Valve on Piracy Rates and How Steam Keeps Them Low

September 16, 2010 -

Piracy is the subject of note in the third part of a massive interview with Valve Software's Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson over at PC Gamer.

When asked about piracy rates on Steam Newell said that that they are so low that Valve does spend any time thinking about it:

"They’re low enough that we don’t really spend any time [on it]. When you look at the things we sit around and talk about, as big picture cross game issues, we’re way more concerned about the stability of DirectX drivers or, you know, the erroneous banning of people. That’s way more of an issue for us than piracy.

Once you create service value for customers, ongoing service value, piracy seems to disappear, right? It’s like “Oh, you’re still doing something for me? I don’t mind the fact that I paid for this.” Once you actually localise your product in Russia and ship it on the same day that you ship your English language versions, this theoretical hotbed of piracy becomes your second largest- third largest after Germany in continental Europe? Or third after UK?

Newell goes on to say that creating anything to combat piracy that has the potential to affect even one customer is not something the company is willing to do. He also adds that Steam's ability to let users play the games they own from any computer has also helped to keep customers happy.

Read the whole interview at PC Gamer.

Posted in

Comments

Re: Valve on Piracy Rates and How Steam Keeps Them Low

Pay attention game companies who are NOT Valve: if you provide a DRM "front end" that provides more services than just the digital distribution of the game you might be successful as a company.

Whats that? I know! SHOCKER huh?!?!

 

 

Re: Valve on Piracy Rates and How Steam Keeps Them Low

I don't like steam that much they need to polish offline mode so its completely seamless it goes off line only the primarily online content cares about it.

The only thing they do to lesson piracy is due to the online company support, offline games are as easily cracked as anything else.

I still try before I buy because prices are still out of whack and I prefer to buy physical goods.


I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/cigital-disobedience/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Valve on Piracy Rates and How Steam Keeps Them Low

You mean you can drastically reduce piracy by *gasp* giving customers what they want?!  I am shocked and appalled.  Where's your constant Internet connection requirement and intrusive rootkit software, Gabe?  Don't you know you're killing the industry?!  You and the dirty commies!  :)

Re: Valve on Piracy Rates and How Steam Keeps Them Low

I was playing TF2 today, and one guy kept getting kicked for multiple computers logged on with the same ID, and later for "No Steam Password".

So there still seems to be Steam piracy, but it seems to be a lot rarer and more inconvenient. Unfortunately they seem to lean more in the dirrection of griefing, yelling repeatedly in the mic, and botting.

Re: Valve on Piracy Rates and How Steam Keeps Them Low

and this guy obviously wasn't very bright then, cause he should've changed his password the first time it happened.

and thats not piracy thats password theft in the league of identity theft.

someone probably phished it out and had him targeted.

then wised up and got his account info changed before he did.

i have multiple systems on steam at a time, and i can play across'em (as i two box with a couple of MMO's since i can't oft stand the smug attitude of the elitest crowds that have long since taken over any MMO out there)

just gotta remember only one can be in online mode at a time.

Re: Valve on Piracy Rates and How Steam Keeps Them Low

This is part of the reason why I no longer 'try before I buy'...

I still spent thousands on software back when I was pirating like crazy.  I could afford it but it was just easier to cue up the download on certain titles than it was to go to the store.  All the antipiracy attempts (controls etc) didn't do anything to faze me.  The one thing that has virtually eliminated my piracy habits is Steam being convenient enough to give me no reason to pirate...

Steam, particularly it's aggressive special sales, has really given me no reason to pirate anymore.  My ISP doesn't meter steam content (they still meter in Aus ; ), the DRM is typically unobtrusive, I don't cheat so I'm not going to get my account banned and I've got my library where lack of discs or damaged media isn't going to be a problem.

Steam has reduced the difficulty involved with obtaining and using the software so much that it's far more convenient to spend a bit of cash and get what I want immediately.  The value adds (auto patching, matchmaking and social network integration, cloud settings etc) are just icing on the cake.

I won't try to justify my previous piracy because I'm pretty unrepentant about it.  But there's a lot of money out there to be made from people who would spend it on your product if only it was convenient to do so and well supported.  It won't end piracy but it'll certainly help.

Re: Valve on Piracy Rates and How Steam Keeps Them Low

*nods* this is why research into 'why people pirate' is imporant to look at when trying to make a buisness case.  While the 'people pirate because they do not want to pay' makes good press, it tends to fall flat as a universal when looking at actual customers that are willing to pay when a convient service is offerred.

This is also why companies that have bothered to break away from the meme and do actual research are laughing all the way to the bank.  Crow, if StarDock was not so niche or higher profile, they would probably be doing pretty well too (and it could be aruged that the succes/survivial they do have could be partly attributed to thier download service and lack of DRM... I know that has made me a returning customer)

 

Re: Valve on Piracy Rates and How Steam Keeps Them Low

Noting that it's highly unlikely someone will revisit this topic, it's still worth mentioning that the big problem is that few people really want to admit their piracy and ergo it's hard to get feedback on how a company might adjust it's approach to lure people away from piracy.

Digital IP is somewhat unique in that it can be propagated ad infinitum so standard loss prevention isn't really possible.  Valve seem to have taken the unique approach of considering what pirates want and trying to deliver it to them, rather than chasing them pointlessly.

Re: Valve on Piracy Rates and How Steam Keeps Them Low

Shows what he knows.  If you don't have intrusive DRM, your company can't possibly make enough money to survive!  Ubisoft said so!

Seriously, though, good for him.  Steam's not perfect but it's one of the best systems out there, and I'd like to see more guys take Newell's approach.

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Which Feminist Frequency video are you looking forward to most?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
prh99Devolvers response to Nintendo's creator program https://mobile.twitter.com/devolverdigital/status/56082061398444851301/31/2015 - 3:24am
Andrew EisenI only know of him being annoyed that IGDA mistakenly hosted on its anti-harassment tools page a blocklist he was on. What else was he critical of?01/31/2015 - 2:19am
Goth_Skunk@WonderKarp: Given Rosario's outspoken criticisms of the conduct of the IGDA, I would not be one bit surprised if he's being strong-armed into silence in closed-door meetings. He's not towing the party line, after all.01/30/2015 - 11:38pm
MechaTama31EZK: Thank you! (And I was able to see that you did it, only because you did it. How appropriate! :)01/30/2015 - 11:37pm
Matthew Wilson@Monte Nintendo is a Japanese company though. consoles are dead in japan. ps sony is a international company, so they do not much care about Japanese sales much.01/30/2015 - 10:11pm
MonteOnly one generation ago nintnedo had the best selling console. They know their games are still popular and can move their hardware. They just need to focus on better gaming hardware and advertising (their youtube policy not helping)01/30/2015 - 9:58pm
MonteI'd expect Nintendo to keep making consoles, much like the gamecube i doubt nintendo will see the Wii U as a sign of the end for consoles. There are multiple reason why the Wii U failed a big one being marketting.01/30/2015 - 9:55pm
Wonderkarpwhen asked on Twitter, the Chairman said He couldnt comment at this time https://twitter.com/siloraptor/status/561284497275367424. still looking for facts01/30/2015 - 9:41pm
Wonderkarphttp://pressfarttocontinue.com/2015/01/30/igda-puerto-rico-closed/ this is what I have so far01/30/2015 - 9:27pm
Wonderkarpso allegedly, IGDA has closed their Puerto Rico branch. This comes after the Chairman of the Puerto Rico branch was blocklisted by Randi Harper. I'm trying to dig up more info on it. all I have is a link with some info, but its not cited.01/30/2015 - 9:27pm
Andrew EisenSo, kinda like the Wii U just with a GamePad that's portable?01/30/2015 - 9:13pm
Matthew Wilson@AE I hope they do a Ipad/iphone thing. make a home console/handheld where games are playable on both. that is what I would want from them.01/30/2015 - 9:00pm
Andrew EisenThat would be a shame but as long as I can play comfortably on my TV I'll probably be fine with whatever the future brings.01/30/2015 - 8:56pm
Matthew Wilson@AE I would get used to it. I do not think nintendo is going to do another home console , but I suspect a hybrid one. 1. they are doing worse than the gamecube. 2. the home console market is dead in japan. even the ps4 isnt selling there.01/30/2015 - 8:54pm
Andrew EisenAside from that (and the aiming isn't too smooth but it's turn based so it's not a big deal (maybe better with Circle Pad Pro or New 3DS?)) my only other quibble is I'd much prefer playing it on a console. But I say that about nearly every handheld game.01/30/2015 - 8:39pm
Andrew EisenFrom what I've seen of Valkyria Chronicles, this is significantly slower. Mechanically, it's fine and plays into the game well. It just takes too long.01/30/2015 - 8:37pm
Matthew Wilsonyup like VC it moves every enemy each turn one by one.01/30/2015 - 8:33pm
Andrew EisenI played most of the Codename Steam demo. Pretty neat so far but the enemy turn (it's turn based) takes way too long.01/30/2015 - 8:31pm
Goth_SkunkJust finished the first episode of Life is Strange. The writing is hit-or-miss, the lip-syncing is awful (but I can't fault an indie dev for that), but the chronokinesis mechanic is dynamite. Love the concept. Can't wait to play more.01/30/2015 - 8:23pm
Andrew EisenNintendo invites disaster!01/30/2015 - 7:34pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician