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Hey guys! Lars Doucet here, developer of Defender's Quest.

Pro-DRM advocates insist "we can't compete with free" is a justification for using DRM to fight piracy.

But piracy is not "free." It's only free if you think in terms of one currency - Money-dollars($M). I propose at least three others:
Time-dollars ($T), Pain-in-the-butt-dollars ($P), and Integrity-dollars($I).

In short, developers can compete with piracy by providing a game at a lower total 4-currency cost by focusing on convenience ($T), customer service ($P), and appealing to higher principles ($I).

This video explains everything in detail:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP7KUVfx9ec

Thoughts?
Post edited March 20, 2013 by larsiusprime
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larsiusprime: Thoughts?
"People are motivated by other things than money."

Just 24 seconds in and you already seem to understand what 99% of the internet apparently doesn't.
I'm on boat with this!

I've completely avoided SimCity upon learning of it's DRM. I didn't even know the game is already out.
I bought your game, I haven't bought SimCity. What else can I say?

Ah, yes I never buy Ubisoft products anymore, unless I get a working pirate copy first. Their convenience $ price is so absurdly high I just don't want to play through their Uplay even when I have the original game there.

So yes, I agree with that.
OK, now watched it and I do have a couple of thoughts.

I'd add a fifth currency there - the 'risk' cost. This is a little off the beaten track with what you were talking about, but bear with me.

The use of account binding with SimCity (and other retail titles that forcibly use Steam, Origin, UPlay, Battle.net or whatever) and the inability to sell a game - which also encompasses digital distribution - adds a certain number of risk dollars that reduces what people are generally willing to pay.

While digital distribution in its own right marginally decreases the 'time' cost and can potentially decrease the pain-in-the-butt cost, it also increases this 'risk' cost dramatically as there is often no way to resell a game if it's crap.

Because the risk cost rises massively with digitally distributed games, it reduces their price limit in the other areas, particularly the real cost aspect. I'd be willing to pay €60 for a DRM-free game at retail, because I can be sure that if the game sucks, I can resell it, and if I like the game, I have a durable copy (assuming I look after it properly).

If a game at physical retail has Steam, Origin or UPlay DRM, however, it massively increases the risk cost in the same way as a digitally distributed product would and drastically reduces my real cost limit.

Likewise, DRM in digitally-distributed games increases not only the PITB and time cost but also the risk cost as you run the risk of the servers going down (or even being shut down in the future, rendering your game unplayable), or account problems.

This is why PC games depreciate in value extremely rapidly these days and this is how indie games have risen to prominence. With new games priced at $10-20, it offsets this risk cost.
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jamyskis: I'd add a fifth currency there - the 'risk' cost. This is a little off the beaten track with what you were talking about, but bear with me.
I'm down with that. Admittedly the "four currencies" is more a convenience thing than anything else. They're the four that immediately come to my mind and "four currencies" is a punchy title.

In reality there's probably an infinite amount of currencies in play. "Risk" or "Uncertainty" is a good one, as is "Liberty", or "Privacy."
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P1na: I bought your game, I haven't bought SimCity. What else can I say?
There's not much sense in comparing that though, would you have been able to say that if both were DQ's price though, I wouldn't, I'd already own Sim City (as well as DQ) :)
hm... Am I misunderstanding, but is this not the reason why Steam et al are successful? Providing higher $T and lower $P than piracy, cases in point are for example Russia and Brazil where piracy $T +$P < steam $M-($T+$P).

Giving, for example GoG, you could argue that gog have a higher $I, but a lower $T than Steam... or am I misunderstanding something here.

I may be taking this to much at face value...
It's something we actually "felt" was going on, but now we can at least use it in a sentence that the financial sector can actually understand. Not bad.
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P1na: I bought your game, I haven't bought SimCity. What else can I say?
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Pheace: There's not much sense in comparing that though, would you have been able to say that if both were DQ's price though, I wouldn't, I'd already own Sim City (as well as DQ) :)
Should I say that I bought his game full priced, and bought 2 more copies on sales to give away, while I don't plan to buy Simcity even when it's gone down in price? Unless it goes down in price a lot and I get to play an offline (pirated or not) version. That integritiy cost makes me pay for games I played and enjoyed pirated, such as Assassin's creed 3. The pain in the butt cost of clients like Uplay or Simicity prevents me from buying games I can't play pirated, because I'm absolutely fed up of losing my games on cloud save synchronizations.

Is this somewhat more clear?

I think Anno 2070 is a good example, it was being sold for very little money and I still refused to to buy it because of all this other cost.
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amok: hm... Am I misunderstanding, but is this not the reason why Steam et al are successful? Providing higher $T and lower $P than piracy, cases in point are for example Russia and Brazil where piracy $T +$P < steam $M-($T+$P).

Giving, for example GoG, you could argue that gog have a higher $I, but a lower $T than Steam... or am I misunderstanding something here.

I may be taking this to much at face value...
Basically, "spending" $I means violating your integrity, "spending" $T means losing your time, and "spending" $P means being subjected to things you don't like. So I would say GOG has a "lower" $I (ie, if you feel using DRM is against your principles, using GOG doesn't ask you to violate that principle, but using Steam does, since Steam is technically DRM).

Steam and GOG succeed because their $P and $T costs are lower than piracy for a lot of people - they are quick and easy to use. But many people prefer GOG to Steam - these are the people who associate an $I cost (or $P cost) with using ANY form of DRM, including Steam (though Steam is much better than say, Origin).

This video is based on a series of articles. I talk about Steam in particular here:
http://www.fortressofdoors.com/2012/02/piracy-and-four-currencies-part-2.html
Post edited March 20, 2013 by larsiusprime
I've got plenty of pain-in-the-butt-dollars, but most stores don't accept them as currency.

Anyone want to trade them into euros?
Post edited March 20, 2013 by ForzaAlessio
This is well thought. When I buy a game, I pay primarily for convenience, ease of use and support rather than for the product itself.

If I only wanted a game, I wouldn't buy it. But I'm too lazy to pirate >.<
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ForzaAlessio: Anyone want to trade them into euros?
Yes, that's called working. I have just enough exchaning $P for $M, today being a $P heavy day.
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larsiusprime: snip
(sorry do not have sound where I am at the moment...)

Yes, that's what I mean by gog having a higher $I than, for example, Steam - but it is really down to the persons preference. It only have higher $I than steam if that person have a strong stance on DRM. I think it is becoming more and more known now that the normal user do not really care very much about DRM at all as long as it is not draconian and intrusive, and while Steam is technically DRM (it is not really, it is a client - it is the CEG component of Steam which is the DRM, you can get DRM free games through steam as well), it is so lightweight that it is ignored as such by many.

In this case, the $I only applies to a very specific sub-group of the population... and it is by focusing on the $T + $P which should be the wining move?

(not sure why Origin is much worse than Steam, for me as a user they are pretty equal, steam has some features which are better, origin has other. I have the feeling that as a developer, it is easier to deal with Steam/Valve than with Origin/EA, though.)

edit: I mean that in the end the $I only applies as legal vs. illegal and moral convictions of piracy, not about DRM or not.

edit 2: I also mean that in the case of Sim City, it was the $T, convenience and time which fell out because EA screwed up and did not make sure that their servers handled the stress. If the servers had worked, it would not have the backlash as it did, and the DRM issue would not have been brought up by the general player. Case in point is D3.
Post edited March 20, 2013 by amok