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Diecast #12: Trolling Pirates, No Football for Wii, and Mailbag

By Shamus
on Tuesday May 7, 2013
Filed under:


This week we carefully adjusted the schedule to allow for a mailbag segment. And then we squandered all of it talking about a game we haven’t played on a console most of us don’t own in a genre we don’t care about.

Direct download (MP3)
Direct download (ogg Vorbis)
Podcast RSS feed.

00:45 What’s everyone playing?

Rutskarn is playing Brütal Legend and reading REAMDE.

Josh is playing Stardrive.

Chris is playing Theme Hospital and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.

Shamus is playing Brütal Legend and Deadlight.

26:00 DRM via irony.

The creator of Game Developer Tycoon uploaded a version of his game to the torrents where you can’t win because people always pirate your games.

I mentioned an Escapist article where someone confessed they used to pirate games and never play them, but I can’t find the dang thing. If anyone remembers it, please put the link in the comments. It was a really interesting article and rang really true for me, since I knew people who did this sort of thing for years.

39:00 Madden football not coming to the Wii U this year.

57:00 Mailbag

Comments (228)

  1. Sean Riley says:

    Oooh, Brutal Legend!

    I can’t wait until I can hear the podcast. :) (I looooove me some Brutal Legend.)

    Also: Far Cry = open world first person shooter. That’s more or less the only promise the name makes.

    Edit 2: And also, I dropped out around 35 minutes or so. Grarghlgrh! The ordering dudes around is the highlight of Brutal Legend, not the lowlight! That’s what it’s freaking about! There are endless hack and slashers out there, ones which do it much better than Brutal Legend. But there’s only one weird avatar driven RTS with a heavy metal theme of the last five years!

    • Heaven Smile says:

      I have to yet finish listening to the podcast, but i wonder if they even know that Brutal Legend was a Spiritual Successor of “Sacrifice”, by Shiny in the year 2000 (same year that Deus Ex was released).


      Its a 3rd Person RTS with RPG elements with branching storytelling that keeps tracks of your choices during the whole plot, and changes the story the more you progress.

      Branching storytelling done properly, and not made by Bioware? HERESY!

      • Heaven Smile says:

        For the people too afraid of change or try things that games did waaaaaaay back then (while still bitching about lack of innovation and proper writing) let me reasure you that Infinity Engine fans have a treasure trove of voice actors to recognize in this game. We have Rob Paulsen as Zyzyx, Kath Soucie as Shakti, Kevin Michael Richardson as Pyro, Jennifer Hale as Persephone, Charlie Adler as Charnel, and Tony Jay as Mithras. And outside of the Infinity Engine, Tim Curry as Stratos, and Paul Eiding (Aldaris and Colonel Campbell) as Eldred.

        There, Tony Jay from Legacy of Kain is in it. You know you got a winner in your hand when this guy is in it.

      • MadHiro says:

        I haven’t played Brutal Legend since it initially launched, years back. But I don’t remember being very impressed, or pleased with it. What I do remember is blowing through it so fast that I wound up fiddling with a different game for the rest of the weekend.

        It never struck me that it was a successor to Sacrifice. Probably because I don’t think Brutal Legend was any good, and Sacrifice was splendid.

      • Caffiene says:

        Shiny were a really interesting company… some really unique games.

        MDK was simply stunning aesthetics for the time, Messiah with its possession mechanic, Sacrifice with its 3rd person RTS. All with an unusual style of humour, too. And the split-off company that made Giants: Citizen Kabuto with its 3 wildly different play styles.

  2. I haven’t even pressed “play” yet and I’m slightly mystified that not-Madden for the Wii U apparently goes on for almost 20 minutes.

    You… JOCKS!

  3. wheals says:

    The most important question: Why can’t Rutskarn pronounce the letter “ü”?

    Re: Neal Stephenson: I’ve only ever read “The Diamond Age,” and I certainly didn’t have Rutskarn’s experience. His writing style has probably changed in ~17 years, though.

    • Rutskarn says:

      I also read “The Diamond Age,” and that was pretty much a chapbook by Stephenson standards. That’s what happens when he makes himself write an actual narrative for 75% of the time.

      Imagine a book with about that much actual plot, but 1.5 times the pages, then fit those dimensions to a 1100-page book and you get the idea.

      • Nick says:

        The only book I’ve read by him is Anathem, and that was a total slog to get through – especially as he tries to get about 30 new words for things out in the first ten pages or so, just throwing them out there with little explanation until later in the chapter.

        It’s not easy to get started on it, is what I’m saying, and then the tangents started up… overall I quite liked it but it needs a warning label attached that it takes a fair effort to comprehend

    • DrMcCoy says:

      Well, it’s an Heavy Metal umlaut, those normally don’t change the pronunciation. See for example Motörhead.

      • Tomas says:

        I find those really annoying. I understand they think it’s cool and makes it stand out, but every time I read the text “Motörhead” I hear the Swedish vowel “ö” in the middle, making it sound very… opposite of cool.

        • Bubble181 says:

          Ditto with the German ü and ö for me; I’m not sure if it’s the same sound as the Swedish ones.

          People (espaecially anglophones) (ab)using accents and insisting they “don’t change anything”. It’s not because your language only has 26 letters that the other squiggly bits don’t matter.

  4. Thank you, Rutskarn, for saying what I’ve been saying about Neal Stephenson’s novels for years, only I got yelled at for it.

    It’s almost a hallmark of cyberpunk novels that you get a load of various disconnected concepts, usually involving “20 minutes into the future” technology, A.I., cults, or whatever, and they’re loosely dribbled on a rambling plot that goes one of two ways. In the first, it’s like a James Bond film, in that by the time you get to the end, you’ve forgotten how you got there in the first place and what’s going on. In the second, the big build up turns out to be a plot that is almost too tame or simplistic to be used on Star Trek.

    I found “Snow Crash” to be the latter. A computer virus for people’s brains? Seen it, taped it, thought of it myself a few times after owning a computer for several years. The difference is I didn’t make programmers high priests and/or gods to early human civilization, which seems a little self-pleasuring for the author to say the least. The name “Hiro Protagonist” raised a smile, but that was about the end of it.

    • kdansky says:

      Anathem is even worse. He makes up dozens of words in the first few pages. Now I’m fine when you need a word for a thing or concept that doesn’t exist here, so I can live with the twenty species of plants he introduces. I question the timing a bit, and they all sound more like magic pills than actual plants, so I roll my eyes a little, but that doesn’t ruin a book.

      The problem is he doesn’t stop there: The next words that get invented are words for “movie”, “TV”, “radio”, “computer” and “watch” and then I put the book down. That’s also 50 pages in, and nothing has yet happened, but we’ve gotten four pages of detailed description of winding up a physically impossible clock. He should make up a the word for “friction” too.

      If you make up words for things that exist, you are not an author, because you’re not writing meaningful text, you’re just putting random letters on a page.

      • Karthik says:

        Yeah, this happens.

        I generally read Stephenson’s novels for the tangents, and don’t really like them otherwise because I feel like he forgets to tell a story after promising one, but I loved Anathem. Especially for its wordplay, among other things. It’s like what we’d get if we used English instead of Latin/Greek as etymological roots and then mashed words together.

        As it turns out, there is a good reason why everyday things have weird names. In fact, it’s not just objects that Anathem renames. It happens to philosophy (“Occam’s Razor” becomes “Haldane’s Steelyard”), computing (“The Traveling Salesman” becomes “The Wandering Peregrin”), math (We get the “Adrakhonic theorem” instead about right triangles, phase space becomes “Hemn space”) and science (General Relativity becomes “Geometrodynamics”). It’s because the story hinges around the existence of parallel universes and the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, and one of the questions it raises is: If an alien society built (or if we rebuilt) civilization from nothing, what ideas from today would they (or we) rediscover in nearly identical form?

        So we get these “universals”, discovered under completely different circumstances (and thus with different names) but nearly identical in form to how we understand them.

        Unfortunately, it is impossible to get a handle on what is going on in the first few chapters, and a lot of the dialogue is expository, drowning the reader in infodumps of tale after tale from a fictional 3000 year history. Combined with the (frankly clever) wordplay, it’s difficult to shake the notion that Stephenson is being self-indulgent. He possibly is, but the world-building is excellent nevertheless. Once you find your footing, it’s smooth sailing.

        It’s probably the best piece of speculative fiction I’ve read, and it definitely works better as a story than his earlier works (haven’t read anything after) because it has a simple but effective narrative arc. I usually describe it as a coming-of-age tale; Harry Potter with math instead of magic.

        • Thomas says:

          … I wouldn’t describe it as Harry Potter with maths instead of magic. I did really enjoy Anathem although it seemed to go off the rails at the end, but I also figure that what most people are saying about it is completely accurate

          • Karthik says:

            Oh, I even liked the denouement and the ending, and not just because it had one for a change. The scholars spend the first two thirds of the book theorizing and sparring with words–it was excellent to see them take action in what was essentially a physicist’s action movie in the final act.

            Re: the comparison, the parallels end once the story moves out of the monastery, but it’s hard for me to find a better hook when describing it to someone not sold on the natural philosophy themes or the worldbuilding.

            I agree, what people are saying about it is accurate, but it’s also lacking some context that I sought to provide above. It falls into this sparse quadrant where it’s a difficult book to read not because it’s particularly high-brow or clever, but because it’s dense in service of themes that don’t become apparent until much later in the story.

            • Thomas says:

              ‘when describing it to someone not sold on the natural philosophy themes ‘

              If they’re not sold on that, it’s probably the point to give up. I wouldn’t even say the worldbuilding is worth it. Either you like philosophical phrillers, with philosophical superpowers or you shouldn’t be reading it :P

        • Maeve says:

          Stephenson is shamelessly self-indulgent all over the place. I agree that Anathem is brilliant, but… you have to be willing to accept that Stephenson’s style is that he knows he’s incredibly clever, and so he does most of his writing just to show all the cool things he’s thinking.

    • Rutskarn says:

      I will say that, having said all these things, I’ve liked every Stephenson novel I’ve read.

    • Mike S. says:

      In Snow Crash, I don’t think the plot is really supposed to be much more than a framework on which Stephenson hangs his parodies of Gibson/Sterling cyberpunk tropes. (Pizza delivery described in the same breathless tones as computer hacking always is, the grim corporate future taken to new levels of silliness with Mafia franchises and underperforming US government enclaves, an antagonist who’s entirely over the top with his glass daggers and nuclear sidecar, hacking as not merely Serious Business but the basis for all human civilization going back to Sumer, etc.)

      It’s an early novel, and it has Stephenson’s characteristic problem with writing endings (which he seems to be finally getting over), but I thought it was fun for what it was.

      • The problem I have with “it’s satire!” is the same problem Spoiler Warning had with Alan Wake and “it’s not supposed to be scary!” Snow Crash runs right into POE’s Law: Without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism. Unless you can point me to an interview where Stephenson calls it satire, it’s too cyberpunk to be a send-up of cyberpunk, at least for me.

        If it is satire, his “ancient priests as programmers” thing was really out of place, either as satire or serious sci-fi concept.

        • Mike S. says:

          I get where you’re coming from– I’ve seen creators and their defenders use the “whatever doesn’t make sense was meant to be satirical” line. But I can only say that it never occurred to me that a story that opens with a main character named “Hiro Protagonist” engaging in a tactical pizza delivery op (and identifying said occupation as a major element of American comparative economic advantage) was meant to be taken primarily with a straight face.

          There’s more than one tone going on, and the adventure story is played reasonably straight. But the worldbuilding strikes me as entirely tongue in cheek. Not biting satire, just some gentle fun with a literary subfield that was then crawling with all too many third-generation xeroxes of Neuromancer, all street ninjas and grim, noir digital rebels being ground down by the Man.

          (I’d say the strongest clue that it wasn’t done as straight cyberpunk was how ebulliently non-noir Hiro’s general outlook is.)

          The save-the-world story seemed mostly an excuse for taking the reader on a tour through the crazy quilt, plus of course letting Stephenson toss out whatever cool ideas struck his fancy (as he continues to do).

          • LunaticFringe says:

            “The save-the-world story seemed mostly an excuse for taking the reader on a tour through the crazy quilt, plus of course letting Stephenson toss out whatever cool ideas struck his fancy (as he continues to do).”

            And this is why my friends and I refer to Snow Crash as Sumerian Masturbation.

  5. Spammy says:

    Man, never invite me on a Diecast. I would look so dumb after the “What is everyone playing segment.”

    “So Spammy, what are you playing?”
    “Well I’ve been playing Twin Sector, which makes you think it’s a bad Portal knock off before you realize the platforming is Half-Life 2 and not Portal. Aaaaand X-Blades, which is… interesting in how you can have every mechanic be broken and still have a functional and slightly enjoyable game. Oh and I just picked up Bleed so at least I’m playing something good now.”

    • Kamica says:

      That actually sounds pretty much what would fit the Diecast…

      • Ringwraith says:

        I just tend to be playing really randomly old (and usually quite niche) things depending on when you catch me.
        Currently, I would answer “Atelier Iris” and then confuse everyone.

        • Trix2000 says:

          You wouldn’t be the only one, and it doesn’t help that I like to replay stuff a LOT sometimes.

          I still have Atelier Iris on my list to get to, oddly enough.

          • Ringwraith says:

            It is an interesting one, being more of a typical adventure than the time & item management games of most of the Atelier series, though it is still very distinctly Atelier, with only one character being able to use the majority of the best items (and being the second-squishiest at that), and lots of making random stuff in stores.
            Though currently it has been put on hold as I just Persona 4 Arena. LET THE READING COMMENCE.

  6. I liked the Game Dev Tycoon story so much, I went and bought the game myself….it’s pretty good, check it out.

  7. Brandon says:

    The piracy topic is always hot debate, and this latest entry was interesting to me. Funnily enough, I found myself kind of mad at how they implemented the piracy problem in the game, how it literally kills the player’s company because too many people are pirating. I found myself thinking “But those aren’t lost sales! They are mostly people who wouldn’t otherwise buy the game anyways, they would just go without!”

    I think releasing a “pirated” version of your game with a flaw that makes it unwinnable is fairly clever. I remember Arkham Asylum had a similar feature where you couldn’t use the grappling gun or glide, something like that, if you had a certain pirated copy. However, I disagreed with their somewhat ham fisted message of “piracy destroys game development companies, no exception!”

    • Scimitar says:

      In the actual, full game, pirating doesn’t really kill your company (unless you’re super struggling, at which point you were liable to die for other reasons). Occasionally things will pop up saying “A bunch of players are using illegal copies of game X. What should we do?” and it gives you the option to sue or warn them.

      I never went for the sue option, instead opting for the warn one, and that option results in your fan base increasing as they approve of you not being all sue-happy.

      Other related random events are people making fan games of your games (usually your old ones) and you get the option to sue again, or do nothing (which again nets you fans as they appreciate you letting the game get made).

    • I also think Chris vastly overestimates the impact it would have on piracy. It’s not just the “newest” torrent people look at. They look at the uploader, how may other torrents have they provided, were they good, etc.?

      The second an uploader user ID has a “he uploads fakes” attached to it, it’s (pardon the term) game over.

      It is funny, though. I think the rock group Guster released one of their albums to torrent sites where they replaced all the lyrics with meows. Funnily enough, fans wanted their legit copy and the humorous one made for pirates.

      • HiEv says:


        In fact, you left out the easiest way to spot a fake torrent: the comments.

        If there are a ton of “Fake!”, “Buggy!”, “Disabled version!”, etc. comments, then that torrent will dwindle, while the ones with “Confirmed good”, “Tested to see if X was disabled and it wasn’t”, etc. comments will get more seeders.

        But yeah, trusted seeders is another way to avoid fakes.

        Personally, if I released a game I’d like to make it “donationware”, where it’s free but you can donate whatever you think it’s worth as long as it’s high enough that the payment system doesn’t eat all the profits with transaction fees or whatever. An unobtrusive “Please donate” button in the game and on the website should be enough. You can’t pirate a game that’s given away for “free (donations optional)”, and I like the “try before you buy”/”pay what you think it’s worth” model.

        • Viktor says:

          You actually can pirate free stuff, the webcomic Insufferable is heavily torrented simply because some people are more used to going to torrents than individual websites. Waid eventually gave up and started releasing a zipped file with his URL plastered over it so that at least people torrenting would know where it came from.

    • Nimas says:

      I agree with you in that piracy doesn’t really kill a game (although there may be exceptions), but there are a few other reasons for it.

      Mainly things like a market reaction to cost if people think its exorbitantly high and is unlikely to reduce in price (anecdotal evidence, but I’ve only pirated 2 games in the last 3+ years, Mass Effect 3 which I never actually installed, and Call of Duty 4:MW which I pirated after going to the steam website and seeing the fact that they wanted $50 for a 6 and half year old game and I couldn’t be bothered going to the rental place to hire it) and more often a service problem.

      Steam is the perfect example of this, and is such a good counter point to DRM, even though it is DRM. I’ve probably close to having spent more money on steam then the rest of my gaming purchases combined over a 25 year lifetime.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        Or if prices of games are exorbrantly high compared to average paycheck in your country, and that has caused piracy to be viewed as a perfectly normal thing, and as such 90% of software is pirated and the remaining 10% is either freeware, Linux open source projects or actual purchases.

    • Thomas says:

      I love the quote the Loading Ready Run guys found of a pirate asking if he could research some sort of DRM or something to stop the pirates :P

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Im about the same as you,only not mad about their message.Its not true,so I dont agree with it,but I like the way they are saying it.By releasing essentially a demo for free,they are using torrents as free press.Something that plenty of indies already did,either by releasing a special version,or by releasing their alpha.

      Its a smart way to deal with pirates,because those that didnt want to buy your game but do download it arent impacting your sales at all,but those that do want to buy it now that theyve tried it (because they like it,or support your message,or whatever) are impacting it positively.Very rarely will such a move turn someone off your game who wanted to buy it in the first place,so this strategy should be more prevalent.Alas,it seems that only indies have enough sense to try it.

  8. Bropocalypse says:

    The Game Dev Tycoon thing is a pretty neat statement from an artistic point of view

    • Hitchmeister says:

      Especially the reports (if true) about pirates on the forum asking if they could research DRM to fight the piracy in the game.

      • Alan says:

        It’s cute, a little ironic, and ultimately meaningless. Someone asking how to get in-game DRM doesn’t tell us anything about the person’s beliefs and morality any more than someone asking how to most easily get the “kill everyone” achievement in Monaco does. People play games, in part, to try things out they would never do in reality. What they did is an amusing prank, but their post comes across as simultaneously smug and butthurt and irritated the hell out of me.

        • Asimech says:

          I didn’t get those from it, but I don’t know what the word is for what I did get.

          The comment about the “can I research DRM” question implied that they didn’t get that people who don’t think DRM works in real-life can easily belief it would work in a fictional setting. Especially one where Piracy is far more powerful than in the real world.

          If they intended to highlight the lack of self-consciousness in the comment then, well. If everyone discussing something they did or are trying to do in-game had to go out of their way to reveal they’re self-aware of how it sounds every post or reply would be as long my average comment.

          And then there was the feeling that they genuinely think that 1 pirated copy is always a 1 lost sale and that all of their statistics must be perfectly accurate.

          But I am for anything that gets people to reconsider contacting the original developers about a bug/problem they’ve ran into in a pirated copy. Simply because they could be a result of any cracks and they haven’t paid for any kind of customer service.

  9. No Spoiler Warning?

    Doesn’t Bioshock still need to be de-Viddler’d?

    • silver Harloe says:

      Josh does the editing. If you listened to the podcast, that should splain all.

      • I did listen to the podcast. I know Josh is going in for surgery. I figured he’d just take the old files and upload them to YouTube, no muss, no fuss, since they shouldn’t need re-editing at all. When they said they weren’t “doing” Spoiler Warning this week, I took that to mean “we’re not recording any new episodes,” not “we won’t upload reruns that aren’t on YouTube yet.”

        I’m not slamming his devotion to the show or anything, I just thought it’d be a good “sick leave” content dump until he got better. If not, that’s cool. I hope he can still play loads of games in the meantime to make up for the agony. And I hope his doctor hasn’t played Surgeon Simulator 2013.

        Alternately, if Josh is on some pretty heavy pain meds, he might record a livestream trying to play Total War or something while feeling a lot like Reginald Cuftbert.

    • silver Harloe says:

      Josh does the editing, and spent the week recovering from surgery.
      (apologies if this is a double post, the first one did the browser spin dance eternally)

  10. Erik says:

    Chris really should say “herpteederp” more often. It made me smile :)

  11. Weimer says:

    Usually let’s plays fall on an axis of funny to informative, and I think SW is somewhere in the middle.

    You guys do something unique in the realm of LP however, which is the active deconstruction of the game at hand. Maybe I’ve been blind to other LPers, but almost every time anyone else notices a serious fault within a game, they simply point at it and say “That’s not right!”. The thing I like about SW are the ideas how to improve the game in question.

    Other point in your favor is the group itself, which has people with distinct personalities. This gives the show clear, different voices with variety of opinions and viewpoints. I wasn’t a fan of Mumbles (mostly due to the ear-piercing audio), but at least she had things to say in addition to giving the show a bit of levity.

    The problem with popularity and personality is that things might devolve from interesting discussion of game design to a circlejerk, where you play these games just to entertain people with your wacky hijinks. While it might be fun, we already have x+1 internet personalities doing exactly that.

    TL;DR: Bill Shakesman once said: “Imma cap yo fools for oglin’ at my bitches!” and then he slapped a moose.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Idk wghat you mean. Her audio was not that bad…

      I’d say most LP’s fall in the area of ‘glorification of the stupid’ – wherein acting like a buffoon and failing to know the game at all is all-important as substitute to humour.. SW has veered a bit into that, unfortunately (the ‘lol at Josh doing random acts of badness’ segments), but overall, SW is indeed a lot different from most LP’s and better for it.
      So yeah, keep the deconstruction and iterate on the followup of deconstruction – fixing/finding solutions. If something doesn’t work, don’t just say ‘it doesn’t work, lol’, tell us WHY and tell us what would be better.
      Plus, the cast has a wide range of experiences in/of/about games (Josh with a large list of gmaes played and known to heart, Ruts with tabletop/dnd interaction stuff, Shamu with coding know-how, Chris with highbrow criticism), which helps to create very interesting discussions. So, yeah, please don’t let SW lose that factor.

      • Trix2000 says:

        I’d like to argue a bit against ‘most LPs’, since I’ve seen quite a few prominent cases that go the extra mile to make things interesting and/or show all the content. And of course, many that do self-imposed challenges to make things interesting (or hilarious in some cases).

        Of course, there’s a heck of a lot of variety out there, and I guess considering how many so-called ‘amateur LPers’ are out there in comparison to the big names using ‘most’ might actually be right. Sturgeon’s Law fully applies, and I suspect much of what makes the fewer good LPs comes down to having more than simple silliness.

        I’d definitely classify Spoiler Warning in the ‘good’ side of things, though. There’s a nice balance of funny, introspection, and criticism that works well for me.

  12. Kemayo says:

    Funnily enough, Brutal Legend was the last game I ever preordered.

    I played the demo and thought “yes, a God of War-esque brawler with funny writing and a ridiculous world! I’ll play that!”. Then it showed up on release day, and I got a completely different genre than I had expected, and one that I enjoy much less.

    I don’t mind them making the game they want. I just think that they should make a demo that properly reflects the game they’re releasing.

  13. Daimbert says:

    I liked this part of the piracy article:

    If pirates are put through more trouble than genuine customers, maybe more will buy the real game. Sadly, for AAA games it is currently the other way. Customers get the trouble with always-on requirements and intrusive DRM, while pirates can just download and enjoy. A twisted world.

    I’ve been saying this for quite a while now: if the retail game is better than the pirated version, then people will buy it rather than pirate it. But usually it’s the other way around, and more and more intrusive DRM just makes that worse. As someone who can afford to buy new and so generally does, if they make the game too painful for me to play retail then I’m likely to not play their games, at best, which costs them money.

    The really nice thing about this experiment is that using their built-in mechanisms they can actually get numbers about what’s happening. Over 90% playing — and actually playing — the pirated version is bad, especially for a game that costs $10. If they even pulled in half of those 3000 pirated users that’s $15000 in their pocket.

    • snakekans says:

      But the number of users is also highly inflated. You have 90% of people playing the pirated version, but you have no idea how many of them would actually buy the game. Look at the free to play model, where people aren’t doing anything illegal or immoral:

      I’ve recently came upon a study about free to play games in Apple’s app store, and it concluded that only 0.5-6% of the the people who downloaded a free game would actually spend any real money in-app. This is not very different from the numbers presented for Game Developer Tycoon. This doesn’t mean ‘OMG look at all that money I’m loosing’. It just means that the number of people playing your game is highly inflated, i.e. if it were impossible to pirate, your user base would probably be 20-100 times smaller than it is today.

      The ratio of free/paying users in free to play games is probably a very good approximation of the ratio of pirates that would be willing to pay for the game. And that number is very small.

      edit: reference to the study I mentioned

      • McNutcase says:

        I would disagree with your assessment, on the basis that I’m a counter-example. I buy games. I buy many games, I love feeling that I’m supporting the making of games… and I also play free-to-play games with in-app purchase mechanisms.

        I never make in-app purchases, because eff that noise. You’re arguing that because I treat free games as free, I wouldn’t pay for games that actually have a price. Not the case; I keep an eagle eye open for any opportunity to snag a game for free, but I buy games; multiple games; often multiple times. I’ve paid real money for Fallout on no fewer than three occasions; the same goes for the original Deus Ex, the Myth series,and others. While I used to be one of those jerkwads who got games illegally, I grew up and realised how bad an idea that was on multiple levels.

        • Daimbert says:

          There are cases where I think that piracy isn’t a problem, my view is that if you can pay for it and want the thing, you should pay for it. I pirated a bit when I couldn’t afford to buy or couldn’t get the games (not in my area or out of print), but now that I can afford it I buy all the time.

          And I’ve bought games multiple times as well. I have two PS2 versions of Persona 4, plus the Vita version, and 3 PS2 versions of Persona 3 as well as the PSP version. I like having as many backups of those games as I can because they’re my favourite games ever.

      • Daimbert says:

        I’m not sure that you can directly map the free-to-play model to piracy, for a number of reasons. Comparing it to apps is even more shaky, since people there are just grabbing things to play when they have some spare time, and not to actually play.

        However, I don’t think it’s really relevant to my point, which starts from the idea that more people will buy if the retail game is better than the pirated copy. For that comparison, you’d want to compare the number of people who buy after playing a demo versus those who don’t. Although, in this case, you’d need to split out those who try and buy, those you try and don’t buy or play it again, and those who just play the demo (I used to be in the last category for a lot of Amiga games). I don’t think the percentages for that work out as lopsided as they did with piracy.

        But let’s assume the numbers are reasonable, and this is what you can expect: that 90% of the people who are interested in playing your game won’t buy it, even if it’s cheap. There are a number of consequences of this:

        1) Don’t say that one of the reasons for piracy is the price, because even at a very low price point the percentages are still off.

        2) If this is fixed, then you can eliminate gaming as being a viable business; having only 10% of the market for your product actually being willing to pay for it isn’t a good business model.

        So, what we’d want to do is see how we can change the percentage, and get more of those who would play the game to pay for it. And that comes back to making the retail version of the game better than the pirated one. This is, of course, hard to do with software, but we can see some ways to get that:

        1) You know the easiest way to get me to pre-order a game? Include a soundtrack. Retail versions of games can include physical bonuses like manuals, novels, soundtrack CDs, figurines, and so on to encourage people to buy and make them feel that it’s a better value. This would encourage them to buy them even after playing them with a pirated copy.

        2) Add DLC for registered users, for free. Companies are trying to make money off of extra content, but adding it as an incentive to not pirate and then putting strong controls on getting that content should encourage some people, at least, to buy the game and register it. If you update over a length of time, that all just gets even better.

        The best thing about these types of solutions is that if you don’t want the extras, you can happily ignore them, and if you do you get them for free. Unlike a lot of DRM schemes that, say, require on-line activation for people who don’t want to register at all, it doesn’t hurt the customers who aren’t interested in it but provides incentives for people to buy instead of pirate.

        • Alan says:

          “If this is fixed, then you can eliminate gaming as being a viable business; having only 10% of the market for your product actually being willing to pay for it isn't a good business model.”

          When people get reasonable numbers (typically by having copies “phone home”) the number tends to land around 90% with surprising consistency. This has been true for a number of years. Despite this the industry survives and grows.

          The core problem is the idea that the 10% willing-to-pay matters. It doesn’t matter if 1% or 100% of the market you think/wish you have is willing to pay. If paying customers × price > expenses, then you have a viable business; otherwise you don’t. You can have every single person in your market give you money and go out of business. You can have rampant copyright infringement and be profitable. Go ahead and try to get more paying customers. Try to convince people engaging in copyright infringement to buy a legal copy. Try to expand your market. But don’t fret over the ratio of paying customers to infringers as it is irrelevant. Statements like “If they even pulled in half of those 3000 pirated users that's $15000 in their pocket,” are wishful thinking. You might as well say, “If even just 0.1% of all US gamers bought the game, that’s $1,000,000 in their pocket.”

          • Daimbert says:

            I think you’re missing the subtle distinction that I was keying off of, which is the difference between only 10% currently paying for your product — because they can get it for free — and only 10% being willing to pay for your product AT ALL, even if they didn’t have a free option. You can go for a while with the former, but if you know that the case is the latter then you really should get out of the business altogether.

            I don’t think that the latter is the case, and neither do most software companies. We both think that if you can make the free version less desirable or available that then you’ll pick up a lot of the customers that are taking the free option because it’s there and is as good as the retail version. The software companies are trying to make it so that you can’t get the free version anymore through DRM, but as the OP pointed out what that does is make the retail version WORSE than the free version, which isn’t good. What I want to do is make the retail version better than the free version.

            So, because I think that people will pay for the game if you make it worth their while, I deny that that 10-90 split is fixed. It can be changed. We just need to figure out how to change it.

  14. anaphysik says:

    I can’t speak for the other members of Disclosure Alert, but I really have no general reference for what a ‘video let’s play’ should be, other than that set out by Spoiler Warning. Anything else would seem either too uptight or too pointless :/

    (I’d guess that Aldowyn’s Mass Effect series would be similar to a ‘strict’ let’s play, except that it’d be hard to properly compile data on the matter as the series is well known (particularly to him) for putting viewers into comas ;P )

    • Aldowyn says:

      Most of the VIDEO LPs I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a fair amount) are usually comedic, occasionally instructional. Some just kinda show the game off, but ‘analysis’ is rare. Text LPs do a lot of personal commentary, reader interaction, and (oddly) narrative stuff (like, go read an LP for any 4x game ever, guavamoments XCOM UFO Defense LP, or Boatmurdered.)

      So there’s a fair variety but actual attempts at analysis are rare I Think.

    • Keeshhound says:

      The most important thing that a lot of people trying to get into making Lets Plays don’t seem to get is that they should be about the game. If you take a look around the youtube scene especially, most of them are more a particular youtuber’s personal talk show while they play minecraft in the background. Which is great if you just want to listen to people talk, but always struck me as rather narcissistic; it’s fine to go off on tangents, but if you don’t keep the focus hovering somewhere near the game itself, why bother?

      In that vein, Spoiler Alert and Disclosure Alert both do a pretty good job of keeping the discussion relevant to what’s being played, even if they get sidetracked occasionally.

      • Trix2000 says:

        I always thought of them as watching someone else play the game, with potentially interesting or funny commentary in the background to spice things up. It’s pretty nebulous though, but I’d agree that it shouldn’t be so much about the person themselves as the game.

        My definition’s always been just ‘hey, I’m playing the game and letting everyone watch me’ and nothing more. But just because something could be called an LP doesn’t mean I’ll want to watch.

      • aldowyn says:

        It depends on what you’re trying to do – what I call a ‘personality’ driven let’s play is perfectly valid, and the game does still matter in a lot of cases. I think that’s part of what makes Minecraft LPs so popular – there’s a lot of visual gray noise, basically, so you can talk about whatever while mining away.

        Personally, I do think it’s about more than just watching someone play a game, or at least that’s what I’m aiming for. It’s more about pointing things out you might not notice yourself.

  15. Thomas says:

    The Wii U will survive, and I think they’ll pick up some cruddy ports once the rest of the generation kicks in. This isn’t a good sign for Nintendo ‘winning’ though. I think they’ll get enough Nintendo fans to survive but not enough to reach critical mass.

    The exception to the rule is if the next Xbox has really low specs. In which case the Wii U will probably share in the multiplatform games in which case Nintendo only exclusives won’t be the lol thing it is to so many at the moment

    EDIT: And that PS3 situation only lasted a year or so. Once they got the install base growing faster and people learned how to develop for it, it got all the same games. It wasn#t worth losing half your market for any non-exclusive

  16. Nano Proksee says:

    On the matter of people who watch SP without playing the game being played. I assume that, like you did for me, you guys took the burden of playing ME3 for many people who got tired of the series.

    Also *Chris voice* “… and that’s why I like Spoiler Waring so much…. also ’cause I’m on it.”

  17. Hal says:

    Oh, Theme Hospital. Loved that game when I was in high school.

    Here’s a question for folks: I downloaded that game from GOG a few months ago. The computer in question died without backing up the file. (Well, I did back it up to a flash drive, but that also perished. Not a good time for electronics in my household.) What are my options? I don’t know if I have to pay to download it again or not.

    • Bentusi16 says:

      GoG works much like steam in that as long as you have your account info and an internet connection you can download your game anywhere you’re at. You just go to ‘my account’ while on the GoG website and you have a game shelf.

    • Attercap says:

      Theme Hospital is a classic! When it hit GoG, I re-bought it immediately. I’d love to see an update (or homage) to both that game and Dungeon Keeper. While they’re both still fun, they haven’t aged well in terms of interface or graphics.

      And Bentusi’s absolutely right. Provided you can remember your account info well enough to at least reset your password, you can re-download the games you’ve already purchased. Which is handled, strangely enough, better than if you lost an mp3 you purchased on amazon or eMusic.

      • Erik baars says:

        There is actually a homage coming for dungeon keeper. I think it’s called “war for the overworld” and it was funded by kickstarter. Only had a budget of around 300k or so I believe so don’t expect anything remotely close to AAA

      • Thomas says:

        There are also two fanmade graphical overhauls for both those games.

        I’m not sure how successful/stable they are because I was looking into them when I found my old Theme Hospital disk and Dungeon Keeper in a charity shop for a pound or so, so I never tried them out (and my internet is blocking me from researching them more for you).

        Both are incredible games, would love to see new versions

        EDIT: Graphical overhaul is a bit strong. They support better resolutions and Theme Hospital looks a lot cleaner, but it’s still exactly the same design

        • Attercap says:

          Wow, fairly impressive endeavors; thanks for the links!

          Both seem to be more about playing the originals in current systems, without giving the interface and graphics the overhaul I was wanting. My GoG copies work fine for what they are, but, while I can play Phantasie with its dated graphics and interface, I seem to keep wanting /more/ from the games of the 90’s.

    • broken says:

      Question: Is there anything Theme Hospital does better than Startopia? I purchased both of them on GOG, but from the hour or so I played Theme Hospital, it doesn’t seem any different from Startopia, only more clunky and in a more mundane setting (the crimes/hobbies of startopia were hilarious).

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        I’m going to say no, not really. As much as I love TH Startopia simply executes the idea better on several levels. It went further with its quirky setting, it has more varied mechanics, it delivers in the end whereas some of the final levels of TH were dragging a bit with no real payoff.

      • Bubble181 says:

        To each their own. TH is older, and was a lot more fun, to me. I went into Startopia expecting Dungeon Keeper in Space and got TH in Space, which may have clouded my judgement.

  18. shiroax says:

    About the piracy story, haven’t devs been doing things like that for a while now? I remember playing Spyro 2 & 3 pirated, Spyro 2 had weird sound in cutscenes, and Spyro 3 had the same messed up sound + collected eggs would uncollect, making the game not unpalyable but very annoying. I know I played some shooter or two on late PS1 that were messed up in a similar way, but I don’t remember their names. And there was a RTS on the pc somewhere in the early 00s where the computer player wouldn’t move units or build bases or anything, again, not unplayable but boring (I don’t remember this game’s name, I remember it had this cool thing where every map had a surface and underground component, and the demo mission mentioned crashing an airship, if anybody knows it’s name please tell me)

    I always assumed this was because I played pirated games, but was this really DRM, or would those games be broken even if I bought them properly? And if it was DRM, why didn’t people keep doing it like that? Did PS1 have some tech that later consoles didn’t that made this possible on it but not later?

    • Ringwraith says:

      People have done it in a few cases since, batman: Arkham Asylum made it so you couldn’t glide kick or something, which made the game unbeatable.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      A bunch of games have ‘gotcha’ moments for pirated versions that break the game in some way. Generally this sort of thing is not really any sort of innovation.

      The problem? When the DRM recognition inevitably malfunctions and ruins a legit customer’s game by thinking it’s a pirated copy. (I speak from personal experience – had that happen with ‘Darkstar One’, it going into ‘omg pirated game, no more advancement past point X for you’ mode when it was a perfectly fine, GOG-bought version…)

    • Velkrin says:

      “I remember it had this cool thing where every map had a surface and underground component”

      Sounds like Earth 2160. The only RTS game I’ve ever played that had a campaign wide doomsday clock that was constantly ticking down.

  19. Thomas says:

    I’m interested by Rutskarns idea, do you think any new Nintendo games are turning people into fans with the same sort of strength the older Zelda and Mario#s did?

    Pokemon clearly still does, my sisters adore it and they’ve never seen what a blue looks like, and if it doesn’t change much, it’s still carrying the magic. But what about the other franchises? Does it hurt Nintendo that platforming is no longer one of the dominant game genres?

    • False Prophet says:

      I think you’re on to something. Back in the 8 and 16-bit era, almost every console game was a 2D scrolling platformer, or a top-down exploration/gain ground game, or a crappy sports game, or a side-scrolling 2.5D beat-’em-up, or a bullet hell game, or a turn-based linear JRPG. And Nintendo tended to dominate at least the first two or three categories by virtue of the fact their games generally played better and looked better. Considering their tyrannical monopoly on console hardware at the time, at least part of this can probably be attributed to stacking the deck.

      Almost none of those genres really exist in the AAA console marketplace anymore, or have been spiralling downwards for years, but most are experiencing a bit of a resurgence on the PC indie scene. I doubt most prepubescents are discovering games there though. But I could be wrong. Any parents with insights into their children’s gaming habits?

      • Trix2000 says:

        The one thing that’s always brought me back to Nintendo games is that, at least for me, they’re reliably enjoyable. Some are better than others, but I can go in and expect to at least have some fun with them. Similar thing with their consoles too – even with a slow launch, they’ll probably bump back eventually (even if they don’t ‘win’ the console race, which I think is a silly concept).

        Just my opinion though, and I did grow up on Mario, Zelda, etc. So I might be a little biased.

        • Thomas says:

          I don’t think anyone’s arguing they aren’t enjoyable, but I think they might not be at all special any more to people without nostalgia and are just like all the other games out there which are enjoyable. Little Big Planet does a lot more to distinguish itself as something unique than Mario Galaxy

          • Not to mention the Wiimote is often a crapshoot. Sometimes its used in a way that makes sense in the game, sometimes it seems as if a required waggle or twirling of the controller is there to fill a quota of some kind.

            Most people I know who have a Wii, myself included, play mostly Wii sports when we play it at all.

          • Lame Duck says:

            I was going to jump in and play the role of the Nintendo defense force, until I remembered that I’m running quite a number of years behind the current gaming industry and I have absolutely no experience with legitimately modern Nintendo games.

            That said, I have absolutely no regrets about buying my Wii and it is my most played gaming device at the moment. A lot of that is admittedly in the form of Gamecube games, but I do own more Wii games than Xbox 360 games.

  20. WWWebb says:

    When Josh was saying “you can take control of a single unit and fly it around…but I don’t know why you’d ever do that”, I immediately thought of Brutal Legend.

    My enjoyment of the RTS parts of Brutal Legend increased immensely after reading a comment to the effect of “Don’t leave the most powerful unit on the battlefield flying above the battlefield.” The other units are there for keeping the enemies busy until you get around to killing them. Popping up into RTS-mode should only be done to call for reinforcements or fast-travel around the battlefield.

  21. rofltehcat says:

    Interesting as always!

    I got a question for the mailbag but don’t really know where to mail it so I’ll just post it here:
    Connected to the Let’s Play discussion at the end of this podcast. What other Let’s Plays have you watched or are still watching from time to time? Where do you think they fit on the scale you used between “Funny” and (forgot the other one)? Why do/did/didn’t you like them?

  22. Alex says:

    On seeding your own IP: at best, this company letting people download the crippled version of their software only implicitly condones downloading the crippled version of their software. Otherwise it would be fine to pirate any game that had a shareware version.

    • Dave B. says:

      That essentially makes it a demo with an unconventional advertising/delivery method. On the other hand, if they were taking legal action against everyone who downloaded the crippled version, it would smell at lot to me like entrapment. So yeah, great out-of-the-box thinking by the developer, and pirates still don’t have an excuse.

  23. Halceon says:

    About spoiler warning not conforming to someone’s expectations of an LP, a good old phrase comes to mind – “Stop having fun, you guys!”

  24. Adam Rhodes says:

    I pirate stuff that I know I’m probably not going to buy and then only play like an hour of it before saying, “Yup, not buying this.” Or I pirate a game I already own, for example Oblivion because mods are unavailable on 360. And whenever I encounter some sort of bug I never complain about it because I don’t have the right to complain since I didn’t pay for it.

    • Thomas says:

      Pirating stuff because you know you’re not going to buy it is iffy. If you know you’re not going to buy it, then why are you playing the game?

      • Adam Rhodes says:

        Well, for example, I heard some things about The Witcher. Not exactly good or bad things but I wanted to experience it firsthand and not waste my money on it if it sucks. Like I said, I only played about an hour before stopping. If I actually do end up liking a game, I’ll buy it. This hasn’t happened yet.

        • Bubble181 says:

          It’s odd how we’ve somehow come to accept “I’ll try it to find out how good it is, and if I really like it, I’ll buy it” as a legitimate reasoning when it concerns games.

          A demo, sure – that’s like test driving a car for a day, or listening to a clip from a song before buying the album.

          Stealing a car and driving it aroudn for a month to be sure you’re really happy with the size of the boot? Reading the whole book, and if you liked the ending, buying it? Eating at a restaurant a few times, and if you like the food, paying for it next time? All obviously unacceptable.

          Yes, I think all games shoulmd have decent demos, that actually allow you to test the game properly. No, they don’t all have that. But that doesn’t mean you should just pirate it to try it out. That’s what reviews, previews,…are for – and otherwise, you’ll have to take a gabmle. Just like going to wathc a movie after watching a trailer.

          • bucaneer says:

            What about borrowing a book from a library and then deciding you’d really like to have a copy on your own bookshelf? Or what if you’re taken out to dinner at a restaurant that you really like and afterwards keep coming back? Musicians who put up full album streams in places like Bandcamp and offer paid downloads seem to be doing fine as well. I don’t find anything unacceptable in the try-before-you-buy model, and the ease of doing it that is granted by digital media is a good thing, especially if the content producers provide reasonable ways to pay for things you already have.

            In fact, I’d say that every cent I spend on entertainment can be traced back, directly or not quite, to something I got for free. I discovered my favorite authors by reading books from the library or lent by my friends, I found my preferences for game genres and franchises by pirating a lot of them in my teens, I have bought a number of those free streaming albums on Bandcamp, and I first heard my favorite bands, ones whose albums I now preorder, by torrenting their music. Almost certainly, I wouldn’t be spending as much money on various forms of entertainment if piracy weren’t available.

            • Bubble181 says:

              All of those are, like a demo, official and legal tries. Renting a game is legal. Playing a game at your friend’s place (who paid for it) is legal. Try-before-you-buy isn’t wrong – at all, I’m a great fan.

              • bucaneer says:

                Alright, but we seem to have talked past each other. Your original point, as I understand it, was that piracy is somehow different and less acceptable than other kinds of trying before you buy. I see no such difference. (If you really want to, you can reframe peer-to-peer file sharing as “kind strangers lending or gifting you their stuff.”) Actually, I also find it unhelpful to lump all file sharing under the label of “piracy” – the grey area of people who download what they’ve already paid for or are going to pay for afterwards should be considered separately.

  25. X2-Eliah says:

    I was gonna post a big entry about how I don’t see an excuse for pirating games – any circumstance… But that would cause a big flamewar, I fear.

    So instead
    – I don’t really see any of the oft-cited reasons for piracy as valid, and that’s from an ex-game-pirate.

    If anything, I’m sad that the kiddies that do pirate have ruined gaming for legit gamers with intrusive DRM, always-online systems, disbanded developers, etc. etc.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I think there are only 2 valid reasons to pirate anything:
      1)Its not available in your country
      2)You bought it,but it doesnt work or you dont want to hassle with drm.

      “If anything, I'm sad that the kiddies that do pirate have ruined gaming for legit gamers with intrusive DRM, always-online systems, disbanded developers, etc. etc.”

      Pirates didnt do that,idiots that think those prevent piracy did.Look how itunes dealt with the issue,or steam,or gog.What turned me off from pirating stuff wasnt the anti-piracy law that passed in my country,nor the money I got when I found a decent job,but the convenience these services offered me.

      • Trix2000 says:

        They’re still indirectly part of the reason DRM exists, even if they didn’t make it themselves. They aren’t blameless here.

      • Supahewok says:

        And I’d like to add:

        3) The game simply can’t be bought new, or it requires accessories that are difficult to get hold of. (such as older consoles) That includes old games such as System Shock that are simply unavailable anywhere. Old games available from Steam or GOG are kinda iffy, since your money isn’t likely to go to the devs or sometimes even the publishers that made the game. I buy from them, but mainly because I don’t want to risk any trouble with torrent sites AND any old games I’ve bought from GOG have worked without much fuss, which ain’t a boat I want to rock. But really, I think at that point it’s a personal decision.

        • X2-Eliah says:

          Again, I disagree with that reasoning. Let’s leave it at that, though…

          • RCN says:

            Let me give you last time I pirated a game:

            Last year.

            The last time before that?

            The year before that.

            What were the games? The original Diablo and The Settlers VII.

            In the case of Diablo, I looked all around the internet where to buy it: NOWHERE. Not even Blizzard will bother. I looked around my town in all bookstores and gaming stores because I remember seeing on occasion a special gold box with the “classics”. I found Command & Conquer: Red Alert (which is freeware now btw) and Warcraft III (which I still own the original disc).

            Then I looked around my house. Then around my dad’s discs. Because both me and my father had bought the game back when it was released. Eventually I found one of the discs in a tower case to guard CDs and specifically keep them from damage. It was still unusable.

            So I pirated it in order to play it again to scratch an itch.

            Now, to Settlers VII. I bought I tried to buy the game from the moment I’d read the review of it on PC Gamer. All the downsides mentioned by the reviewer sounded like upsides to me (including the tag “too german”). More concerning was DRM… but I decided to bite the bullet, I really liked the game concept.

            Impulse: Game not available in your country.

            Steam: Game not available in your country.

            UBIGODAMNSOFT own site: Make an account. Right. Give credit card information. Right. Buy the game. “I’m sorry, the game is not available in your country.”

            So I go to a godamn bookstore (what passes for a game store in my country), and in the third I go the game is actually there to be bought. The problem is that it was more expensive than it was online, but whatever.

            I play the game, go through the first mission without any problem. In the second mission the game stops after five minutes to announce I lost connection to the server and must exit.

            I go in again, after five minutes, same deal.

            Again, after ten minutes.

            My network wasn’t getting disconnected, but it was suffering slowdowns, apparently enough so that Ubi thought I was up to no good. So I looked for a pirated version to not deal with this bullshit.

            So in my book, if it is abandoware no-one is caring to give support or a game you bought that the DRM is keeping you from playing… I’d like to find anyone to give me a counter-argument.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        So what did steam do? They have an intrusive, always-on drm that’s taken over Valve from developing, it’s just coated in enough saccharine to drown out the issues.
        Gog? Afaik they are getting by, but their top games – like Witcher 2 – were still pirated heavily even with all the ‘goodwill’.

        Also, guess what? If piracy numbers were in hundreds, not hundreds of thousands, we wouldn’t need drm. REGARDLESS OF WHETHER DRM WORKS OR NOT, the amount of piracy IS what makes publishers think “omg gotta drm this”.

        • bucaneer says:

          The problem of DRM is technically easier to solve on the publisher level than at the pirate level. In the former it requires a few CEOs and shareholders to say “wait, this doesn’t work, let’s stop doing it”; in the latter, the hundreds of thousands of pirates need to have an epiphany that what they’re doing is wrong, or the internet as we know it needs to be replaced with some closed Orwellian system that makes piracy impossible. Which one is more likely is a different question though.

          Also, one aspect that does not seem to have been addressed in the comments is the responsibility of pirates. Most people here agree that piracy is bad, as do I, however I think it is bad in the sense that it’s rude and inconsiderate to the people who put in their work, as opposed to criminally punishable. It can get criminal if profit seeking is involved, e.g. selling illicit copies of someone else’s work, but for simple torrent users some public shaming (like Game Developer Tycoon did) is a response I would consider entirely adequate and reasonable. I’d like to hear what others think about this.

          • X2-Eliah says:

            Just because it’s maybe not criminally bad doesn’t make it not-bad entirely. You justly said that it is rude and inconsiderate, and bad in a non-criminal way (If I understood your point right).

            So why argue that it’s ‘okay’ or ‘acceptable’? (not at you, but at piracy apologists in general) Bad is bad, stop bloody endorsing it.

            Also, you are speaking about the problem of DRM.
            I am talking about the problem of piracy. DRM is just a consquence of that, and frankly there’s is a pretty damn clear relation as to which is the cause and which is the effect. Stop treating broken bones by hiding the wound behind curtains and singing ‘lalalala all fixed’.

            Edit: anyway, I’ll drop out f this discussion. I feel myself getting way too upset.

          • Tomas says:

            I agree with this. People debating this often do not distinguish between the moral and the legal issue. They argue using the former and then applies the conclusions on the latter.

            It’s like if a guy was fined or jailed for having an extramarital affair, and someone then argued that this could not possibly be questioned, because we all agree that being unfaithful is wrong.

            • Shamus says:

              That’s a really good point.

              I’m always more interested in the moral side than the legal side, because arguing the legality of it is the road to madness and endless rules-lawyering. A lot of times it seems like we have laws that are good ideas (or barring that, have good intentions), but are badly written, enforced worse, twisted by companies, and misunderstood by customers. Do we argue what the law is trying to do, or what it says, or how it’s actually enforced? Throw in unenforceable EULAs and DRM and you have a recipe for an argument of fractal complexity.

              • krellen says:

                I think this is why, at the end of the day, our legal system relies on the judgement of people, not the mechanical execution of the written law. People are capable of discerning the spirit of a piece of writing even when the writing itself is unclear or even technically contradictary.

                At the end of the day, I think most of us want the law that was intended, even if that’s not necessarily what the law actually says, but sometimes we get lost in the trees of legalise and so-called precision and miss the forest altogether.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  “People should be capable of discerning the spirit of a piece of writing even when the writing itself is unclear or even technically contradictary.”

                  Just a little fix there.

                • Lame Duck says:

                  There are some pretty big pitfalls to that though. Just because people are capable of interpreting the spirit of a law correctly doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll choose to do so, especially if it benefits their purposes to interpret it differently.

                  And the other big problem is time. It might be trivial for us to understand the intended meaning of a piece of writing now, but it’s very unlikely that will remain true forever.

                • “…our legal system relies on the judgement of people, not the mechanical execution of the written law.”

                  The “Three Strikes” laws would like to have a word with you.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          “So what did steam do?”

          It enabled me to get my games on their launch days,with access to all the patches,without having to sift trough tested torrents and comments and bad eggs disguised as legit cracks.It also enables me not to have to back up every game I have manually when I wipe my disks(which I do about once a year).Having always on connection is acceptable for getting those perks,and its not nearly as intrusive as some other forms of drm,like securom.

          “Afaik they are getting by, but their top games ““ like Witcher 2 ““ were still pirated heavily even with all the “˜goodwill'.”

          Yes,and?Witcher 2 wasnt gog exclusive,and how many of downloads of the game were actual lost customers for gog?Not something that can be so easily dismissed by “well this gog game was pirated,therefore it lost money for them”.

          “If piracy numbers were in hundreds, not hundreds of thousands, we wouldn't need drm.”

          And how exactly does 100 000 impact 1 000 000 sales?Thats 1%.More importantly,what is the actual fraction of those 100 000 that wouldve bought the game if it werent available otherwise?Even if its half(which is doubtful),that would still be less than 1%.If any publisher really thinks that that 1% is so significant that its worth pouring tons of money into researching/buying a better drm,they are an idiot.Music industry figured that one out,so why cant the game industry?

          But I guess developing better drm creates new jobs,so at least someone benefits from it.

          • X2-Eliah says:

            Okay, until you get me something better than a random xkcd strip about banks, I’ll ignore those numbers. Oh hey, last I heard, piracy rates were 50 to 90%, not 1%. (have some link that isn’t random xkcd comic: http://www.joystiq.com/2012/08/22/ubisoft-ceo-claims-93-95-piracy-rate-on-their-pc-products/). Witcher 2, which I mentioned – 4.5 pir per every one sold: http://www.ign.com/articles/2011/11/30/the-witcher-2-was-pirated-over-45-million-times But I’ll ignore your numbers so you can ignore mine, too.

            No, lets cut down to the basics.

            I develop a game. I want 3$ for it. Reasonable? Reasonable.
            You are playing the game. You gave me 0$. Reasonable? No.
            Is it my fault that I want to be paid for you using my stuff without paying? So far piracy advocates seem to say, yes.

            Now, to be absolutely, perfectly, crystal clear:
            I don’t like DRM. I don’t like the ‘draconian’ bs publishers do. But more than that, I don’t like piracy apologists and sideliners who brush it off as a non-issue. To call back to the diecasted subject, A GAME DEVELOPER PUBLICLY STATES, VIA IN-GAME MECHANICS, THAT PIRACY IS HURTING GAME DEVELOPERS. Don’t you even dare to brush that aside by defaulting to arguments against rations, would-haves/not-haves or ‘evil corps deserve it’. Are you a game developer? No? Then what weight does your apologism has against the direct message of people who are experiencing that lack of money first-hand?

            • bucaneer says:

              Well, you’re talking about a product that is just digital data and which exists alongside a worldwide infrastructure that makes it trivially easy and free to share any digital data between an unlimited number of users. It would be naive to expect that each copy of that data would be fully authorized and paid for; in other words, piracy is inevitable, things being as they are. You can rightfully call the people who play your game without ever paying assholes, but I don’t think there’s any way to stop piracy that doesn’t also throw out the baby with the bathwater.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Stop,no.Reduce,definitely.It has been done,multiple times already.And not just about piracy,but about bootlegging as well.And those two are essentially the same,only with different costs for the guy making the knock offs.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              That comic was there to talk about comparison,not actual numbers.Also I was using your sentence of hundreds of thousands.I wont argue the numbers because that is meaningless.

              This is the important issue here:
              I develop a game. I want 3$ for it. Reasonable? Reasonable.
              You are playing the game. You gave me 0$. Reasonable? No.
              Is it my fault that I want to be paid for you using my stuff without paying? So far piracy advocates seem to say, yes.”

              Thats solid reasoning.However,there is one problem there:That person in the example that played the game,would he have played it if he had no option to get it for free?That is the crux of the issue.Everyone but that small demographic of people that would have payed for the games if they werent free is irrelevant.They dont impact sales at all.Actually,thats not true,there is also that other small demographic of people that buy the game precisely because theyve tried the pirated version,but want something more(a patch,for example).

              “A GAME DEVELOPER PUBLICLY STATES, VIA IN-GAME MECHANICS, THAT PIRACY IS HURTING GAME DEVELOPERS. Don't you even dare to brush that aside by defaulting to arguments against rations, would-haves/not-haves or “˜evil corps deserve it'. Are you a game developer? No? Then what weight does your apologism has against the direct message of people who are experiencing that lack of money first-hand?”

              Im not apologizing for anyone.My word holds no weight.But what does hold a lot of weight is the music industry.They have been harping for years about piracy and tried to ban it left and right.Then they tried something different,and it worked way better for them and their sales than their crusade against pirates.Steam and what they did in russia also holds a lot of weight.

              And it holds way more weight than what a couple of guys developing a game say,because this is a business problem,not a developing problem.And the success of itunes and steam clearly shows that the problem is not piracy itself,but how we are addressing it.

              • X2-Eliah says:

                Are we talking about the same industry where artists only earn money from gigs, not record sales, and the same industry where streaming media deals like spotify etc. bring next to no revenue to the musicians?

                Just wanted to check.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Since when was this about developers/musicians vs publishers?I guess its a good thing that ea and ubisoft are treating their employees in a similar fashion which is why they are the ones most successful against pirates.Oh,wait.

                  Where the money goes after the customer pays for the product is a completely different topic.We were discussing that initial transaction from the customer to whoever is selling them stuff.

                  You keep mixing these things that need to be look separately.

            • Nidokoenig says:

              “Oh hey, last I heard, piracy rates were 50 to 90%, not 1%.”

              So the video games industry should be making between twice and ten times as much? Hell, the Game Dev Tycoon numbers are about 96% piracy rate, so apparently they should have made thirty times as much. Considering that this is a 65 billion dollar industry, the question has to be asked, where would that money come from? Pirates don’t take the money they could have spent on video games, music or movies and bury it on a tropical island, they spend it on other things. The challenge is to work out what those other things have that video games don’t. Not to mention, the basic problem that if you reduce piracy by 50%-90%, you’ve just wiped out half to nine tenths of the people who play and talk about your game. That’s a lot of free advertising and buzz you’ll have to do without when it’s obvious that only a fraction of that can be converted to paying customers.
              The fundamental fact is that people spend the money they have, and many studies on piracy have shown that the people who pirate the most are people who burn through their entire entertainment budget and still want more. DRM is not going to be the thing to move a program into the “Buy” bracket, nor is expounding on the moral virtues of not downloading something you couldn’t buy anyway.
              About the only thing you can do is make a good game that people will still be playing when their next pay cheque comes in, and if you’ve got the resources offer amenities like cloud saves, multiplayer, personal avatars drawn by the art team, modding support through a site you need to be logged in to download from, things that add value that can’t be pirated easily. You might also consider trying to make a game that isn’t primarily aimed at teenagers and young adults, who are quite notorious for having far more spare time than money.

  26. Cybron says:

    Regarding what is/isn’t a Let’s Play:

    The term Let’s Play originated on Something Awful’s video games boards. They have a pretty specific definition of what an LP is and have rigid standards regarding quality etc. The term spread to Youtube and gave rise to a newer generation of people who film themselves being idiots, saying stupid stuff, and happen to be playing video games in the background. This is where you get stuff like PewPewDie and Game Grumps. As you can probably tell, I’m not fond of the Youtube LP community (when Chris brought up Game Grumps as being more funny than Spoiler Warning, I winced a little. Talk about underselling yourself!).

    I’m not particularly fond of either of those (the goons crush fun with an iron fist, and Youtube idiots screaming about stupid stuff is just right out), which is why the only LP I watch is Spoiler Warning. As you say, it strikes a wonderful balance between critical analysis, funny commentary, and just general silliness. So keep it up.

    • Cinebeast says:

      While I absolutely agree that SW should keep doing its own thing, I would also agree with Chris when he said Game Grumps was funnier.

      Your Mileage May Vary, of course, but I love watching Pewdiepie just as much as I do Spoiler Warning, and SW has never made me laugh to the point of tears.

      • Cybron says:

        This video sums up what I have to say about PewPewDie far better than I ever could: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQncg-q9c7I

        • Cinebeast says:

          Hadn’t seen that one — the video seems to cherry pick his most offensive moments, though.
          But I totally see where they/you are coming from. I guess I just have an immature sense of humor, at least as far as Pewds is concerned.

          • Lord of Rapture says:

            They didn’t. They literally just picked a few videos at random, and that’s what they found.

            And I struggle to understand how someone shouting “RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE” could possibly be funny, unless you have the mentality of a twelve-year old.

            • Cinebeast says:

              That came off as unnecessarily hurtful, although I don’t know if you meant it that way.

              As I said, it seems I’m attracted to immature humor. I don’t think rape is funny, though. I hope that goes without saying.
              But I really do have respect for Pewdiepie — he’s made a living out of this, and he clearly enjoys it, so I say congratulations for him.

              I’ve just now realized I’m digging a cesspit into the comments, so I’ll stop talking about Youtubers and stuff.

  27. HeroOfHyla says:

    To me, it seems like seeding a sabotaged version of your own game could seriously backfire. What if people play it, find it’s broken, and decide the game’s not worth buying because of it? And what if rumors that the game is buggy spread faster than confirmation that it’s just the pirated version?

    I never pirate things, but I also get a bad taste in my mouth when I hear people shaming pirates for some reason.

  28. 4th Dimension says:

    More companies releasing fake cracks for their games wouldn’t really work. Because for one thing you already need to be selective about torrents you download. Usually you need to check for seed/leech ratio and size (because if crack doesn’t work people aren’t as likely to keep seeding it), check the comments (since even for legit scene releases broken cracks are not something unheard off) and maybe even check if this torrent is from a famous poster it claims it’s from. If it’s skidrow that I should download the torent posted by skidrow and not some other random dude.

    • Hitchmeister says:

      It does have a slight benefit (and really, at this point, that’s all any anti-piracy scheme offers) in that if the fake is released as early as possible it creates a problem for day one piracy.

      Big publishers are primarily concerned with initial sales. This applies mainly to cross-platform releases. Consoles are driven by release day sales. PC day one sales are typically lower (with notable exceptions) and that’s blamed on piracy. Even though PC games tend to have a much longer shelf life. Discounts on Steam can lead to strong sales of a title long after the used console copies have hit rock bottom prices and still don’t sell.

  29. Daemian Lucifer says:

    How dare you give looper 5,9?Its at least an 8!

  30. rrgg says:

    One of the first things I eventually learned playing the Total War games is to never, ever, use peasants. Seriously, you are better off with your three decent units then 3 decent units and 10 units of peasants since the very first thing they are going to do is start panicking and reduce the moral of your entire army.

    Also I think the games did have a cinematic camera mode where you could follow around a single soldier. It was actually pretty cool and something they could get away with when the games didn’t lean too heavy into micromanagement.

  31. rrgg says:

    About Game Dev Tycoon, I’ve seen a little of the game and does it ever start giving you more feedback about your choices? As far as I can tell you choose from a bunch of categories and options for your game and play around with a bunch of sliders that all seem sort of important. Finally you get a bunch of random review scores between 1 and 10 and it’s not entirely clear what you did to deserve them.

    • Scimitar says:

      Occasionally the review scores will have something like “Their focus on X really helped this game” or “Y games really work well on system Z”, but otherwise not really.

      The sliders, features added to your game, target audiences, how skilled your programmers are and so on all have an effect, but its not really easy to tell since there are so many things playing off each other that ends up being reduced to a single numerical score.

    • LunaticFringe says:

      I agree, where’s the part where I force the reviewers to sign a bunch of contracts promising they won’t point out specific flaws? Where’s the part where I package various goodies and bonuses with reviewer copies and invite well-known reviewers to a fantastically expensive grand opening? Or that part where I buy all the advertising space on gaming websites, and people DARE to say that might ruin the objectivity of the site’s review!

      My immersion? Ruined.

      • rrgg says:

        You know what would be really cool? If the game let you research “focus testing” and then eventually let you spend millions more and a ton of research points in order to unlock “focus testers who aren’t straight white 20-something males”.

        • LunaticFringe says:

          And there’s no real mechanic that simulates the relationship with consumers either! What if my game isn’t that great and people know it, where’s my option to call them all entitled and ask them to buy more DLC?(Achievement Unlocked: Artistic Integrity)

          I’d also like to see a Human Revolution-style debate mechanic where you attempt to convince people that your new always online system isn’t really DRM.

    • aldowyn says:

      Not in the game, no. Buuut some people have apparently dug into the source code and pretty much figured it out.

  32. Leviathan902 says:

    The Wii U's “failure” to this point was more or less predetermined once the true nature of the Wii's own success was revealed. And what I mean by that is that, yes, Nintendo significantly outsold both the 360 and PS3 this generation, thereby “winning” the generation “war”, but in truth they were fighting a different battle altogether. While the PS3 and 360 were dueling it out over the traditional gamer, the Wii went over and did its own thing and to its credit, was massively successful.

    The problem is, the majority of the audience it courted to achieve that success turned out to be quite fickle and promptly let it collect dust in the entertainment center like a toy whose novelty has worn off a month after Christmas. As evidence of this, look no further than the Wii's notoriously low attach rate (how many games a player buys for the console on average). Unsurprisingly, those customers are not interested in moving to the new Wii U. Why would they be? They don't even play the Wii they currently own.

    Combine that with Nintendo's reputation of being difficult and obtuse to work with (company culture holdovers from the NES days) and their failure to keep up with industry trends (first CDs, now online multiplayer, DLC, virtual storefronts, and social networking) and they unsurprisingly find themselves in the same position they were in the Gamecube era: appealing solely to those with an attachment to their first party games.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      And you know what’s even worse than that?

      I bought a Gamecube, and the strength of its first party titles got me to buy a Wii. The Wii hasn’t managed the same feat. Nintendo’s first party titles don’t have the inspiration they used to and the formulas are getting stale. In an time where they should be the clear standout amongst the homogenized AAA “realistic” action games, they’re not standing out.

      Nintendo’s games don’t seem to have any ambition anymore. Not even the wrong-headed ambition that a company like EA brings to its titles. They just feel like something being made by old men who have accepted that their glory days are behind them, and are content to play with their old toys until they die.

      • Daimbert says:

        I bought a Wii for Wii Fit. I picked up a couple of games for it, mostly adventure games. I’ve used Wii Fit sporadically … which is far more than I’ve played the games.

        I own a Wii, a PS2, a PS3, a Vita, a PSP and a PC. I’ve played more games on the Vita and PSP than on the Wii, and am constantly buying games for the PS3. Just today, I stopped off in the local used store to buy games and bought a PS2 game and 4 PS3 games and browsed a bit in the Vita games. On the list of games to play on my blog, the Wii is sadly underrepresented. It aimed at the casual market, but those games don’t have staying power, and beyond that there isn’t that much that’s that interesting that you can’t get as well or better on the other systems.

        • Thomas says:

          My sisters convinced my family to buy a Wii and I feel terrible because we only ever played it once or twice and then it got put away. They’re young and yet they still felt things like Little Big Planet and Fat Princess (and inFamous =D) had more to offer them

      • Kavonde says:

        My parents bought a Wii a few years ago; I was genuinely floored. After painstakingly and repeatedly teaching them how to use the damned thing, they bought a few games for it–Tiger Woods, some bowling thing, just simple sports stuff–and then ended up using it exclusively for Wii Sports. And now it gathers dust.

        I think they’re considering buying a Wii U. I’m trying to advise them not to.

  33. Paul Spooner says:

    I think the legal nitpicking is more to the point for litigating those who start seeds.
    For example, if the “Game Dev Sim” was intentionally broken in such a way that it corrupted your hard drive (instead of making the game unwinnable (well, it would be unwinnable with a corrupted hard drive as well, but you get what I mean) due to in-game piracy) then people might want to find out who originally uploaded that version. This kind of “drm” is identical in practice, except that the effects are much more destructive. The law has no way of clearly measuring the vindictiveness of an action, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the current laws make no distinction between producing and releasing a “legitimate” and a “intentionally broken” version of a game, as far as copy protection is concerned.

    As was said in the podcast, it’s not much of an issue in this instance, but one could easily imagine a case where it would be important. These early test cases are not precedent setting, but they affect the attitude of the community, which will affect how laws are interpreted in the future.

    • Bubble181 says:

      One could argue that uploading a version that hurts external programs or negatively impacts the computer in general, is a virus – and thus illegal.
      As long as you’re uploading incomplete/broken versions of your own software that don’t actually impact anything else, you’re just putting up “another version” of your game – that one version is winnable and the other is not, isn’t legally any different than one having a yellow menu and the other having a green menu background.

  34. Decius says:

    Whatever happened to the strategy of poisoning the well of piracy? Spread virus-laden cracked copies and the like, as well as FUD about the safety of pirated software, to discourage users from piracy?

      • Tse says:

        And of dubious effectiveness. Most torrent sites have safeguards. Once a few people get burned the torrent will be taken off. Not to mention that some trackers use dedicated uploaders, who download from trusted sources and check the content for malicious software before uploading.

        • Heaven Smile says:

          The pirates care more about their “customers” safety than the paid ones.

          Oh the irony.

          • Tse says:

            No irony here. It’s a community that shares information out of the goodness of their hearts. Some people do make money out of it, but it’s only the site owner and some of the moderators. Everyone else is doing it pro bono.

            • RCN says:

              It’s been the problem in my country for years.

              Because of stupid tax laws made in order to keep something afloat that didn’t work, current generation game consoles are almost impossible to get for less than 1000 US$ (heck, even now a “cheap” playstation 2 on sale is around 300 US$), while games went from 120-180 US$.

              Meanwhile pirated games went for 5-10 US$ sold in the streets.

              When one of the gaming stores sell you a game, they’ll do their best to make you keep it and seek any excuse to avoid you to return the game and do not allow you to trade it for another, even if the game was bought damaged.

              The pirates in the street would accept returns without a fuzz, no need to even care for an excuse. They’d give you another disc if yours was damaged for free, or give you the option to trade for another if you bought it for a week and didn’t like the game.

              It is like the pirates actually know how to do business and the businesses are working like back-alley dealers…

              (The situation has been changed, little by little, but we’ll need a BIG publisher to step into the local market en-force in order for us to get anywhere near Europe/USA service and prices… but this will not happen while my country still have a reputation for piracy haven… which it will continue to be while pirates offer a much better service than the godamn stores… Luckily, I’m a PC gamer and Steam is our friend here and this whole mess mostly deals with the console market)

      • Decius says:

        It’s a lot less illegal than a lot of thing that other companies get away with doing.

  35. Peter H. Coffin says:

    On the subject of the SteamBox (Can we call this the Steam Chest? This is a Real Thing…) updates (drivers et al.) … People do put up with updates on consoles. In the case of the PS3, it’s almost monthly. And Steam can easily wrangle up its own updates, probably even less obviously than the PS3 does as it can (as an always online console) actually even keep itself current with EVEN LESS intervention than current consoles. It can find times when you’re unlikely to want it, download the updates in the background, restart if necessary, check that things came back up properly and then be ready for the next time the user turns the thing “on”. (And if Valve really wants to push things, they can even manage boot processing with multiple boot partitions to keep an A boot, a B boot, and a recovery partition so that the thing can be returned to a functional state without even a “rollback” on the active boot image.

  36. rrgg says:

    So Shamus, when you said that you had finished Don’t Starve did you mean that you were just done with the game for now, or that you’d actually buckled down and completed adventure mode?

    If the latter than I am so, so sorry. :(

    • Shamus says:

      I wasn’t really interested in adventure mode, but I think I’ve had my fill of sandbox. I survived to day 132. (Was then killed by the ridiculous number of hounds that spawn at that stage of the game. I was just waiting for spring so I could make my escape.)

      I played another game and managed to escape – or whatever you call using the device to go to the next world.

      The next update is promising caves. That sounds interesting. I might come back then.

      • rrgg says:

        You didn’t forget to leave some winter supplies near a touchstone did you?

        Yeah, any time after day 100 I think is long enough to just declare victory. According to the wiki hounds stop getting worse after that, but they’re still so numerous and the attack intervals so close together that you’ll likely just end up hunkered down in your base most of the time.

  37. Gravebound says:

    Sure, I’ll be the only one to comment on Madden. :P I have to say, I really preferred the Sega 2K series. I feel it had a better running game and a better TV-broadcast-like presentation. But I haven’t bought a Madden game since the last console generation, so I’m not really up-to-date on the gameplay.

    And on the topic of nobody wanting non-NFL football games: I would love a new Mutant League Football with more modern controls. They could use the old sprite graphics for all I care, if they just made the football-playing itself more robust. (I know you probably meant ‘realistic’ football games, but I wish EA weren’t sitting on this particular IP doing nothing with it…But these days that might be preferable.)

  38. Nidokoenig says:

    I think the primary problem the Wii U has is the same problem the DS and Wii originally had, that it’s a new control scheme that needs to be used well to be interesting. Nobody really knew how to use the touchscreen for the longest time, but game like Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!/Elite Beat Agents, TWEWY, Etrian Odyssey and Inazuma Eleven showed that it’s a great tool that can produce new and interesting ways to play.
    The Wii never had any great game that truly justified its control system outside of Wii Sports and Wii Fit, though Metroid Prime 3, Red Steel 2 and We Cheer came close, so it never became a serious game platform. All the Wii U seems to have going for it is easy menu access right now, and unless they’re going to make strategy games for it, that’s not going to have much impact.

    EA not putting a hand-egg game on the Wii U is baffling, though. Inazuma Eleven has shown that touchscreen controls are excellent for foot-to-ball and that should translate well to hand-egg. It solves the fundamental problem of team sports video games, being able to control and direct several players at once.

    The Game Dev Tycoon story doesn’t really sit right with me. The situation the pirated copy presents is a game that gets great reviews and has a lot of people playing it but never manages to leverage that into sales. Thing is, there’s no indication that that’s how it works in the real world, so it comes off as propaganda. Piracy is a function of interest, and so is sales volume. If you’ve got high piracy and low sales volume, the problem is more likely that you have something impeding sales.
    The numbers the devs give are that about 96% of people who have the game are pirates, and 90%+ numbers are pretty consistent, World of Goo and Machinarium had that level of piracy, and Ubisoft and EA have cited similar figures for PC games. Sure, making ten to twenty five times as much would be lovely, but it ain’t happening, and it especially isn’t going to happen to the whole video game industry at once.

    A significant portion of piracy, whether for music, movies or video games, is done by people who burn most of their entertainment budget on those things already, but their appetite outstrips their funds. There’s all sorts of arguments to be made about the moral nature of that, but that won’t change the fact that if your product is consistently low enough in the estimation of these kinds of users that it doesn’t move into the “Buy” bracket, removing all the other brackets is unlikely to change that. It’ll just make you “That guy whose game can’t be pirated” and they’ll forget about you. You’ll be better served by making a game that people will still play and remember exists when they get their next paycheck or the next Steam sale or indie bundle with your game in it happens.

    Also, the way the background image stops after about 100 comments and leaves them floating in an inky black void is unnerving. Is it like that for everyone or is it just me?

  39. Heaven Smile says:

    The demo of Brutal Legend was not the ONLY thing that gave the a bad impression on what the game is REALLY about. Remember that it was published by EA, and like ANYTHING they touch, they put emphasis on the Hack & Slash because they were afraid of calling it a “RTS” for some reason.


    There are loyal fans who love all of Double Fine’s work, fans who feel betrayed that it’s a multiplayer focused Action/RTS and not a Dynasty Warriors esque brawler, and fans of just the multiplayer. There are also fans who loved the single player so much that the multiplayer focus did not deter them.

    One player angry about the Stage Battles publicly messaged Tim Schafer on Twitter and called him a liar and accused him of falsely advertising the game as strictly action. Tim Schafer responded with his multiplayer reveal two months before release. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGrK70GgTXM

    Hype Aversion: Electronic Arts and Tim Schafer each advertised very different things on this game. In many videos, Tim Schafer talked almost exclusively on the multiplayer aspect, because it’s the part he worked on the most, and was the point of the whole game (the single player world and story were created after the multiplayer was finished.) EA on the other hand advertised the presence of Jack Black, and hyped the game up immensely without actually talking about the gameplay. Players who went exclusively by the hype and the single player demo did not take the Unexpected Gameplay Change well. Double Fine did not enjoy the marketing push at all. EA completely and intentionally hid the gameplay that Tim Schafer wanted players to see the most.

    Also, Dungeon Keeper was one of those games that you could go solo by possesing a single creature and wipe the floor with everyone if you know what you are doing, unlike other RTS.

    Populous 3 The Beginning, and Sacrifice had also the little problem that Brutal Legend has know as “Why would i want an army when i can summon a Volcano/Death/Face Melter?”

    • Lame Duck says:

      Dungeon Keeper had the advantage of not requiring much management of the overall battle, at least as far as I remember. Typically it was just grab all of your monsters and drop the tough ones at the front of the battle and the ranged ones further away and if something’s about to die pick it up and drop it back at its lair. In fact, possession was the only way to give a creature (other than imps) specific orders, wasn’t it?

      • Thomas says:

        That feature really annoyed me in Dungeon Keeper. I wanted to RTS and didn’t want to have to run about doing a bit of an FPS, yet they designed levels around you doing it :(

      • bucaneer says:

        A strange thing/bug report: I see the “Click to Edit” and “Request Deletion” links for this comment by Lame Duck even though it’s not mine and I’m pretty sure the edit timer must have run out anyway (I see no timer). Not testing if they work because I don’t want to mess anything up. Looking at the list of cookies in Firefox, I appear to have 19 from shamusyoung.com, 12 of them are “WPAjaxEditCommentsComment” with what I assume are supposedly unique comment IDs in them – maybe the has been some hash collision? Or maybe the Outsider has given me the power to pose as random blog commenters, hm…

        Edit: now the links are gone after I posted this comment, so probably not a hash collision, just some glitch in the comments backend.

  40. Heaven Smile says:

    Maybe the reason they gather games intead of playing them is because they don’t have the computer power to run them? maybe they saw videos of the games and hope that, in the future, they get to run it so they can decide if it is worth their money. I suppose that they believe that SEEING the game is differnt to PLAY the game, and thus feel compelled to NOT buy the game with just videos of it.

    But by then the developer would have either go bankrupt, or the price of the game would be quite low.

    • Heaven Smile says:

      Actually, after watching Razorfist’s “All Guns Blazing – VLOG 35” video:

      I am beginning to think that maybe pirates do this kind of stuff more than ever because, after the fiasco that was SOPA, it is clear that games are not going to survive a censorship wave ALA “Fahrenheit 451”. Better get a hold of a working copy before it gets butchered by the government!

      Either that or maybe these people think that games are worth preserving even if they don’t manage to play it. After all, The Epic of Gilgamesh is like 2000+ years old and you can find the fucking tablets in a museum to be preserved, and yet a game 20 years old is nowhere to be seen because “Its a videogame. Its a children’s toy, not art”. And thus, wound to be lost forever.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        Videogame pirate kiddies as preservation of information activists in the style of Cory Doctorow?

        Hah. Thank you. I had a good laugh out of that.

        • Well, why not? It doesn’t sound completely implausible to me.

          Unless, of course, you’ve got a reason why absolutely zero pirate ‘kiddies’ would feel motivated to preserve games that they feel might be in danger of effectively disappearing at some point in the future.

          (To be honest, I didn’t really feel the need to respond to your comment, but “kiddie” is such a played out and tired internet insult I felt a crime was being committed.)

    • broken says:

      Nah, I think it’s just oldfashioned hoarder mode. I know, I’ve been susceptible to it as well. Though only in Bethesda games.

    • Bubble181 says:

      To be fair, I own (legally) quite a few games i haven’t played yet – I bought TW2 day one, but my pc (still) can’t play it :p

  41. RTBones says:

    I’m actually happy to see Josh take a look at Stardrive. I saw it on Steam and am considering it. I was a big fan of MOO/MOO2 back in the day. To date, I have been somewhat put off by the price, but am glad to hear the game is generally decent.

    I am somewhat disappointed with this Die Cast, as there is no Sim City Diz-AZZ-tuh news this week. You’re forcing me to use the internets ON MY OWN to find out what is/isnt going on with that franchise so that I can laugh mightily at this tragicomic EA/Maxis epic fail. That is always dangerous as I might find an unrelated article which could lead to equally obtuse tangent which, hey, man, this is a deep rabbit hole – ooh, SQUIRREL – wait, what was I doing again? :)

  42. Artur CalDazar says:

    Wow, lot of older games referenced here, reminding me I need to get around to/go back and play Masters of Orion 2 and all those titles I picked up during GoG’s interplay sale.

    It’s a different version, so if it is implicit permission then its for this non-working pirate version. But since it was advertised as not being legitimate I don’t think anybody could say “Well its ok because it was the guy who made it!”, you didn’t know that so thats at best ad hoc attempts to excuse what you would have thought was piracy.

    I have never played any sports titles, I have a sorta brother who plays FIFA games, and they seem fine with the state of affairs.

    I am one of those people who looked at you guys playing a game where you were mostly negative, Alan Wake in this case, and because of that bought it.

    • Thomas says:

      The things Shamus were saying as a negative of Madden control, true or not with Madden, don’t apply to FIFA. Pro Evolution Soccer used to be the better game but around 6 it switched over and now people tend to agree that FIFA is easily the superior

      • Artur CalDazar says:

        I guess that just goes to show how little I know of sports titles.

        • Thomas says:

          No, I’m saying you’re right. (Am I?) Didn’t you mean that your sort of brother who plays FIFA is absolutely fine with the franchise right now? And Shamus was talking about a lot of the complaints about the way EA handles madden, and I said, with FIFA at least people seem really happy with the franchise (although the change was within the last half decade because before then it was the rival product that made better games)

  43. Wulfgar says:

    It reminds me Settler 3 anti-piracy trick. It was 1998 so in central/east Europe internet was a rare thing and CD writers were extremely rare. Everybody was buying CD from Russia. I don’t know how devs did it but all versions on the marker had a bug: iron smelters would only produce pigs instead of iron. LOL. You couldn’t complete a level without iron bars. And “patching” this was almost impossible at that time.
    Eventually i bought the game.

  44. 1. Something is only worth as much as someone is willing to value it at.


    2. Someone only pay for something if they actually have the money for it.

    Number 2 is not the issue here.
    Number 1 though is possibly the majority of the 90% of pirating going on out there.

    If not and it’s actually Number 1 then people that struggle to put food on the table are the ones being the majority of those that pirate games,
    are the poverty rates that high?

    Note! By Pirating, I use it in relation to unauthorized copying of games here.
    And not actual piracy at sea, nor the making of commercial knock offs of physical products that are sold for money. (just in case anyone felt the need to point out that distinction)

  45. How about some Star Wars speculation these days.

    The rumors are that DICE (Battlefield, Mirrors Edge among others) is doing Star Wars Battlefront 3.

    And BioWare? Well, we just know that’s gotta be a RPG of some sorts. It won’t be another MMO (that would cause self competition with SWTOR), so this does mean we’ll finally get a RPG(‘ish) Star Wars game.
    Whether BioWare will do this in-house or outsource or co-develop this with Obsidian or someone else we’ll just have to wait and see.

    Visceral, now I had to look these guys up. But well a whole bunch of Dead Space games is what they are probably most well known for.

    Now please note that DICE developed the Frostbite engine (Battlefield), and BioWare stated they’ll be using that for Dragon Age 3 (and the next Mass Effect game too I suspect).

    And as there is no hint as to what Visceral is working on and that Dead Space was using the Unreal engine, which is the same engine that 1313 uses/used…
    Are perhaps Visceral the guys who are completing 1313?
    They’d certainly know the engine well enough. And they do know third person action (which is what 1313 was/is right?).

    Sidenote: And when is Visceral gonna make The Godfather III it’s about due time now isn’t it?

    EDIT: Correction. By the looks of it, BioWare are actually completing 1313.
    I kind of forgot that the Mass Effect trilogy used the Unreal engine as well.

  46. Tektotherriggen says:

    Is everyone suddenly playing Brütal Legend because of the current Humble Bundle, or is this some freaky coincidence?


  47. Adam says:

    Way back in 2004, a game called ESPN 2k5 came out to absolutely STELLAR reviews. It blew the Madden title of that year completely out of the water, and actually started outselling it. Then EA saw what was happening and rather than improve their games to compete, they bought the NFL license which robbed the ESPN game series of all of the official teams. I have friends who bought ESPN 2k5 and then no other football game since, because for all of the graphical polish and new bells and whistles, ESPN remains a superior football game. (Seriously, one guy updates his rosters MANUALLY every year.)

  48. Is it me, or did the dice in the site’s background change again?

    Maybe Josh’s anesthesia is leaking through my browser and I’m just hallucinating.

  49. Phantos says:

    I had to give up Brutal Legend because Tim Schaefer still hasn’t let the Adventure Game Tattoo wash off. He still designs his games to have these “solutions” to problems no sane human being would ever think would work in a given situation.

    EX: Boss monster trying to get through a gate. I have to do something to kill it. There’s a bell or something on a giant chain. Cutting the chains didn’t work. Apparently I had to make the ground rumble slightly, and that somehow made the thing fall down despite the fact that it was strong enough to withstand everything else, so why would the ground shaking-

    And the entire game is like this! Most of it was me trying to figure out the moon logic behind problems that should be easily handled with the resources of the main character.

  50. Asimech says:

    The way I see about the whole “the creator put their work on pirate sites, therefore” thing is this: The copy, and only that copy, that they put up on pirate sites should be legal to share. Otherwise a demo with a time limit, or open beta, would be a free pass to pirate the full copy.

  51. SlothfulCobra says:

    In a strange twist of irony, the anti-piracy version of the game makes me want to pirate it just to see what it’s like (it also doesn’t hurt that it sounds like it lasts longer than the official demo).

    I also attempted to try out the broken version of Arkham Asylum, but I got scared away when it tried to install Windows Live on my computer.

    It doesn’t really feel as wrong to steal a broken version of the product. It’s like stealing from the dumpster behind the store. The seller doesn’t intend to make any money off of the broken version of their product, so it doesn’t really conflict with their sales.

    …not that I go dumpster diving or anything…

  52. Neko says:

    What’s even more amusing about the Game Dev Tycoon thing is that it’s basically just a carbon copy of Game Dev Story, and they’ll likely see lost sales thanks to this clone.

    • Matthias says:

      Have you played both games for more than a few minutes? I have, and I strongly disagree with you – Game Dev Tycoon is certainly heavily inspired by Game Dev Story, but by no means a carbon copy. The choices you make during game development are completely different, with 3 times 3 sliders to tweak the time you spend on certain areas of the game and additional features like advanced AI, a branching story or multiplayer which you can enable for a price (assuming you’ve researched them and have made an engine which supports them). All of these have “optimal” settings based on (I’m assuming) topic, genre and target audience.
      Also, you can (and probably will) lose in Game Dev Tycoon, that game is pretty hard. In Game Dev Story I was never in a situation where doing a couple of contracts couldn’t put me back in the game money-wise.

  53. StashAugustine says:

    Late but:

    “It’s like Sins of a Solar Empire meets Master of Orion 1.”

    Welp, sign me up.

    E: Also, Chris is wrong about Blood Dragon. There’s a couple dumb jokes but aside from a few missteps it’s really great. It’s not trying to have any theme to it or be serious or parody anything in particular, it’s just a huge Airplane-esque self-parody.

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