Ten Golden Rules of fighting videogame piracy

In our last set of Ten Golden Rules, we shared with you the sacred doctrine of the videogame pirate, a brave and noble freedom fighter who battles for mankind against the evil automatons in charge of running the world.

Since we are all about equal rights however, we now present this — the sacred doctrine of the anti-piracy game publisher, a brave and noble upholder of justice who battles for mankind against the evil pirates who fund terrorism and bring us one step closer to a Communist Hell. 

After helping out all the pirates last time, it’s only right and fair that we help the poor victims of their crimes. Such poverty-stricken, small time businesses like Electronic Arts and Activision who do all they can to stave off bankruptcy for just one more day. Just one … more day. 

The battle, however, is about to be decided for good. All videogame publishers, prepare to be furnished with the ultimate weapon — The Ten Golden Rules of fighting videogame piracy.

1. You own everything, including the customer’s soul:

As a publisher, there is nothing more dangerous to you than statutory rights and the concept of ownership. This is why the EULA was invented — the End User License Agreement. The first step to tackling piracy is to impose your iron will over the people who legally bought your game first. Remember, when a customer “purchases” your software, they do not own anything — they are paying for the right to play your game, and you can take that right away whenever you want, as well as anything else you fancy. 

EULAs always hold up in court, and will allow you all kinds of privileges, such as access to the customer’s wife, their first born or even seven oxen from The King himself. So much power … it makes you want to salivate, doesn’t it?

2. Limited installs = more money:

It is a well known fact that if you don’t limit the amount of times a person can install a purchased game, they will definitely install it on 500,000 computers around the world. This is known as “Evil Game Clone Syndrome.” Those who then play these evil copies will suddenly grow peg legs and eyepatches and start torrenting eighteen billion gigglebytes of videogames every second, thus bringing the entire industry to its knees and letting terrorism win. 

The only way to combat Evil Game Clone Syndrome, or EGCS, is to make sure that the consumer cannot make unauthorized copies. Not only will you be saving yourself a few sales, you’ll also be saving souls. Souls which you can then harvest thanks to the EULA!

3. Make sure your DRM is detrimental to the paying customer’s experience:

Nothing increases user confidence more than hearing a story about how your Digital Rights Management is eating up RAM like it’s free candy, or imposing strict limitations to the point where fun is being actively drained. As soon as people hear about something like that, they actually order two copies of every game containing the aforementioned DRM — and that’s a fact!

People don’t play games to have fun, they play them to have a miserable time. Pirates are actually very envious of paying customers because while they enjoy a DRM-free crack, the people who coughed up cash are experiencing the joys of restriction and the wonderfully persistent fear that their “right” to play a game will one day be taken away from them thanks to a publisher’s capricious whim. That’s something we all want from gaming, and those poor pirates have to do without it. Once enough of the thieving bastards hear about how awesomely repugnant DRM is, however, they will soon flock to your doorstep, credit cards in hand.

4. Lawsuits endear you to the public:

Nothing wins people over to your side more than a harsh and dubious lawsuit. Suing people puts you in the same league as Jack Thompson, Immersion and Disney’s legal department — American heroes who are as beloved by the public as they are respected. 

Paying some shady attorneys to employ borderline-illegal methods of tracking down potential software pirates and then extorting money out of them with threats is, simply put, a really good idea

5. Blame piracy for your game not selling well:

Although piracy is obviously a scourge that must be stamped out, its existence does at least have its uses, and can be fully exploited for PR purposes.

After all, everybody knows that Dream Pinball 3D would have been the most commercially successful videogame in the history of the PC games industry had it not been for evil pirates. If you’ve made a shit game, you don’t ever have to admit that poor design is the reason it sold three copies. It is obviously thanks to those evil pirates that the game’s sales suck so bad. 

Just ignore the fact that Valve seems to be doing okay for itself and instead pretend that Gabe Newell is so poor, he has to eat his own clothes to survive. 

6. While you’re at it, go after used games as well:

Okay, so it’s not piracy, but who’s really keeping score? After all, most of the DRM you’ve stuffed into your game is merely to try and prevent second hand copies being a viable alternative, so you may as well run with the ball and try to eradicate the system completely.

The games industry is a special little snowflake which means that it should be totally exempt from a practice which happens in nearly every single other industry apart from food. You should always whine and complain about second hand items as if the games industry is the only one affected by it. It should be quite clear to everyone that eBay exists solely to sell used software and nothing else. 

So please, complain about second hand games at every available opportunity. You probably won’t look like a money grubbing control freak. 

7. Nine out of ten gamers prefer SecuROM:

Gamers love SecuROM because it has “secu” in it, which is Latin for “really good and harmless thing that makes you feel happy.”

The average consumer trusts this copy protection format above all else for the honest and open methods of its employment and the complete lack of anything sinister hiding inside it. In fact, it’s so welcomed by customers that you don’t really need to mention anywhere on your product’s package or in its manual that you are using it. 

Trust us on this one and just … forget … to disclose that your games use SecuROM. It’s such a minor little detail that you’d risk boring your customers if you told them about it, and you don’t want to do that, do you? Let’s just pretend that we never even thought about putting it in, along with all this Malware. Did we say Malware? We meant Funware.

8. Make your game good enough to justify its legal price tag:

 

 

Nah, we added this one as a joke.

9. Always try and fuck up someone’s computer with copy protection:

The best kind of copy protection is the kind that screws everything up. You can find some really good stuff that will prevent the purchased product from even working at all, especially if previous versions of the DRM is already installed. Of course, the consumer won’t know what’s on their PC because thanks to rule 7, we haven’t told them, so we can really do some damage here.

Now, you may be asking yourself why it’s necessary to total somebody’s computer when all they did was buy your game. You can be forgiven for questioning the motive here, but it’s very simple — computers may be used to make copies of games. If we destroy every single computer in the world, then nobody will ever copy a game AGAIN!

10. Never win:

The most important rule about the fight against piracy is this — never, under any circumstances, never ever ever actually win. If you were to somehow succeed in your battle against software pirates, where would you be? Yes, people would be forced to purchase your games, but think of all the things you’d lose in exchange.

Without piracy, you no longer have an excuse to put in restrictive authorization processes and limitations that make you feel powerful.Without piracy, you lose your ways of sneaking in useless “DRM” that isn’t intended to stop piracy, but actually renders the game useless as a potential resale and second hand copy. Without piracy, you lose a scapegoat when your game tanks. Without piracy, you lose the chance to recoup thousands of dollars in potential lawsuits.

Face it, you love piracy for the same reason that governments love terrorism.

It lets you get away with murder.

Jim Sterling