Gabe Newell: Piracy Is A ‘Non-Issue For Our Company’

Gabe Newell: Piracy Is A ‘Non-Issue For Our Company’
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Gabe Newell has spoken about piracy before and, as you’d expect made a whole lot of sense. Now, speaking to student website The Cambridge Student, Gabe reiterated some of his previous points, and expanded on others. His major point? Provide a better service than pirates, and you will be successful.

In general, we think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty.

Our goal is to create greater service value than pirates, and this has been successful enough for us that piracy is basically a non-issue for our company. For example, prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become our largest market in Europe.

Incredibly Gabe Newell seems to have struck on something — treat consumers with the respect they deserve and you’ll ultimately reap the benefits. Who knew?!

Interview: Gabe Newell [The Cambridge Student]


  • This is someone who understands the industry, and treats customers like customers, instead of treating them like toilet paper and shitting all over them.

        • Capcom don’t treat there customers with much respect at all if you ask me.

          They are trying to squeeze every cent from you with every single game the re-release.

          • Ermm.. that was kinda the point why Capcom was mentioned

            Oh Namco Bandai to the list please! =D For the
            “Hey Guys! we has a new JRPG for you complete and utterly exclusive to this console… oh what? references to characters not present? excessively buggy release to the point of unplayable?.. nah your just imagining things!” routine xD

          • Isn’t Capcom the same company that made a game where you can only ever have one save file which is not re-writable or deletable?

            That seems pretty anal if you ask me.

            I’m not against DRM, but there’s gotta be more subtle ways of achieving it than that.

  • I completely agree with him on the service aspect. I haven’t pirated a game for years now that I get most of my games through steam, it’s nice to not be shafted by Australian release schedules by publishers who don’t really care.

    • Its been years since I played a pirated PC game and I have a mountain of stuff on steam. They do a really good job of highlighting older games with their specials, so many games that I missed first time around that I’ve picked up during their sales.

      The companies screwing Australian customers over are a hassle but I have friends and family in the US on steam so Paypal and gifting is a simple way around that.

    • People are still utilising stupid DRM so it obviously still needs to be considered news so people can realise their mistakes.

  • Batman for PC has Securom, GfW and Steamworks. Three DRMs for the price of one. I wonder if that’s going something to do with how terrible it’s playing. 🙁

  • Yep….after I discovered steam I stopped pirating games, though I don’t think we can through pricing out of the equation, I still feel dirty when I pick up a game for more than 50 bucks AU these days, thanks to the standard set up by steam, I dont expect to pay 100% more just for a physical copy.

    • Same. Ashamedly DE:HR is the ONLY pirated game on my pc. All others are steambound and totally legal. Now its on sale on Steam, Im buying it totally legit. Steam is my sole purchasing venue for games now on the PC. Love love love love it 😀

      THANKS GABEN!!!!

  • Piracy would be even less of an issue if they would push publishers to have the same price for game of steam, instead of the outdated region-pricing model.

    • Weight is a ‘non-issue’ as well for Valve it seems.

      But he makes a great point. I think this is why Origin will struggle to compete directly with Steam. I look at from the perspective that Valve was and IS a developer first, I believe. Steam came after Valve and they’ve remained a private company without the nagging, selfish and greedy shareholders.

      Origin has been designed by a publisher, who in the eyes of a lot of gamers are the evil of the video game industry. Valve, digitally speaking, has stuck with self-publishing and distributing their games. Retail lately goes to EA but they have no real control over the product.

      I just feel dev’s are more in touch with gamers than the selfish publishers and I reckon that will reflect when comparing the two services of Origin and Steam, which could also relate to how publishers deal with privacy, exactly how Gabe himself has said it.

      • that is possible. he is also larger than i will ever be. i mean, that man is enormous. if he was as smart as you suggest he would be taking better care of himself. he certainly has the wealth to do so.

  • I like how Gabe used Russia as an example but I’m sure that the RU is the largest seller of games due to the fact most games are ridiculously cheap so those that want to save some money and are fairly savvy can just spoof IP’s to buy their Steam games from Russia or just import a CD key.

    • I was reading keys that are bought in Russia and throughout a few of the Asian countries where pirating is big, it’s the only place you can activate the keys. Makes sense to me, stops people using a 3rd party site to buy the key then activate it in their region.

  • He makes sense. But no matter how good the service is, there’ll always be pirates who are just cheap bastards.

    On another note. Why do most PC gamers buy only through Steam? I buy all my games at game shops. I love going there and picking up some deals. It’s part of the experience of being a gamer for me. I love it. Plus I like the staff.

    Don’t you miss it?

    • Price and convenience. Steam sales are insanely cheap. I bought Mass Effect 1 and 2 this week for $5 a piece.

      Convenience: I already own them both on X-Box, but I may move OS next year. Won’t take them with me. I’m facing the same problem with my CD/record collection (about 600 albums). Just too many to move around, so I’ve moved to MP3’s.

      • And do you have the the express written permission of the publisher and/or artist to make digitally reencoded versions of those CDs?

        Hah, flashback. Remember when cassette piracy was an actual thing? And it was illegal to record cassette to cassette? Same shit, different century.

    • I like the fact that I can have a universal system where I can have all my games. I can chat and join friends and even compare their stats and games.

      If PC gaming was more like console gaming (with the one central community) it would be perfect.

  • That is cheap.
    But I still rather buy from game shops. I like having a physical thing I can show. I’m a collector, so I’m very proud of my movie/game collection.

    600 albums? Keep em man.

  • Gabe is a wise man. There have been so many times where I have felt I’ve been punished for doing the right thing with DRM issues in games, or un-skippable piracy warnings and advertisements on DVDs. If I downloaded them, I wouldn’t have to deal with any of it, but I would be hurting the people I love… the people who entertain me.

  • He’s absolutely right. Steam does such a great job, it’s a hell of a lot easier to use Steam than it is to torrent a game, crack it, and keep it updated and still working online.

  • Thanks, Gabe. So tell me again why the price of Arkham City jumped from $50 to $100 for Australians? I’ll be pirating that one, thank you very much.

  • Still ripping us Australians off though Gabe!
    $100 (batman arkham city and many more!) for a digital copy of a game is robbery, so dont be tto quick to blow the guy!

    • Its the other publishers who do this. Ea, 2k, rockstar, sega, activision, eidos, thq, Bethesda all up the au price on steam. Interestingly companies most piracy aware like stardock and Valve (run by gabe) never have regionalized their online prices.

  • Gabe solution: Treat the consumer with respect and they will not steal your products.

    Publishers Solution: Treat your consumers like dirt and they surely wont steal our products.

    umm, which one makes the most sense.

  • 100% on the money.

    There’s a few people I actually truly respect in the gaming industry, Gabe Newell is definitely one of them.

  • He runs the company, not some fucked up exec who is all about shareholder value, so its common sense despite Valve time (google it, you will lol) i will wait for and pay for their releases, current steam lib has over 200 titles most brought on release day and not via sales 2 years later.

    Ubisoft can F off to consoles

  • The chaps at GOG are saying similar things. This is madness I tell you. I don’t think I can handle logic on my internets. *Goes off to take a shot of Ubisoft to calm down*

  • Steam’s model on how to combat piracy and being able to sustain a large community is quite a spectacle for PC gaming, and it works so well. Heck, as of right now, with all the steam games i’ve bought this year and from Bundle packs (64 games i think) i’ve yet to break the $100 mark on money spent on pc gaming. Chances are i probably won’t play all of them, but the pricing structure and sales on every week, it makes it hard to resist. Gabe is truly a respectable figure in the industry

  • Jacking up of prices for Australians aside, steam and gog are the best, and easiest way to get any game going, and normally best value, failing that many key sellers online will sell a key cheaply for a game of choice (I.e. Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, which I got 2 days before release for $38.)

    I refuse to buy retail for games nowdays. EB Games can go burn

  • Although there will always be people that pirate cos its free and there’s no punishment, Valve has definitely done itself proud with its fanbase. Gabe N is on the right track establishing respect with consumers.

  • i wish steam was a little cheaper. especially for Australia.

    Sure its nice to be able to buy and download from Steam but I get a little frustrated with the experience sometimes.

    I still don’t understand why a brick&mortar physical copy of a title can still be cheaper then a digital copy (i.e. Skyrim at JB).

  • Hmmm… given that the Steam distribution platform was unceremoniously rammed down the throats of anybody who’d bought and attempted to boot up Half-Life 2 on release day, the sentiment of treating consumers with respect is a bit moot.

    That’s not to say now that all the kinks have been worked out that Steam isn’t f**king fantastic (I’ve actually referred friends who were “non-gamers” to Steam who have now spent quite a bit of money on it), it’s just that the fact that internet registration or playing through a platform is now mandatory for most games, people seem to have pretty quickly forgotten that the only reason it really took off is because people had to do it to play the shiny new game they just bought, not because there were alot of voluntary adopters.

  • Australian Steam prices. Steam games not available in certain regions. Staggered Steam release dates in various regions.

    Hilarious to see Newell’s constant statements deriding tactics Steam itself espouses.

  • I think more games need playable demos. Most people justify pirating by saying they wanted to try before they buy. Before you know it they’ve finished the game, and don’t end up buying it. I do however, of it’s good.

    Too many Half assed games being churned out. This feels like the video games crash of 1983, with piracy as a buzzword/scapegoat.

  • Another note: As people have added, it’s downright frustrating when you buy a game like Skyrim in a store such as EB Games, and you’re forced to play it under Steam. That’s not “respect”, really.

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