play with pandas and bugs bunny
 
Let's start with some definitions. Please speak up if you disagree with these definitions.

Theft - taking ownership of another person's property.
Competition - offering a similar good or service as another vendor.

Now, why are these players or private server hosts thieves? This certainly doesn't even touch Giannis' personal example of playing on a private server while maintaining an active sub.

If they do not claim to have created WoW, and openly admit to nothing more than emulation of a competitor, that does not seem like theft. Use of the client is not theft, as you pay a box sale and "own" it, are able to use it to make machinma, etc. As they are not contributing to server load or character storage or patch and gameplay bandwidth, there is no need for a subscription.

Now, I'm open to the suggestion that they are sleazy, or in some ways hypocritical, and I completely agree that they are voting against future games being made as you suggest. I do not see any case for theft.
 
Let's start with some definitions. Please speak up if you disagree with these definitions.

Theft - taking ownership of another person's property.
Competition - offering a similar good or service as another vendor.

Now, why are these players or private server hosts thieves? This certainly doesn't even touch Giannis' personal example of playing on a private server while maintaining an active sub.

If they do not claim to have created WoW, and openly admit to nothing more than emulation of a competitor, that does not seem like theft. Use of the client is not theft, as you pay a box sale and "own" it, are able to use it to make machinma, etc. As they are not contributing to server load or character storage or patch and gameplay bandwidth, there is no need for a subscription.

Now, I'm open to the suggestion that they are sleazy, or in some ways hypocritical, and I completely agree that they are voting against future games being made as you suggest. I do not see any case for theft.
 
Blizzard afraid to open a vanilla or TBC server because you know what will happen..the majority of people will move there

Keep on dreaming Giannis.. keep on dreaming..

 
"Use of the client is not theft, as you pay a box sale and "own" it"

You do not own anything besides the physical disk and its packaging.

The software is being licensed to you on a subscription basis and you are agreeing to the Terms of Service associated with this license.

Legal questions aside, these unofficial servers show:

1) Nostalgia is a strong driver

2) Blizzard is failing to address the needs of 100% of the WoW market
 
Competition - offering a similar good or service as another vendor.

Trion with Rift and ArenaNet with Guild Wars 2 could be said to offer a similar good or service as another vendor, Blizzard in this case.

The guy selling fake Prada handbags from the boot of his car is *not* a competitor, but a thief. He ripped of the design that was created by somebody else, and is now selling it as if he had created it himself. He would not even have a market if it wasn't for the real thing.

Intellectual property is property. Theft of intellectual property is theft.

Intellectual property can be "abandoned", thus you won't hear me complaining about GOG or Star Wars Galaxies servers. But somebody offering a private server of a running game is obviously hurting that game, because not everybody is like Giannis and paying for both.
 
> Intellectual property is property. Theft of
> intellectual property is theft.

But that all depends on the country you're in. Theft and property are things defined by human.
 
Theft of intellectual property is theft.

You've been brainwashed by the music cartel or something? Repeating this meme does not make it any less false.
Go ask a lawyer the difference between theft, copyright violation and contract breach and then try again.

 
My understanding is that some private server operators are quite stringent about ensuring their players also have an active subscription to the game they're emulating, if possible.

What's your opinion of servers taking that position? Do you still believe they're thieves?

- Hugh @ MMO Melting Pot
 
Go ask a lawyer the difference between theft, copyright violation and contract breach and then try again.

I am talking from a moral point of view, where theft is theft, even if some clever lawyer found a different expression for it. My day job consists of creating intellectual property in research, and if people could just steal my results I'd be out of a job and starving. That isn't fundamentally different from a game developer. How many game developers have lost their jobs while people played the pirated version of their games?
 
If someone writes a program and I download it and use it without paying the price they ask, I am a thief. I am taking money from them.

I don't care what weasel words you use to justify it.
 
Tobold, just because people are arguing that it isn't theft doesn't mean that they're saying it is okay or has no negative consequences. These aren't semantic issues; they're different problems and require different solutions. Insisting that it is theft just makes it harder to solve.
 
My day job consists of creating intellectual property in research,

Same for me. And guess what? I *publish it*, with all the details for everyone to copy and use. I'm not losing anything in the affair, because I have already been paid for my work. Maybe they should copy this payment model? (BTW it's happening, look at kickstarter).

The difference between theft and copyright infringement is quite big and definitely not lawyer-talk. I'm sure you can tell the difference from someone stealing your car or taking a picture of it....

 
I'm sure you can tell the difference from someone stealing your car or taking a picture of it....

That is not the same, you can't drive pictures of cars. I'm sure you can tell the differene between somebody just taking a picture of a car, or a company stealing the plans and design and selling that car, destroying the original makers market.
 
How many game developers have lost their jobs while people played the pirated version of their games?

None. Game developers lose jobs after their companies start shipping shitty games/sequels no one wants to play.
 
I think the argument about whether or not IP consitutes theft tends to break down between people who've actually put blood, sweat and tears into personal works and those who have not, and maybe ta best find it much easier to take the product other have made and use it for their own.

Write a book or create a piece of art, then watch someone artlessly copy and sell it. Then, as that person makes money off of your product regardless of your legal claim to it, ask yourself if you have been stolen from or not.

Those who get hung up on the idea that their pirated game is not theft are people who don't value IP to begin with, and have never created anything worth stealing (though they may, of course, have happily stolen something themselves, and then continued to justify their actions).

@Helistar: Based on what you're saying you are producing content for a seller who is paying you. I've free lanced a lot, and all of my content paid for up front is now in the hands of my publisher, and it is effecitvely theirs, having purchased ownership of it. That publisher now bears the burden of making money on that product, and if it is pirated or otherwise stolen and then resold as copies by a third party it is also their loss. However, I also try to sell my own works through my own publishing label. When my own product is pirated and sold illegally (and that did happen, interestingly) what legal recourse is there, if I as a small publisher lack the legal power to go after the offender? In my case I was one of many who were victimized by this clown, and collectively he has been made a pariah, but this was most definitely theft.

I've also had my copyrighted works distributed through torrents. I am not a m=big evil publisher. I don't even sell my works for big dollars. Yet here I am, noticing an 8 to one ratio of pirated downloads to sales (and that's a pretty low ratio, I am told). I even distribute a free "lite" edition of one of my books for people to sample.

It's basically the age old problem ala the Ring of Gyges, and the ring is the internet. But the fact that everyone does it doesn't make it right.

Likewise, the fact that not everyone wants to do a kickstarter....or find a publisher to purchase a work up front (note that royalties will still get impacted through theft) or...say....accidentally leaves a car unlocked, doesn't mean that person deserves to be stolen from.
 
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