Extra Credits: Digital Rentals and the Online Arcade

This week, we discuss two alternate monetization methods that could work for certain games.

Show Notes:

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Recent Comments:

  • Honestly, I had hoped that arcades were dead and buried. Like Yahtzee is fond of saying, creating games with limited lives really shouldn't be relevant in today's market. It doesn't mean it can't be, but it really ought to not be.

    As for rentals... Sure, why not? I enjoy the notion of "owning" my own games, even if it's through a digital distribution service, in the sense that I have my account with my progress that sticks around. If I can rent games IN ADDITION to buying them, then sure. Why not? I'd just rather it weren't instead of it.

    The future offers us a lot of exotic pricing methods, but I don't believe out-and-out buying a game or, at most, subscribing to it can ever be topped. There's a sense inherent in that which implies you're getting everything. The more games move to paid DLC and microtransactions, the more it feels like I own bits and pieces and I'm always being squeezed for cash. It's less personal, it's less complete, and it makes me that much less interested to commit.

  • Actually, the ideal model, I'd think, would be a pay-on-the-back-end sort of model. This has been experimented with in Silicon Valley and the music industry to some success.

    In any case, considering I just paid for a textbook (not too expensive I suppose...$55 with shipping for a new version--it's for a MOOC I'm involved in--Networks: Friends, Money, and Bytes), it made me rethink some things. Namely that had I waited long enough, I would have been able to torrent it just as I have with other textbooks that are lying around somewhere on my old laptop. But, in this case, I need the book now in order to complete the homework on time (it's all optional, but I want knowledge).

    So what we pay for isn't so much the product, or the service, but when we get it. See, demand for these products isn't constant. When a piece of software, movie, album, whatever, comes out, there's lots of demand for it initially since nobody has it. But as more and more people buy it, there's less and less demand as demand gets satiated.

    However, the prices remain the same, while the pirates work to break DRM (or upload the ebook/pdf or rip the movie from DVD or whatever). Whether colleges charging $90 for a used textbook (of which the professor gets $3, mind you, as one of my former professors told me...in other words, I can pirate the book, buy the prof. a cup of starbucks, and we're clear), the MAFIAA going way overboard with their rates for music/movies, AAA houses price-gouging consumers or even unscrupulous indie developers charging more than their game is worth, at some point, you have to ask what planet the distributors live on.

    Do I mind paying full price on day 0? Actually, yes, I do, which is why I don't purchase most things on day 0. However, do I mind paying at all for a product I can't get for free? Nope. If I want the product now and can't wait for the internet to do its work, then there's a certain premium I pay. But at some point, the DRM breaks, the media is uploaded, and anyone looking for it on Google will find a way to get it, whether from MegaUpload before, or another site instead.

    Killing Napster didn't stop music piracy--it proliferated it by making the MAFIAA seem like big, bad overlords, using the legal system to hammer down on a few kids making a fun program. Techies see lawyers as a necessary evil (if a rival company lawyers up, I have to also). Anyone who's taken Game Theory generally dislikes the idea of them as the only winners in a prisoner's dilemma over legal fees. And because of the justified cynicism of who actually makes the laws, and who they ultimately are beholden to (hint hint, people with deep pockets), that there's also something cool about flying the flag and saying "we're sticking it to The Man!".

    That said, in this new, internet age, that which cost thousands upon thousands of dollars can now be made free (education with Coursera/Udacity/EdX, music, etc.). The commodity product becomes the advertisement, and the money will come from more personalized services that depend on an on-time service model, such as a company receiving a candidate now that has certain coursework completed from Coursera/Udacity, or seeing a music artist on tour now (still kicking myself for missing Lindsey Stirling's first tour, because it's clear that she brings the house down, unlike what those dumb America's Got Talent judges say).

    The whole issue of "pirates have no morals" is a false one. This pirate has morals. Lindsey Stirling is on a never-pirate list for me, for instance. Are there others? They come on a case-by-case basis. Suffice to say, when a professor gets $3 for a sale of a $90 used textbook, that's a business model ripe for piracy to change, with very little harm done on a whole.

    Plus, have you ever thought about why piracy may even work? Namely because it's, repeat after me:

    More convenient to pirate than to pay the price.

    Remember, piracy isn't just about money. It's about the time value of money. If I make $5 of disposable income per hour, then it takes me 12 hours of work to get that AAA game for its MSRP. However, if I can wait a few weeks and pirate it and do something else in the meantime, that makes far more sense for me.

    The reason iTunes is so successful is that Steve Jobs put it best: "if you spend 10 minutes to find a $1 song, you're working for less than minimum wage". Industries that claim they're being hurt by piracy need to realize that their DRM will eventually be broken. If it's lousy DRM, it'll be broken in a week. If it's fantastic DRM, maybe a little longer. I'm sure everyone's seen the EC episode on this.

    Moral of the story? The people who publish the media no longer control price. The internet does. They can either adapt to that fact, or they can howl to the moon. We saw what Google and Wikipedia did with SOPA. I'm sure they'll do similar things with any serious anti-piracy legislation as well.

  • [img:3jvu837l]http://i.imgur.com/LFyp0.gif[/img:3jvu837l]

  • EC said: "Here's a bunch of ways we can sell and buy games"

    Ilya something said: "y by da gamez wen wii kan an shoood getz dem fo freezeez?"

    You said: "u shooodnet getz dem leik dat, her r som raisins y!"

    Other people said "her r som resins y ilya iz wrong, her r some y wraith iz wrong"

    Hope that helps :)

    You don't need a raisin, to eat a riesen.

    [img:34opd087]http://www.storck.us/imperia/md/images/inet_us/key_riesen_usa_2.jpg[/img:34opd087]

  • Actually, the ideal model, I'd think, would be a pay-on-the-back-end sort of model. This has been experimented with in Silicon Valley and the music industry to some success.

    If you're saying what I think you're saying, I've been thinking in very similar terms lately myself. It would be conceivable that the free-to-play model could be adapted (for example) so that players provide resources (distributed computing) rather than money, and then those resources could be "rented out" to other companies for things like web hosting etc. Think 'Folding@Home' type technology. Give players credits to spend in some cash shop and that gives proper incentive.

    This way, everyone wins. Players don't have to hand over money, and can hand over computing resources instead (which they frequently have plenty going spare, so it's no skin off their noses). The developer gets paid by providing those resources to other companies who need them for whatever reason, and those companies are the ones who essentially pay the bills. This would make piracy not only a non-issue, but an active benefit (developers would want to get their work out to as many players as possible to create as many resources as they could, and services like BitTorrent would be a perfect way to do it at next to no cost to the developers).

    I think that could really work.


    Plus, have you ever thought about why piracy may even work? Namely because it's, repeat after me:

    More convenient to pirate than to pay the price.

    Exactly what I said in the beginning - piracy is a question of service.

    If developers could get out of this false mindset that "piracy == theft", and instead started treating it as if it were just another competitor (which, for all intents and purposes, it is), they might be better equipped to fight it, and we would (hopefully) end up with better services and products coming out of them.

    By treating it as theft (which, as I pointed out before - it isn't), they are never going to win against it, regardless of how 'illegal' it may or may not be. You simply can't lock it down with DRM, because sooner or later, it *WILL* be broken, regardless of how 'good' it is. Fundamental rule of computing:

    If a hacker has physical access to it, then it's only a matter of time before it's compromised

    That will almost certainly be true for as long as we have computers.


    The reason iTunes is so successful is that Steve Jobs put it best: "if you spend 10 minutes to find a $1 song, you're working for less than minimum wage". Industries that claim they're being hurt by piracy need to realize that their DRM will eventually be broken. If it's lousy DRM, it'll be broken in a week. If it's fantastic DRM, maybe a little longer. I'm sure everyone's seen the EC episode on this.

    Haha, yeh, Jobs certainly knew what he was on about. He also said:

    Make something easy to do, and people are more likely to do it

    The success of iTunes and the iPhone are certainly testament that he knew what he was bangin' on about ;)

    As stated above, if developers could change their false view that "piracy == theft" and instead see it as simply a superior competitor service, then things could actually move forward.

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    I wasn't going to reply to this, but seeing as I'm here now:

    And the thing you keep failing to grasp, is that it is the very definition of theft:

    And what you're failing to grasp is that quibbling over the semantics is completely irrelevant.

    So great, you're arguing yourself from being a criminal because you are a thief to just being a criminal of "copyright infringement". Forgive me for finding that overly technical definition a little too insignifigant while I was using more direct language to direct attention to the actually important part:

    You
    Are
    A
    Criminal

    Dance around it all you want, it doesn't matter what semantic quibbles you have about what qualifies as "depriving" or not. Taking what doesn't belong to you by another name is still stealing.

    I use the word "stealing" because obviously you don't take the word "copyright infringement" seriously enough. Obviously, I had to use smaller words with you.

    *SIGH*

    It troubles me that you think copyright infringement == theft. That's the same as saying "shoplifting == murder". No, it doesn't. The law recognises a clear difference in both the act and scale of those crimes, just as it recognises a clear difference between both the act and scale of copyright infringement and theft. The fact that you fail to recognise that yourself is exactly the problem the industry is also having, and is my main gripe.

    But ok, let's indulge this little fantasy for a moment, and say that copyright infringement is indeed the same thing as theft.

    I was under the impression that the argument we were having went like this:

    [list=1:2oqk71qo][*:2oqk71qo]We were suggesting that certain aspects of piracy (like abandonware / orphanware) should be added as "fair usage" cases - IE "exceptions to copyright infringement".

    [/*:m:2oqk71qo]
    [*:2oqk71qo]Your principal objection to that was that they shouldn't, because they are theft and it deprives the developer in some way.

    [/*:m:2oqk71qo]
    [*:2oqk71qo]We pointed out that it doesn't deprive the developer, and that it clearly isn't theft, at least in certain cases.

    [/*:m:2oqk71qo]
    [*:2oqk71qo]You replied that it doesn't have to deprive the developer for it to be theft.

    [/*:m:2oqk71qo]
    [*:2oqk71qo]I pointed out that the definition of theft is that it has to deprive someone of something, and also that even the law itself doesn't consider copyright infringement as theft, thus highlighting that we're not the only ones who have this this view.[/*:m:2oqk71qo][/list:o:2oqk71qo]

    So,now you're claiming that it's "just semantics", and the term "copyright infringement" can be exchanged for the word "theft" and still retain all it's meaning? That is, after all, what it means when you say something is "just semantics".

    So ok, that must mean then that your principal objection as to why these things can't be exceptions to copyright infringement is because... they are against copyright infringement...?

    lolwot?

    It crossed my mind that maybe we were talking at cross-purposes and that this wasn't the debate you thought we were having, but then you say this:

    This argument is and was about the justifications for piracy, especially on some moral or rational basis.

    So, you *DID* get it? So then, why are you bangin on about "you are a criminal"? Yes, under the current law, those who pirate are still considered criminals. That was never a question, so well done for stating the obvious.

    We were arguing that they shouldn't be, at least not in certain cases. Your argument against that was that it was still theft, and we said "no it isn't". You can dance around it all you like, but you can't escape the cold, hard *FACT* that it isn't stealing - It's *COPYING*. Situations like abandonware / orphanware are only illegal by technicality, because *TECHNICALLY* they violate copyright. Our argument is that things like this should be formally recognised as exceptions.

    If you really believe that it's "just semantics" as you claim, then you clearly don't understand the reason for copyright to exist in the first place. The whole reason it exists is exactly *BECAUSE* copying something can't ever be theft, by definition, as you are never depriving anyone of anything. So objecting to something being added as an exception to copyright law on the grounds that it is theft is null and void, because it can't be.

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