A Closer Look At Why People Are Pirating The Witness

A Closer Look At Why People Are Pirating The Witness

The Witness has been illegally downloaded by thousands of people since it was released last month, but did you know pirates have their own forums? Comments sections? Technical support questions? Yeah, I was surprised, too.

It’s not news that a popular game is being pirated, but The Witness designer Jonathan Blow has been actively talking about his interactions with piracy.

When I saw this, it got me thinking about what drives people to piracy, and how they feel about their actions. One popular torrent site showed the game had been downloaded 26,134 times. That was when I checked it on Monday. Since then, that number rose to 28,022, and doesn’t include a separate torrent that’s been downloaded 7,464 times. While I can’t assume every pirated copy is a lost sale, we’re still talking about an excess of losses well north of $US1 ($1) million.

Here’s a video breaking down what I found, as I went deeper and deeper:

I’ve been experimenting with video reporting, let me know what you think!

Oh, and a few caveats about this video:

  • Tomb Raider hasn’t been cracked, but a version exists where people can “family share” on Steam without the other person getting kicked off.
  • Yes, again, I know a pirated copy isn’t equivalent to a lost sale.
  • I blurred out names and links because I’m interested in talking about piracy, not exposing bad behaviour. (But if you do pirate lots of games — especially if you’re the kind of person who uploads torrents — I’d love to speak with you. You’d be kept completely anonymous. Here’s my email.)

When I published this yesterday, a few developers chimed in with thoughts:

A Closer Look At Why People Are Pirating The Witness
A Closer Look At Why People Are Pirating The Witness

There’s lots to chew on here, and piracy can get complicated.


  • It’s not hard to figure out why people pirate stuff. They want it but don’t want to pay for it. It’s that simple.

    did you know pirates have their own forums? Comments sections? Technical support questions?

    Yes. Piracy has the best price and best customer service. No company can compete with them.

    Also the final puzzle in The Witness is you… and the Sun. The SUN IS A PUZZLE.

    • Yep, people pirate games for the exact same reason they pirate movies and music – because they can get it for nothing.

      It would be interesting to see if those people reacted with outrage or acceptance if their employer suddenly refused to pay them for their work.

      • It’s not nearly thst black and white. Piracy is a complex issues with multiple causes. In this case the unusually high RRP is undoubtedly a large factor.

        The ‘real’ test will be seeing how many of these ‘pirates’ end up buying the game on sale – I suspect the witness will be a top seller come easter sales.

        • How is the price unusually high? because it’s a puzzle game? I take a lot of time money and energy to make a game regardless of genre.

          • I don’t pirate games… I just don’t buy them, but let’s talk about pricing for a second.

            Xbox has a sale on at the moment, it’s for a number of games… but the one I’m going to mention is currently on sale for $15:00, unless you go to buy it from Australia in which case it’s 76 dollars.

            The game in question is now 2 years old… and that, is bullshit.

          • yep, the price gouging on consoles is absolutely ridiculous, it’s worse than steam, at least some new release games on steam don’t charge us $79 USD

        • Price is not a justification for piracy. If it’s too expensive then wait for a sale. If you want to play it now, pay the price they’re charging now. If you want to wait for it to be $10 or whatever then wait for the price to drop. Everybody knows that the price of games drops over time – especially on PC where it will probably end up dirt cheap on Steam / GOG / Humble etc within a year.

          People who go pirating a $50 (or whatever) game today then turn around and buy it later on sale at a fraction of that price and claim they’re somehow doing the right thing are kidding themselves.

          • Bet everyone acting high and mighty about price not being an excuse pirated the shit out of Game of Thrones.

          • I bet most of the people being all high and mighty about it have done far worse things (like stealing money directly from the devs by selling a game second hand) but because it doesn’t have the social stigma attached to decide their morals for them, they don’t even realize they’re doing something wrong.

          • This argument (the “pirate now pay later” attitude being detrimental) is popping up all over the place, but I can’t say I entirely agree. It’s just a theory with seemingly no solid evidence to support it, and makes a number of assumptions about pirates (that they will definitely buy the game, but only when it’s so cheap that it hardly benefits the devs, and that had piracy not been available, they would have paid full price) which clearly aren’t always going to hold true.

            If anything, pirates buying the game should be evidence enough that they aren’t out to intentionally steal or reduce the profits of devs, compared to the above argument which tries to pretty much say these “pirates” are doing exactly that. By buying the game [‘late’].

          • If anything, pirates buying the game should be evidence enough that they aren’t out to intentionally steal or reduce the profits of devs, compared to the above argument which tries to pretty much say these “pirates” are doing exactly that. By buying the game [‘late’].

            That’s exactly what they’re intentionally doing. If you want to play it now, pay the price they’re asking for it now. If you want it cheaper then wait until later when the price drops. If you don’t want to pay at all then don’t play it. This isn’t a complex problem.

            Likewise, the argument that it’s ok because people wouldn’t have bought the game anyway – nonsense. That’s like saying that it’s OK to sneak into a cinema to watch a movie for free because if you’d had to buy a ticket then you wouldn’t have gone to see it anyway. The argument holds no water – if you don’t want to pay what they’re asking for a ticket now then you can go on a cheap day or wait until it shows up on Netflix or on TV or whatever later on.

            Classic recent example as DariusBurst Chronicle Saviours. Looks like a pretty cool game as old-school scrolling shooters go – I’d love to play it. But the price is f*cking insane… something like $90 on PSN and US$50 on Steam. That is ludicrious. But that doesn’t mean I’m entitled to pirate it. Instead I add it to my wishlist and will leave it there until it drops to a price I’m willing to pay. It’s not like there’s a lack of other, better value games I can play in the meantime while I wait.

            If it’s actually an issue of availability (i.e. you’re willing to pay the asking price for something but you’re getting region locked out or it’s not available here for whatever reason), then there may be an argument for it in that case. But just because you don’t like the price they’re charging, even though you know it’ll get cheaper later on? Nope.

        • “unusually high RRP”

          What a crock of sh!t… I haven’t played nor will I ever play The Witness – just not my kind of game – but high RRP is just drivel from all the podcasts I listen to the game is huge.

          • Well unless we have vastly different interpretations of ‘crock of shit’ I don’t see how, in any way, a $60 pricetag on an indie game could be considered so much of a non issue that it warrants the aforementioned expression. Like most people, I consider $2-10 a normal price for an indie game, even one of this caliber. So when the price is ten times greater than that, I think that’s fair enough reasoning to consider the price ‘unusual’.

            For the record, I think the game looks amazing, and I can’t wait till it’s at a price point I can justify paying for. And I mean that figuratively not literally because I don’t pirate games.

        • The point about pricing is correct, in that it does correlate with rampant piracy. More expensive things get pirated more often. If only I could do the same thing with a Ferrari 🙁

          But I think it affects a puzzle game more than a mainstream game. There’s only so many people willing to try it anyway. It also produces a mismatch between the actual demand for such a game, and will be reflected in upcoming investments to the genre.

    • They need the best customer service because things tend to go wrong when you’re trying to get them to work without paying for them. The Witness is probably low hanging fruit for lots of people because it’s offline only, has no DRM and probably isn’t a game that people know that they want to they download it for free to try it and then never buy it.

      As for the price…. It’s stolen (or whatever you want to call it) so yeah…..

      I haven’t pirated anything for well over a decade but I used to when I was a teenager. Now that I can afford to legitimately buy them it’s not worth the hassle for me to download games and I think most people would rather avoid piracy if possible.

    • You both sound extrememly out of touch with people that are not you.

      “Yeah those poor people are just lazy, that’s why they dont have money!”
      That’s what you both sound like.

      • er what? Where does anyone mention anything about poor people and how hard working they are? Stop projecting.

        • His comment was ” It’s not hard to figure out why people pirate stuff. They want it but don’t want to pay for it. It’s that simple.”

          And I said it SOUNDS LIKE someone who would say “Yeah those poor people are just lazy, that’s why they don’t have money!”

          I’m not projecting you just didn’t understand what I was talking about. I was saying the explanation was equivalent to the same explanation out of touch people come up with.
          It’s this thing called an analogy, that us humans use sometimes.
          (if you’re an aspie, apologies for using such a harsh tone)

          • I didn’t get that from the comment. “they want it but don’t want to pay for it” is very different from “they want it but can’t afford to pay for it”.

            I think you’re reaching.

          • They are different, in context, but I think both of them are out of touch comments which was what I was implying.

            I don’t think I’m reaching at all, I think the original comment replied to is bananas and extremely dismissive. Comments made by self absorbed people that cause anger towards others instead of compassion and understanding.

            Things of which could actually help to solve problems rather than exacerbate them.

  • I haven’t pirated a game for probably 10+ years, as soon as a I had a reasonable stream of income I have purchased my games. When I was a poor povo student I did, because, my option was “Pirate and play”, or “dont’ play”. My pirating the game didn’t result in a lost sale.

    For those who have the means to pay, and just choose to pirate, shame on you. Especially for smaller developers who have staked their livelihood on it, double shame!

    I know that’s a fairly simplistic way to look at the situation, but that’s how I see it.

    • Its not always about not having the money to pay for it. Personally I’m interested in playing Witness, not because the game itself appeals but because so many people are talking about it. So, I’d rather not pay for a game that doesn’t sound appealing, I’d rather give it a trial run and if it is actually interesting then pay for it. ie: The good old fashioned demo/shareware route that old games used to follow.

      There are a lot of games that fall into this category for me, friends talking about them make them sound interesting but the game genre or style isn’t something I’d normally be into. Really not interested in the idea of paying $50 or $100 for a game that I spend 5 minutes on then decide “yep it’s not interesting to me”.

      edit: Forgot to add, sometimes pirated versions still equal a sale. Thanks to Australia’s censorship rules we’d often get cut down or edited versions of games (and movies). I remember buying a couple games then realising it’s not the same as the game the rest of the world is playing. *sigh*

      second edit: Also forgot to add, some people suffer simulation sickness (like motion sickness but without moving) from certain games. Among others, I personally can’t play Half-life2 or Duke Nukem Forever for more than 20 minutes before becoming physically ill. I paid full price (bought games immediately on release) for both of them so I’m not exactly happy about that.

      • So many excuses. None of which are legitimate. But who am i to judge, i may pay for every game i play because i want to support the developers, but i stream pirated movies and tvs shows with reckless abandon.

        • Maybe not legitimate in a strictly legal sense but they’re certainly legitimate in an ethical or moral sense.

          I basically no longer buy FPS games because a high percentage of them (more than 50%) cause simulation sickness for me. When you combine that with the fact quite a lot of the games have no way to trial them anymore it’s a lousy situation for me as a consumer and for the devs. Because I’m not going to throw my money away on a game I literally cannot play.

          I daresay most devs would be happy for someone to trial their game long enough to ensure it doesn’t make them physically sick if it meant they were more likely to get a sale.

          • That sucks, didnt realise ppl could get motion sickness from fps. Yeh the golden age of demos is behind us, some of the fps have public betas now ao that helps.

  • Well, back ages ago, when I did pirate games, I was a cash-strapped university student. Even after I left university, and had a paying job, I’d still pirated some things, because it was so convenient. More and more, though, I started paying for my media. These days, I just pay for what I want. I’m still tempted to pirate movies, _especially_ when I see those unskippable piracy notices on DVD and Bluray discs. They are friggin’ annoying!

    • yep same for me when i was in high school with 0 income if i wanted to play games it was my only option. now my steam has 379 and growing thats not mentioning my Origin,Uplay,GOG Client games. and i will still try before i buy because so many times when i buy a game it turns out to be garbage. its not like movies where you spend $12 on a ticket and its bad o well. but games its $30 to $100 mostly higher end as i like AAA titles but even some of those i found terrible.

    • You reckon the unskippable piracy notes are bad? Years ago I bought Charlie Wilson’s War on DVD. That didn’t just have a piracy note, it actually had some ad with Gwyneth Paltrow spruiking some charity on it than ran for several minutes and couldn’t be skipped! Every time you put the disc in you had to wait for that shit to play all the way through! I did download a pirated version of that movie after encountering that, and I did so with a completely clear conscience 😛

      • Yep, I’ve seen trailers and ads which are unskippable. These days, not so much. The studios seem to have woken up to themselves a little. Only a little. The piracy notices are still there, and show when you put the disc in, and then also when you start the feature. It seriously makes me slap my forehead at the idiocy of the whole situation.

        • Most of the time when I’ve seen trailers on there, they’ve at least been skippable. But man… having to sit through 4 or 5 minutes of Gwyneth Paltrow Presents: AIDS Is Bad every time I want to watch a movie I’ve paid for? Nope.

  • you looked at rise of the tomb raider which has anti tamper software Denuvo so those downloads are all irrelevant that wont be pirate able any time soon.

  • If you truly believe a pirated copy doesn’t mean a lost sale, you then assume the publisher did not:

    Pay to advertise on the platform

    Arrange any shares in sales through digital distribution practices on the platform

    really see any value in that market, so any $ made would be icing on the cake, seeing as how it was mostly pushed as a PS4 title ie a closed eco-system with built-in measures against piracy. I wouldn’t call it DRM in the way DRM usually works on the PC 🙂

    • If you truly believe a pirated copy doesn’t mean a lost sale,

      Can you answer how many of those downloads are from low economic regions? How many were just ‘demoing’ the game. If they never had any intention of paying for the game is it really a lost sale? When ever torrent downloads are mentioned it’s extremely rare that locations of those downloads are also mentioned – majority come from russia and asia places where $40 can go a long way.

      An example of the economics of it would be when steam was localized in russia with relevant prices to that market. Piracy numbers dropped substantially.

      • Using this logic, if I steal your wallet and spend just some of the money in it, I can still give it back to you no worries.

        I never had any intention of spending all of it, after all.

          • Eeek sorry I wasn’t talking about cards, I was talking about physical tender.

            If I agreed with you, but still wanted to discuss this we could go around in circles and say we don’t actually own any of the 1s and 0s that make up the software on any of our devices, couldn’t we?

            Blow’s on record as saying “I don’t like DRM because I think people should have the freedom to own things”

            That’s where I am coming from.

          • Yep, that analogy wasn’t very good.

            Still, according to the definition of the word “theft”, you can certainly use it to describe piracy. Theft is defined as the act of stealing. You can steal something that is not physical. For example, someone can steal ideas or credit. In this instance, the definition of “steal” is to “take without right”. Certainly fits the bill for defining media piracy.

          • Yer and that actually falls under plagiarism. You can argue semantics but at the end of the day they have their differences, Personally i think physical theft and piracy are completely different kettle of fish. Theft physically deprives someone of something tangible. Piracy there is no conclusive evidence that it is actually depriving owners of significant sums of money – if it was easy to prove they’d be all over that shit.

          • Yes, physical theft and piracy are completely different. Yes, there’s no conclusive evidence that piracy deprives copyright owners of significant amounts.

            But I’m not saying that. I’m saying that “theft” can be used to describe the act of piracy. It’s the definition! I gave you the definition that proves it. Just because you personally think they’re not equivalent, does not give you the right to change the English language to suit your needs.

          • But I’m not saying that. I’m saying that “theft” can be used to describe the act of piracy. It’s the definition! I gave you the definition that proves it. Just because you personally think they’re not equivalent, does not give you the right to change the English language to suit your needs.

            It’s not just my personal opinion.

            Theft: the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it


            Piracy doesn’t deprive the rightful owner of shit. As i mentioned they can’t prove that piracy actually deprives the owner of anything – which in turn means it doesn’t fall under thefts definition. Courts also see it this way as well.

            The terms piracy and theft are often associated with copyright infringement. The original meaning of piracy is “robbery or illegal violence at sea”, but the term has been in use for centuries as a synonym for acts of copyright infringement. Theft, meanwhile, emphasizes the potential commercial harm of infringement to copyright holders. However, copyright is a type of intellectual property, an area of law distinct from that which covers robbery or theft, offenses related only to tangible property. Not all copyright infringement results in commercial loss, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1985 that infringement does not easily equate with theft.


          • You forgot to include “theft” defined as the “act of stealing”. Which does make it appropriate use when using the term to describe piracy.

            Courts have their own language, and their own set of definitions. I would not use terms of law to justify definitions in English.

          • That’s a lay term – the actual definition of theft is not the “act of stealing”. Check your sources.

          • http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/theft

            Though I do find it interesting that your Merriam-Webster reference actually does make a specific distinction about physical theft. It’s the only dictionary I’ve seen to do so.

            In any case, all dictionaries agree that theft is defined as the act of stealing. That hardly makes it a lay term.

          • You stopped looking down the definition rabbit hole too early. The definition of ‘take’ in this context is to remove from a place. ‘Take’ doesn’t apply to software piracy because the original property hasn’t been removed, it’s been copied. When you watch a video on Youtube you’re not ‘taking’ the video. When you download WinRAR you’re not ‘taking’ the download.

            Theft is stealing. Stealing is taking property from someone without permission. Taking is removal of the property. No removal happens when something is pirated. Copying isn’t theft.

          • You can “take a compliment”. You can “take a person’s hand”. There is more than one definition of “take”, just as there is more than one of “steal”. To narrow down to one specific definition is ignoring other uses of the word to bolster your viewpoint. It is a logical fallacy.

            Copying isn’t necessarily theft, but violation of copyright is theft, because it is act of stealing, and stealing can mean “taking without right”, even if you’re just taking a copy.

          • Yes, there’s more than one definition of take for different contexts, and there’s only one that applies in the context of stealing. It’s not a logical fallacy, it’s a matter of simple definition. Don’t pretend you’re not aware of that.

          • Fair enough. If you believe that’s the only definition of “take” in that context, then you’re right. Guess I just believe the word is more flexible than that.

  • I think you’ve forgotten to ask the most important question – who are these people who are pirating? My bet; students. People with the least money, the most time, and the most ingenuity.

    Developers would be well advised to start servicing students the same way Valve services Russia, but replace region locked special prices with some kind of university verification for discounts.

    • its not students, its actuall the full on russia situation only instead of russia its Asia.if you go into a proper department store in Aisa and by a DVD or game, its going to cost an exorberant amount of cash, yet you can just go to street market and get the pirated version for 5% of the price.

  • Used to pirate don’t anymore except movies I can’t get too. Seriously I go through every region of Netflix. Hulu iTunes Google play and Amazon instant video before I hit the pirate bay. Piracy is my I’ve been looking for an hour for something that’s available to buy on DVD and wait 2 weeks for postage but can’t be viewed any other way solution. I’ll admit Amazon instant video is amazing for finding obscure films.

    Did you know there’s nowhere in Australia to watch fools gold online? But I can watch it on Amazon.

  • So basically, piracy is one of those issues that doesn’t require actual research or educated perspective to explore but is much better served to be left up to the assumptions of the undereducated? At what point will our discussion graduate to the next grade? We’ve been stuck making arbitrary assumptions based on prejudices and generalisations for years, now – discussion on the topic has devolved into noise.

    • Agreed. If all data was collected about piracy availability vs steam sales (as per Dan’s tweet), we’d have some real insight. But who’s going to pay for said research? It’s unlikely to support the publishers’ desires, because it will likely show it’s less of a problem than they say. And pirates, well, they don’t want to pay for anything 😉

    • There have been plenty of studies on piracy. It just so happens those studies are also funded by the entertainment corps so imo there is far to much bias for them to be considered. There have been only a handful of independent studies and for the most part they are pretty inconclusive. From what i’ve read it seems that piracy has far to many variables for any one study to track it’s effects on sales accurately – so it’s going to take far more independent studies to get any data on it. Unfortunately that is unlikely to happen as funding these studies is reliant on uni’s/governments and the entertainment corps have a pretty solid influence on them.

  • I’m a firm believer that both sides of the argument exaggerate their position (publishers/devs will say it’s close to 1:1, pirates/consumer will says it’s close to 1:0), but Dan Teasdale’s tweet is probably the clearest indication I’ve ever seen that there is a causal link. I’d really like to see that level of relationship explored, because it would give us the best indication yet of what kind of ratios we’re dealing with.

  • Man this guy sounds like an alien trying to understand a new species.
    People can’t afford the product, they do not make as much money as you, they might have more living expenses than you,
    If they couldn’t pirate it they wouldn’t play it.
    People want to enjoy a product just like everybody else at the same time of release.

    Everyone here sounds like a rich person talking about why the poor don’t just buy their own mansions rather than sleep on the street.

    If the game cost was something like a dollar, I’d say most people have a point. Otherwise
    you’re just talking out yer butts. (for the record I do pay for my games)

    • If you can’t afford to pay the price they’re charging for The Witness on Steam or wherever, there are many, many other games you can buy for $5 or $10 and play them instead. You can then wait until the Witness also drops to that kind of price and play it then.

      People want to enjoy a product just like everybody else at the same time of release.

      People want a lot of things, that doesn’t mean they have a right to have them for nothing. We’re not talking about life essentials here like food or water or shelter or medication. We’re talking about video games. This is very much a discretionary kind of purchase, not something that people need to be able to have at a rock bottom price right now.

      • Hey I wasn’t excusing what some people do, I was just giving a more realistic reason as to why someone would pirate a game.

        “The ol’ “let them eat cake”!”

        In all honesty, I’m an indie developer and I really think that’s probably the best solution, either that or price games much lower, and lower the budget for game production.
        Most AAA games arn’t really offering us anything revolutionary unless you like the same game every year in a different high budget skin.

        I think treating piracy as some sort of enemy or evil is stupid, and I think if large companies ever get to a point of completely putting a stop to it and charging larger amounts to purchase or subscribe to a game it will damage the industry overall. Or turn games into a luxury item for the very wealthy. We’re starting to see it already with micro transactions and map packs, chopping games into episodes.

        You’d think if games sell well the gamer would benefit from it overall?

      • Witness is overpriced here. I wouldn’t pay more than $10 for that sort of game. Does that mean I will pirate it? No. I’ll just wait till a sale or when if becomes part of a humble bundle.
        Unfortunately a lot of people will pirate the game because of the price and because of the simple fact that they can and will not be punished for it.
        If you could rob a bank and get away with it as easily as games could be pirated, you would see a lot more banks being robbed. Not everyone would do it, but a darn lot more would. It is still too socially acceptable to pirate games, music and movies and that’s why it happens.

        • It sounds like you just reworded a “you wouldn’t steal a car” ad.

          I think a bank is a bad analogy for digital games store, if it was comparable to a bank, pirated games and torrent sites would be more like secret clubs that give away free money.

          If it’s more convenient to pirate a game then go through legal ways to purchase it, I don’t blame ppl, makes sense to me.

          Now if it was super convenient and easy to buy a game, and sort of a pain in the butt to pirate one, I’d say those people were desperate to play that game.

          Pirating makes large companies either a) Make more secure and protected games / or b) Make their games super easy to find and obtain legally with a more positive experience.

          Both of those make large companies have to work extra hard and I’m pretty damn cool with that.

      • Thing about that is I (insert dramatic music) don’t use a PC to game. I spend all day on one and play consoles when I need to. Gives the hands a rest from the mouse and keyboard. I jump in any beta that comes out though.

    • Considering the 2 hour of time allowed to refund the game on Steam, I’d have thought developers would be pushing that a step further and releasing the full game as a 2 hour timed demo, then asking for payment rather than the other way around..

    • sometimes steam has free weekends, I think that’s better than demos and I wish more games would do it.

  • Considering that piracy has been for as long as the medium has and the medium continues to grow and break new records every year.. I don’t actually think it’s a problem.

    I don’t pirate any more as I like to support the industry.

    Back when I had less money I was a rampant pirate. If piracy was not around, I just wouldn’t have played the games.

    Maybe I wouldn’t have become the massive paying supporter of gaming that I now am??

    I don’t think it’s crazy to consider that piracy may actually be one of the best and cheapest forms of marketing available.

  • I find that tweet from DanTeasdale interesting. Claims sales slumped as soon as the game hit torrent sites. So in other words it was selling to his target audience then torrent came out and those who hadn’t bought it yet suddenly decided to check it out there.

    Doesn’t seem very plausible to me, the people who pirate a game tend to either not plan on buying it ever or want to demo it before they buy. Both of those types wouldn’t purchase the game prior to pirating hence the sales graph wouldn’t reflect them pirating the game.

    Likely the sales hit a slump due to other factors, correlation (if it even happened here) does not equal causation.

  • What i’m intrigued is the sale differences between games with DRM and those without…Esp since the latest iteration of Denuvo is currently uncrackable is there a spike in the sales volume or is it just fantasy bullshit spouted from publishers to justify an unsuccessful product. Answering that over a period of time on games that are currently uncrackable would theoretically answer the q of whether piracy equates to a lost sale… According to publishers on the amount they’ve lost to piracy in forgone sales we should be seeing Tomb Raider and Far Cry sell more than Skyrim / Falkout 4 and Witcher 3 combined…

    Just saying if they wanna take the moral high ground they gotta level the facts with me first. After all you ‘wouldn’t steal a car’ would you…

    • I love the attitude of the Witcher guys. “We’re making a ton of money with all you people buying the game, so no DRM. Enjoy!”

      Certainly hasn’t hurt their sales figures.

  • Yes, again, I know a pirated copy isn’t equivalent to a lost sale.

    I hate how you state this several times but then go on to unsubtly imply that you think that it is (or is close).

    Once you take out the people demoing the game (who then go on to buy), the region-locked who can’t access it (not a lost sale) or the people who would never pay for it, I’d wager you’d only have a fraction of the pirates left.

  • so did you know that the witness costs AU$55? That’s more expensive than Rise Of The Tomb Raider. It’s not about what the product is Actually Worth, it’s about what people perceive the product as being worth. If you see, let’s say, an 8-bit platformer that looks okay but it’s $30 and you think “that’s a bit much for an 8-bit platformer” then it doesn’t matter how great or how huge or how Full Of Content that game is, you think $30 is too high a price for it. The Witness could be the best game in the world but people see it, see the price tag, and think “something doesn’t add up here” so they either play something else or pirate it.

    I’m not saying piracy is ethical, but I think there are reasons for it other than “the people who pirate games are cheap and don’t care about indie devs”. The first problems that need to be tackled to reduce piracy are prohibitively expensive media and appropriate marketing.

    • Agreed.
      It does not matter one iota how much its actually worth if your customer doesn’t see and understand why. Especially when they can get it elsewhere for what they perceive as the value of the product.

      I used to work in the car repair industry, we found that while we weren’t always the cheapest, customers generally were happy with our prices. As we would look after them as best as we could, explain why “x” needed to be done and looked after them as best as possible, as well as standing by the quality of our repairs. Which gave the perception we were good value for money.

      Many software companies, games or otherwise forget this. Not even bothering to provide adequate support for their product aside from initial advertising. Even doing something as simple as a game demo will help cut out a large chunk of piracy.

    • Value is determined by the buyer, availability is determined by the seller. What something is worth is what people will pay for it. As a developer myself I know that I can’t price some things the way I’d like because they just wouldn’t sell if I did. If a high percentage of people are pirating your game and it’s not revenge over some controversy, then your game is priced too high.

      And frankly, the cost of development for The Witness is Blow’s own fault. He chose to do a seven year development cycle for a game that required far less. I could spend 10 years of my life making a nice porcelain breakfast bowl, but if I tried to charge $300,000 for it to compensate for my time invested, nobody’s going to buy the thing. You can’t price a product at what it cost you to make, you price it at what people are willing to pay. Sustainable business is about figuring out how to make the product for less than people are willing to pay you for it.

  • Only made a few million dollars in sales during the first week… can’t make a sequel now.. QQ Blaming the pirates who choose to play it but don’t think it’s worth purchasing as opposed to oneself for not being the first person in human history to make something that EVERYONE is willing to pay money for… pleeeeease

  • Game piracy tends to be crazy high. Most times when it has been measured it is 85-95%. As in, 85-95% of people playing the game have not purchased it. If even 10% of those are actual lost sales, those sales would have almost DOUBLED the revenue the game made.

    I don’t really know how piracy ever became socially acceptable, but the notion that it is not significantly cutting into the industry’s revenue seems highly improbable.

  • I personally don’t illegally download games. But I can understand why some people might.

    I want to play the Witness. Not because it seems like I’d enjoy it (I actually believe I’d get bored by drawing a line on box a few hundred times), but because people seem to be saying there are so many more layers to it. Even though the reviews I’ve read state that there is no reward for completing the puzzles and that the game can get extremely frustrating with no promise of much of a payoff.

    The reason why I haven’t? I don’t want to pay $55 to see if I’ll like it. It frustrates me that Blow didn’t release a demo for people such as myself. If I could try it, I’d definitely buy it if I liked it.

  • What I find funny is that our parents would endorse piracy without seemingly even realising it in the form of illegal games from Bali and then chipping playstations etc. I never remember my dad even being close to remorseful when he’d buy my little half brothers hundreds of games back with him from holiday. Everyone did it, there’s a generation of kids who grew up on free stuff.

    I feel apathy towards the whole issue tbh, and I like to think I’m a pretty fair minded guy. I don’t know why this is….I abhor stealing after all. Maybe it’s cause I’ve never really heard of piracy affecting an artists bottom line to the point they can’t continue their work or I’m just blind to those issues.
    Or maybe it’s because more than ever I feel shafted by the “man”, and I’m sure other ppl do too….if we get fucked over so transparently by corporations and government,then shouldn’t we follow example?

    Like,did you see how much money the banks made last year,it was truly sickening.
    See how much money the government wastes on our dime every day, and then want to ask for more gst?
    See how shareholders always need more and more cash, so companies are asking more of their workers for little or no reward?
    See how the government keeps squeezing cash out of smokers,claiming it will make them more likely to quit and that lung cancer costs x billion to the economy through medical costs even though the cigarette tax covers that and then some?
    See how the rich keep getting richer, and how some of those rich literally caused another recession?
    Fuel prices being jacked up even once you account for supply and demand, while a feckless accc jerks off about it but never actually does anything?
    The mining boom putting vast amounts of cash in companies pockets, while pushing up the cost of living for everyone else?
    Even on this website it was reported many australian workers are getting screwed over by dick smith financially, and can’t do anything about it?
    We are so busy getting fucked that honestly who would give a second thought when doing the fucking themselves?

    I reckon those millions of aussies were just trying to distract themselves from bwing fucked when they downloaded thrones, they totally forgot they were doing some illegal fucking themselves honestly 🙂

  • You know, watching this video I realised one thing: The Witness did fail at generating the kind of hype that sells games. It banked solely on its maker’s fame and the vague sense of mystery created by the secrecy they employed at every turn and the inscrutable nature of the game itself. But this video was the longest, continuous gameplay demonstration I have seen of this game, ever! Until now, the only material I had seen in news outlets were screenshoots and 20 second videos of people walking around.

    Sure, if I went chasing around, I’m sure I’d have found lots of videos, especially after it was released (which is already too late, in marketing campaign time, you know) but I could just use that Internet search to find a torrent and see for myself! What I am saying is that when you leave it to the customer to do your marketing legwork, you shouldn’t be surprised if they find a shortcut.

    • Stripping the “Jonathan Blow” hype away leaves you with, in my opinion, a good but not great puzzle game that is at times very repetitive and offers almost zero replayability. I love puzzle games, this just doesn’t stand out as much as the coverage makes it out to be, and if a no-name developer had made it I have no doubt in my mind at all that it wouldn’t be getting anywhere near the coverage or positive feedback it’s been getting. I think that’s disappointing, because I think games should sell on their own merits, not on the fawning adoration of its developer.

  • Yes, again, I know a pirated copy isn’t equivalent to a lost sale.

    Then why was one of your conclusions that Blow ‘lost a million dollars’? That’s a plainly false statement, considering Blow never had that million dollars to lose in the first place, and likely never would have had it from those people even if piracy was impossible.

  • When I was a teenager I had hundreds of ROMs of GBA and later PSP games but this was due to 2 main reasons.
    The first and most obvious was price; as a middle school kid I had no disposable income whatsoever.
    I would get like $10-$20 a week pocket money and if I wanted anything more substantial than a cheap bottle of vodka or a goonbag I would have to save up.
    Since in those days new games were out every other week and I was lousy at picking up girls I had a lot of spare time to play them.

    The other reason is that media coverage wasn’t anywhere near as substantial back then.
    Sure ign and probably Kotaku were around but there’s only so much of an idea of a feel for a game that you can get from a clinical review.
    You didn’t have Youtube videos to get a feel for the games before you decide if you wanted to buy it.
    Your best bet was playing it at your ‘rich’ mate’s house. Having the opportunity to play them first hand before putting them on Laybuy ot asking for them for Xmas.

    Since working I’ver never pirated anything.
    Money is still tight thanks to rent, bills, petrol etc. but now I have enough expendable income to buy movies when they come out and I can buy the games that I want. With all the online coverage of games these days both pre and post release I can make a fairly safe judgement on whether or not I want to play a game, so playing a free ‘demo’ (which most of those ROMs may as well have been, for the vast majority I would play for less han an hour before getting bored and forgetting they exist) is much less important.

    I know a lot of people that downloaded GoT, but I never bothered because I like to watch those whole box sets in a marathon so watching them 1 episode at a time would have killed me.
    Honestly though I have been tempted with that series; not due to the price but simply because they take forever and a month to release them on DVD/BRD.

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