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A few questions about dealing with piracy

A topic by AlmyriganHero created Jun 17, 2019 Views: 273 Replies: 7
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Okay, to get one thing out of the way first, I get it; people aren't fond of DRM, and I'm not necessarily here to discuss DRM, at least in terms of file encryption and inconvenient always-online setups. I'm more so just looking for advice on how to go about the whole situation.

1. Does the staff take any sort of active measures in taking down illegal offsite downloads? I'm not asking for them to constantly scour the internet to make sure nobody's uploaded a copy of my game without permission, but if I find an upload somewhere that violates copyright laws, is there anyone on here I can contact for help getting them taken down? Or do I just have to rely on the provider of the service it's hosted on?

2. What makes people want to support a game versus taking the path of least resistance? Two kind of conflicting arguments I've heard are that a game people aren't willing to pay for isn't worth buying, and that every game in existence has been and will be pirated. Unless no game ever created has ever been or ever will be worth buying, it's pretty obvious that there's a right way and a wrong way to go about publishing a quality product.

3. If I did decide to publish on Steam instead for the sake of DRM, would its relatively lightweight Game Maker DRM even realistically make up for the $100 greenlight entry fee and the 30% commission on each sale? It'd make pirating my game a bit harder than just downloading it and reuploading to Dropbox, but theoretically, once that one illegal file is out there, whatever effect it'd have on my sales will be basically unavoidable, right?

4. What should I do if (probably more like when) it does happen? How much effort is it actually worth expending to squash every illegal upload, and how would I even go about doing it? Should I seek additional support if I think piracy is hurting me significantly, or is it a better idea to not call attention to the existence and accessibility of pirated copies in the first place? Is it a problem that gets better, or worse, the more you fight back?


To answer your first question, we make a point of taking down games that people upload to without permission, but policing the rest of the Internet is simply not feasible. You must talk to the people in charge of wherever a pirate copy of your game was uploaded.

The other issues you raise being more subjective, I won't say much. Just that Steam DRM was cracked long ago, while Itch never had any, yet plenty of creators sell their games just fine. People pay when they want to support you, not when they're forced to. In fact, force them and they'll quickly decide they don't really need to play your game. Would you rather have your game played by pirates, or nobody at all?


There are more games on the illegal file sharing sites from Steam than there are from - but they exist from both.  So going the Steam route won't protect you.  

Large sites like Reddit allow the illegal file sharing sites to promote their business and they refuse to take down the links.   Those web owners likely make more money from the games than the individual developers.  These sites would not get as much traffic if they weren't allowed to actively advertise their websites on Reddit.  And yet, Reddit bans self-promotion.  So the person who steals my game can freely advertise it and I can't.   I refuse to visit / support Reddit, that's all I can do - I'm pretty sure nobody at Reddit cares.

When I was making 3D graphics I was selling on average 6 to 10 copies - and approximately 60 people were downloading them from an illegal file share site.  I didn't make enough money to make it viable and quit making graphics.  Now I have the same situation with games - it's not viable for me to make games - and I don't have the time or power to fight all the sites that illegally have my games on them.  

So a lot of people have the impression - well at least someone is playing your game - or enough people buy it to make it viable - it doesn't matter if we steal if - but that isn't true -and it has a ripple effect - the developers don't make money, then the software developers stop making money,  places like Steam and make less money...  Would you go to a  supermarket and steal a candy bar and eat it and tell the owner - well at least someone likes your candy?  Why is stealing my game any different?  I also have overheads, I also had to buy the ingredients, in my case the game development software, I also had to wrap it and package it ...

But my only advice is - shrug it off.  It's going to happen and there isn't anything we can do about it, right now, every industry struggles with it.

And yet, Reddit bans self-promotion.

Every subreddit has their own rules. There's a site-wide guideline that < 10% of your posts should be self promotion, but I've never seen it seriously enforced. I've actually gotten quite a few sales through posts on relevant subreddits. So I wouldn't completely dismiss Reddit as a marketing channel.

Is much harder on newer people or someone making a dev account on it. I experinace this with many subreddits, the most noticable is r/gaming which does not promote anyone game unless you pay the mods:

r/video doesn't allow new users (outside the subreddit) to upload videos, its closed until you either populor or have lots of comment karma.

r/gamedev censored people:

And reddit itself can and will hide your messages if they dont like you:

Reddit isn't a great place for marketing it is only good place for closed groups to share what they found.

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Yeah stay away from r/gaming haha. I've had the most success with r/Games, r/creepygaming, and r/ARG, although obviously it depends what kind of games you make. The way subreddits prevent users with low karma from posting is annoying, but i think if you drop some memes in r/funny or something you can build karma pretty quickly. Or, yknow, actually participate in subreddits like r/gamedev. Shadow banning is annoying but Reddit gets a lot of bot traffic so over the years they've had to implement lots of anti-spam measures; that's one of them.

I don't want to deny anyone else's experience, I'm just noting that, for me, posting on Reddit has been by far the most effective free marketing I've tried (actually it's been more effective than most of my paid stuff as well). I don't want people to be scared away from trying it altogether because it might be really helpful for them. Or it might not. You don't know until you try.


One thing to remember is that most people who pirate your game probably wouldn't have paid for it if that was their only option. Often times it's kids/teenagers who don't have much money anyway. Obviously AAA publishers feel that DRM increases sales to some extent, since they pay a lot of money to implement it, but for indie developers I think you're better off putting more time/money into marketing. Launching on Steam might be worth it for other reasons (discoverability on is very low) but the DRM shouldn't be a big factor (besides as NTTP said Steam games can be pirated too).

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I'm trying to raise awareness of people about why piracy is a crime and how it affects not only game developers/content makers, but global economy overall.

How is my progress about this?
I got a lot of random rants everywhere.

But I won't give up so soon. I'll change this world! Everyone, follow me!! o/

About your question:
DRMs always get cracked, sooner or later. It's better to build an audience and try to conscientize your fans about how hard you work on your games and how you need to get revenue to keep doing your nice work.

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