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Old 07-29-2006, 10:34 AM   #1
Greybeard
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Default A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

I was so impressed by this that I thought it deserved a wider audience. In a post on the Emergence Forum (http://www.ritualistic.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=18319) Loengard mentioned this article (http://www.shacknews.com/extras/2006...ual_piracy_1.x)

This is an interview with Ritual's Michael Russell who, as I'm sure you know, is often here to inform and help us. It's an excellent insight into how piracy affects the game developers. It includes the terrifying statistic that, at one point, over 80% of support queries being dealt with were submitted by people with illegal copies.

I know this a bit OT but I'd like to get to the end of this series of episodes (and see more in the future). I want Ritual to stay in business 'til then. But if that many people are stealing a 20 USD game, that doesn't encourage the developers to continue.

I know most on this forum have legal copies but the interview is worth a read. And pass it on to your less legitimate acquaintances.

Cheers

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Old 07-29-2006, 11:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

I'm ashamed to admit that this was something I was guilty of in the past. I think a lot of people just don't understand how the industry works, or at least that was my excuse. Game developers were a lot like movie production companies as far as I was concerned - big, rich wholly-owned subsidiaries of bigger, richer companies with near-bottomless pockets and unlimited resources. If I download a copy of Half Life or Quake 2, no one is going to notice. It's a victimless crime.

Then I started to get a bit more informed about the industry and realized that these development companies aren't as financially secure as I thought they were. They rely heavily on the number of units sold, and in most cases, there aren't so many units sold that my single purchase doesn't make a difference. If I pirate a copy of a game, it has a real, measurable impact on the developers' bottom line.

So yeah... concider this my apology to Ritual (yeah, I had a pirated copy of the original Sin, sorry) and all other game developers for past mistakes. It won't happen again.
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Old 07-29-2006, 11:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

I was fairly young when I was doing any piracy. In that respect, there's really not much else to say. Was it wrong? Obviously, but it's ten years later...and I buy all my software now. (Even nagware like WinRAR, since it's excellent and deserves support.) I'm still financially insecure, but I do buy all my software now.

I'm not the err...apologetic type (at least not about things I did ten years ago,) but you know, some things don't seem to matter when your life is in the crapper...and entertaining yourself can be all you have left.

So I don't condone piracy, nor do I appreciate it, but I understand some of it.
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Old 07-29-2006, 11:34 AM   #4
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

I admit to haveing pirated games in the past, I thought "oh well, they have tones of money any way" but one night I sat and thought "What if it was me?!?!" and "Shit, this is there job, this is how they eat" So I stopped with the thought of major guilt.

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Old 07-29-2006, 11:36 AM   #5
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

I have too much respect for the games industry to pirate games.

-Maniac

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Old 07-29-2006, 11:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maniac
I have too much respect for the games industry to pirate games.

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My thoughts exactly.

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Old 07-29-2006, 12:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

I feel so Ashamed

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Old 07-29-2006, 02:25 PM   #8
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

He who has never pirated software among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at me

when talking about piracy we should take in account the following:

1. Are the people who pirate games gonna buy them if they couldn't pirate them?
I think no. At least not SiN. It maybe the case with WarCraft 3 or World of WarCraft but not with a single player oriented title.

2. Copyright protection sux. It really makes no sense giving hard time to the people who pay and the people who don't just "copy it from the DVD". Every game that is not online based in some whay is going to be cracked. Even that virus StarForce doesn't stop it!

I don't know if Steam is ok for people from USA/Canada and western and central europe but it is a pain for me. I live in a small town in bg and here mu 96Kbps Internet is considered really good. You don't wanna know how Steam behaves with this brandwidth. Mind you that Battle.net behaves really well.

And finally to people who pirate games:
It is much more fun when you pay it. I pirated games mainly when there was no way to buy them in Bulgaria but I have much more fun now I pay attention to details and get the maximum out of the game. I've never regreted up to now for spending a 1/5 (around $50) of the average month sallary in Bulgaria for a game. And quoting the author of these great articles:

http://www.virtual-hideout.net/artic...on/index.shtml
http://virtual-hideout.net/articles/...t2/index.shtml

"If it's not worth my money it is not worth my time"

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Old 07-29-2006, 04:32 PM   #9
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stilgar
2. Copyright protection sux. It really makes no sense giving hard time to the people who pay and the people who don't just "copy it from the DVD". Every game that is not online based in some whay is going to be cracked. Even that virus StarForce doesn't stop it!

I don't know if Steam is ok for people from USA/Canada and western and central europe but it is a pain for me. I live in a small town in bg and here mu 96Kbps Internet is considered really good. You don't wanna know how Steam behaves with this brandwidth. Mind you that Battle.net behaves really well.
Starforce did stop Splinter Cell 3 from being cracked for a very long time. And I'm still mad that Ubisoft hasn't removed it, since I can't play it on XP x64 (it's possible I can use the new crack, but it claims to be for european copies.)

I use Steam on dialup and it works fine. I imagine it's something else about your connection it isn't liking. (My guess is heavy packet loss.)

If you use a legal copy of XP, there is this... http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/d...displaylang=en I haven't tried it myself, so I can't say how good it is.
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Old 07-29-2006, 07:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stilgar
He who has never pirated software among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at me
*throws stone...hard*

-Maniac

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Old 07-29-2006, 09:51 PM   #11
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

The little piracy I did was back when I was but a wee lad. I'm not really old by any standard now, but this was when I didn't have any money whatsoever and all my games came from the older hacker friend. Needless to say, as soon as I could afford games, I paid for them. As said earlier, if it isn't worth my money, it isn't worth my time.

(I am an incredibly frugal person, so I live by those words.)

Edit: Also, I am thankful that Ritual is releasing this through stores as well. I haven't a credit card, which seriously hampers the purchases I am able to make.

What are your thoughts on abandonware? It's a blurry line, for sure. See, the reason I find that somewhat understandable is because it is virtually impossible to purchase the titles any more. I would very much love to go back and play all my favourites as a kid, but where will I get a copy? In short, it's nigh-impossible most of the time. Makes me wish I ponied up the cash I didn't have then.

Just so you understand how particular I am about spending my money wisely:

I haven't bought a game with a list price over $20-25 Canadian since I was twelve. Even then, my Dad bought that game at about full retail price. Most games I purchase cost me $10. I hunt those bargain bins well.

Case in point is this: If I spend my money on a game that isn't the cat's pajamas, it doesn't matter. It's $10. No big deal. I still have a legit copy of the game for less than it costs to see a movie.

The 'it costs too much' line is complete crap. I buy CDs legitimately or take them out of the library. I believe in supporting the artist, no matter how much the record industry is ****ing them over with their royalty skimming. (Depends on the label, but however you slice it, the music business is infamous for this.) I apply the same logic to every purchase. I have paid for every single game loaded onto this computer. I consider every, and I mean every purchase for quite some time before buying it. I haven't bought my laptop yet, but I have done an exhaustive amount of research on it. Heaven knows how much I'm going to stress over buying a house... Seldom have I made impulse purchases, and even less often do those impulses pay off.

I'm damn well sure that no one here would enjoy working very hard while trying to support their families, only to find that some lowlife is eating away at their livelihood. The bottom line is... If it isn't worth the money spent, then don't buy it!

/rant off

Last edited by JoelF : 07-29-2006 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 07-29-2006, 10:58 PM   #12
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Well here's something to mull over... how about second-hand purchases, like eBay? I recently bought several games on eBay from a guy that had owned them previously and simply grown tired of them. IIRC, it was HL2, Quake 4, Call of Duty 2, Halo, and Far Cry.

That was a legitimate, legal transaction and the copies of the games are the originals (not burned copies) complete with the packaging and manuals, so I know I didn't support a pirate. That is, of course, unless he'd loaded the no-CD cracks of those games before he sold them and continued to play them, but there's nothing I can do about that.

So... how does that factor into this? I own the games legally, but the money I spent for them didn't go to the developer but rather a previous owner.
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Old 07-30-2006, 02:34 AM   #13
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quason
Well here's something to mull over... how about second-hand purchases, like eBay? I recently bought several games on eBay from a guy that had owned them previously and simply grown tired of them. IIRC, it was HL2, Quake 4, Call of Duty 2, Halo, and Far Cry.

That was a legitimate, legal transaction and the copies of the games are the originals (not burned copies) complete with the packaging and manuals, so I know I didn't support a pirate. That is, of course, unless he'd loaded the no-CD cracks of those games before he sold them and continued to play them, but there's nothing I can do about that.

So... how does that factor into this? I own the games legally, but the money I spent for them didn't go to the developer but rather a previous owner.

That is absolutely legal and no developer will or have any right to argue about this. I remember some lawsuit on that with personalized DVDs. This is one more thing that is not right about Steam. I can't practically sell the games. Not that I want to but I have the right to be able to do it. Btw how did you buy HL2? What about the steam activation?


Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stilgar
He who has never pirated software among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at me



*throws stone...hard*

-Maniac
auch! Are you sure you have NEVER pirated ANY software? Winrar? Flashget? mIRC? Nero?


Quote:
I use Steam on dialup and it works fine. I imagine it's something else about your connection it isn't liking. (My guess is heavy packet loss.)
It may be something else but Steam is awful software despite being a great idea. I've seen more than once 100% CPU Usage from Steam or a process running but I can't see the application anywhere and can't find the way to bring it to front. Like 5 minutes before the "connecting to Steam..." occurs if I hadn't connected in more than a month (I know it downloads updates but there is not any indication the program is working at all).

And no it is not my Windows/drivers/Steam installation that is wrong.

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Old 07-30-2006, 03:12 AM   #14
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoelF
I would very much love to go back and play all my favourites as a kid, but where will I get a copy? In short, it's nigh-impossible most of the time. Makes me wish I ponied up the cash I didn't have then.
Actually, you can find virtually ANYTHING online. Granted, you need a credit card for that...

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Old 07-30-2006, 07:40 AM   #15
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

The problem is that piracy is not stealing (despite what riaa wants you to think). When you download something it's just a copy, everyone else (including the company that made it) still has theirs so it's impossible to feel guilty about it. And guilt is what normally stops people from doing this kind of thing.
I buy my games though, I like the boxes
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Old 07-30-2006, 08:11 AM   #16
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stilgar

auch! Are you sure you have NEVER pirated ANY software? Winrar? Flashget? mIRC? Nero?
Free copy of nero came with my burner. mIRC is garbage. (EDIT: I repeat mIRC IS GARBAGE! THE WORST PROGRAM EVER CREATED BY MAN. A monkey could've created/designed a better interface.) I have no idea what flashget is. Win rar is rarely used by me, so the trial version is on my system. I don't use it enough to warrent purchase.

-Maniac

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Last edited by Maniac : 07-30-2006 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 07-30-2006, 09:06 AM   #17
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Quote:
mIRC is garbage
mIRC is maybe the greatest software I've ever seen (at least when talking about interface)

Quote:
Win rar is rarely used by me, so the trial version is on my system.
the fact that you're using outdated trial version does not allow you to use it

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Old 07-30-2006, 11:21 AM   #18
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

I always thought that the reason they let you use the trial version is because they want to plug their advertising (which is fine by me). It's a necessary evil for them to let you keep using their software, isn't it? Especially now that Windows has its own built-in unzip function. Sure, it pales in comparison, but they must do something to pitch their software.

I have the free version of Zonealarm too. If I can find it in the store, perhaps I'll buy it. Keep in mind that I haven't oodles of money, much like most people, and I'm far more frugal than most.

For the record, I don't have my own credit card. I just got a debit card (I think) and I have yet to use it. I will always (I'll say that again, always) prefer purchasing a product in person. It makes me feel much more secure about it.

I find myself wishing that publishers would release 'greatest hits' collections. Here is a brief list of games I would buy should I see them on the shelf for a reasonable price:

System Shock 2
Psychonauts
Indigo Prophecy (it's out there still, I just haven't looked hard enough)
Shogo: Mobile Armor Division
Septerra Core
Anachronox
The Lego Star Wars games
The Rayman games
Et cetera, et cetera

And for nostalgia's sake, the games I grew up on.

The Space Quest collection
Jazz Jackrabbit
Jill of the Jungle
Doom
Wacky Wheels
Others I have forgotten

And the list goes on. I realize that much of this can be bought over the internet, but a) my father has instilled in me credit card paranoia, and b) I don't have one. If I did, I'd be willing to take a chance if I opened another account separate from my other funds.

(Yes, they insure your purchases, blahblahblah. I just want to be cautious as opposed to upset.)

Anyways, I understand that it isn't really feasible for publishers to release games that are well past their prime (for computers especially), due to changing hardware standards, operating systems, and such. In essence, much work would need to be done for the games to be functional, and emulators like DOSBox demand a large amount of system resources. Understandable, since it is virtualizing a whole computer, or something like that.

I don't know where I went really off topic, but the thread was labelled off topic, so I guess it's okay. =)
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Old 07-30-2006, 12:29 PM   #19
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

There is a big difference between trial and free version. I use the free version of many programs just because I don't need the extra functionality. However trial is supposed to be for e certain period of time after which you're supposed to buy it if not you're using it illegally.

BTW there is no difference (as to internet shopping) if you use credit or debit card as long as it has visa/mastercard/etc... sign on it

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Old 07-30-2006, 01:08 PM   #20
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoelF
For the record, I don't have my own credit card. I just got a debit card (I think) and I have yet to use it. I will always (I'll say that again, always) prefer purchasing a product in person. It makes me feel much more secure about it.
You wanna bet? I guarentee you will change your mind after you realise the EASY and SIMPLICITY of buying online. It's all I ever do now.

When you are a new "online shopper," you get nervous about way too many things. But trust me on this, you'll change your mind in the coming years.

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Old 07-30-2006, 01:19 PM   #21
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

It's hard to track the losses due to piracy when no studies have been done to determine whether pirates would have purchased the item when the oppurtunity is not there. Then of course no one is actually honest about their piracy, or tend to put a self-righteous slant on their way of thinking.

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Old 07-30-2006, 04:58 PM   #22
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoelF
I always thought that the reason they let you use the trial version is because they want to plug their advertising (which is fine by me). It's a necessary evil for them to let you keep using their software, isn't it? Especially now that Windows has its own built-in unzip function. Sure, it pales in comparison, but they must do something to pitch their software.
Not really. WinZip actually (with version 10) canned the idea because everyone was just as happy using the nagware version as the purchased, I've heard. I imagine WinRAR has the same problem. I was actually using the nagware version for like 5 years (before I bought it...)so much for thirty day trial eh?
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Old 07-31-2006, 02:43 AM   #23
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

I personally don't find the argument that piracy kills the game industry all that convincing. Making shitty games, having horrible intrusive copy protection (Starforce) and generally failing to support games after release is what kills the gaming industry. Games with no copy protection what-so-ever have become considerable successes like Galactic Civilisations II of which, I bought immediately after hearing their stance to support the game and have no CD protection. I approve of companies that don't treat me like a thief.

The fact of the matter is copy protection and DRM software has failed. Starforce is a buggy pile of rubbish that destabilises systems and is widely boycotted by many gamers. It is also capable of being hacked and bypassed. Steam IMO is a failure in stopping piracy as Michael Russel has demonstrated aptly for us. Steam can be emulated, bypassed and generally got around failing to prevent piracy. Of course, Steam works well for preventing pirates from trying to update the game and generally stops them from playing online, but if you've made a single player game ala HLep1 and Sin: Episodes you're still screwed.

The fact of the matter is, the games industry like the music industry will see to its own oblivion at some point. Being invasive with DRM software like steam and arguably copy-protection that is essentially malware like Starforce does not endear customers to buy your products. I only bought SiN: Episodes on a whim really and because I was a big fan of the first game. Steam and my previous horrific experiences with that software [still not impressed btw] nearly put me off getting the game to begin with.

I have always felt, since learning basic economics that is, that pirating isn't something that is worth-while because if it's worth playing it's certainly worth buying. I fail to see any logic why to pirate a game and play through it and not pay for it anyway. As a result, I buy all of my games and if I don't like it I just don't buy it. The point of the matter is I'm making is that if a developer wants my money, make a game that I want to actually buy. Many games that have flopped or been major failures haven't failed due to piracy but have failed because they were just terrible to begin with.

As a general rule: If one makes a good game the punters will come and buy it. When Michael Russel points out that 85% of games are failures, is that because 85% of games are pirated or is it simply because there are much fewer good games released per year than bad games?

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Old 07-31-2006, 10:35 AM   #24
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Quote:
is that because 85% of games are pirated or is it simply because there are much fewer good games released per year than bad games?
In any other case but the gaming industry this would be an accurate statement. Unfortunately, publishers often have a lot to do with a game's commerical failure because of poor distribution, poor advertisement, etc.

Take System Shock 2, for example. It's, in my opinion, the best game ever made. I absolutely loved it, and so did just about everyone else that played it. It was a masterpiece. However, sales were pretty dismal and the developer (Looking Glass) went belly-up.

I'm not sure whether or not piracy had anything to do with that. All I'm saying is that making a good game doesn't necessarily mean you're going to make money.
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Old 07-31-2006, 11:35 AM   #25
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Default Re: A Bit OT : Michael Russell on Piracy

Try Psychonauts and Advent Rising too. I totally loved them both, but Majesco really didn't have the experience they needed in publishing (and so screwed the pooch.)
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