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Pirates tell developer why they steal his games

6:13 AM on 08.17.2008

Jim Sterling

Former Reviews Editor

Indie game developer Cliff Harris has been trying to crack into the mind of a software pirate, calling for those who steal his work to confidentially come forward and explain themselves. Promising an amnesty of sorts, Cliff wants to know exactly why a vast amount of people take issue with paying for his game:

I know what I don’t know. And what I don’t know is WHY people pirate MY games. I might be able to get a general idea as to why people pirate stuff *in general* from reading warez forums, and every other story on digg, but I’m not interested in the general case. I want to improve my business, and ensure I stay afloat, and to do that, it would be mad to sit in the corner and ignore the opinions of that section of the public who pirate my games.

It's a unique idea -- reaching out to pirates instead of vilifying them -- and he seems to have gotten the knowledge he was after. This is the general summary of what the pirates told him:

• The information wants to/free anarchists think copyright shouldn't exist.
• Games are too expensive.
• The quality of gaming is too uneven.
• DRM is hurting the legitimate customers.
• Going to the shops is annoying.
• Because piracy is easy to do with low risk for getting caught.

Always amusing when a pirate accuses DRM of making them pirate, especially as Harris countered that by explaining his games don't even have DRM, save one. He also mentioned dropping the price of his game, as well as being pushed by piracy to improve the quality. A refreshing approach -- as many developers sit back and complain about piracy, at least one dev is being quite pro-active about the issue. It certainly won't stop everyone stealing from him, but maybe it'll guarantee at least a few more sales.

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