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 :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
quiknkoldI'm 7 years old, and my cousin(Also 7, maybe 8 at this time) tells me has Battletoads. its Summer Vacation. We play and play and play until finally, We won coop. Those were the days.09/23/2014 - 5:29pm
quiknkoldlets take a moment to share some gaming memories, shall we?09/23/2014 - 5:28pm
MechaTama31I buy stuff off the eshop because it gives me the convenience of a flashcart without the guilt.09/23/2014 - 5:03pm
Montewell thanks for the info Eisen; try that the next time i need something off the eshop09/23/2014 - 3:54pm
james_fudgere: MP, i've sent tech support a note - thank you :)09/23/2014 - 3:14pm
IanCNah that wasnt directed at you Andrew :)09/23/2014 - 3:00pm
Papa MidnightRe: SIEGE 2014 Keynote: oh dear...09/23/2014 - 2:44pm
MaskedPixelanteDear GP, something called "doubleverify" is causing some nasty browser issues on my end. Probably one of your ads.09/23/2014 - 2:36pm
Andrew EisenOh hell no. No, it took Nintendo a dog's age just to get to the point its competitors have been at for a while! (And it's still not there yet, in a lot of respects.)09/23/2014 - 2:26pm
IanCSame as PSN handles it, fi you are trying to say only nintendo do that.09/23/2014 - 2:23pm
Andrew EisenYou have to try to purchase something first. Pick a game, hit purchase and if your wallet doesn't have enough to cover it, you'll be given an option to "add exact funds" or something like that.09/23/2014 - 2:05pm
MonteI have seen no option for that on my 3DS; anytime i want to add funds it only gives me the option to add in denominations of $10, 20, 50 or 10009/23/2014 - 2:03pm
IanCWhat Andrew Wilson said. PSN is the same when you make a purchase over a certain price (£5 in the UK)09/23/2014 - 2:02pm
Andrew EisenNeither eShop charges sales tax either. At least in California.09/23/2014 - 2:00pm
Andrew EisenBoth Wii U and 3DS eShops allow you to add funds in the exact amount of whatever's in your shopping cart. If your game is $39.99, you can add exactly $39.99.09/23/2014 - 1:57pm
Infophile@Matthew Wilson: As I understand it, any regulations to force tax online would also set up an easy database for these stores to use, minimizing overhead.09/23/2014 - 1:30pm
MonteReally, the eshop just does next to nothing to make buying digitally advantagous for the customer. Its nice to have the game on my 3DS, but i can get more for less buying a physical copy at retail. And that's not even counting buying used09/23/2014 - 1:18pm
MonteIanC, The Eshop wallet system only lets you add funds in set denominations and the tax makes sure you no longer have round numbers so you ALWAYS loose money. A $39.99 game for instance requires you to add $50 instead of just $4009/23/2014 - 1:13pm
Matthew Wilsonbut thats just it those sites, even the small ones, sell all over the country.09/23/2014 - 11:12am
Neenekoeither that or it would follow the car model of today. big ticket items are taxed according to your residence, not where you buy them.09/23/2014 - 11:07am
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician