Indie developer Jeff Vogel (whose Spiderweb Software studio recently released Avadon: The Black Fortress) writes an interesting article for GamaSutra today explaining his philosophy on the most effective method for dealing with piracy. The thrust of his argument is that players will pay for easy-to-pirate games because it makes them feel good about supporting a developer.
"You want to pirate the PC version of my newest game, Avadon: The Black Fortress? Search for it on The Pirate Bay. You can get a free copy in less than the time it takes to read th… Oh, you got a serial number already? Told you so," writes Vogel.
"So why do people pay for it? Because they understand a fundamental fact: For these games to exist, someone has to pay. If everyone just takes it, I'll have to get a real job and the supply will shut off."
"They get the knowledge that they are Part of the Solution and not Part of the Problem. They know that, in this case, they are one of the Good Guys. It is well-earned self-satisfaction, and it is valuable. To know they are doing the right thing, some people will happily pay 20 bucks. This is how I stay in business," Vogel continues.
"This means that I am very, very careful to maintain a good public image. I try very hard to be likable and engaging and generally not a jerk. I don't always succeed, but I try. The goal for an indie developer is to get people to like you. If they don't want to help you stay around, they will help someone else."
Vogel has been making turn-based RPGs for 15 years, and he credits his ability to make a living with how he deals with piracy. It also doesn't hurt that he makes decent games that people want to pay money for. You can read his entire Gamasutra feature here.
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