Valve front man Gabe Newell says that there is a way to beat piracy, and it involves content creators and publishers providing better service. In other words, obtrusive DRM solutions are not the answer to the problem.
"One thing that we have learned is that piracy is not a pricing issue. It's a service issue," said Newell at a tech conference in Seattle. "The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting anti-piracy technology to work. It's by giving those people a service that's better than what they're receiving from the pirates."
"For example, Russia. You say, oh, we're going to enter Russia, people say, you're doomed, and they’ll pirate everything in Russia. Russia now outside of Germany is our largest continental European market. But the point was, the people who are telling you that Russians pirate everything are the people who wait six months to localize their product into Russia," he offered.
"It doesn't take much in terms of providing a better service to make pirates a non-issue."
Newell went on to say that engagement is also important factor. A game offered at a 75 percent discount was able to increase revenue for Valve by forty-fold, according to Newell.
"Promotions on the digital channel increased sales at retail at the same time, and increased sales after the sale was finished," Newell added. "Essentially, your audience, the people who bought the game, was more effective than traditional promotional tools."
"So we tried a third-party product to see if we had some artificial home-field advantage. We saw the same pricing phenomenon. 25 percent, 50 percent and 75 percent very reliably generate different increases in gross revenue."