Micro Mart is a UK tech publication that does a little bit of everything… but they aren’t really what this post is about.
It’s about a particular article in a recent issue, a particular cover story.
So, what’s wrong with that article? Nothing at all, actually. Because it’s quite true. The XBox One assumed that every single person that bought their console and their games needed to be checked in on to make sure they weren’t running cracked or pirated copies of their electronically stored games.
But the sad answer to the articles question is found when you run a google search for the article’s title:
The first three links lead to torrent sites where you can download and read the article without paying for the magazine.
That’s the simple and depressing answer; if you lived in a neighborhood where every other person knocked over your mailbox as they walked by, you’d get damn suspicious of anyone who moseyed by your driveway. The XBox One assumed you were a thief because… well… there’s an awful damn lot of thieves out there.
To hear game developers and publishers say it, anywhere from 50% to over 90% of the game copies people play are pirated. While I don’t know if those numbers are accurate, I do have personal experience of this blog getting hundreds of hits looking for a free download of the Megatokyo Endgames short story I wrote about a year and a half ago. And I’m talking about a $0.99 Amazon Kindle story here… it’s not like it was priced out of too many people’s budgets.
Now, as Eminem would say, “don’t get this twisted”, because this isn’t a defense of Microsoft, the XBox One, or DRM as a rule. DRM is nigh entirely ineffective, and the only thing it does is punish the people who legitimately bought their product. The XBox One’s measures would have only destroyed their own userbase, and would have ended their gaming division, because people would not (and should not) have to accept that load of bulls—.
The Visual Novel project will be DRM-free, any e-books I publish under my own imprint will also be DRM free for that very reason, and I don’t have to pretend to a bunch of ignorant shareholders that it does. But thanks to those ignoramuses who need to feel like SOMETHING is being done to fight piracy, you’ll continue to see misguided salvos fired into the consumer field, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.
Nonetheless, as we steadily transition into a fully digital entertainment experience (and most PC-users are almost completely there already), it would REALLY help if honest solutions that actually address the PROBLEM could be brought to life. Because piracy (and greedy entitled brats who want anything they can get their hands on without having to pay for it) is not going to go away on its own, and if there ISN’T any protection for companies and developers and publishers once that day comes, there’s not going to be anyone willing to create or entertain at the level we’ve come to expect.