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 Jul 27, 2004 - 09:51 AM - by Michael
* Gamerdad on Software "Piracy"

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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft
Gamerdad's got a rant up today on his troubles getting Painkiller to run and play properly thanks to overzealous copy protection schemes.

I couldn't agree more, Gamerdad. I didn't run into those problems with the game, but I'm generally leery of any game for the same reasons.

There is no doubt that piracy of games for computers is at an all-time high. It's simply too easy for someone to find and download entire CD images of computer games. Publishers are fighting back with these awful, awful copy protection schemes and they're now offending the guys that play by the rules. There has to be a better way to protect the games or change the situation. My first goal would be to educate people that stealing games is wrong. The IDSA should be less focused on the ratings system right now and more focused on educating consumers that downloading games is theft, plain and simple. Lay it out there in no uncertain terms and leave out all the stuff about sales, etc. People only get more belligerent when you tell them that you're denying someone of his paycheck by pirating a game. They can't put two and two together to reach up that chain of paying for a game equaling some kind of dollar amount (a reasonable one, but not millionaire dough) for the guy that built the game. Consumers only understand one thing, the game is available freely on the Internet with a minimum of work and that means they don't have to pay for it. Publishers need to change that fundamental thought process.

One great way to do that is including good stuff in the box. Give me a color manual or include a poster. Maybe a CD with all the music from the game? How about liner notes with each game describing some part of development? Music CDs are so much more desirable to me as a consumer than the 99 cents for a song ($10 for an album) on iTunes because I often get lyrics, cool art and some kind of extra info on the band. I don't want to give that up. What game publishers need to do is get the younger consumers to see that there is value in buying that game box that goes beyond just the disc and what's on it. But most of all, there needs to be education of consumers that downloading the stuff is theft. When people hear something enough, they eventually do listen.

Gamerdad's got an excellent point here, too - and one that's been made by the RIAA's enemies all the time.

See, the biggest problem with music CD's is that the publishers don't ever give us (or rarely give us) any extras. Liner notes with the lyrics are even a thing of the past.

Contrast that with DVD movies, wherein you get the director's commentary, promotional trailers, blooper reels, storyboarding, "making of" documentary, and whatever else the director felt like throwing onto the disc as well as the movie - consider that it takes multiple days to go through the Extended Edition versions of any one of the Lord of the Rings movies from Peter Jackson, and that the Extended Edition of Return of the King is going to be a whopping 50 minutes longer than the theatrical release.

I mean, seriously, WOW.

I'm not quite as fanatical in my opinion as Gamerdad, by the way. I don't see tremendous problems with the way that The Underdogs, a repository of what is termed by some "abandonware", operates.

Why? Because The Underdogs provides a valuable service, and try to do so in as legitimate a manner as possible. If a publisher asks them to take down a title - as Konami or other ESA members have occasionally done - they take it down, and replace the download link with a link to the game's publsher. No big problem there.

As for the rest of the titles, The Underdogs function as a historical repository. This is an important thing; floppy disks, contrary to popular belief, do NOT last forever even if "properly stored." Neither do CD media, for that matter. The average floppy disk is good for about a decade, give or take; beyond that, the chance of it demagnetizing, and losing the data, gets high enough that it can't be ignored. The Underdogs, provided the game manufacturer hasn't decided they object to the game being carried there, provides a way for users to recover lost games, which I consider to be a noble goal.


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