"To all those people promoting our game for free: Fuck you!"

Stardock Corporation, Inc.
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This is basically what the latest post from Stardock’s CEO comes down to when he says the following:

But…but…what about those hundreds of thousands of pirates? Yep. Demigod is heavily pirated. And make no mistake, piracy pisses me off.  If you’re playing a pirated copy right now, if you’re one of those people on Hamachi or GameRanger playing a pirated copy and have been for more than a few days, then you should either buy it or accept that you’re a thief and quit rationalizing it any other way.

Emphasis mine.

So what exactly is pissing Frogboy off? That Piracy helped make his game stunningly famous even before it hit the stores? That file-sharing did free advertisement for Demigod to the scale that it catapulted it to the 3rd place in sales (possibly higher if you count online sales). That Pirates urged each other to actually support Stardock if they can, to promote this kind of initiative?

Frogboy should be on his fucking knees praising Pirates at this point for all the free publicity they gave the title, not simply by the fact that they gave the game to each other to try before it officially hit the stores, but also for the controversy this raised on popular news sources which brought further spotlight to the game.

And this is, in short, the reply: “Fuck you, you’re goddamn thieves! You piss me off!”

So how exactly are pirates thieves Frogboy? Do you subscribe that every downloaded copy is a lost sale? Do you not consider for a second that the people downloading games maybe can’t afford them (so they wouldn’t buy it anyway) but they still do free word-of-mouth publicity for you? Do you consider that perhaps for others the quality of the game does not validate the price but they may still buy it just because they are pirates?

I used to think that Stardock was enlightened enough to figure out that file-sharing is caring, that pirates are, as gamers, on their side. But this latest post makes me reconsider. I’ve become a big supporter of Stardock just because of what (I assumed) their take on Piracy was and as a result I’ve bought every game I wanted to play from them. I will reconsider that as well.

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27 thoughts on “"To all those people promoting our game for free: Fuck you!"

  1. People were already excited for Demigod – he didn't need your "free advertising". And Stardock is his business – not yours. You have no right (and no clue) to say what is best for Stardock.

    "Do you subscribe that every downloaded copy is a lost sale?" – Not every downloaded copy is a lost sale, but certainly some are. And the ones that aren't lost sales are copies that still have no right to be played at all.

    "pirates are, as gamers, on their side." What the fuck does that mean – as gamers? Gamers, as far as they're concerned, are customers – and pirates are not customers. They don't care one bit about the pirates, nor should they.

    1. What the fuck does that mean – as gamers? Gamers, as far as they're concerned, are customers – and pirates are not customers. They don't care one bit about the pirates, nor should they.

      Some pirates are gamers. Some gamers are pirates. Gamers <> legitimate buyer.

      They should care about pirates for the same reason they cared about DRM. It makes business sense.

    2. People were already excited for Demigod – he didn't need your "free advertising". And Stardock is his business – not yours. You have no right (and no clue) to say what is best for Stardock.

      If you think that a game with such small advertising and a very particular and unique gameplay (ie, not one of the classic ones people already know they like) can just like that achieve MMORPG sales then you're simply deluded. While of course there was a lot of excitement, the amazing sales can much better be attributed to word of mouth about lack of DRM and many people pirating than anything else. In a similar way that the flop of the Super-advertised spore deserves part of its fate to the attack from anti-DRM and pirates.

    3. Not every downloaded copy is a lost sale, but certainly some are. And the ones that aren't lost sales are copies that still have no right to be played at all.

      And for the some of those lost sales, there won sales by the fact that free advertising was done through Piracy. Furthermore Whether people have no right to do something which causes no harm is very debatable.

  2. As a software developer myself, I'm intimately aware of the sheer volume of effort poured into creating a new game. Frogboy is completely correct. Those who illegally download the software and continue to play the game are thieves and should purchase a copy.

    And let's give credit where credit is due. Stardock is so much better than other game publishers in this regard. Demigod shipped with no DRM on the disk, because honest and paying customers hate it. Frogboy doesn't care if you share a single license for a LAN party. He doesn't mind if you download the game illegally, provided you purchase a copy within a few days of play. This is a much more enlightened approach to handling piracy. Most of the video game industry gets this wrong and ships draconian DRM.

    And let's face it: players who can't afford the game or think the game isn't worth the sticker price shouldn't be playing it. Wait six months. The price will come down and solve both of these problems.

    1. I would like to point out however that one of the reasons the price decreases is due to a proliferation of Used copies on the market being sold back to stores such as Game Stop. The developers make NOTHING on sales of Used games, and you must wait much longer than 6 months for most of the big name games to come down in price that are still "New" and that the developer makes money off of it.

      Fable 2 is still going for about $40-50 used OR new and it came out around 7 months ago, for example. I doubt we'll see an "affordable" (<$25) Fable 2 for at LEAST another 6-10 months, and I am being quite conservative. Deadspace and Left 4 Dead aren't coming down any time soon either, and I found a used copy of Halo 2 STILL selling for $25 within this past year, even after the 360, release of Halo 3, age of the game, and other factors. There are MUCH newer releases are selling for half that price used or new.

        1. You totally missed the point of what I was saying.

          At this point, what would it matter if I purchased a used copy of Halo 2 (for example) for $25, borrowed my friend's copy/went over to their house everyday to play, or pirated it for free? A lot of people WILL wait to pick up a used copy for $25 and $0 profit to the developer, and following your logic this is perfectly fine… but you, as a developer, are NOT making any money off the sale, and NEITHER IS YOUR COMPANY. How do you justify the difference? These are not people who would have, or perhaps even economically could have, paid sticker price of $50-60 in the first place.

          Your argument is not logically consistent and is quite shortsighted. That kid who can only afford to pirate or buy used today will have a 9-5 job in 10 years and be purchasing his own games simply because he will then have the resources. Why would you isolate a large portion of your future consumer base over an emotional kneejerk?

          1. This isn't "my argument." If the video game companies had your kind of insight, they could sell games to students with school IDs at a reduced cost, much like pricing for software from Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, and Borland. On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with a game publisher asking for full retail if they choose to do so, and they may have a good reason to. There are a few big differences between these two markets that would complicate a business strategy that fosters a future audience.

            1. Unlike productivity software, customers are not likely to be playing the same games in ten years.
            2. Unlike big software giants, few game publishers (or their brands) are likely to survive ten years.
            3. Games tend to be significantly cheaper than productivity software.

          2. So if the statements you are putting forth (such as : "And let's face it: players who can't afford the game or think the game isn't worth the sticker price shouldn't be playing it".) are not yours, then why don't you come up with your "own" argument? If you agree with the sentiments you put forth, then it IS YOUR ARGUMENT. If you don't agree with the things you are saying, then why say them?

            Now, there is nothing wrong with game publishers asking for full value, I never said there was. There is a market of people with the income to afford games at a full cover price and who do so willingly and happily, and even pay monthly rates for games, compounding to be much more than the cover price for any game. However these people are generally not the people in question when it comes to pirating (save those who want a demo, but they're going to buy the game anyway). The people in question ARE generally the people who could not afford the game at cover price in the first place, thus either buying used or pirating (both of which result in $0 profit for companies), and this does tend to be a younger market.

            Again, you display remarkable confusion at my post. I am not sure why you would think I would imply that a 15 year old buying Halo II used would somehow purchase Halo II new and at cover price when he turns 25, but I will clarify, and use myself and my friends as examples because I am part of this younger generation that is turning into "real" customers. When I was a kid, I picked up a really cool-looking game, Diablo, used for like $10. I couldn't afford anything more expensive because I didn't get an allowance and my parents discouraged violent video games. Now Blizzard is getting ready to put out Diablo III, and I am getting ready to pay full cover price because I can now afford to purchase the game New. Similarly, my friends who passed around the same tired copy of Marathon (which was probably Used in the first place) have recently purchased Limited Collectors' Editions of Halo III. And also, the group of kids who collectively only owned a single N64 and an assortment of used games all own their own Wiis and purchase games like Zelda and SSB new at cover price, as well as shiny new DS's and the most recent Pokemon games. Yes, many of us still buy Pokemon 14 or so years later. Kids who went over to their friend's house to play GTA in secret have purchased the newest version for themselves, since they are over 17. It doesn't stop there, and it doesn't have to be 10 years, it can be the 2-3 it takes them to get old enough to buy their own M-rated games.

            The only reason we are loyal customers is because:
            1) We have had the ability to play these games at low to no cost (but giving no money to the developer in the process)
            2) We know what we like in a game due to the ability to try out games without dropping $50 every time
            3) We now have disposable income due to "real" and part time jobs meaning we can AFFORD to buy New
            4) Through our experience and knowledge of a developer's track record, we actively want to support developers who's products we have enjoyed in the past.
            5) THEY CAUGHT US WHEN WE WERE KIDS

            BUT REMEMBER, we could not have had that experience to become series and developer-loyal without our ability to try these games out for more or less free. When my friend lent me his Baldur's Gate discs which he had purchased used at Game Stop, Bioware earned NO MONEY off my plays OR his. If I had pirated Baldur's Gate, they still would have earned NO MONEY. I never would have paid cover price for Baldur's Gate when I was 10. Does that mean I "shouldn't have been playing it"? I certainly hope not, because now all a company has to do is slap on the Baldur's Gate title and I'll buy it at full price, preordered, no questions asked. It is lucky for Bioware (among other companies) that I was able to play so many of their games in my early gaming years for free because I'll buy anything they put out that looks good. Meanwhile there are hundreds of potentially good games on the shelf that I pass over because I know nothing about it and have no way of seriously testing it out.

            Also, had developers openly stated "Fuck you little gamer, you shouldn't be playing this game if you can't pay full price, you're a thief and infringing our precious copy rights" directly or indirectly to me and my friends when we were in the stage where we could not afford cover price, we would have given THEM a big "fuck you" and not bought their games New just out of spite, because as future loyal customers and avid gamers, we would be (are) thoroughly offended, and because we were kids who HATE it when adults tell us we can't or shouldn't do something. We would tell (have told) our friends not to buy the game, we would trash talk the company, the game, everything.

            It's a BAD idea to isolate a part of the consumer base over unfounded belief, ESPECIALLY the youth… and the idea that pirating is somehow MASSIVELY harming the gaming industry is an unfounded belief.

        2. You totally missed the point of what I was saying.

          At this point, what would it matter if I purchased Halo 2 (for example) for $25, borrowed my friend's copy/went over to their house everyday to play, or pirated it for free? A lot of people WILL wait to pick up a used copy for $25 and $0 profit to the developer, and following your logic this is perfectly fine… but you, as a developer, are NOT making any money off the sale, and NEITHER IS YOUR COMPANY. How do you justify the difference? These are not people who would have, or perhaps even economically could have, paid sticker price of $50-60+ in the first place.

          Your argument is not logically consistent and is quite shortsighted. That kid who can only afford to pirate or buy used today will have a 9-5 job in 10 years and be purchasing his own games simply because he will then have the resources. Why would you isolate a large portion of your future consumer base over an emotional kneejerk?

    2. As a software developer myself, I'm intimately aware of the sheer volume of effort poured into creating a new game. Frogboy is completely correct. Those who illegally download the software and continue to play the game are thieves and should purchase a copy.

      Just because something takes a lot of effort does not mean that automatically it should be rewarded. It could take me a lot of effort to build a Telegraph system. Does that mean I have to be rewarded even though it's already an obsolete technology?

      As for calling people thieves for violating copyright, I might as well call them murderers. Both characterizations would be wrong and used only for the emotional baggage.

      1. As for calling people thieves for violating copyright, I might as well call them murderers. Both characterizations would be wrong and used only for the emotional baggage.

        Fair enough. Replace my use of the word "thief" with "an infringer of the copyright."

        1. And you can call me that as much as you wish, for I consider copyright law to be obsolete and harmful.

          1. I consider copyright law obsolete and harmful too, but mostly in reference to the forgotten works deteriorating in archives, illegal to preserve. We stand to lose a great deal of our cultural heritage just so Steamboat Willie and the earliest Superman comics can forestall their fall into the public domain.

            In the case of recently released video games, I think copyright law is spot on. If you enjoy playing video games, the best way to promote even more great games is to buy the games. The investors and businesspeople ultimately decide how many game developers to fund next year.

          2. The flaw in your argument is that assumption that without copyrights, game companies wouldn't be able to make money. Like for the music industry, this is not necessarily true. Musicians for example have already started figuring out ways to make money without resorting to selling infinite goods through artificial scarcities (specifically, selling finite goods, such as their time or material commodities). Game developers can do the same and in fact Stardock altready recognises this to some degrees, which is why they offer their games more as services than as products (which is incidentally why they do not mind piracy)

    3. And let's give credit where credit is due. Stardock is so much better than other game publishers in this regard.

      I agree, which is why, as I've said, I have been supporting them more than everyone else. Much more than I would generally have done. However this does not excuse them insulting me (Even though I bought DG from the pre-orders, I still identify as a pirate)

    4. And let's face it: players who can't afford the game or think the game isn't worth the sticker price shouldn't be playing it. Wait six months. The price will come down and solve both of these problems.

      Why not? It's doing no harm. At all. It's probably doing the opposite of harm, spreading word-of-mouth advertising. And as Anath said, prices don't come down so easily (and I've got quite a few examples myself)

      Look, I agree that there is a moral proposition to buy what you play, if you can afford it, but this is different than stealing.

  3. In all honesty, the way I see it they might have a slight reason to be angry. People playing multi-player using unauthorized copies can directly cost Stardock money. If the large number of "pirates" exceeds what their servers and net connection can currently handle without lag, They would have to spend money to upgrade but get relatively little back. I guess my thought here is that software ought to be free as in freedom and usually free as in cost, but people don't have the right to unauthorized use of someone else's computer. Of course, if they let other people run the server software for the game, this problem goes away as well.

    1. Allowing pirates to play the product for free, does not mean that the service of providing multiplayer experience should also be given for free. In fact, that is a great way to monetize their product without being opposed to piracy, and stardock already recognises that.

      1. Exactly. I really don't think I could agree more.
        What I had been reading, however, suggested that in this particular case, the multiplayer was free and they were having trouble dealing with the large number of (mostly piratical) users.

        1. Not exactly. Pirates couldn't play MP for free (no valid serial) but they were still pinging some other servers to find updates for the game, and while that was not much by itself, with 100.000 downloads, it practically DDOSed them and brought down the whole system. Frogboy admited that it was basically their own fault, not the pirates. The link I gave gives some small info on this but you can also find a more detailed explanation if you look around the announcements forum 😉

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