If you’ve ever discussed copyright infringement, indie game business models, or even chess with Cliffski, you would know that he vehemently HATES so-called piracy. In fact, if you even argue that it isn’t the same as stealing and that piracy is a silly name for it, get ready to be flamed.
Or maybe you don’t have to worry about it as much. In a move that surprised many, he wrote a blog post asking “Why do people pirate my games?” in which he invited people to explain their true motivations. In fact, it would have been expected if he would have turned around and tried to prosecute anyone who admitted it to him, but instead, true to his word, he kept an open mind, and came away with some lessons.
He details what he learned in Talking to Pirates, and he’s changing some aspects of his business.
A big one: No DRM.
I only used DRM for one game (Democracy 2) and it’s trivial. It’s a one-time only internet code lookup for the full version. I’ve read enough otherwise honest people complain about DRM to see that its probably hurting more than it help’s. I had planned on using the same system for Kudos 2, but I’ve changed my mind on that. I have also removed it from Democracy 2 today. I now use no DRM at all.
Again, I’m surprised that of all the indies out there, Cliffski was the one to not only ask why people prefer to not pay for his games but also listen to the responses, but I’m pleased. I know that I’ve made these arguments, that people don’t like DRM because they don’t like being treated as a criminal, but I’ve been dismissed before as not knowing what I talk about. Now Cliffski comes and does this, and getting rid of DRM is justified as good for business? Huh. Who’d have thunk it?
I suppose even if he didn’t get this beneficial feedback, his sales would still pick up significantly from getting the publicity from Slashdot and Digg. Whether or not he expected to get this much traffic from this article, or such good feedback, I don’t know, but hopefully we’ll find out soon.