Indie Developers Say - Copy Protection Matters

cliffski.jpg UK-based independent game developer Cliffski, formerly at Lionhead, and best known for his slightly twisted life sims such as Democracy and Rock Legends, has been discussing the thorny issue of copy protection on his weblog.

Clffski explains: "I don't live in a box, i know about warez, and I know when my games get posted. Sadly, I need to do something to prevent the rampant casual piracy that is becoming the norm in PC gaming."

So, he sighs: "Democracy 2 will need to be validated on-line. It should be very quick, and very painless, and there's no spyware or rootkits or other nonsense... I wish I didn't have to take time away from game development to do that crap, but as usual in life 1% of people are screwing it up for the other 99%."

So, yikes - if even small independent PC developers are feeling like they have to include some kind of piracy protection, what's the future of PC gaming looking like? Or has Cliffski missed the point?

Copy Protection [Cliffski's Mumblings]


    The smaller your company is, the more each pirated copy hurts. Developers *should* work to protect their creations.

    Cliffski's team slaved over the game prior to release, its a legal market product. Them getting paid for their work depends soley on people buying it. Given how grotesquely easy it is to pirate a PC game (I should know, I used to do it in highschool >_>), the poor guys likely lose a *massive* chunk of their paycheques.

    From my cheapo pirating days I remember all the excuses that would be made by people I knew.
    "If I have the option to get it for free, i shouldn't have to pay for it"
    "I don't want to give corporations my money."
    A specific example of the last comment: "I'll play EA games but they're bastards so I wont give them my money"

    I didn't use these bullshit excuses. My family was poor and I didn't have a job, that was reason enough for me :(
    But now that I've moved up in the world, I buy all my games. Not sure if its because I usually only play 360 games or simply because I'm a better person... ;)

    But anyway, thats random personal thoughts. The simple fact is that PC piracy is easy to take part in and as such, is rampant. Whether PC gaming is doomed for this reason is up to the devs that produce PC games to decide. The only thing I can say is that if you're producing on PC, regardless of how small you are.. if its a commercial product (ie not freeware) then bloody get piracy protection.

    I think that Cliffski's comments are misleading.

    If the rate of piracy really was '1%', they would only be losing 1% of their revenue. I'm not to justify piracy, but either it's big enough to impact (i.e. >1%) or it's not worth copy protecting. Maybe learn from THQ with Dawn of War and Company of Heroes - it's not like they are pirated any more than other games even though they require no CD or any kind of online registration.

    I think it's the try and 'fix' this problem that easy - trying to make it 'pirate proof'.

    Also, you end up with the (admittedly shrinking) additional problem of cutting out a portion of the market that doesn't have the ability to register online.

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