10.11.11

Publishing in the new era

Evil Evil Pirats
Ok I never posted about video games before, but its one of the themes for this blog so you should be expecting it.

There is a few things I love in the game industry. Game design, Interactive Narrative and Production are my big passions.

And let me tell you, I must be missing something really big cause I can't understand publishers like SEGA and such. It has been almost 20 years. 20 fucking years and you still haven't really noticed that it won't work out?

I'm talking about security measures. Investing in security measures its like investing in origami.
Looks like you did a lot, and your audience (stakeholders) get all happy about the new paper crane, but in the end its completely useless! Unless you want to orchestrate a bunch of crimes in a rainy town. Ok it was a poor analogy.

I'll present my case with case studies.

Football Manager XXXX, The Sims 3 and Spore are amazing examples.

These games are amongst the most downloaded games in the history of the interwebs. And the producers looked at this and thought to themselves:

"SECURE ROM IT! STEAM VALIDATE IT! CONCEAL EVERY COPY IN A SAFE!"

No... no... you're investing in security? Really? cause... it will be cracked... in a week... by kids... who live in basements... for fun...

So, lets check this out.

You invest what? At least 10k of your budget(and I say "at least 10k" cause I'm a nice guy) in a team of engineers so they can come up with the best way EVER to stop those evil evil pirates.

And Riot launches a free game that makes that amount of money, in a week.

Seams to me, you suck at your job.

Your producing skills, are lame, old fashioned and plain wrong for this day and age.

Actually, they were wrong 20 years ago! Gamers were copying games with floppy disks back then, and you guys had codes in the back of the manuals... that was genius! Cause no one could print a copy of the manual! No one! It was impossible! right?...

I have nothing against security engineers, but they should be working with banks and governments, not in games! Not that games aren't important, its just that we have to face the reality, protecting games its a lost battle!

Skidrow and reloaded are just 2 of the crews that can crack your well engineered game in about a week, on their spare time. Its ridiculous and again, you're only penalising the actual buyer.

Now I shouldn't be giving this sort of advice for free since you all believe that every time someone even smells your BlueRays they should be paying you. But like the middle informed person that I am, I know that sharing knowledge its actually a trait of successful people. So here it goes.

Your business model is broken, and is broken because you think you're selling a grocery product, an hardware product. You haven't really understood what software is and how the internet helps you capitalise on it.

Football Manager XXXX its a yearly title, and that's fine and dandy in a country like america, uk and maybe france and germany and italy. But be serious, you think a person in a country like my own, Portugal, or Lithuania or Poland can actually afford to buy a new Football Manager every year? Every freaking year? And that's the only way of updating your database, by buying a new game every year!
55€ in a country where the minimum wage its very popular and very low, at 475€, its a huge investment. Its about 15% of your month's income.

Now according to you SEGA genius, who already lost the console race and are trying really hard to be Atari's new best friend in the "we were once the big ones but now we're broke has fuck" club, we in countries like Portugal(and I'm not even going to the South America or African countries cause there its just ridiculous) should not be allowed to own the game if we can't afford it.

Well there's were your grocery shop mentality comes in and fucks everything up.

Software its not a closed product, by definition. Its a living thing that can be better used as a door for a myriad of services offered for a relative accessible price! Mapple Story and Riot's League of Legends are amazing examples of video game production well done. But I digress, if its not a finalised product and what you're actually selling its the license to use the current product and to access all of its updates, you have to wake up to a very simple truth about mankind.

We don't get licenses. We don't get it, and we don't really care about it, unless we depend on them to make a living. We don't understand why can't I just use the fucking product if it is there, and I'm not actually stealing it from someone's pocket.

So you have to go the other way around. You have to make people understand that they are not paying for the sole amazing experience of buying a piece of bits, they are actually paying for small favors from your development team, your research teams and your design teams. Tittles like Skyrim will sell millions because it has a huge value and people understand they are buying the artwork of the programmers, designers and writers. They launch the game and they feel they have just been granted a year's license to the country of awesomenessyness in which everything is glittering and dragon-fighting-power-blasting-story-driven deliciousness.


You have an amazing product called Football Manager, and you could actually make a lot more money if you embraced that Football Manager has not enough value to be launched every year!
Instead of that, you should be giving it for free, and then capitalizing on add-ons! Like new leagues, new stadiums, database updates. And if each of these new things were priced around 5€ to 15€, you would have tripled your customer base with the use of a smaller team.

Bah well you're the ones getting the big bucks, you should know better. Bottom line, STOP USING PRODUCTION BUDGET TO DELIVER ANTI-PIRACY TOOLS THAT ONLY PUNISH THE BUYING CLIENT.

Use that money to develop a smarted and more compelling game and to architect a new business model.

Fuck, it has been 20 years and you guys still do the same mistakes!

Just a disclaimer, I have nothing against SEGA, I actually love SEGA, it was my favorite game company when I was a kid. I was a Sega Club member, and I owned every Sega console that my parents could afford. It actually saddens me to see Sega do this. Sega is nothing but an example and I could be talking about EA or Activision or the worst of them all, Ubisoft. those guys are mental about copy protection.

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