Friday, January 4, 2013

3DS Piracy Revisited!


I would like to thank those who took the time to read my post regarding 3DS piracy and respond with support, different view points, and interesting comments. It wasn’t pleasant, however, reading the rude and hateful comments, but I won’t dwell on those. Piracy is a very emotional topic; one with many facets.

I have always been a huge supporter of Nintendo, the Nintendo DS, and the Nintendo 3DS. If you have followed my vlogs, blogs, and tweets over the past 6 years you will know this. What saddens me is that some people have taken my comments as an attack on Nintendo, the 3DS, and the players. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I wrote this: “If piracy gets bad on the 3DS, we will have no choice but to stop supporting the platform with new games.”

This does not mean I am taking a stand against piracy. This does not mean I am taking my business elsewhere in an action of protest.

What this means is if we cannot make money from developing games we can no longer develop games. That is what can happen if piracy gets bad. If enough people choose to illegally obtain copies of my games for free instead of paying for them, it directly affects my business and my home.

Many claim the Nintendo DS market was not affected by piracy. Nintendo themselves blamed piracy for a 50% drop in European sales in 2010, reported the Asahi Shimbun.

I understand that piracy is always going to exist, and that every market has some form of piracy. I accept that piracy will exist on the 3DS. The question is how much is it affecting the market? Some markets maintain a healthy business environment alongside piracy. I believe this is due to many factors, not least of which is the service provided in that market.

I don't think there is a solution to piracy. It will always exist in some form. We just need to make sure the price of games is affordable. We need to make it easy to buy and own games. The availability and access player's have to their games needs to be at least as easy and convenient as the ROM sites make it to illegally download a game file. Ideally, it should be better. If the player's only question is, "buy or not buy?", and not dealing with issues such as, "how do I transfer ownership of this game to my new system?" then we'll have minimized the appeal of piracy.

I hope this helps explain where I was coming from a little better. We have games planned for the 3DS into 2014. Our support of the 3DS platform couldn’t be stronger. I expect the cynics out there will discard my words as an attempt to just smooth things over. No. I just want to try and get my original intent communicated. That is all. 

Thanks for reading.

20 comments:

  1. Great to see a developer standing up & speaking logically about piracy!

    "at least as easy and convenient as the ROM sites make it to illegally download a game file." - couldn't agree more. Knowing that you can go scouring the dodgy websites, downloading & sharing a torrent with all the risks that go with that, to get a dodgy copy (which may or may not work fully), then going through USB to transfer it to your pirate cart...or paying a small fee for the convenience of getting it downloaded straight to your 3DS, guaranteed to work, ready to run and hassle free - this is where more users will prefer the official option.

    Similar case with DVDs - the number of times I've been forced to watch an unskippable anti-piracy intro before the film, and found myself thinking "If I had a pirated copy it probably wouldn't even include this bit".

    However as Jools points out, you'll never get rid of piracy completely. I had someone commenting on one of my youtube piano videos, asking how to download the song as an mp3. I replied and said he could spend $1, download the track from bandcamp, and get the album version, studio mixed & mastered without all the quality loss / wrong notes in my bedroom performance. He then replied something along the lines of "I'm from Brazil, nobody pays for anything around here" and that he'd used a youtube converter to save the video as an mp3 file (shamelessly in a public comment, on the video he'd just pirated!) Trying to force this type of person to get their wallet out is just not worthwhile.

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  2. I agree, and you get into discussion of piracy driving by service...similar to the great GabeN's position. Now personally I have never pirated a game on the DS as I never bought an r4 card, but I can understand the convenience of simply having all of one's games on a single cart, this one the reasons I feel nintendo is really pushing for the digital downloads as it adds that convenience. Unfortunately they haven't really incentivised (is this a word?) this initiative enough in my opinion.

    In some territories downloading a title is actually more expensive than buying it in a store. Which takes away some of the convenience of buying a game cheaper or being able to resell it to mitigate its cost.

    I am a developer as well, fortunately in a field that can't be effected by piracy (I write router software for an ISP, all our software is leased on our own hardware and its included in the service) Which brings me back to the games as service argument. I think that if games provide a service that the pirates cannot provide that will help mitigate piracy, but I don't know how to reasonably do that, especially in single player experiences. I do NOT think online activation is the answer, which many PC companies think it is.

    Its a difficult problem with no easy solution, I wish there was one. I think providing a good service for paying customers is the first step though, and thats what valve got right. I don't have numbers since I don't think they exist, but while PC piracy is still rampant I do believe it has gone down since steam has become big.

    I would like to ask you about your opinion on certain companies battles against the used games market? I personally think it is sillly of them since most used games are traded in for credit towards new games. I know when I was in college sometimes the only way I could afford a new game was to trade in a few of my older ones. But I would like to hear your opinion on the used games market as well..

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  3. I choose to support your games because:

    1. They're fun and well made.

    2. I really enjoy how you guys try the best with the resources you have. You've made some great first-person shooters, a great platformer, a great puzzle game, a great racing game, etc.

    3. You're a nice dude. There are a lot of jerks out there. You communicate and talk to the gamers via your blog, Youtube, Twitter, etc. I like to help nice people out. You remind me of David Jaffe, except a bit less controversial, at least until this whole piracy thing, lol.

    Renegade Kid is a small developer, guys. They can't continue to exist if you just steal their games. Making games isn't free, so playing them also shouldn't be free.

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  4. I think Nintendo games are overpriced too much, really its just prohibitive to purchase a game for the DS or the 3DS, its not worth it, look at the sales at Steam, the Humble Bundles and you will get the idea.

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    Replies
    1. To be fair, historically speaking, PC games have always devalued quickly compared to other platforms.

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  5. Great follow up and I couldn't agree more.

    One of the current big problems that I'm having now is finding a lot of games that were on DS and Wii as many are out of print and at some pretty high prices online. Sometimes I wish I could just go snag a digital copy of the games and let that be that.

    Having the game readily available for purchase will greatly decrease piracy (which is already a proven case with services like Steam).

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  6. "Many claim the Nintendo DS market was not affected by piracy. Nintendo themselves blamed piracy for a 50% drop in European sales in 2010, reported the Asahi Shimbun."

    Just like when Ubisoft said 95%(might've been 90%, same difference) of the playerbase for their PC games are pirates? Or earlier, when they claimed their DRM was a success(even though it was cracked, and it lost them legitimate players)? I just don't think a company's public messaging a good source, even disregarding that any such calculation would be nigh impossible to make with any degree of accuracy. On the other hand it's a convenient scapegoat to avoid criticism from shareholders, so they don't necessarily have a vested interest in objective analysis to begin with.

    3DS needs a lot of work before I feel good about getting one and investing in their digital offerings. Start with removing the region lock and locking down purchases to hardware instead of an account, finally improve pricing.

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    1. Ubisoft's DRM was a mess, which is often the case with DRM. Instead of being pro-developer and pro-publisher, it's all shifted to anti-consumer, which is a problem I have with the industry's answer to piracy. It's a piss poor response. Things like "Always Online" DRM that restricts the single player content unless you're physically connected to the internet all of the time is a complete and total bust. What a stupid, nonsensical idea. The more control you give the publisher, the less the consumer has. While I understand their knee-jerk reaction to piracy, their solution is a farce. DRM, most of which is both restrictive and intrusive, only leads to more piracy because people don't want to put up with their anti-consumer crap.

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  7. I'm sorry Jools but you are just plain wrong on this.

    There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the amount of people who have pirated your game that would have bought it otherwise is absolutely tiny.

    If you are not making enough money from sales of your games to keep making them then the issue is most definitely not piracy.

    Trust this truth and it shall set you free.

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    Replies
    1. Ok then, wise master...

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  8. Renegade kids games still suck never buying them.
    waste of money. Every electronic can be hacked, stop crying about it, loser.

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    Replies
    1. Please grow up.

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    2. Yeah, grow up and blind yourself from the truth you just told. wow, what an idiot response to that comment.

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  9. Oh noes, an indie dev that has only released a few subpar games in threatening to boycott 3DS! Whatever shall we do?

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    Replies
    1. You're stupid. Read what he wrote again. Your comment has nothing to do.

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  10. I'm still behind you 100! Just keep making great games on Nintendo platforms!

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  11. "Many claim the Nintendo DS market was not affected by piracy. Nintendo themselves blamed piracy for a 50% drop in European sales in 2010, reported the Asahi Shimbun."

    I have seen similar outlandish claims from the movie and film industry, and they have been debunked by now.

    I have also seen Ubisoft say that they lost 90% of their sales to piracy.

    You know what I have NEVER seen? A study or actual numbers PROVING this.

    Now, I get it. Piracy is a problem. Sure. But to come here and say that this is the reason why your game doesnt sell just doesnt sit well with me.

    You have people like Stardock, who releases their games WITHOUT DRM, and yet make a killer profit and keep him well fed and able to keep making better games despite the fact that their game is instantly thrown on torrent sites as soon as it is out. Maybe he could hypothetically make $100 million if piracy didnt exist. Maybe he would be able to buy EA if not for piracy. But playing this game of hypothesis really does no one any good, so good devs focus on what they know that is true, which is - make a good game (and/or service), and it will sell.

    To me, piracy will always be that scapegoat terrible devs use to justify their horrible game failling in the market. It is a problem, but not one as big as most people try to make it out to be.

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  12. Hello,

    I am now making my first game and I want to create my games company.

    I am just 17 yers old but in a few months Igo to the university to study computers engineer. What I want to do in my life is making games.

    I have a few questions I would like to ask you.

    Could you please send me an e-mail to diogobolinhas@gmail.com?

    I know you are very busy with yoir work but I really need some advice.

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  13. Mutant Mudds had poor programming, good music and graphics. eShop games are just too pricey relative to the smartphone market. You can get the same satisfaction with usually better graphics from a smartphone game. Whining about piracy and not making money is what politicians do, not programmers who love to code and have fun making games. boohoo if you don't make money, there's a deeper - more meaningful return on work developed from someone with the right passion. If Nintendo themselves want to blame piracy, then they should drop their prices for non-transferable digitally downloaded games from the ridiculous $39.99USD to < $10.00 and they'll see a difference. I woundn't buy another Renegay Kidd game if my life depended on it.

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  14. First off, let me say that i LOVE Mutant Mudd, and have it on both 3DS and iOS, and that I cant count the amount of time that I poured into the dementrium games. You are an amazing developer and no ease of pirating your games would stop me from throwing my money at you.

    Also, to make my comment fair and fully disclosed, allow me to admit that yes, I do in fact have a flashcard for my DS. But my use is that I have enjoyed programming since i was a little kid, and wanted to explore my favorite game system without paying thousands on dev kits to do the same darn thing.I used it to expand the functionality of my system that I owned, and made it the brain of a little robot. Find that on a store shelf!
    (Im well aware my use is in the vast minority, but read on for my point/actual post)

    The irony of the current arguments about 3ds "hacking" is that the only people who have made any kind of progress are very open about being against piracy.
    These guys do indeed have kernal level access to the 3ds that could allow them to do ANYTHING, and have proven as such, but they haven't released ANYTHING. Not a single thing.

    Why? Because they care about developers like you and want to find a way for hobbyists like myself to find a way to make things for something other than a dang phone with no buttons, and for others to then be able to play those games. They want to expand the functionality of the system.

    The people who are hacking the 3DS dont want to make you lose money, they want to allow things like media/movie players, a web browser that isn't crap, and for people to enjoy games made by people who are simply not able to meet the absurd requirements to become a "legal" developer that Nintendo willingly puts in place.

    Imagine all the fun games people have thought of that could only be possible with the 3DS's unique features.

    Now imagine yourself as the guy wanting to make a game in his free time, but find yourself unable to.
    Why? Because:
    -You don't have a non-residential location as required by Nintendo's NDA (non disclosure agreement)
    -You don't have the THOUSANDS of capital that Nintendo requires for licensing.
    -You don't have the THOUSANDS of capital needed to get the development kits and debug units.

    Region lock is one thing, but there are a lot of great games that FANS want to make, but will never see the light of day because of the restrictions Nintendo put in place on the 3DS, and on developers.

    If you agree/disagree with anything or have comments on what I said Jools, I would love to speak with you. You seem like a great down to earth guy.

    Regards,
    -Ed

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