Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
 
Abject digital poverty

Oh man, sometimes this blog makes me feel my age. I simply don't understand the entitlement kids of today. In yesterday's thread several people justified video games piracy by games being "too expensive", a "financial burden" on those poor kids, whose abject digital poverty was described in the following terms:
  • "It's a financially burdensome hobby. I mean, for a kid making minimum wage, a copy of Bioshock Infinite is 10 or 12 hours of menial labor. That's your customer base, and these days they don't really need a console, do they? They probably have a laptop, a smartphone, an iPad."
  • "the fact is that a lot of people do not have the best internet connections"
A laptop, a smartphone, an iPad, a sub-optimal internet connection, I didn't have any of these things when I was a kid. And even today I would say that a kid having all this is already a spoiled brat. If in addition to that he has a video game console and gets a game or two for each birthday and Christmas, plus one game for every 10 or 12 hours of lawn-mowing, he should be more than happy. Claiming that this kid is so poor, he is justified to pirate video games is just way out.

Comments:
Doesn't this post fall exactly in the category you were mentioning yesterday, i.e. "Avoiding the real question"?

 
The world changes ... Internet connection nowadays is a must. So this is a valid complaint. I have had 100Mbit connection in the last 7 years with combined downtime less than 10 hours.

The simple truth is you need wire with no cap nowadays to be able to get around the current high tech world. So if your only connection is 3g modem or cable - you are in a tough spot.


 
Doesn't this post fall exactly in the category you were mentioning yesterday, i.e. "Avoiding the real question"?

In the context of somebody justifying piracy with the high price of games compared to disposable income of rich kids, what would you say that the "real question" is?

For me it is "should everybody be entitled to everything?", and my answer to that is a very clear NO.
 
Bioshock Infinite cost me 23GBP including free copies of Bioshock 1, Bioshock 2 and XCOM. Even console games are only 30GBP online and I am talking about release day pricing and not discounted prices after six months.

In 1992 I paid 45GBP for FZERO on my shiny new SNES. I was earning 6GBP a week delivering newspapers. My bosses son earns almost three times that these days for the same work.

Even PC and Amiga games were 25.99GBP back in the early 90's and I never pay more than that for new releases now. In real terms games are historically very cheap even though Dev costs are at record highs.
 
Except ... you should prove they are rich ... and that they have disposable income.

You look at the world as a series of absolutist moral fables. Especially in IP and economics. Things are more complex usually.
 
Except ... you should prove they are rich ... and that they have disposable income.

That is exactly what I did. I'm not talking about everybody, I am talking about the specific example mentioned by that commenter, the kid owning a laptop, a smartphone, an iPhone, and a console who is complaining that he can't afford enough games for that console. Doesn't owning all these devices prove that the kid in question isn't poor?
 
You met with the same moron and slacker attitude you protected in the games. Why do you think that someone who feels entitled for in-game rewards without effort will not feel entitled for IRL rewards without effort?

YOU created these brats by telling them that they should have the best gear without damaging more than the tank. Eat what you cooked!
 
No ...

A lot of smartphones are given with a contract and non apple ones even for free (relatively speaking, you more than pay with the stupid monthly plans), they are also a necessity.

A laptop can last nowadays 5-6 years so it can be a really old device.

And iPads are sometimes given as a study aids - there has been some deployments in the US for this purpose. Or it could be second hand first gen device.

The only luxury here is the console itself which could be a gift.

You could amass large amounts of electronics that are just other people's trash nowadays for cheap or for free. I have often given away my old PC-s when I upgrade.

The question is does the kid has the 60$ in disposable income for day 1 purchase or not.

Saying he owns something so he must be rich is a fallacy.

Of course for the upper middle class and above kids in western europe, japan and US that is not often the case.


 
Why do you think that someone who feels entitled for in-game rewards without effort will not feel entitled for IRL rewards without effort?

Because life is not a video game.

I am very much okay with somebody stealing a car in a Grand Theft Auto game, because you basically can't play the game without doing that. I am very much against that person doing the same in real life. As soon as we assume that the same principles apply to both real and virtual worlds, we are in a shitload of trouble. I really, really don't want real people to behave like in a Call of Duty game, or a Need for Speed game.
 
A lot of smartphones are given with a contract and non apple ones even for free (relatively speaking, you more than pay with the stupid monthly plans), they are also a necessity.

That is wrong on so many levels. First of all a smartphone is not a necessity, for example I don't have one. Second of all if you take the whole package, e.g. the smartphone plus 1 year contract, it is never free, and in fact is very much a luxury somebody really poor can't afford.

I don't know the numbers for the US, but in Germany for example the cheapest iPhone plus 1 year contract costs as much as somebody on unemployment benefits gets to live on for two months.
 
You have a lot of cheap android devices from china that are very cheap. For me to have VPN/SSH/RDP on the go is a must so I may be a little biased here. Also don't forget abusive marketing and really opaque worded contracts. The end user that is not legal/tech savy is quite a lot of times defenseless there when they get upgraded/upsaled.

I see what you point, but there is disconnect with your disposable income and property. The property is integral of past choices and income. Disposable income is just function of your current income and fixed costs. And there can be disconnect between the two in the short term.

And in the long term we are all dead as we all know.


 
I find it incredible that anybody can defend games piracy on the basis of poverty.

What the hell has happened to the world? When did it suddenly become acceptable to have everything for nothing?

The real question is "should somebody be entitled to things they don't have, on the basis that other people can afford them?". The answer is clearly no, unless you really, absolutely want to live in a utopian commune (which will never exist).

If the answer is yes, then I'll have a brand-new Rolls Royce please, as I can't afford one, but others can. If I can't have it, then I'll go and steal one. Maybe I'll keep it for a few months until I'm bored of it, then I'll whine that I don't have the latest Rolls Royce that came out, and do the same. After all, I'm entitled to it.

Why do people also feel they need to own every game that comes out? If you can't afford every game that you're interested in - tough. 10-12 hours "menial work" to own Bioshock Infinite? Then work it, buy the game, play it, and save up for the next one 2-3 months later. Nobody owes you Bioshock Infinite, and you don't automatically deserve it, it's a piece of entertainment, not a necessity.
 
What I don't understand is that as soon as someone doesn't want some horrible DRM he will be called a pirate.

I buy all my games. Each and every one of them.

But while you haven't really said it (written it) out loud it seems like you are branding everyone who is opposing horrible DRMs as pirates.
 
The poor kid who cannot afford a game is not a very helpful poster child for the pro-DRM case, because he does not, by definition, represent a lost sale to the publisher.

Therefore, his intellectual property violation cannot be converted to monetary damage.

Therefore, it is not particularly immoral. His happiness is a greater good than the non-impact on the copyright holder.

Incidentally, the conservative, Protestant-ethic view that the morally correct price and mode of distribution of goods and services is the one set by their purveyor is not necessarily the final word on the subject. For example, to my delight, Indian courts continue to strike down the protests of Big Pharma over local production of generic drugs identical to protected brands. You may have heard of the 'evergreening' practice of attaching biochemically neutral functional groups (a bit like the two lines of code that made SimCity always-online) and other chemical adornments to drugs to try to extend patents. Increasingly, such tricks no longer fly, and IP rights are being merrily eroded in the name of saving lives.

It is much easier to defend these violations when it comes to retrovirals than to luxuries such as video games, but the principle remains the same. At some point, society is indeed entitled to examine property rights and judge them against the common good.
 
But while you haven't really said it (written it) out loud it seems like you are branding everyone who is opposing horrible DRMs as pirates.

As you said yourself, I didn't say/write that.

I am just eager to split the discussion on "horrible DRMs" into two parts: The "technologically non-functioning horrible" part, and the "DRM" part. Personally I am very much opposed to the former, and very much for the latter. And I object to conflating the two and claiming that all DRM by definition must always be technologically non-functioning.

I am not branding everybody as pirates, but I can imagine working DRM which poses just minor inconvenience to legit customers, but major inconvenience to pirates. What you read into the loud protests against such a concept remains up to you.
 
@Roble - I can ... when I was 12 there were no ways to afford the Visual Studio, Borland Pascal or Watcom C compiler or OrCAD or Windows 95 licence ... so I pirated them and cracked out of curiosity and become a software engineer. I wanted to program, so I just had to infringe on the rights of bill gates ... so that I can study and educate myself.

Memory scanners, hex editors, pointers, registers - all of these skills that now pay my salary were developed because I had to strip DRM of the software I needed, or make trainers or things like that.

Now when I have a steady well paying job I am a heavy consumer of IP in all its flavors. it is more convenient to just buy from steam or gog for 5-10$ than bother with piracy. But I have well paying job now with plenty of disposable income. And huge backlog of games so I can just wait while the hot shit get deeply discounted tomorrow. I have 400 games in my steam and gog accounts and have supported 10 or 15 kickstarters. I have also bought legally licence for almost everything that I have pirated in that era.


 
A viable internet connection is becoming mandatory for even such mundane things as education. Teachers provide online updates of kids' performance; kids are expected to collaborate online for reports and presentations; even PTA newsletters are transmitted electronically.

In a very real sense, living without internet today is akin to living without air conditioning in hot areas. There is a true digital divide between those on the net and those without a connection.

Smartphones? Tablets? Not so much. Both are still easily hacked or stolen, and I'd be leery about using either for business critical applications. But I can see a day when a tablet is a viable substitute for a laptop --or, more importantly, books-- in an educational setting. My kids regularly carry around 40-50 lbs worth of books in their backpacks in middle school (11-13 years old), and replacing 3-4 heavy textbooks with one tablet is appealing from a physical standpoint. Tablets are being piloted for certain classrooms at the kids' school, but it's still a few years away before tablets become standard. If that happens, the digital divide might increase further.

 
Get off my lawn!

(After you finish mowing it, of course!)
 
Tobold,

Do you feel that technology itself is at the heart of this argument, or do you feel that it is a moral issue?

I enjoy reading your posts on DnD, but I never reply. But it does bring back fond and vivid memories of how things were back when I played.

I vividly remember:
-the trading/re-selling of retail DnD modules
-the trading/selling of player character sheets
-the multitudes of 3-ring binders that would show up at sanctioned DnD tournaments filled with copied pages from player handbooks, monster manuals and DM guides.

Do you, as as DM, require that everyone who plays in your campaigns show up with non-copied source material? I went to many large scale sanctioned DnD tournaments back in the 80's, and I never saw anyone turned away as a result of having these type of copied materials in their posession. The promoters, vendors and even the occasional TSR reps never said a word, as they were happy to see their craft flourish.

I guess my point to this is that game developers would do better to treat gamers as allies rather than as "possible" foes.
 
@Kreegor - your pirating of software as a kid to educate yourself is somehow supposed to justify what you did? It doesn't. You illegally copied someone else's property. Very commendable that you now "bother" to buy things rather than copy them (presumably you would go back to pirating if you could be bothered, or were made redundant?).

Your scenario shows just what sort of bull poop pirates will spout when justifying pirating. It all boils down to "Life's not fair, if I can't have exactly what I want legally, I'll do so illegally". You can wrap it up in any sort of "greater good", "robbing the rich to pay the poor" or "I've paid back everything now" mentaility, but it's not a valid argument. You'll stick to the law when you can, and it doesn't inconvenience you too much, but when it does, it's your right to circumvent it.

Your scenario - change it to being interested in cars and stealing one from a car manufacturer to figure out how it works, then later becoming a motor engineer. Still OK? Greater good right? You'll pay taxes etc. so the initial stealing, loss of potential sale and general mayhem caused by your intial act is OK.

@soresu

Excuse me? Because the kid wouldn't have bought the product, there is no monetary loss, and therefore it's not immoral. And the kid's happiness is more important than the legitimate rights of the copyright holder. Riiight, so personal happiness trumps everything, irrespective of the fact that it comes at a detriment to other's legitimate rights. Brilliant logic. That's called anarchy, you know, and down that path lies, well, anarchy.
 
Do you feel that technology itself is at the heart of this argument, or do you feel that it is a moral issue?

I do think that technology itself is at the heart of this argument. In economic terms the problem is between the cost to make a triple A game (tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars), and the cost to make one more copy of that game (close to zero now we don't even use blank DVDs any more for those copies).

I vividly remember:
-the trading/re-selling of retail DnD modules
-the trading/selling of player character sheets
-the multitudes of 3-ring binders that would show up at sanctioned DnD tournaments filled with copied pages from player handbooks, monster manuals and DM guides.


I am not a lawyer, but as far as I can tell the first two points are in fact completely legal, and the legality of the third point depends on how many pages you photocopied from the books. E.g. a player with a wizard carrying a photocopy of his level 1 to 3 spells would probably be able to claim "fair use".

Basically the disconnect most people have with problem of intellectual property is that they do not understand the concept of being the legal owner of a physical object like a book or a DVD, but not being the legal owner of the content of that book or DVD.

What is the full legal ownership triple A game worth? Well, as somebody paid between 100 and 200 million dollars for this full legal ownership of for example Bioshock Infinite, and obviously hopes to make even more money with it, the full legal ownership of that game is obviously millions. Somebody who thinks he just acquired that same full legal ownership for $60 is obviously mistaken.

What exactly he acquired for those $60 is rather complicated. In any case it is something like a license for limited use. But what the exact restrictions of that license are can vary with where you live, and with the legal small print that comes with the box. For example re-selling that license might or might not be allowed. Making a copy for somebody else is most definitely not allowed.

That is more a legal issue than a moral issue, but of course there is a moral issue in whether you should break the law or not.

And it is also a business issue: I've seen the same game offered for different prices by the publisher depending on whether it had DRM or not. And that makes perfect sense: Once you realize that you don't buy "Bioshock Infinite", but you buy a limited use license to play "Bioshock Infinite", the value of that license obviously depends on the terms of that license. The more freedom you have, the higher the value.
 
Of course it justifies it. And using and reversing something for research purposes is generally fair use. The problem is only when there is commercial infringement - you make money out of someone else's IP.

Of course the copyright maximalists think that there is no such thing as fair use ... because the copyright system is only for the benefits of authors and not society.
 
Look kids, it's very simple. Theft if theft. If you don't have the money to pay for something, then you don't get to have that something.

Quit trying to rationalize behaviour and start calling a spade a spade
 
Yes kiddo ... theft is theft. And copyright infringement is not theft. That is why it is called copyright and not theft.
 
I used to save my allowance for months and months just to be able to buy a new SNES game back in the early 90ies (and those modules were crazy expensive where I live). so yeah, things sure have changed :)
but already then, I was a spoiled kid; I was ahead of the curve when it came to digital media. today it's the same, but it's adapted to our times - the kids who are ahead have more than we used to and are 'used to' having that.

you can't look at it as a 1:1 comparison. times change and every generation has and wants more than the last one, at least in wealthy industrial countries. every generation whines on its very own level ;)
that aside, I don't believe piracy hurts the market - as many artists and even developers are starting to find out and even use to their advantage. I don't necessarily condone it, but it's clearly overhyped. but that's another discussion for another time.
 
Yes kiddo ... theft is theft. And copyright infringement is not theft. That is why it is called copyright and not theft.

Well, robbery is called robbery, and not theft. That doesn't make it any more legal or more morally justifiable.

Copyright infringement is against the law. Breaking the law is morally objectionable. You can argue that how "bad" breaking a law is can be measured by how much the law punishes that, and thus copyright infringement is "less bad" than "theft". But in no case can your semantics get you to a point where copyright infringement is morally right.
 
Copyright infringment is very clearly theft, Kreegor which is why it is punishable by law.
 
It is also moral to stone a woman to death in Iran ... it is done in the name of the moral to be precise.

The problem is that copyright is a system that was designed in a times when the information could be hard to duplicate and the copyright holders were not megacorporations having copyright for infinity. The system did not scale well so it needs to be reformed.

It needs to be shorter - 5 years because 5 years are eternity in the digital world but with strong protections and enforcement in that time. After that is enters DRM free public domain.

The current legal approach is unbalanced in giving too much power to the holders and the current technological landscape gives too easy infringement. So we need to find a new balance.


 
Woody: "Bioshock Infinite cost me 23GBP"
"In 1992 I paid 45GBP for FZERO"

Something seems incredibly off here. I am not all to familiar with the history of the GBP or game pricing in GB but the cost doubled in 20 years?
In the US FZERO costed between 40-50 bucks and now bioshock is 60. It makes your example look a bit exaggerated...
 
I have no issue with DRM. My issue is a single player game should not have to rely on an internet connection or a game companies servers to work. If the game requires an internet connection initially I an fine with that. Occasional updates no problem. But when I go to play the game it should work even if no internet is present.
 
It needs to be shorter - 5 years because 5 years are eternity in the digital world but with strong protections and enforcement in that time. After that is enters DRM free public domain.

So you are saying that you would be completely comfortable with always-on DRM as long as it automatically expires after 5 years? Which could be a good technical solution which also removes worries of "can I still play that game in 10 years?". As you said, the nature of the market for digital games is such that even the game companies won't lose much if copy-protection ended automatically after 5 years.
 
Woody: "Bioshock Infinite cost me 23GBP"

Something seems incredibly off here.


I just checked Amazon, and something really is weird here. On the US Amazon.com the PC version of Bioshock Infinite is only available in a download version for $59.99, while on Amazon.co.uk the PC game is sold only on DVD for £27.99, which is just under $43 at the current exchange rate. Note that prices for the console versions are much closer, as that one is £34.99.
 
@tobold - Yes. I will be fine.

I have actually created as a mental exercise a system few years ago.

1-6 months always online with substantial logic kept on server.

6-12 months always online but with patch that puts logic back in the game to unload the servers for next projects

(by this time majority of sales are done)

12 months ... 60 months - online activation with offline mode

60+ - DRM free patch, assets enter public domain and everybody can mod, create etc ...

Currently you cannot buy NOLF because no one knows who owns the rights and there are no plans for re release.

 
Man, is it really hard to get the point?

$60 is a lot of money to someone making $6 an hour. That's 10 hours of flipping burgers or washing dishes or horrible job they have. Once they have a way out of your racket, they will take it. See the music industry.

$400 is no longer the cheap entry into computers, it's just as expensive as a laptop or an ipad or a smartphone. And at least in my household in the 90s, when it came to video games I paid for them out of my own pocket. I spent a lot of time in the bargain bin of Babbage's.

There are a lot of alternatives they could spend that $60 an hour on and the $400 to get the console (like the laptop or the Ipad or the smartphone), so game companies really trying to put the squeeze on their customers is a not such a great idea. Consoles were for the first 20 years, the cheap way to get a bit of computerized entertainment. Now, it's getting to be the expensive way. This is bad for console makers, especially since they don't seem to quite understand that their foundation is turning to sand. Now is not the time to start pissing off your client base.
 
>Breaking the law is morally objectionable.

Strong disagreement, on that. Law promotes social stability, not ethical behavior. There are lots of illegal things that aren't immoral, lots of immoral things that aren't illegal.

Probably not going to be able to make much traction on these types of arguments in today's political climate. In many places it's accepted as given that it's wrong for rich people to have luxuries the rest of us cannot afford, and it's the god given right of every American to go years into debt so he can have his fancy mobile phone and sports car.
 
Being poor is a relative term...

In some places around the world, you are rich if you have clean running water. In the US, if you don't have clean running water, you are almost definitely poor.

So one could see how something that was once considered a luxury can now be considered a necessity. The definition of poverty is not set by a material definition of what one posseses.

Instead it is measured by a comparision between what one posseses compared to others in his/her society. If you are in the bottom X percent in terms of access to goods and services then you are poor in that society.
 
Also, I never said the kid was justified to pirate games, though obviously we disagree on whether used games constitute piracy.



I said that kid had enough alternatives that he would just quit buying consoles and console games altogether. He no longer needs them. It wouldn't be the first time the video game industry crashed, would it?


Also, having an internet connection and a laptop makes you a spoiled brat? Check your prices guy. The console with always on DRM is a far more ridiculous luxury than that, so we can assume the kids with the console also have at least a few of those other devices. I'm talking about the kids who have to earn the money to buy games working shit jobs, while you want to tell anyone who can't pay $60 for a 6 hour game to go screw. And I'm the advocate for spoiled children?

This conversation has taken a weird turn. You're sounding pretty reactionary at this point.
 
>There are a lot of alternatives they could spend that $60 an hour on and the $400 to get the console (like the laptop or the Ipad or the smartphone), so game companies really trying to put the squeeze on their customers is a not such a great idea.

Bizarre thinking. You're suggesting it's the job of game companies to price cheaply enough so that everyone can buy the game, instead of at the revenue maximizing point?

What possible motivation would they have to do that? They should sell yachts and private jets for cheaper, because I cannot afford one on my salary and neither can most people?
 
@Michael ... it is more complicated. A physical item has three costs Design, BOM + cost of production. IP is only design. Physical item analogies are bad and break down. You cannot abstract away the fact that information can be duplicated for free.
 
It's not bizarre at all. I'm saying that console gaming is not on as secure a foundation as they seem to think. If they make console gaming too difficult and expensive, the customers will go somewhere else.

So if there are two consoles, one of which has no used games (more expensive), prevents taking your games to a friends house to playing with them (less fun) and more difficult (you can be mid game when the game seizes up because your internet connection went down), they will avoid your console, and therefore avoid all the games made for that console. And that is granting the very generous point that this DRM system would actually work perfectly, which of course it wouldn't in the real world.

You aren't maximizing revenue by having fewer customers. If a company who thinks he can hammer their customer base when a cheaper, funner, and easier to use product is being sold at the same store, that company is very very stupid. They may be entirely within their legal rights, but there are many perfectly legal things that are terrible ideas.

This is very basic economics.
 
Back when I was a kid I couldn't afford to buy as many books as I could read. So I went to the library and borrowed book after book after book.

The book publishers invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into the creation of some of those books. Obviously that means by borrowing the book from the library and reading it I stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the publisher, right?

No, not right. Not right at all. Borrowing a book from a library and reading it isn't theft. It is fully consuming the content, and was a huge benefit to me, but it didn't hurt the publisher or the author in any way. Frankly in a big picture view it actually helped them, because it got exposure for those authors and it helped cultivate a love of reading in a kid that could not have afforded to read nearly that much otherwise.

On a similar note, I probably played most of the games in the SNES library when I was a teen. Between my brother and I we owned maybe 20 games, and they were pretty much all gifts. I had a paper route, and I used a lot of that money to rent games every weekend. If you expected me to pay full price for every game I played you're probably looking at forcing me to invest $36k to buy them all. Instead I probably paid around $1k to rent them all, and that cost was spread out over 5 or 6 years.

Who got that $1k I spent renting games? It wasn't Nintendo, or Square. It was Midnight Video. Midnight Video had to pay Nintendo up front for the games, but then they turned around and rented them out at what one has to assume was an eventual profit.

But you know what? If renting games wasn't an option I wouldn't have ponied up the extra $35k to buy all those games. I didn't have $35k, and if I did it wouldn't have been wise to spend it on those games. Even when you consider that I had a console, and my parents had a decently sized tv and two cars. In one sense I was 'a rich kid with disposable income' if you consider the stuff I had access to, but I did not have the kind of cash to spend on all the games I had time to play.

And if renting those games wasn't an option, I probably wouldn't have turned into a gamer. I am now a single person with a lot of disposable income who spends the vast majority of it on books and games. The video game industry as a whole absolutely loves me now. Even though for years and years I 'stole' their games by renting them instead of buying them.
 
"Breaking the law is morally objectionable"

You didn't study philosophy, did you? Or Political science. Or even the history of religion.

That bald statement condemns millennia of resistance to all forms of repression. I'm sure you can think of some recent examples when breaking the law has been widely considered to be morally responsible, not reprehensible.
 
@Kreeegor
>You cannot abstract away the fact that information can be duplicated for free.

It has nothing to do with the medium of delivery. Or how much each step to produce your product costs. Prices are based on what people are willing to pay, not how much the labor to produce it costs.

If you are selling something and at one price you'll make 5 million profit, and at another price you'll make 4 million profit, then the second price is the wrong price. Regardless of whether it's higher or lower than you personally feel the price _should_ be.
 
Man, is it really hard to get the point? $60 is a lot of money to someone making $6 an hour.

Who said it isn't? I'm just saying that if you can't afford a $60 video game, you should be looking for a cheaper form of entertainment. Or do evening classes.

"$60 is a lot of money" is NOT an excuse for piracy.
 
>I'm saying that console gaming is not on as secure a foundation as they seem to think. If they make console gaming too difficult and expensive, the customers will go somewhere else.

And they know this, and already price their games accordingly. And they have a lot of money riding on their judgement of the gaming market, while we here only have idle speculation without any real consequences. Perhaps they know their markets better than we do?
 
I'm sure you can think of some recent examples when breaking the law has been widely considered to be morally responsible, not reprehensible.

In the USA? Or Western Europe? Sorry, can't think of any, feel free to help me out here. In authoritarian states, sure, but that doesn't apply to this discussion.

If you say you have the right to opt out of the copyright infringement law, then what argument do you have against the murderer who wants to opt out of the law against murder?
 
"And if renting those games wasn't an option, I probably wouldn't have turned into a gamer. I am now a single person with a lot of disposable income who spends the vast majority of it on books and games. The video game industry as a whole absolutely loves me now. Even though for years and years I 'stole' their games by renting them instead of buying them."

Yet another, 'the end justifies the means' response, with zero logic. Sigh.

I do agree with all the pirates, and free-loaders in this thread though - copyright infringement isn't theft, as you cannot "steal" intellectual property, you can only infringe other people's IP rights. It doesn't make it any less of a crime (at least in the UK, where I'm based).

To those saying physical goods analogies aren't useful when describing why digital copyright infringement is OK, well think about a slightly different scenario where a manufacturer's blueprint for a new widget is photographed and then distributed freely to everyone and can be printed on a 3D printer. Most of those people wouldn't have bought the physical widget because it was too expensive to buy from the manufacturer, but now they can have one cheaply. It's the same point - one copy turns into millions, with no remuneration for the original manufacturer who spent a long time designing the widget and pricing it according to the market.

Pirates are pirates, and there's no moral justification. Only whines and excuses.

(PS - when you borrow a book from a library in the UK, the library pays a royalty to the publisher ( I know this isn't the case in other countries, before anyone jumps in with that). When you rent a game from Midnight Games, the company pays a royalty to Nintendo, they don't just pay $60 for the game then freely rent it out to hundreds of people. Facts people. They are useful.
 
Copyright infringement is against the law. Breaking the law is morally objectionable.

If this argument had any validity we would never progress as a society. It's also why I think wrapping piracy in a morality defense is a straw man argument. If you believe the estimates, 90% (up to 97% according to some) of all games installed on a computer are pirated. If you think that's just spoiled, entitled kiddies, you're delusional.

"$60 is a lot of money" is NOT an excuse for piracy.

Actually, it very much is. It's not only an excuse, it's a reason. In your opinion it isn't a valid one, but then we're back to the circle "moral" argument. Piracy is a problem. If we can agree on nothing else, we should be able to find common ground here. It isn't entitlement. 97% of all computer gamers aren't just a bunch of entitled brats. People who want to be able to buy/sell/trade used games aren't just a bunch of entitled brats. People want to spend their money. They want to pay people for their product. If they didn't, the music/film/software/gaming industry wouldn't even exist.

The problem with piracy is greed. Not from the end users but from the makers. $60 for a game is too high. $60 for a AAA game is too high. They typically cost less than a blockbuster movie and yet I can go see one of those for $5-$10 in the theater and/or own a copy for $15-$25 dollar. Or sit in my home and stream it to my home theater for $2-$4.

I'm not even saying you can't sell games for $60. I'm saying if you have a large problem (like gaming piracy), you have to understand why it's a problem if you want to actually solve it. We can make all kinds of laws about all kinds of things but if enough people are saying "I don't care if it's illegal, I'm justified in my actions" you really do have to take a good hard look at the issue. This is how our society progresses. Dismissing it as "entitlement" or diverting attention to the morality of it only serves to distract from actually figuring out a real solution.
 
Facts people? You mean, like the fact that Blockbuster actually got sued by Nintendo for renting games without paying them anything and lost? They couldn't rent out the manuals, apparently, but could rent out the games themselves without owing Nintendo a dime.

http://www.1up.com/do/feature?pager.offset=1&cId=3146206
 
Man, is it really hard to get the point? $60 is a lot of money to someone making $6 an hour.

Who said it isn't? I'm just saying that if you can't afford a $60 video game, you should be looking for a cheaper form of entertainment. Or do evening classes.

"$60 is a lot of money" is NOT an excuse for piracy.


Ok, fine. Do you think that the game companies running off their customer base is a smart move, because their customer base is made up almost entirely of kids who really have a better use for their limited means, and the adults who used to be those kids. Telling them to piss up a rope is a great way to guarantee the extinction of the video game. Accommodation of the needs of your clients to keep them happy and buying your product is good business, even if it means leaving a few pennies in their pocket that you could grab in time for the next quarterly return.

You would be a really terrible businessman, Tobold. You can't seem to wrap your head around the fact that you like to strange the golden goose because it craps on the floor all the time. Sure, that's annoying, but gold eggs, you know? It's worth putting up with. The video game industry is growing by billions of dollars a year. It did this even during a terrible global recessions. Don't mess with success, especially when your clientele doesn't really need you anymore.

Real life is messy, and when you are running a real business you don't get to squeeze every ounce of value out of your customer, because someone else will be happy to run you out of business.
 
Some of the people posting here also seem to be lacking an understanding of microeconomics. There have been assertions that the $60 price has been determined to be the single price that maximizes profit and people who can't afford that price should bugger off. That's ignoring the fact that a single price is rarely the proper way to go. Variable pricing is a very real thing. Ideally the goal is to find the people who will pay $60 and sell to them, but then you also want to find the people who will pay $30 (but not $60) and sell to them for $30.

Things like student and senior discounts are obvious examples of this strategy. Companies don't offer student discounts on bus passes, for example, because they like students or want to be nice to them. They do it because students have less money and the transit company will have a higher overall profit by selling cheap fares to students while selling to working people at the higher price.

Students don't pay less to get on the bus because we want to be fair to students. They pay less to get on the bus because it makes economic sense for the business. Seniors don't pay less to go to the movies because we want to be fair to seniors. They pay less because otherwise the seniors wouldn't be able to afford to go and there would be empty seats in the theatres. It's better to make a smaller amount of money on those seats than to waste them.
 
$60 for a game is too high. $60 for a AAA game is too high.

If $60 for a game is too high, and the piracy rate is 90% it results that we only need to stop piracy, and the price for games would drop to $6.

I have the impression that you have no idea how companies come up with a price tag of "$60" for a triple A game or "$0.99" for an iOS game. It is a very simple calculation where a company predicts how many copies they will sell, and then make sure that the overall sales minus the development cost for the game (and other cost) ends up being a reasonable profit margin. An iOS game is much cheaper because the development cost was much lower, and its predicted sales are much higher.

A technical solution to eliminate piracy would in the long run lead to lower prices for games.

Variable pricing is a very real thing.

And it is a very real thing for video games too, just look at Steam. The argument that "$60 is too high, I must pirate this game" is getting even weaker if you consider that six month later you can pick up the game for $25 at a Steam holiday sale.
 
because their customer base is made up almost entirely of kids

Wow, you are so wrong with that. The average gamer is 30 years old. The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 35 years old. "Video games are for children" simply isn't true any more.
 
There is a lot of variation in game prices. There are steam sales and cheap iphone games and humble indie bundles and all that. If your budget is $2, $5, $10, $20, $40, $60, you'll find good games you can buy.

You're saying that the $60 games are too high, you want them cheaper, that it doesn't make economic sense to sell that high. But if it didn't make sense to do it, companies wouldn't do it. Game companies don't sell a game at $60 out of some elitist idea of keeping away the riffraff or something. They just want to make the most money. That there are $60 games, have been and will be, means that companies believe it does make sense to set that price.

There already are student discounts for public transportation because it makes economic sense to do it. If it made economic sense to sell student's cheap games, they'd already be doing it, and for the most part they're not.
 
And do you think that 30 year old started gaming at 30?

Hell no he didn't just start doing it. He gamed as a kid. If he had followed your advice and spent his hard earned money more wisely, he would not be a gamer. That's what I mean by strangling the golden goose. Your strategy would reduce the number of young gamers, which in 10-15 years will reduce the number of adult gamers.

You want the young gamers to think they NEED your console, you want them thinking about and using your product. If a few of them save some cash at gamestop, so what? You'll be selling games to them for decades! Small price to pay. If they follow your advise, you are losing decades of sales and you would never even know it.

You, on the other hand, want to stomp around demanding every dime you can right now. Might bump up profits now, but it will destroy the industry long term. People will just stop (console) gaming, or game in other ways with companies who are not so arrogant as to think they can eat their own seed corn and survive.


 
So according to your theory nobody plays golf, because golf is too expensive for kids. Hmmm, doesn't seem to be true. Probably because most of your assumptions are simply false, starting with the one that kids don't buy $60 video games.

Sorry, lots of kids play legally bought $60 video games. They get them (and the consoles they run on) as Christmas and birthday presents. They have enough disposable income to buy some themselves. And they probably value these games HIGHER *because* they can't afford to buy every single one of them.

And do you think that 30 year old started gaming at 30?

He started playing video games at a time when those games came on cartridges that were impossible for the average gamer to copy. And there was no broadband internet with Bittorrent to download games from. And in spite of those games costing even more back then compared to wages, these people became gamers. So there is absolutely no reason to believe that $60 video games that have DRM will not turn the next generation of kids into gamers as well.
 
Impossible to copy, but trivial to rent. For a cheap price. Which has been my point! When I was a kid the barrier to entry was very small. Get your hands on a console (likely as a gift) and then you could play a wide variety of games for a very cheap price. And not a wide variety of mass produced iOS trash, either. I was able to rent the absolute best games at a fraction of the retail price.

As for them not selling the $60 game to the students at a discount now, I'd say they are. That discount is free to the pirate. The current model, at launch, for a top tier game is pay $60 or pay nothing. Many people, apparently, are choosing the nothing. Seniors don't have to wait 6 months to watch the new release movie at a discount so expecting people with plenty of time and not plenty of money to wait for it to go on sale is unreasonable. Not unreasonable in the sense that they shouldn't wait, but that they won't wait.

Look at something like League of Legends. Tons of people get to play for free, and some people pay a lot of money for skins. It's variable pricing, and it works great. Having those extra people around playing for free has a negligible incremental cost compared to the initial development costs, I'm sure, but it's doing wonders for them. Having people able to play for free helps them build up a user base of future customers, and it helps the servers have a critical mass of users so the 'whales' can have opponents.
 
Tobold, I've taken lately to arguing against piracy from a different angle, since no one gives a rat's ass about the creators or publishers: the argument I know make is that piracy hurts the legitimate consumer, by forcing us to subsidize the pirates. Right now the piracy model functions entirely on my back, and the backs of those like me who actually pay for this. If we all stopped buying product (whether we just bow out or resort to piracy) then the revenue dries up entirely and the games go away. I look forward to the day when pirates can continue to share outdated old games into perpetuity while they pay through the nose in the only surviving revenue models, which will consist entirely of always-online freemium cash shops.
 
Oh, and for the record, I did play golf as a kid. The teen membership at the local course was _significantly_ cheaper than an adult membership would have been, and I used hand-me-down clubs from my uncle. It had some limitations on when we could play, but golf absolutely understands that letting kids get involved cheaply is the way to grow the user base for the game.
 
I played golf as a kid actually. Lots of people do. But it's a good adult sport because its low key and its a good social networking hobby.

Video games are like the opposite of that.

You bring up a real good point--- the 30 year olds gaming now could buy and sell used games (oddly wasn't a big deal then), they could take their cartridge to a friends house without a problem or the slightest hint that they were violating copyright law. They could lend a copy (shiver) to a friend. Who do you think are actually copying these games? Actual illicit copying is a very minor problem. You have to get some weird chip to do that. That is not a big thing. Used copies, maybe a problem even though its odd that used sales have been going on since forever but only now is it this horrible industry destroying issue. But actual software piracy on consoles? Nonissue.

You are advocating a system where the kid cannot trade or borrow or sell their games. They cannot take them to a friends house. They cannot play them on stormy days when the internet is slow or off. That is what you are advocating, even if a perfectly working DRM system. Why even mess with such a PITA system?


In short, you're advocating for a major change in the nature of the game/gamer relationship, and I want to keep it the way it is.

So there is a lot of reason to think that would discourage gaming. And if all of that is to prevent actual software piracy instead of used games, it's even worse idea than I thought.
 
It is a very simple calculation where a company predicts how many copies they will sell, and then make sure that the overall sales minus the development cost for the game (and other cost) ends up being a reasonable profit margin.

Oh, believe me, I know. But do you know how they predict how many copies they will sell? It's such antiquated and wrong thinking that it boggles my mind. In the US, almost 250 million people own a computer. Nearly 60 million households own a current gen gaming console. That's just in the US alone. Gaming is no longer the niche market it was 15 years ago yet the gaming industry is basing its sales predictions as if it still were.

And yet SimCity has sold less than 2 million copies and is considered a success. BioShock Infinite in the neighborhood of 3 million and also considered a success. SimCity sold to less that 0.5% of its potential market. BioShock Infinite less than 5% of its potential market. Neither game has come close to touching market permeation. Companies are still focusing on how many copies of a game they can expect to sell instead of figuring out how to reach as much of the market as physically possible.

How many people are playing SimCity right now (even with all the problems) if they sold it for $0.99? How many people are playing Bioshock Infinite if they sold it for $5? How much of the market do they permeate at those prices? 10%? 20%? 50%? Those are all just numbers I pulled out of my ass because who knows. Nobody is actually doing the leg work to find out because we're all still worried about the moral complexity of DRM. Seriously?

The gaming industry is still approaching its consumer base as if it were a niche market. It's not. Not even close. And gamers are getting fed up, and rightly so. I can go to a matinee movie every month for less than the price of one video game. I can buy several hours of my favorite music for less than the price of one video game. I have gone to most music concerts in my life for less than the price of one video game.

Gamers are such a huge market now and it's growing at a rate of about 10% per year. Per. Year. That's insane. And not only are game companies still charging outrageous prices, but they are devising ways to charge even more with things like DLC. Is the high rate of piracy and used game retail really that shocking?
 
It has been my observation that people slowly become more moral/ethical as they get older. This happens so slowly that the vast majority do not notice it. It is also the driving force behind "the decline of youth today" and how old farts have been complaining about it since Socrates complained about punks cheating and using that new-fangled "writing" instead of memorizing it all like we did in the olden days! You'll also see this complain satirized in the Four Yorkshiremen skit.

Folks like Kreegor mention being far less ethical when they were younger than he/she/it is today. I contend that the folks bashing Kreegor don't recall themselves having "situational ethics" when they were younger. The vast majority of people look at their current value system and think that it has always been that way. It hasn't.

A laptop, a smartphone, an iPad, a sub-optimal internet connection, I didn't have any of these things when I was a kid.
I was a kid in the 60s and 70s. That stuff didn't exist at all back then. The closest thing to a cellphone was when Ham operators set up a repeater and hooked it up to the phone lines (I worked with some guys who still did this in the 80s). And the "internet" was still called Arpanet.

And even today I would say that a kid having all this is already a spoiled brat.
You and I have a different value system than "kids these days". I know several young adults in their 20s who value their smartphone and laptop over having their own housing - they couch surf. While I'm a geezer in my 50s, I'm working on yet another college degree and my fellow students have such different value systems from my own that I feel like Rip Van Winkle.

Don't forget that back then it was uphill both ways.
 
There are so many free games out nowadays anyway, no need for piracy.

The only reason this theft is so widespread for digital media is because it is not policed very well and the likelyhood of getting caught is low.

In my opinion if you can't afford it? Then don't get it. Simple.

I just think if you are too poor to buy a freaking game then perhaps you should be doing something OTHER than playing games to improve your financial situation/life in general?
 
While I agree with tobold I do think when someone pirates because of poverty they hardly count as a lost sale.

I suspect I have quite a different background to some, but for me games have got cheaper and cheaper.

20 odd years ago I payed $90 (NZ) for Civ 1. That was a lot! of money back then. Despite that I had been a gamer for a decade. You brought games, but only the best.

Piracy did not start with the internet, you had floppynet, you traded disks with freeware, demos, and yes hacked games

 
I tend to pirate things when pirates provide better service than the legitimate source. If a suspicious torrent that may or may not be loaded full of viruses is a better form of distribution than whatever you're selling, then you're selling crap, plain and simple.
 
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