Valve Versus Piracy

Gabe NewellAt the risk of being called a Valve fanboy (I’m really not), I have to say that I think Gabe Newell is probably one of the more brilliant minds in the videogame industry. That’s probably a cliche opinion to have about the guy, but I’ll stick by it until he shows me other wise. I’m pretty much fascinated by everything he says in interviews, mostly because he comes across as a guy that not only understands the business he’s in, but understands gamers. That’s a tricky shot for a CEO to hit consistently, and he managed to do it without making a fool of himself too often (PS3 cracks aside).

In a recent interview with The Cambridge Student Online, Newell waxes philosophical about a number of subjects relating to Valve, including Half-Life as a response to the dumbing down of the FPS genre, the decision to make TF2 free to play and what he expects of CS: GO. One of the more interesting parts of the interview, however, is what he has to say about piracy. You see, Newell doesn’t view piracy as that big of an issue for Valve:

“In general, we think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty. Our goal is to create greater service value than pirates, and this has been successful enough for us that piracy is basically a non-issue for our company.

This actually ties into something that we all talked about on a podcast, many moons ago. When it becomes just as convenient and valuable enough to get a product at a price you’re willing to pay for it as it is to steal it, piracy loses all meaning. Now, I know this is a touchy subject (and we always talk about how touchy of a subject it is), but as much as I do what I can to distance myself from piracy, I at least acknowledge that video game companies don’t always handle this well.

However, given the recent admission from CD Projekt that DRM-less Witcher 2 was pirated 4.5 million times, does anybody have any idea at all how to make their products more valuable than free? What say you guys? Weigh in and keep it tidy. Go!

Source – TCS

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

3 thoughts on “Valve Versus Piracy”

  1. I think Valve and Steam are the best weapon against piracy. Even though the Witcher 2 was pirated so much, the convenience of Steam and all their sales and moc support outclasses piracy’s faster results most of the time. I’m really happy that Valve is so successful, because honestly, if it wasn’t for Valve, the video game industry would probably be a lot worse from pirates and DRM.

  2. Steam is great, so I love supporting Valve. I would feel awful pirating something that they released, when all they’ve done is great for PC gaming. I have less of an issue with borrowing a game from a company I don’t know or care about. I understand that’s a toxic attitude, but it’s just part of the culture and internet habits. As I get older I find myself pirating less and less, whether it’s tv shows or games or even music.

    There are also people who will just pirate /everything/ and don’t care how good or bad it is. They just want it on their hard drives, sometimes just to say they have it. I would suggest these people are more of a problem.

    This generation, everyone in North America is very net-savvy, and once they learn how easy to use the illegal channels are, it’s very hard to resist the temptation. Especially when the only real deterrent is “because you shouldn’t”. We (here at GS) know the damage it can have on an industry, but the 13 year old using whatever-p2p-app-nowadays usually doesn’t care. It’s just too easy.

  3. Honestly, some people just arent interested enough in a game to buy it. Our of that 4.5 mil, I bet 50%+ never finished it, much less played it. I think its like media. I know people with hundreds of gigs of shows on their PC, some of which they never watch. The value needs to be in the game itself. If people dont want it, they wont buy it.

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