View From The Road: Ubisoft Needs To Use a Carrot

VanBasten

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squid5580 said:
Sure but BlockBuster only rents them for a week (well at least the one in my area). There is not that many games I couldn't beat it that amount of time. Then it will become that much harder to justify spending the 60 - 70 dollars on top of the $8 I already spent on it.

I don't see how that is any better than pirating the game.
Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I've read somewhere that 45% of the rental fee goes to the publisher. So for them renting games is almost like charging for a time restricted demo.

Also if you rent a game and beat it in a week without the desire to play it ever again, chances are you would have regretted paying 60$ for it a lot more than 8$, or wouldn't have paid 60$ in the first place if you weren't sure it will be worth it. This way publishers get some money from people who probably won't buy the game, and customers get to play the games they probably won't buy. In my opinion, video game rental is pretty decent deal for both publishers and customers.
 

squid5580

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Susan Arendt said:
squid5580 said:
Susan Arendt said:
squid5580 said:
Susan Arendt said:
Luke Cartner said:
Susan Arendt said:
Loonerinoes said:
You know what's funny? Hearing the pirate crackers saying the exact same thing ages ago over and over and over.

Isn't this exactly what they said when they cracked AC2? "Focus on making a better game next time rather than a DRM that hurts your customers?" Ring any bells yet?!
"Better" in what way? Because Assassin's Creed 2 ain't exactly a shitty game.
Speaking as someone who neither pirated or brought the game isn't it? From what People tell me its a repeat of the first game only a few hundred years latter (the first game which I got bored of 3rd the way through) and in addition you have to be online at all times to play it.
I'm sorry the DRM was enough to put me off a risky buy (because of EB games silly no online games return policy).
See what the make better games argument is, is basically if if the game publishes put the energy they put into DRM they would probably be better off..
Personally I miss shareware and try before you buy games. At least they acknowledged the situation.
Well, while I can certainly see how someone could say it's a repeat of the first game - there are clearly deep similarities - it's such a vast improvement that it's a bit of an unfair comparison.

I do, however, certainly agree that there should be a way to play a PC game - any PC game - before you buy it.
Susan I am gonna correct you here. There should be a way to play any game before you buy it (provided it has a place to put the demo). 60 to 70 bucks (being Canadian the average price is 64-69) is quite a bit to put down on a product you may not like. Gamestop in my area offers a 7 day money back guarantee now. Don't like it take it back and get a full refund in store credit. It benefits the consumer, it benefits Gamestop but does it benefit the developers? Afterall you know that returned copy is going back on the shelves for 5 bucks less.
You can rent a console game to try it before you buy it. You can't do the same with a PC game. Thus my emphasis on PC games.
Sure but BlockBuster only rents them for a week (well at least the one in my area). There is not that many games I couldn't beat it that amount of time. Then it will become that much harder to justify spending the 60 - 70 dollars on top of the $8 I already spent on it.

I don't see how that is any better than pirating the game. Other than it isn't showing up on a P2P network which they can track and then point thier fingers at. It is great for me, for B.B., but once again the developers get the short end of the stick.
Blockbuster, and other rental outlets, pay to purchase the games, so while it's not a one-to-one ratio, the publisher and developer still see money. I assure you, they would prefer that you rent the game than pirate it.
I understand that an individual store of a franchise like BB pays more than I would at GS for a copy of the game. I used to do the game ordering at Jumbo back in the day (first time being a gamer actually paid off) and used to think "why are we paying $20 more when we could just go up the street and pay less" (I don't have a head for business stuff). The disconnect for me is they would buy it either way. BB has to have it on the shelves or they lose money. So the developers get the initial $20 (probably not that much but like I said no business sense) but lose 52 sales per year per store. There is 2 BBs in my small town. That is 104 lost sales (theoretically of course). I don't understand what I am missing in this equation. It seems to me that renting is the lesser of the 2 evils since the company who made the game is getting a slightly bigger piece of the pie. But they are still losing regardless.
 

VanBasten

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squid5580 said:
I don't understand what I am missing in this equation. It seems to me that renting is the lesser of the 2 evils since the company who made the game is getting a slightly bigger piece of the pie. But they are still losing regardless.
You're missing that they get money per rent, that most of those rents wouldn't translate to purchases and that some of those rents end up translating to purchases that perhaps wouldn't have had if the customer didn't have the opportunity to try the game.

Also, if the publishers were loosing money by renting games, it kind of goes without saying they would stop renting games.
 

squid5580

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VanBasten said:
squid5580 said:
Sure but BlockBuster only rents them for a week (well at least the one in my area). There is not that many games I couldn't beat it that amount of time. Then it will become that much harder to justify spending the 60 - 70 dollars on top of the $8 I already spent on it.

I don't see how that is any better than pirating the game.
Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I've read somewhere that 45% of the rental fee goes to the publisher. So for them renting games is almost like charging for a time restricted demo.

Also if you rent a game and beat it in a week without the desire to play it ever again, chances are you would have regretted paying 60$ for it a lot more than 8$, or wouldn't have paid 60$ in the first place if you weren't sure it will be worth it. This way publishers get some money from people who probably won't buy the game, and customers get to play the games they probably won't buy. In my opinion, video game rental is pretty decent deal for both publishers and customers.
You might be right. Like I just said I know that they pay more than we would for the same copy of the game. It would be a crazy ton of work to pay out the royalties though. They would have to figure out well EA's game was rented 5 times, Ubi's was rented 3 times and split it accordingly.

And don't get me wrong here. I am not trying to equate renting with piracy. I am not trying to rant about the evils of used games and rentals and say look they are just as bad. I am just trying to understand the difference. If the developers are happy then I'm happy (since I do use BB a lot) and if that is the case I can stop feeling a twinge of guilt everytime I hit them up.

Oh and personally if I beat a game that I paid full price for in a week it doesn't bother me. I am a trader. My game collection is my bank. It is the only way I can save enough to be able to buy the next game. Otherwise the money ends up going to the local convenience store for junk food and assorted shinies.
 

VanBasten

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squid5580 said:
It would be a crazy ton of work to pay out the royalties though. They would have to figure out well EA's game was rented 5 times, Ubi's was rented 3 times and split it accordingly.
This isn't something unique to video games, movie rentals work in the same way, percentage(nearly half) of each rent goes to the film distributor company. And it isn't difficult to keep track of all that information with todays computers.
 

Eldarion

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Nimbus said:
The "DLC and other cosmetic goodies" argument is total bullshit. They're cracked just as easily as the gmaes themselves.

The rest of your arguments were not that bad, save for the fact that alot of this stuff can be done by the pirates. Being able to install on any machine? Pirates have that. Infinite installs? Got that too. Optional cloud savegames are the only thing you mentioned that they can really offer.
Most Roms let me save at any point in the game I want. So pirates have that too.
 

Crops

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Therumancer said:
Well, for starters $20 was just a figure I threw out at random. The point being that the current prices are extremely high. I am well aware of the development costs involved in games, plenty of them have been thrown around. However keep in mind that even among games there can be massive differances. For example "Modern Warfare 2" set unprecedented records by costing half a billion dollars to develop and market, however it sold for the same price as games that were developed on far less money. Development budget has absolutly no effect on the pricing of games, since the industry engages in price fixing (which I comment about frequently) and has coordinated to set the price of a new video game at $60 ($50 for the PC).

Generally speaking the way things are supposed to work, at least in the US, is that companies are supposed to compete with each other. They are supposed to try and gain market support by releasing the best quality product they can, for the lowest price possible, while their competition does the same. It breeds innovation, and protects the consumers. However you don't see that in the gaming industry which is why so many companies are able to succeed while "playing it safe". Coordination also means that they can try things like intrusive DRM, because pretty much everyone is trying some variation on it, and you don't see major titles trying to undercut each other by being more conveinent. Heck, for that matter you don't see them trying to undercut each other at all, when "Modern Warfare 2" came out all the competition changed release dates, nobody decided to say "Hey, I'll sell my game for $10 less than Modern Warfare 2, and toss you extra content", followed by MW2's producers saying "hey, I'll lower my price $5 under that other guy, and give you this map pack we're working on for free!"... until both sides basically settle on the best possible deal they can offer while making a profit.

My arguement with them lowering their prices to $20 or whatever is simply that development budgets are so far irrelevent. How much a game costs to make has nothing to do with how much it sells for. However most of the people who are buying used games, or pirating, are doing so because games are expensive and $60 is a lot of money to risk. If they lower the price then those guys waiting to buy a game used for $20 a year later, might very well just buy it new because it's less of a risk. What's more it's easier than pirating a torrent and trying to get it to run properly, so a lot of pirates are going to buy the games as well for conveinence. While the industry would make less money per unit they could make it up in volume sales.

See, one arguement in defense of piracy is that all those pirated games would not be sales. Simply put nobody could afford that. However if you want some of those people to put money in your pocket, you charge what the desired market will bear.

What's more right here on The Escapist you periodically see people complaining about the price of games in various third world countries. Right now we have a guy from Romania writing about how Romanians can't afford to buy video games. We've had official articles run here on The Escapist about the economic realities of games and the third world, where a lot of the big piracy is happening, and there are few legitimate sales. Lower the prices to one third (or whatever) and you'll probably see markets appearing in these places where there were none before.

Do not misunderstand the fundemental nature of this arguement however. The above is not guaranteed to work, however it represents something the industry has not tried. Something I carefully consider when I have game companies telling me they have no choice but to load my games with DRM, mandatory online connections, and other assorted crud, and/or take games "totally digital" because they have "tried everything else".

Whining about a moral high ground doesn't work, because the industry doesn't act morally to begin with. Saying that they need to charge $60 because of development costs is BS, when it's a standard price that exists independant of development costs.

Obviously I pay $60, but I don't want to hear a song and a dance trying to justify something that can't be justified. At the same time I don't want to hear hemming and hawing about how the poor, innocent, gaming industry is being victimized by the big bad pirates, and has no choice but to inconveinence me. Neither side has a moral high ground, so I want to be left out of it. By all means, go chase the pirates, but don't harass me, the guy who is paying your $60 to begin with.

As I've said in other threads. Pirates Vs. The Game Industry, is like gang bangers fighting the mob. Differant styles of crime/immorality, but in the end their both crooks in their own way. The only real victim of the piece is me, the gamer, I just want to play my games without jumping through hoops, and otherwise be left alone. DRM, digital downloads, online connections for single player games, are *NOT* leaving me alone.. and it's especially annoying when I'm paying the guys who are basically taking a giant fish taco-stand dump on
me for doing it.
Honestly, I don't have much to add here. I pretty much agree with you on every point made.

I assumed your statement of making games cheaper to end piracy was one in the millions of statements attempting to justify piracy, and apparently I assumed wrong.

Games are indeed commonly at a set price, not in any way related to development cost. Not only held at such level by the industry, but also by retailers. I'm quite comfortable paying the current price for games, as long as I know I'm getting something worth my money. If I deem a game 'not worth it' for whatever reason (quality, quantity, DRM, whatever), I don't buy or play it. My point was mainly that high prices don't justify piracy.

-As for the industry not even considering a drop in prices, my thoughts;

A drop in prices would definately result in a much more competitive market, and probably good deals for consumers a while after a game releases.

The main problem in such a scenario is that people in most western countries are, like you and me, willing to pay $60,- for their fix. So from a profit-oriented perspective, dropping the price 20% because the game cost you less resources would be like throwing away money.
Third-world piracy will continue on the account that the break-even sales price would likely still be more than most people can afford in such a financial situation.

Apart from that there's the problem of never knowing whether a game will meet expected sales rates. If a game cuts 30% off its price to compensate for a low development budget, and the game doesn't sell, there will be no profit. It is indeed the 'safe bet' to overprice the game at $60,- in such a case to make back the costs of the game on less sales.
Simply stating that this will force games to be 'better' doesn't hold up very well in such a scenario, since there are plenty of great games that just undersell for some reason.

Those reasons, in my opinion, are why the industry would rather lose a few customers over an annoying DRM system than drop their prices.
I definately do not agree with their actions, but I understand why they take them.
The lesson for the industry to learn is as you've stated, don't harrass the people who have already been willing to pay your $60,- price tag for years without complaining.
 

RJ Dalton

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Exactly. Basic principle of psychology: if you want to change behaviors, it's more efficient to reward them for the behavior you want then to punish them for the behavior you don't want.
 

cidbahamut

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Food for thought: Production costs have skyrocketed over the years while the price of a new game has remained relatively stable at about $50-$60 at release. All our pretty graphics and technological advances have resulted in an industry that puts so much money into making a game that it can no longer afford to lose the occasional sale to pirating and the used game market.

Oh how I miss the days of sprites and shareware.
 

rob_d

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No Piracy is not a problem.

The figures are just so skewed that it seems like a problem.
Let me illustrate:
Legitimate buyer buys 5 games a year (on average)
Pirate (Arrrrr!) downloads 200 games a year, but also buys a couple, lets say 2.

According to some industry idiots, this means that the revenue loss is for 200 games, but in fact it would be for just 3 and even that is disputable because that person may just not have the money to buy them legally. In that case the loss would be 0.

According to one survey only 4 percent of all gamers download games illegally.
So draconian measures are used to hopefully convert this measly 4 percent into buying customers.
This is just not a good business case.
 

John Funk

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rob_d said:
No Piracy is not a problem.

The figures are just so skewed that it seems like a problem.
Let me illustrate:
Legitimate buyer buys 5 games a year (on average)
Pirate (Arrrrr!) downloads 200 games a year, but also buys a couple, lets say 2.

According to some industry idiots, this means that the revenue loss is for 200 games, but in fact it would be for just 3 and even that is disputable because that person may just not have the money to buy them legally. In that case the loss would be 0.

According to one survey only 4 percent of all gamers download games illegally.
So draconian measures are used to hopefully convert this measly 4 percent into buying customers.
This is just not a good business case.
And yet the pirate has no right to have those 200 games. How many of them would he have bought? Nobody can say for sure.

It's a problem, and pirates are dicks (barring cases where there are no legitimate ways to acquire the game). If you are taking something you have not paid for, there is no moral defense for that.

I agree that copyright law is screwed up, but that doesn't make piracy any less wrong. And encouraging others to do it IS harmful.
 

Seanchaidh

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John Funk said:
If you are taking something you have not paid for, there is no moral defense for that.

I agree that copyright law is screwed up, but that doesn't make piracy any less wrong. And encouraging others to do it IS harmful.
The moral defense is fairly obvious: the extent to which taking something for free (or any lower price than what is demanded) is wrong is the extent to which someone else has a right to withhold it-- otherwise breathing (among other things) is immoral. Depending on how and how much one thinks copyright law is screwed up, that being screwed up certainly could amount to a moral defense in many different cases. It's certainly not any kind of necessary truth that the right to copy creative products should be considered as a property right of artists, programmers, writers, etc. How most societies choose to reward creative production is by granting copyrights, but it doesn't have to be that way. Piracy could even be seen as a form of nonviolent resistance to the system of copyright in general. As it turns out, one can get very creative with morality.
 

John Funk

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Seanchaidh said:
John Funk said:
If you are taking something you have not paid for, there is no moral defense for that.

I agree that copyright law is screwed up, but that doesn't make piracy any less wrong. And encouraging others to do it IS harmful.
The moral defense is fairly obvious: the extent to which taking something for free (or any lower price than what is demanded) is wrong is the extent to which someone else has a right to withhold it-- otherwise breathing (among other things) is immoral. Depending on how and how much one thinks copyright law is screwed up, that being screwed up certainly could amount to a moral defense in many different cases. It's certainly not any kind of necessary truth that the right to copy creative products should be considered as a property right of artists, programmers, writers, etc. How most societies choose to reward creative production is by granting copyrights, but it doesn't have to be that way. Piracy could even be seen as a form of nonviolent resistance to the system of copyright in general. As it turns out, one can get very creative with morality.
Frankly, anything can be obfuscated with enough philosophy.

You are taking something that people have worked for hours, days, weeks, years even, to create. If you take it for free, you are depriving them of their rightful compensation and reward that they - as creators - have every right to ask for (yes, I know it's more complicated than that).

No amount of philosophy will make you any less of an asshole for doing that. And you'll forgive me if I'm a bit short regarding that: I lost all patience for debating philosophy back in college.

(As always, I refer to the generic you.)
 

xanith02100

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Fantastically written. I agree on all points, these companies need to reward legitimate purchasers rather than punish everyone for the sake of trying to keep pirates at bay.
 

rainbowunicorns

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Sgt. Sykes said:
The service you describe sound like Steam. Actually, apart from the 'always on' aspect, it IS Steam. And remember, back in 2004 when HL2 was released, there were UPROARS about HL2 requiring an internet connection to install and activate the game you purchased in retail!

The difference? Marketing and company name. Valve and their fanboys kept babbling about all the features of Steam so much, the DRM aspect kinda got lost. An they're fucking Valve, they can get away with anything. Now, Ubisoft? First, they're well known for their StarForce fiasco and second, instead of announcing a 'great new cool mega service', they announced DRM. At least they're honest.

And it's still the same shit.
For its users, Steam is one of two things:
It is a service so good that it is acceptable DRM (DRM, mind you, that some games normally wouldn't even have); or
It is not even recognised as DRM.

In both of these cases, it is doing exactly what it should.


Now take Ubisoft's DRM:
Due to DoS attacks on the servers, customers were unable to play the game. Not the publisher's fault? The consumer paid the publisher for a product, and they are unable to use it, that is all that matters (note that without the DRM the product would have worked).
Users with connection issues will be unable to have a good experience playing the game (unless it is so good that progress lost due to a disconnect is not considered time wasted, but extra play time gained).


DRM needs to justify itself by being overall better than just getting the game would have been; otherwise you are asking people to pay for an inferior version of what can be acquired for free. Steam does this through download-anywhere, cloud support for some games, social features (forums, friends, and groups), not requiring a constant internet connection (though you lose the social features), and fantastic sales (sales so fantastic that I buy games that I may or may not ever get around to playing, because I've heard they are good, so heck why not support the developer).
 

sleepykid

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Well, I have one problem with your argument. You're assuming that if I'm offered an official copy that has bonuses it will entice me enough to ignore a free copy. I would venture that people are more motivated by their wallet and cost then by bonuses. Free is a very steep bonus to overcome and I'm not sure any extra content or advantages can overcome its massive blackhole of attractiveness. Using positive and negative reinforcement (bonuses and restrictions) is of course a better idea then just negative reinforcement. You hit your dog to tell him not to piddle on the floor inside and you move to outside to show him what he should do. With gamers, something similar must be done. There should be a bonus, but there should also be a swift kick to the face. I'm biased for a harder kick to the face though since I don't think positive reinforcement will work because, as I've stated in previous posts, all gamers are assholes.

Agreed. Harder face kicks please.
 

Tyson765

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"They would get the option of saving their game in a cloud, and the option to download and install the game on whatever computer they wanted (just need to log in!). They would get their game automatically updated with the latest DLC, and some extra cosmetic goodies as a way to reward them for buying the game legitimately."

Wow you just explained Steam.

I am one of the Australians who couldn't wait and bought the console version so I wasn't hit by the DRM stuff but how on earth did this get past them? I mean didn't they ever think that they would have issues with server if not immediately at least eventually?
Blizzard have to do a SIX HOUR maintenance on their servers every week. At what point did they think that even if it worked how bad maint would be? While people are going to sleep knowing the server goes down in another 2 hours at midnight while others around the world are cursing as they have to shutdown the game at 4 O'clock in the afternoon.
 

rembrandtqeinstein

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The games industry is going through the same growing pains as the music industry. Of course their profit margins are down when nobody is willing to pay $18 to get a CD with one good song out of 12, or $5 for the same song on a single. Similarly fewer people are willing to pay $60 for 10 hours of mediocre gameplay with pretty graphics. That is why the publishers cling to the console walled garden instead of embracing the open world of the PC.

The paid MMO market is getting thinner and thinner as the competition from freemium heats up. Free Realms, DDO, Allods, Runescape are all MONTHS of gameplay experience without paying a single dime.

Between abandonware and open source there isn't even any need to pirate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open-source_video_games

The marginal cost to produce the second and subsequent copies of any item of information(game, book, movie, song) is zero. And the price of any product trends toward the marginal cost. And for practical purposes the bandwidth to distribute that information is free.

The game publishers/producers need to figure out that they are not in the business of charging $60 for 4gb of data on a disk, but in the business of entertainment. Once they understand that they can figure out how to use infinite portions of their product to increase the value of the limited parts. What those limited parts are for a game I have no idea, but the person who figures it out will be the king of the post copyright world.