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Hot Topic - Issue 6
Each Issue's Hot Topic features brief commentary from the Armchair Arcade editors on an issue currently in the news...

This issue's Hot Topic is "Emulation vs. Original Hardware Part II: Law and Ethics"

Screenshots: David Torre

This hot topic is the second part of our discussion of the emulation of classic game systems on modern PC's and consoles. This is a controversial issue for most fans of retrogaming, because the only way we can get access to certain classic platforms and machines is via emulation and unauthorized (and usually copyrighted) ROM files. Furthermore, there is the more important issue of playability—some argue that it's just not the same to play a retrogame via PC emulation. Perhaps an even bigger controversy surrounds the emulation of modern consoles on PC's. Many emulation advocates stop short of saying that emulating games currently in production is ethically acceptable.

In the previous Hot Topic, we specifically discussed "Emulation vs. Original Hardware." Now we will discuss "The Legal and Ethical Conflicts of Emulation." The big question is, given that most forms of PC emulation constitute copyright infringement and are therefore illegal, should gamers still engage in the practice? Should intelligent and ethical gamers support projects like MAME?

Special note: We also discussed this topic last month in a special audio program.

Bill Loguidice, Armchair Arcade Editor: I have to say that in the end this comes down to a question of personal ethics. Of course the copyright and other laws say that using software you don't own is illegal, so there's no question there, but just because it's a law, doesn't make it right. Laws often lag behind reality. If you are comfortable with your own actions and decisions, then it's not up to me or anyone else to judge you, as long as you also accept the reality of the potential consequences.

I for one think it's an amazing technical achievement to emulate technology on hardware that it was never intended for. Further, not only is it an amazing achievement, but a valuable means of preserving that which is generally no longer available in regular retail channels. In other words, the original copyright holders can no longer benefit. Yes, as a collector I am the first to advocate use of original hardware and software, but if something happens to either or both of those items, I at least have the option through emulation of still experiencing that which was lost. Then, of course, there are those classic items I will never be able to either afford on the used market or find at all. Add to that the ability to have a ready historical reference and that physical storage is both finite and prone to wear, it's hard to argue against emulation.

What I do have a problem with - and it will be very difficult for anyone to ever convince me otherwise - is the emulation, copying and/or outright piracy of systems and games that are still on the market. Some like to defend their actions by saying that they have no money to buy games or that the games are overpriced and are not worth what they're being sold at. Unfortunately, that argument holds no validity. To put it simply, it is not one of your given rights to be able to play any game you want at any time. The way our society works is quite simple - you work to pay for goods and services that in turn allows someone else to work and pay for goods and services. With too many gaps along the way - too much theft, not enough buying, whatever - the system and in turn society as we know it begins to break down. If you're an anarchist, you'll be happy, but for the rest of us there's an obvious problem there.

If you were a game developer, would you be happy if your game, which you worked on 60+ hours a week for 18 months, only sold a few thousand copies because 100,000 other people downloaded it, played it illegally and did not feel compelled to pay for it? I don't think you would, because you'd probably be out of a job, maybe never given a chance to work on another game again.

It bears repeating that there are very few situations where any of us has a right to take something someone else makes for free if they don't choose to give it to us for free. Games are definitely not one of those situations. Again, the choice is yours to make, but try to understand the myriad consequences if you decide it's better to emulate than to buy when the latter is a real option.

Matt Barton, Armchair Arcade Editor: Let's just cut right to it: Stealing is wrong. I want people to respect my property and not take things from me without my permission, and I'm sure you feel the same. Respecting each other's property is one of the founding principles of life in a democracy. Now, I'm not a stingy man by any means, and probably put more money into those Salvation Army buckets than I can really afford. I also am not engaged in a lucrative occupation (I'm a teacher), and don't see how billionaires like Gates can sleep at night knowing that they are not using their fortune to combat world hunger, pestilence, and war. Nevertheless, I'd do everything in my power to stop a man from stealing from even the richest man in the world. Sure, I don't think Gates is right to horde wealth when he could do so much good with it, and while he may very well be the richest man in monetary terms, in spiritual terms he's the dirtiest, rattiest pauper you've ever smelled. The worst part is that people like you and me made Gates the man he is today, and we have little right to judge him. Let the man who has never installed a Microsoft product cast the first stone.

None of us can control Bill Gates. However, we can control ourselves, and that means taking responsibility for our own actions and ensuring that they're right. If we want to make this world a better place, we've got to make sure our own choices are honorable. It's up to us to set a better example. That means, first of all, letting ourselves be guided by principles rather than convenience. Instead of asking whether doing something is faster, cheaper, or more efficient, we need to ask whether it's right or wrong.

Yar's Revenge
Yar's Revenge (Atari 2600)
©1981 Atari
Let's decide now if emulation is right or wrong. First of all, is emulating an Atari 2600 game on my PC stealing? No. For it to be stealing, I'd have to take something that didn't belong to me. Downloading a game ROM from Kazaa is not "stealing," at least not stealing in any form I can recognize. What would be stealing is if I went to your house and stuck your Yar's Revenge cartridge in my pocket while you weren't looking. The difference is this—in the second case, I took something from you and you were worse off because of it. I gained, you lost, and the whole thing is vile and dirty. In the former case, however, I didn't steal from anybody. Nobody is one Yar's Revenge short today because some chap in Northern Ireland downloaded a ROM.

However, just because something isn't stealing doesn’t mean that it's permissible. Let's say that you tell me, "Matt, I'd like to send you a copy of this story I wrote, but you have to promise not to share it with anyone." If I say "Yes" to this, I have to abide by it if I wish to maintain my honor as a gentleman. I can always say, "No, thanks," if I feel I won't be able to resist sharing it. To put it simply, if I tell you I won't share it, but do anyway, I've told a lie. As someone who values honesty and wants to earn people's respect, I know that lying is a very bad move. Not only will I have broken the trust you had in me, but, assuming you tell others about it, my reputation will suffer. In short, nobody likes a liar. If you are a liar, and I find out about it, I will have as little to do with you as I possibly can.

When a game developer sells us a game, we are generally asked to agree to certain terms before we play it. These terms are typically referred to as the "User Agreement," or the end-user license. No one is forced to agree to these terms, though most of us are too lazy to take time to actually read the things. Most of us are only dimly aware of the promises we're making when we install a new piece of software. This is a regrettable situation for everyone involved. It's rather like that childish game where you ask someone to promise to do a favor for you without telling them what the favor is. It's very important for honorable men and women to ensure that the people who we ask to make promises understand exactly what they're promising before they make them. You may have heard people say that "shrink-wrap licenses" and user agreements like this are questionable and may not hold up in court. The reason they say this is that in other forms of business, a contract is only valid under certain conditions. Most importantly, each party must understand the conditions and consent to them without coercion. If I hold a gun to your head and force you to sign a contract, and this comes out in court, the contract will be rendered invalid. The same would be true if you couldn't read English, and I lied to you about what was on the contract. We leave it to the courts to decide the validity of contracts, but it's safe to say that, just like ordinary promises, people shouldn't make them carelessly.

Most of the games we're concerned about when we talk emulation are older games that are no longer available on the market, and many fans of emulation feel that this fact justifies their activities. I don't feel that it does, and that folks shouldn't try to ground their morals on economics. Imagine what would happen if we excused other crimes simply because it was economically justifiable to do so! What should matter is whether we are breaking a promise when we emulate a commercial game on our PC. Are we somehow lying to the developer or compromising our integrity?

Unfortunately, I'm sad to say that in a majority of cases, that's exactly what we're doing. We may not realize it fully, but it is our duty as citizens to learn about the law and to obey it. As citizens of a democracy, we are also responsible for ensuring that the laws are good and fight to change them if we disagree with them. As someone who has studied the so-called "intellectual property" laws for some time, I state that they are a disgrace to this country and something we should all feel ashamed of. Nevertheless, we should obey the laws and participate in this wonderful system of government that so many of our ancestors paid the ultimate price for us to enjoy. If you don't like a law, by all means fight to change it, but don't break it. If a man can die for your right to call yourself an American, you can damn well vote and fight to make this country worth his sacrifice.

What I would like to see happen is for us to negotiate with developers. Let's argue with them and not make promises we don’t intend to keep. We need more people willing to say, "No, I won't accept that license because it is too restrictive" and leave that game on the shelf. Let us send a message to the industry that we want more rights and won't accept a product that we feel asks too much of us. If you want to be able to share a game with your friends, make sure it's released under a license that gives you permission to do that. If you want to hack the game or use its code to make a game of your own, make sure the license lets you do that. There are people out there releasing games under licenses that let you do all of these wonderful things and more. But people are turning their nose up at these offers and instead disgracing themselves by lying and cheating. In my opinion, it is better to do without than to compromise your values. If more people will say "No!" to unfair licenses and support open source, free software, public domain, shareware, and other types of licenses, things will get better. The market will adapt to give you what you want.

Now, as far as abandonware is concerned, I will say this—Let us try to get in touch with the folks who "own the promise," so to speak, and see if they will change its terms or relinquish it altogether. This may not be the author or developer, but some other corporation or entity that currently holds the "rights" to the package. Let us work together to find and ask these folks if they will consider "liberating" the software so that it might persevere beyond the obsolescence of its intended platform. Let us support good people like Matt Matthews of Liberated Games, who has been doing exactly this task for us. If a developer says "No," let's agree to leave that game alone. Let the damn thing rot. After all, the developer has paid the price of damning that work to obscurity; it's his loss. I believe many people out there would agree to release their old games into the public domain or under a general public license if they were properly compensated. We need consortiums of videogame historians and enthusiasts who are willing to buy the rights to abandoned games so that we can preserve and make them available to everyone. If enough of us got together and pooled our resources, we could enrich the public domain with thousands of great games—all without telling a single lie.

Gamers, I've grown up a lot since I copied my first floppy. I hope that some of you have, too, and the rest of you will soon. Let's respect the law, respect each other, respect developers, and agree to do what's right. Anything else is unacceptable to a true American.

Matt Matthews, Guest Editor from Liberated Games and Curmudgeon Gamer: I am increasingly uncomfortable and unhappy with the state of copyright law and old videogames. In particular, I think that even the most innocent copying of games is probably illegal under current laws and licenses.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a lawyer, but I have spent a reasonable amount of time trying to educate myself about what the law says on copyright. I'd be happy to learn that I'm wrong on these issues.

Most recreational use of emulators, whether for a console or a home computer or an arcade machine, is based on the use of a software copy of the game program and data, colloquially called a ROM. The law permits a backup copy of software to be made by the licensed owner of an original copy of the software. Here's how the law could be interpreted such that I could almost never make use of a backup copy of software that I own.

Skate or Die
Skate or Die (C64)
©1987 Electronic Arts
I own an original 5.25" floppy diskette of Skate or Die by Electronic Arts for the Commodore 64, complete with the original flat cardboard folder and instructions. First, suppose I'd like to make a backup of that software into a more stable medium. As with most software of that era, Skate or Die was stored on the diskette along with reasonably troublesome copy prevention. It might not even be possible for me to create a perfect copy of the diskette with consumer hardware. Am I allowed, under the backup copy provision, to obtain the copy from someone else, say in the form of a cracked copy of the game from a website for FTP site? I'm not sure that's clear. Let's assume that this isn't a problem.

(Incidentally, the Commodore 64 is an easy case. There actually are pretty robust tools for making backups using easily obtained hardware. In the case of a NES cartridge or the chips in an arcade board, the backup may be extremely hard and expensive to make.) Worse yet, even if I could make a useful copy of the game on my own with additional software (there were cracking programs for this precise purpose), the method itself might put me in violation of another part of copyright law. The software which makes a copy may very well modify the original version in order to create that useful copy. That's a derivative work, something that copyright law may prohibit. Again, let's assume this isn't a problem and move on. Now, let's assume I've somehow made a legal backup copy of Skate or Die and stored it in D64 format on a personal computer. Here comes the worst part: this backup is available for my use in a situation where my original fails to work. Since I have a working original copy, by definition I cannot use the backup, therefore I cannot use the backup with an emulator. So the solution is to destroy my original, right? Ok, but am I even allowed to use the backup on anything but the original hardware, or in the original format? Am I required to make another 5.25" floppy diskette and use it only on a real Commodore 64? If you begin to see the issues I've raised as serious issues, then it becomes clear that nearly all use of copyrighted software with emulation is potentially illegal, perhaps in several ways.

Mark Vergeer, Armchair Arcade Assistant Editor: Today the attitude towards videogames is changing. Games are now widely perceived as an important cultural entity. Academic media studies are extending to include games, and games are being written about in academic journals. Let's face it—games are becoming an integral and important part of our culture.

Game publishers use proprietary formats that can only be used on proprietary hardware. When it’s not economically viable for companies to continue to support the specific hardware that plays the media, there is a big chance of “cultural impoverishment” because it’s considered illegal to use/access the media in any other way. You will even be imprisoned for trying! So culture is lost because it's not economically viable or illegal to keep it accessible.

But if companies only see dollar signs and don’t take their responsibility towards the game-culture, then the people will have to themselves, and I see emulation as a necessity for preserving this culture. Today you can still get a functioning NES, but what if the last one dies on us? Of course, some game companies do ‘preserve’ culture in their own money making ways by releasing rewrites of original games for the new incarnation of consoles. Sometimes these classic collections turn out great. But it’s almost never the same as the real thing. It’s like reading a rehashed, modernized version of Hamlet written by Ms. Rowling (which will no doubt be a wonderful read) and pretend it’s the real Shakespearean-deal.

I do not condone/approve of copying modern/recent games and running those on emulators and actually steal software this way. Especially when it concerns systems and games that are still commercially available. But I think emulation should be considered legal when it concerns older platforms that are considered commercially ‘dead’ and money is not being lost by emulation.

Why not release the old games to the public domain copy protection free after the money is earned so that libraries can preserve the games and programmers are able to create ‘players’ like SCUMMVM to keep the game code compatible and running on modern hardware/software environments? The abandonware solution is a pretty good one in my opinion.

Today the world, and especially the media industry, is going a bit overboard with all those copy protection schemes/copyright laws. Often those schemes make life pretty miserable for regular users and sometimes it even destroys the compatibility and durability of the media. Error correction and copy protection on CD/DVD media often interferes with each other and we end up with a less durable solution. For example buying an audio CD and expecting it to play on your car CD-player might give you some unpleasant surprises. Some audio CDs are so mangled by copy protection schemes that the disks aren’t technically and legally audio CDs anymore and aren’t even allowed to sport the compact disc logo!

Mat Tschirgi, Armchair Arcade Assistant Editor: Given that emulators are technically illegal, I still support it, but only when it applies to classic systems—emulating a NES game would be much more acceptable than emulating a Gamecube game.

Emulation allows gamers to experience a wide variety of games, many never released in their home country. It enables gamers to gain a greater appreciation for the history of gaming as a whole, whether they just want to see where the Ninja Gaiden series began or if they want to complete their own "survey history" course on fighting games.

The use of emulators allows me to get music for my online video game music radio show, Do the Mario!. Though most of the time I get music that is ripped by others in a proprietary format, sometimes I have to extract the music from the games themselves. A lot of video games never were given a proper soundtrack release in the first place and through some emulators, one can rip their own soundtrack to listen to on their own time.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Genesis)
©1993 Sega
I really wish more companies would release compilations of their older software. Some of the most fun I've had recently has been from playing through Sega's Sonic Collection for the GC, which had a relatively smooth interface and a decent sampling of the early Sonic titles. In the home video and DVD market, lots of older titles are released over and over again in new special editions. Why this isn't done for computer and video games is a mystery? I know of a lot of friends that would be willing to check out a compilation of classic Castlevania titles...

Cecil Casey, Armchair Arcade Web Editor: We all have to say that PC emulation is a direct violation of the copyright holder's legal rights. This places these activities squarely into the realm of illegal under the current laws. But this in no way means that these activities have been detrimental to the copyright holder's interests. In fact MAME and its non-arcade brother MESS have allowed many otherwise dead systems to have commercial life breathed back into them.

Let me start with an example that we have hashed over many times: The Amiga emulation scene. For all intents and purposes, the Amiga copyrights really were of little or no value to anyone in the early to mid 90’s. That is because no one had any place to sell new Amiga operating systems. There was no hardware being built because all the core custom chips just cost too much to produce in quantities that would be used by people wanting to tinker with an old computer.

But never underestimate the Amiga user community. Yes, we all have been forced off the reservation and into the living hell that is Windows, but we are still the creative bunch of dreamers that we had been. So as soon as someone on the MAME/MESS projects announced that there was a cycle accurate 68000 CPU emulator the first faint blip of pulse awoke in the long dead Amiga.

As you all know how this story works out, I will jump ahead to the part that ties into the question of emulation. I can assure you that the people at Cloanto who own the rights to the Kickstart and Amiga DOS thank heaven that people gave them a business for free. For this gift I have to say that they have been grateful--take a look around the Amiga Forever web site and you find that they encourage making the Amiga OS open source.

Let's look at another example that Bill wrote about this month. The Commodore 64 30-in-1 game stick. There has been a lot of work by several people for that last couple of years to get a Commodore-64 emulated. And we have had one on the PC for quite some time. Along with the emulator there are several archives of C-64 software available for download. And up to this point no one has made any money on any of it. But once again the legal holders of the license have been given a gift in several ways. The software is readily available to them to download and work with, so once they get rights they can have most of the ‘warez’ available to them. Secondly Jerry Ellsworth managed to get the entire C-64 on to one ASIC and RAM/ROM. So they can lay out a whole C-64 on a board no bigger than the one in an Atari 2600 joystick PC board. At the last I had heard copyright holders had produced around 200,000 of these for sale through QVC. Not bad for a dead computer system.

From these examples I would have to say that emulation is TOTALLY beneficial to holders of copyright of older systems. You get archiving and development for free and get a built up retro fan base on the net. The thing that they have to learn is that if they bite the hand that gave them the free archives and development that people will leave them to twist in the wind once again. We don’t need what they are selling; we buy it out of curiosity, or nostalgia. Piss us off and we will put you back onto the garbage heap of history.

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Comments ...
bullet PoloPlayr | 08 Jan : 07:30

Comments: 19

Registered: 29 Mar : 07:32
Just a quick note to Matt, please have a look into the MASSIVE amounts of money Mr.Gates and his wife donates to charities every year. I heard figures and info about a fund that he set up that will donate more of his wealth than the US alone gives to charitable causes as a national state every year. Just to give nuance to the article...Ok, now I will read on

bullet Matt Barton | 08 Jan : 10:32

Comments: 169

Yes, I know about the Gates foundation and all. It's pretty lame. Millions of dollars sounds like a lot of money to us, and of course it is, but keep it in perspective--this is the world's richest man, and the "massive amounts of money" you speak of are pocket change. There's a story in the Bible called the Widow's Mite that really gets the point across well.

bullet PoloPlayr | 08 Jan : 10:54

Comments: 19

Registered: 29 Mar : 07:32
You truly are a socialist, Matt

bullet Matt Barton | 08 Jan : 11:14

Comments: 169

I just believe it's personally reprehensible to command that much wealth and not use it to improve the planet. It's a concept that has fallen into disuse today (much to our detriment): magnanimity. If you think about all of the wonderful gifts Gates could offer humanity...Why should all those resources be tied up with him? It's as though we've decided it's "okay" for one man to cram his house so full of food that he has to build huge barns to keep it, while folks are starving all around him or living on scraps. Even if you feel that there will always be starving people and we have NO obligation to help out the poor, you could at least agree that this money could go towards improving health care, advancing science, building libraries...Heck, anything!

Sadly, people are willing to tolerate huge personal fortunes like Gates' because we are living in a state of extreme moral decay. People dream of being just like Gates and wish to God they had that kind of wealth, which they would hoard as well. If you ask the average man on the street what he'd do if he won the lotto, and you sure as hell won't hear "I'd donate it all to charity, of course." The extent of most people's generosity is giving some of it to relatives and close family.

I have taken a position rather like Robert Reich's. If conditions improve in "Third World" countries, that's good news for everyone. The more people that have access to good education, health care, food, etc., the faster we advance as a species. The parasitical setup we have now, in which some 5% of the word population controls 60% of the wealth, retards our evolution.

bullet Fractalus! | 08 Jan : 11:19

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41

bullet Fractalus! | 08 Jan : 11:25

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
I've heard he intends to leave his children only $10 million each after he dies, the rest will go to charity.

bullet Matt Barton | 08 Jan : 11:32

Comments: 169

Have you heard the story of the widow's mite? Perhaps I should try to explain it, since its message is so often lost, especially nowadays. I'll put it into modern terms.

Let's think about the tsunami and all of the people who are donating to help those victims. Now, let's say I was a billionaire and donated a whopping $5,000 to the Red Cross. That's a lot of money, and I'm sure the Red Cross appreciates that kind of donation (as will all the victims who will ultimately receive the aid it enables). However, the billionaire will barely miss that $5,000. It'd be like our tossing a few quarters into a Salvation Army bucket after we've just spent $50,000 on a new HDTV. It's better than nothing, but it's entirely "painless."

Now let's say a kid has been saving all his tips from his waiter job to enjoy a Spring Break trip with his friends to Cancun. Let's say he's saved up about $1,000. Now, if he donates that $1,000 to the Red Cross, that's something that he will really feel. He'll have to stay at home when his friends go on the trip. Sure, it's not as great from a money-perspective as the billionaire's $5,000, but relatively speaking, it's a much greater sacrifice and thus more worthy of our praise.

The widow's mite story is even more poignant because you know that woman didn't have hardly any money. The coin she donated was thus worth more to God than all of the expensive gifts from the filthy rich.

My observation is that you don't get rich by being generous.

bullet PoloPlayr | 08 Jan : 13:14

Comments: 19

Registered: 29 Mar : 07:32
So, in short we should also have different prices in shops depending on how much money one has? A videogame is $5 for a poor person but a rich should have to pay $50?

Also, if the bigger sacrifice for a poor person is more worthy of our praise then isn't the clever person's rise to riches thereby also worthy of praise and poor people, following that way of thinking, deserving of the opposite of praise?

And Fractalus is correct about Gates just leaving a very small fraction of his fortune to his kids. Which I think is ridicilous.

bullet Matt Barton | 08 Jan : 13:29

Comments: 169

When you start talking about rich and poor people, it's important to keep things in perspective. People often imagine a gradual scale of poor people to rich people; a bell curve, perhaps, with most people in the middle-income bracket. This isn't the case. The top 10% (or even the top 5%) are literally off such charts. There's no sensible reason why it behooves us as a species to let such a small percentage of our population limit our access to those resources.

Mind you, I don't advocate just doling out money equally or any such nonsense. What I do advocate is that everyone should at least have access to decent housing, quality education, food, medical care, and entertainment that promotes good cultural values. It's important to me that everyone on this planet have these things--not just children, not just Americans, not just Floridians, not just Tamponians.

If someone tells me his dream is to become a millionaire, I'd tell him that dream is a poor one. One can only acquire such riches by denying basic human needs to others. It's reprehensible and base to want such things.

bullet Gunstar | 09 Jan : 01:17
Comments: 3

Registered: 08 Jan : 23:39
Matt, you are my kind of guy. We think alike and find value in the same concepts and beliefs in as far as what you've covered here is concerned. I know the story of the Widow's mite, the story of the good samaritan, i believe int the golden rule. I totally agree with you about filthy rich people like Bill gates; filthy is right, spiritually and morally filthy. By the way, I'm a Republican. Not a democrat, not a socialist and not a communist. I beleive in freedom, liberty at capitalism, and I'm relatively poor.

bullet Matt Barton | 09 Jan : 12:50

Comments: 169

I started learning "the hard lessons" about the degenerating effects of wealth when I was working at an apartment complex in college. Here I was, a 4.0 student, hard-working and dedicated to education, and I was without reliable transportation, living in a rotten dorm (later a trailer), and trying to make ends meet by picking up trash and cleaning up vacated apartments at this complex. At the complex all I saw were rich kids driving around in shiny SUVs, sports cars, trucks, and luxury cars. Their parents paid for their apartment rent and all other expenses. How did they respond to this? Parties, parties, parties. You wouldn't believe how many beer cans and liquor bottles were strewn about this place. The girls were for the most part total-airheads with nothing in their minds but clothes and whether some other girl was having sex with "their man." The guys were idiots, barely able to speak a coherent sentence, and --I kid you not, just like gorillas--would ramble about in small groups making animal noises "Whoop!" and such. Drug use and unplanned pregnancy was rampant--God only knows about STDs. Nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE, were the effects of a good education visible, and this was an apartment complex on the university's grounds! At night, the place was a circus, and a dangerous one at that (small, drunk girls careening around a cramped parking lot in a 2-ton SUV ought to give you some indication). To say that these kids were immature is like saying that the Tsunami got a few people wet.

All of this was possible because wealthy parents could afford to "give their kids all the advantages." Yes, I'd like to say that this behavior cost them, and they were forced to drop out, and that I succeeded despite having little income and no financial support from home. However, that would be inaccurate.

Those same punks finally graduated, and thanks to Daddy's connections, were able to get good jobs and keep up their family's clan. The gorillas undoubtedly ended up with beautiful wives (which they cheated on, naturally) and the girls good husbands. Even if they flunked out, Daddy would just talk to the dean of the university president (After all, he donated liberally to the alumni fund, right??) and get it "straightened out." This is particularly true if a kid is on a sports team; the grades for those students are changed frequently, often without the teacher's knowledge.

All of this bullshit would be impossible in a meritocracy, which is the only form of government I approve. In this system, resources are granted to those who earn (or merit them) rather than by good luck (being born into a rich family) or "connections."

People like to bitch and moan about standardized testing, and yes, I know they aren't the best, but at least it's a way to get by "connections" and get some evaluation of a kid's ability. I always aced these tests with no problem; "test anxiety" may be a problem, but there are methods of treating it. The reason most of the people who are most out-spoken on the subject are is because Mom & Daddy won't be able to easily change the scores their brat receives on the test.

Geez, you got me started. Time to do something else! !

bullet finkelmana | 12 Jan : 17:05
Comments: 3

Registered: 11 Jan : 11:21
Gettting back to the emulator topic...

Ive been looking at the DMCA

the short is, if you OWN something, its yours. You can back it up to wherever you damn well please. That is your right given to you by the House and Senate. Also, you can hack the code all you want. You dont see the FBI knocking in peoples door for writing in books do you? I can write a book word for word on my bedroom wall if I want. So emulation of something you own is OK. As long as you dont DISTRIBUTE it, you can have a billion copies of whatever modified or not.

The DMCA also states it a crime to circumvent anti-piracy measures built into most commercial software and outlaws the manufacture, sale, or distribution of code-cracking devices used to illegally copy software. So how DO you backup protected software you own if it is protected?

bullet patso | 13 Jan : 09:18
Comments: 1

Registered: 26 Aug : 08:03
I am only interested in the computers/consoles that I used to own and use PC emulators for the hardware that I couldn't keep due to upgrades etc.

I see no problem in using an emulator and games for older systems, my main ones are Atari 2600, Spectrum, Atari St and Amiga. I feel I am justified, rightly or wrongly to play games that I bought previously. I do not have space to keep 15 years of gaming, so emulation is the only way I can re-live some of the 'good old' days. I would hate to think of how much money I spent on some of these systems.

I do agree emulating current arcade/consoles is stealing as many of these games are still retail and as such I have kept all my PS1/PS2 and PC Games (until the wife says I must make some room!)

Just my thoughts...

bullet Havok69 | 13 Jan : 21:36

Comments: 2

Registered: 13 Jan : 00:48
To all the people that scorn emulation, and the possesion of ROMs, saying they are all illegal - I refer you to one brillant bit of legislation that states older ROMs are in fact quite legal.


This only applies to obsolete technology, so PS2, Xbox, etc need not apply. For them, I do agree that they should not be emulated. The hard work for these systems that has been done by engineers and devlopers deserves compensation, as long as the hardware is available, and the company provides support, and still exists.

So, preserve our past, embrace emulation, and to those of you that whine about emulators - I ignore you, I'm too busy playing Missile Command with MAME!

And, if you would like to build your own emulated arcade machine, you simply must check out this site:


bullet Matt Barton | 14 Jan : 10:23

Comments: 169

What a find, Havoc! I can't believe more people aren't talking about that bit of legislation. However, it doesn't say that you can freely distribute the ROMs; it just says that folks who, say, transfer games from an NES cart to a software ROM are not in violation of the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA. It also mentions dongles.

I had a program called Scala MM 200 that came with my Amiga 3000. It had a red dongle that had to be plugged into the mouse port for the program to work. Now, all these years later, of course these dongles aren't being manufactured. The only way I could use the software I bought would be to somehow cimrcumvent that dongle. Thus, according to this exemption, I could find a crack file or the like on a website and use it to bypass the copy protection keeping me from accessing the program.

There's a difference between that and outright distributing the program.

I look at it this way. Let's say you were a novelist. You publish a novel and receive a 5% royalty on each copy sold. After a year or so, the publisher drops the book and it goes out of print. Maybe you don't realize any more profit from that book. Twenty years later, you are surfing the net and come across a PDF file of your book and notice that it's been downloaded 30,000 times. Would you be upset at this? Well, you might say, "Wow! That's great," and feel joy that people were still excited about your book. Or you might be angry that all those people are sharing your work without your permission--and not paying you.

Probably what would happen is that you'd tell the website to take down the book and then try to offer your own PDF file for a fee. Or you might use the fact that it was being downloaded so much to convince a publisher to give it another run.

Don't get me wrong. I think that authors ought to be happy when others are willing to distribute their work for free. However, they ought to have a say in the matter. I choose to release my articles under a CC license so that anyone can copy them, re-format them, etc. I'd be pretty upset, though, if I sent a private email to you with confidential information and you pasted it on the web for everyone to see.

When folks distribute non-free software, they aren't really doing anyone any favors. Yes, you can play thousands of game for free, whoopee. However, you could be spending that time distributing free software and encouraging folks to release or re-release their software as free software.

What I'd like to do is form a consortium of emulation enthusiasts who would contact the coypright holders of obsolete games and ask them to release the binary and source code into the public domain (or under the GPL). If they wouldn't do this for free, as a consortium, we could offer a monetary incentive. I'm willing to bet that most of the MAME ROMS could be had for well under $100. I bet that copyright holders would be clamoring to contact the consortium to try to get them to buy out their rights--anything to make a quick buck. Meanwhile, we'd be seeding the public domain with awesome free software.

bullet joe_jet | 14 Jan : 10:43

Comments: 11

Registered: 29 Mar : 14:08
Matt, i have a question, it is not really in tune with your last post but i am curious what you would say...

Lets say you learned that a guy across the street from you was xeroxing the latest newstand magazines so he could illegally profit from selling them. Well to sell them he had to bind them and package them for his illigal activity. Now lets say that many copies are slightly damaged and he tosses them out in the trash every week. In fact the wind blows and you find them all over your lawn.

Would you pick them up and read them from time to time? If you did, and it opened you up to a whole line of publications you never dreamed of purchasing, and now you bought them from your local newstand, would you say this is a bad thing?

Quite honestly, i think the casual pirate purchases more hardware and software than those that do not. If piracy were stamped out to ZERO i think the overall industry would suffer and i truly wonder if the industry even really intends to make it happen, or are they simply trying to make sure it is never done en masse, like napster did for music.

bullet Bill Loguidice | 14 Jan : 11:00

Comments: 307

Again, joe_jet, as I asked in a recent forum topic, wouldn't these pirates though STILL want to play games? Surely if piracy were impossible, they would be able to devote time and money to actually BUYING things that they wanted. The money they would have spend on piracy equipment and supplies could then be funneled into games that they REALLY wanted. Most of us have way too many games anyway. This would make many of us all the more focused about what we bought.

bullet Matt Barton | 14 Jan : 12:01

Comments: 169

I've talked to authors who hate libraries and consider them dens of thievery. Let's not forget that the movie industry almost succeeded in shutting down VCRs, and nobody welcomed the rental industry until it proved itself.

However, what's good for the industry isn't necessarily what's good for us. We need a balance--in other words, a trade-off that we can all agree on (extremists aside), and when we find that perfect balance, we all need to work to see that it's respected.

I think it's very true that I wouldn't have been exposed to 1/100th of the music and software I have enjoyed over the years if it weren't for unauthorized sharing. Likewise, I wouldn't have read hardly any books if it weren't for libraries and used bookstores. I feel that I would be much less of who I am today if I weren't able to do all of that--if the culture industry was able to enforce a "zero sharing" policy.

The problem with copyright law now is that the balance has shifted enormously--there's an anvil on the industry's side and a pin on the consumer side. We could look at that and say, "Okay, so that means we ought to crack software and distribute it like crazy! Those bastards deserve it," or, we could say "We need to do something about this situation--the balance must be restored."

As far as I'm concerned, if you want to find a torrent and download Half-Life 2 instead of heading to Wal-Mart and laying down $50 for it, that's your business. There are reasons for and against either choice. I don't think you should be arrested or sued for doing either. However, I don't think it's ultimately in your best interests to download it, just as it's not in Valve's best interests to act in such a way as to make you WANT to do that.

People don't have to tip waiters. Yet, most people do. Why? Because there is social pressure to do that. Unless you get bad service, you leave a tip because you know you'd be a jerk not to. What game developers need to do is find a way to put that kind of pressure on people to get people to buy their games. Threats, fear tactics, and invasive copy protection schemes just make the situation FAR, FAR worse.

bullet wingnut | 14 Jan : 12:48
Comments: 9

Registered: 14 Jan : 12:44
This site is new to me & You guys seem pretty cool & make lot's of valid points. But the wheels of industry that drove our country to become a better place & set the standard for the world to fallow have been twisted & perverted to cater to those who's only ambitions are to get rich. What's wrong with wealth ? Nothing. As long as you never forget who you are & where you came from. I am not sure about the whole B. Gates thing as this is the first time I have ever herd it. But if it is true I tip My hat to him. He didn't get where he is by sitting on his @$$ & doing nothing with his life, so He deserves the success he attained. But I would like to point out a few factors in our society that have not been addressed or ignored. Most people do not take into account that there are shady dealings going on in our congress & senate every day. What I'm talking about is the wealthy buying off any law they can afford. Lobbyests have twisted the laws & perverted the whole meaning of democracy. Every day I turn on the news & see another drug being pulled from the shelves & yet the FDA is supposed to be there to protect us. But it simply does not. Every day I hear of charity's abusing the funds they were given by people who's only goal was to try & make the world a better place. But here we see the timeless debate about weather sharing files are legal or not. Folks, open your eyes & take a look around. You believe this society is free but that is a clever illusion. A person isn't as allowed to express his or her thoughts as they would wish. Even now some people are out there thinking of ways to blast what I have to say simply because they don't agree. Thats ok. it is your right. Although I would call that blindness.

The debate over the sharing of files is asinine. There are those who believe it's wrong & those who believe it's right. But consider this. Are the people pointing the finger's telling you that your breaking the law not breaking the law themselves ? I consider lobbying bribery. How ? A piece of legislation conflicts with your interests but would better the country & you buy a congressman vote. Doesn't that sound like a conflict of interest ? Would you consider it a crime to know a cure for a desease & refuse to make that information public because it threatens your way of life ? Would you consider it a crime to know a way of eliminating fossil fuels & saving our environment but keeping that quiet because it threatens your lifestyle ?

These kind of things go on every day weather you know it or not. By the wealthy & powerful & yet they have the nerve to call someone who shares a song or a game online a criminal ?
Hypocrites !! So Until I have a reason to believe in my country anymore I'll keep on downloading. When they change, so will I.

bullet joe_jet | 14 Jan : 14:32

Comments: 11

Registered: 29 Mar : 14:08
Bill - I really dont think so. I guess this is where the magazine illustration differs. If i like Sports Illustrated, i might see ESPN the magazine on the newstand and peruse it. I might actually READ parts of it and then buy it. If i dont like it, i wont buy it again. I would never buy or even look at a magazine on basket weaving on the newstand, but if it was on my lawn, i might find it fascinating and want to subscribe.

But games cost $50. Most will not spend that as freely as $5. And after you get burned with a few $50 purchases, i think you will buy less. Demos should alieviate this problem, but i have found demos to be crippled to the point of not being enjoyable anyway, actually souring you from purchasing them.

If games were $19, you would have more impulse purchases, and wouldnt feel jipped if you bought a bad game.... i know many people who bought NFL 2K5 on X-Box just because of the price. DVD's are this way also. Because you can pick up a DVD for $19, who wants to go through the aggrivation of copying them? iTunes i know, has done away with many casual music traders because the ease of delivery and price.

There is no reason to justify the prices of games other than the massive profits. The way you deal with it.....

1) Build a good game
2) Price
3) Give extras - (maps, a REAL MANUAL,) (i bought shadow of the beast for the T-Shirt!)
4) Build a good game
5) Price

bullet Matt Barton | 14 Jan : 15:25

Comments: 169

I've thought about price. What if you saw a FPS you'd never heard of for $20 sandwiched between Doom 3 ($40) and Half-Life 2 ($50). Your assumption is going to be--Oh, that $20 game is either old or dumb. You might buy it because you can't afford the other two, or may be like me and just enjoy trying games that you've never heard of before. More than likely you'd pass on it or assume something was inferior about it.

So, ultimately a high price helps sell a product, because we associate higher prices with better quality, even though it's not always an accurate standard of measurement.

bullet joe_jet | 14 Jan : 15:54

Comments: 11

Registered: 29 Mar : 14:08
Not true with NFL2K5

maybe the casual gamer would think that, but if the company was making this a selling point, and it was news at gamespot, there would be overwhelming support.

Also - i buy the $1.99 oat/flakes cerial over the $5.99 kellogs version.... the box has a big $1.99 price with exclamation point on it. I said, what the heck - i will give it a try, now thats all i buy.

Another area of overpriced merchandise!!

Dont get me wrong, i can afford games, and i buy them (half life 2, joint operations, Tribes 2, but thery are still overpriced.

bullet joe_jet | 14 Jan : 15:56

Comments: 11

Registered: 29 Mar : 14:08
By the way, when i picked up Half Life 2 and found there was no MANUAL i was tempted to return it immediately! What kind of crap is that????? But i am weak, tooooo weak

bullet Bill Loguidice | 14 Jan : 16:00

Comments: 307

Price is NOT a justification for piracy. It's the seller's right to set any price that they please. It's up to the purchaser to decide if it's fair or not. If you don't think it's fair, it's not your "right" to copy it instead as "revenge". If you don't think a product is worth the price, don't buy, don't use it! Eventually the prices will adjust, and if not, then maybe YOU'RE wrong.

As for demos, I'm a BIG believer in them. If the developer can't create a demo good enough to make me think highly enough of their game to buy, then so be it, that's their loss of a sale. I don't need to pirate. I can rent. I can download a demo. For most consoles I can get a monthly demo disc (and my GameCube collection is lacking mostly because Nintendo is the only one of the three that doesn't provide a demo disc with their official magazine. Again, THEIR loss.).

The other weapon that we have? Reviews, word-of-mouth, the Internet. Magazines. We have INFORMATION. Information is power. Us, being theoretical smart consumers, should ALWAYS do our research before purchasing that $50 game, be it through a rental, demo or reading reviews/hearing stuff that we trust. Again, piracy is NOT the answer when there's so many alternatives. And I also go back to my original arguments - it is not our given right to play a game. If you want it bad enough, you pay the market value for it. If not, don't. You don't need ANY game, ever.

bullet Matt Barton | 14 Jan : 16:15

Comments: 169

Well, Bill, I don't see why you keep emphasizing that "You don't NEED a game" as a justification for not sharing one with someone who wants it. After all, we don't NEED clothes, at least not here in Tampa, yet we all wear them and would even arrest someone who didn't have them on (except at nudist colonies!) The same is true for many other things that you NEED to function properly in a society, yet don't need in order to survive. Does that make them any less necessary? I don't think so. Having access to the latest games is really important for a lot of people, particularly children who can't possibly purchase all of them.

The old-fashioned solution to this problem is the library system. Kids (especially the poor kids who most desperately need them) often can't afford children's books. The library is full of them. What we need is something like that for games.

I'd like to be able to go to a library, "check out" Half-Life 2, play it for a few weeks, then return it so that somebody else could use it. Libraries already let you check out DVDs, why not games? Seems logical.

Furthermore, this process could be made even more effective if the library just placed the games on a server, so the public could borrow them without worrying about late fees or keeping someone else from having to wait on it. This thing could be wide-open, 24-7.

Would publishers like this system? Hell, no. Yet, we DO have that capability NOW, and it's a shame that we're not taking advantage of it. Some things will have to change, of course, but I think we're moving to something like this anyway and that it's inevitable. The best thing publishers could be doing right now is moving to a service-model instead of a units-based model.

bullet Bill Loguidice | 14 Jan : 16:22

Comments: 307

Sorry, Matt, games are not a necessity. It's not like there aren't plenty of free games out there, quality games. Tough nuts if you can't play Half-Life 2 for whatever reason. Boo hoo. Nothing gives someone the right to steal something like a game just because they WANT it. I want a million dollars - boy would my life be more wonderful - I could quit my job, do AA and Myth Core full-time, and stay home with the baby. Doesn't mean I should STEAL a million dollars. If I want that million dollars, I have to EARN it. Is it so wrong to have to EARN games? No. And again, it's not like there aren't PLENTY of FREE games out there for the PC. Are you going to tell me if someone doesn't have a PC they should steal that? What about a decent Internet connection? Should they steal that too? Hell, let's throw society to the crapper and let everyone have everything for free. I'm sure that would work out well and we'd all skip through the streets happily in our socialist paradise!

bullet joe_jet | 14 Jan : 16:40

Comments: 11

Registered: 29 Mar : 14:08
I never said it was justified. I am just trying to explain it, and give my opinion of what would make it less of an issue.

The bottom line is that people want games and companies want money. I think they are losing opportunity to make money by over charging and realeasing crap.

My secondary point is that while a "sharer" may be "evil", he usually is a person who buys a good chunck of what he has. Going after this guy will only hurt the companies more.

Want to stop people from downloading, then make your games secure, or make them depend on a manual or make them so good that you want to buy them or make them "phone home" like most multiplayer games do. Go get the guy who is cracking and distributing the games.... but dont bust a kid with Kazaa because all he has to do is type "doom 3" in a free program he downloaded and in a few hours he has it.

Once again, if you had coverless magazines all over your lawn, would you not be tempted to read them?

bullet joe_jet | 14 Jan : 16:44

Comments: 11

Registered: 29 Mar : 14:08
Bill, if you found a $20 bill on your lawn, would you throw it in the trash becasue you did not "earn it"?

bullet donald_ferren | 14 Jan : 19:05

Comments: 5

Registered: 16 Jan : 14:00
Well, there's a big difference between a $20 blowing into your yard and actively going out and downloading a game off of the internet.

Another thing to consider about human nature. We tend to value only the things that cost us. If you are given something for free, how much do you value it? But, if you worked your ass off for the same thing, wouldn't you value it that much more?

Since I am amoung the working poor, I end up HIGHLY valueing every game I buy because I have to scrape up every penny for it. I GUARANTEE you that I don't hold anywhere near as much value those for those few romz I do download.

bullet Fighter17 | 14 Jan : 19:32

Comments: 64

Registered: 05 Nov : 06:31
Sooner or later I got to join about this topic.

Everyone knows now that I download Dreamcast and PSX games off the internet. But the games that I download are so hard to find, is like you have to pay $100 for each game. One game I'm download a long time ago was Gaia Seed for the PSX. The game is so rare, it cost like $100 bucks on ebay. I don't got that money, then again I'm only 15 and many people my age "DO" download video games off the internet. My age group don't care about the cops, or the FBI, or the game market. They only care for the game only, and we do whatever it takes to get the game, even it mean downloading the game off the internet.

I'm doing a favor right now for a friend of my to give him a lot of GBA games like the New Legend of Zelda for the GBA, the new Kingdom Hearts game, and more. And all the games fit on one CD. We don't think about the video game market that what we are doing is wrong. Many people don't care about the FBI waring before each movie on a VHS and DVD, because we copy the video without feeling bad about it at all.

What I'm saying is that many people don't give a F*** about the FBI, the Video Game Market, and more. Because hey, we don't got the job and we what to get the game some other way.
Also many High School people I know download Doom 3 out of Kazaa.

bullet Fractalus! | 14 Jan : 21:01

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
I think we'll see an increasing emphasis on the online multiplayer element in games (starting with the next gen consoles), people will have to buy the product if they want to play.

bullet joe_jet | 14 Jan : 21:48

Comments: 11

Registered: 29 Mar : 14:08
There is not a big difference donald.

For those in the know, these games are just sitting there. And they are not on your lawn. They are in your house. You dont need to even put on a pair of underwear to get them, you dont need to bend over and pull your back, and you can have them in minuites.

All the opponants to it have done it themselves so how can you say it is wrong to a teenager?

If your cable box had all the HBO and Pay channels showing up for free and you did not order them, would you turn away as you flipped the channel?

Seb, you are right - online multiplayer and (unfortunately) online ACTIVATION are going to be the only way to stop it. But my point again - when it comes to that - will the end result be what the companies are looking for? I say no.

bullet Fractalus! | 14 Jan : 21:54

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
It will result in fewer, but better games.

bullet wingnut | 15 Jan : 09:11
Comments: 9

Registered: 14 Jan : 12:44
The american society is completely screwed up in general. I see some of bill's points as well as Matt's. I understand the importance of earning what you have & it does make you appreciate it more However I must point out the fact that there are those who serve the public that manipulate the laws to work in their favor. Politician's for example are not subjected to the same retirement plan the U.S. citizens are subjected to, Yet they are constantly (( BARROWING )) from our retirement that we call Social Security. They blew trillions of our tax dollars on rebuilding a country that will ultimately destroy itself again & our president in his infinite wisdom forgave their debt. What's wrong with this picture? My tax dollors are being spent !! Money I earned & paid in to My Government. Where is My say on the issue ? I don't want their debt forgiven because some of it's My money !

If you consider all the things that the average joe schmoe endours you can really see why most people do not really care one way or another that what they are doing is wrong. With the cost of living as high as it is & the wages paid it's no wonder people resort to stealing & selling drugs. 23% of your earnings are taken out of your check on taxes. 5 to 8% are taken out on sales taxes for every item you buy. When you buy a home or a vehicle you have to pay taxes. When you own land you own taxes. Tax on gas is staggering !! 15% of the total sale of gas is tax ! Where does it end ? The old saying goes the rich get richer & the poor get poorer.

Ask yourself now “why is our country in a state of moral decay”? It's simply because the cost of living is too high & it seems our elected leaders don't give a damn about us. What does this have to do with games ? Simple, Most people would love to have the extra bread to lay down on a game or music cd or any computer software, But cant afford it because of the ridiculous amount of money they blow on living expenses. When you are born into this world you are given a number & thats the only thing the government sees. You are simply a number it is your job to work , pay your taxes & die before you reach retirement. Thats the extent of care they have for you. I guess this is why I don't care when I take a piece of software or download a song.

Revenge ? No ... sticking it to the man ? No ... So why ? ... Why not ? It's Illegal .. So ! These are some of the answers you get. The answers are cold & with no feeling. So ask yourself “why do people feel the way they do about things of this nature”? Simple. you give what you get. No one in industry cares about you. All they see are dollar signs. I guarantee that if a company reached out to a community with a sample of their game & said we want to know from you the player “what would make this game better to you” ? They wouldn'd have a single problem with piracy because that single act of care would show the public they don't see you as simply a number, that they value your opinion as an individual.

bullet wingnut | 15 Jan : 09:40
Comments: 9

Registered: 14 Jan : 12:44
Another point I would like to make is this. If the issue of downloading roms is such a hot topic, Why don't the gaming industry make it possible to purchase a rom that you desire from a site like the recording industry FINALLY did with music ?

bullet Fractalus! | 15 Jan : 10:02

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
The game industry isn't making more old roms available because the market isn't big enough. The profits would be so minimal that it wouldn't be worth bothering with. And there's the various legal issues: tracking down who owns what. A lot of these companies have been out of business for a long time. But companies like Nintendo are making their older titles available on the GBA with their classic NES series. You can download and play some classic games on Xbox Live Arcade. Sites like Starroms is another legal alternative. And many older companies like CinemaWare are making their old games available for free on their web site. Bungie is allowing the classic Marathon series to be distributed for free. It's a welcome new trend.. i'm sure you'll see more of that in the future.

bullet Fractalus! | 15 Jan : 10:20

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
As for your argument that you feel justified stealing from publishers because you feel society isn't fair... i'll let that piece of flawed logic speak for itself. As the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right.
Companies are there to make money that's true, but they do work closely with the fans. A lot of them are participating in focus groups before the start of each new project. Even during production fans and non-fans are invited to test the games. Their input is invaluable to the production team. After the release of a demo, the production team spend a lot of time reading message boards to see what worked and what didn't. Changes are made, if the schedule permits (games are expensive to make, as you probably know).
It would be stupid not to get input from the fans.

bullet wingnut | 15 Jan : 13:46
Comments: 9

Registered: 14 Jan : 12:44
I never stated that society wan't fair. My point is that anyone who wields any influence or financial power in this country can buy any law or rule they desire. Politicians make laws but Really in who's benefit ? They can make any law they desire to make any of their own activities legal. Wouldn't you love to work on a job where you made your own rules ?

My point was simply. Most people in general feel trapped by their own circumstances so they DO tend to do things that would often be considered unsavory. The drive to better ones self or to have more is a powerful motivator & often people do not feel the American dream is possible.

It's a double edge sword. We live in a time now where Political correctness ( witch to me is total bullshit ) can make or break a person. Everyone is so easily offended & ready to sew at the drop of a hat. No one cares about each other anymore. I believe this decay started simply with separation of church & state because someone was afraid their child would be influenced by the beliefs of another religion. Yet they were allowed to pledge alliegance to the flag ? But don't we still see Prayers before every senate & house meeting ? Don't we still see people being sworn into political office ?

This society was built on idea's that were intended for the good of all those who looked for a better life. Not to be manipulated by outsiders who took offince in everything the country stood for. & this Will be our own undoing & it has already started. This kind of behavior is only the tip of the ice berg. Our country is on self destruct.

So to think I do not see how taking something that is not yours is wrong is a gross understatement. It has now become a free for all anything that can be put on a computer can be pirated. Anything even a cherished family photo you might have saved can be taken without you ever knowing.

It is a fruitless effort for company's to even create anything anymore because everything now is fair game.

I know it's wrong .. but I simply don't care anymore.

So let me ask you something Fractalus. Would you pay for peace of mind ? & if so ... how much do you think it's worth ?

But before you answer that consider this. Not even peace of mind is free. Why ? I believe we all have paid for insurance for a variety of thing's from our car to our own death. You even have to pay to die & rest in peace.

No life isn't fair & no nothing is free. But sooner or later everyone's own selfishness & greed will be their own demise.

bullet Fractalus! | 15 Jan : 14:59

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
To me it's simple: i like to support products that i think are good. I vote with my dollars. It's my way of saying: "I want to see more of this". The products not worth buying are usually not worth pirating anyway. As for emulation, i use common sense. Nobody cares if I download & play "Alley Cat" on Atari 8bits... but if they made a nice "Best of Synapse" compilation on GBA and it's priced right i'd probably buy it.

bullet Mark1970 | 16 Jan : 08:42

Comments: 114

For some the "American Dream" is more possible than for others.
The world isn't fair.

If you pirate/copy/use pass on to friends games that are still being sold then you rob the creators from their food on the table it's as simple as that. It's definitely not going to enhance the future games coming out. It'll only create more fail prone copy protection schemes and more expensive games.

If use use games that are obsolete and are not economically viable anymore then I'd say using them on a regular basis doesn't rob anybody from their daily bread and I am all for emulation of those type of games. Or releasing them without protection schemes as freeware/public domain. It's my opinion that the latter is something that should be done for all software if it is supposed to be accessible in the future/for future generations. Shortsightedness and the hunger for more money makes people make poor decisions when it comes to preserving game culture!

But maybe game culture isn't meant to be preserved and is it supposed to be something that is supposed to have only a very brief / perishable existance like fresh fruit....

bullet Matt Barton | 16 Jan : 12:19

Comments: 169

I've heard arguments like that before, Mark, and, no offense, but it's missing several points.

First, it doesn't matter to developers whether a game is still being published or not. They'd still like to get paid everytime someone downloads their game. Most of them think that eboutique is doing a bad thing by selling used software (because neither the developer nor the publisher makes any money in these transactions). Besides, whether a game is being published or not, someone (or some corporation, more likely) still owns the copyright to it. The copyright is the state-supported monopoly granted to creators, who promptly hand it over to a publisher, who typically owns it FOREVER. So, unless the owner of a copyright to one of these games officially releases it under a public license or contributes it to the public domain, it's still the same "crime" as sharing a work that's still on the shelf. It's really not the developers' fault if a publisher decides to quit publishing the title.

If you found a novel that was out of print and decided to setup your own print shop and start cranking them out, you'd likely be sued. If you found a novel that was in the public domain and did this, you'd be in the clear. The problem is that the term of copyright is INSANE, especially as it is applied to software.

Also, it's important to remember that downloading a game doesn't rob anyone of his daily bread. This is an erroneous argument based on a false premise; specifically, that someone who downloads a game would have bought the game had he not had that option. What we've found is that people who don't have the option simply don't buy (or play) as many games. As Mark Boeh of retro64 pointed out in an interview with me, the people who download games on P2P or have accounts with warez groups aren't the people who would buy his games anyway, so he doesn't even market towards them. Instead he markets to people who do have the money and who are interested in buying software.

The best thing we can do is to try to encourage folks whose games have fallen out of publication to release them into the public domain or a GPL, preferably with source code intact. I imagine that many of them would insist on being paid a fee to do this, so I'd like to organize a consortium of interested parties who could gather the resources to pay such fees.

All we really need is a name for the consortium, a website, and some committed members to get the thing started. They'd collect funds, then start the long, hard process of tracking down copyright owners of abandoned titles and persuading them to release these games under a public license or into the PD, preferably with source code intact.

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 13:17

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
Also, it's important to remember that downloading a game doesn't rob anyone of his daily bread. This is an erroneous argument based on a false premise; specifically, that someone who downloads a game would have bought the game had he not had that option. What we've found is that people who don't have the option simply don't buy (or play) as many games.

You're the one who are making an erroneous argument based on a false premise. People will never pay for something if they can get it for free. Do you seriously think that all pirates would *never* buy what they download anyway? That's so naive!
Yeah, all these ethical pirates they just download what they had no intention of buying... yeah, suuure...

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 13:25

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
it's important to remember that downloading a game doesn't rob anyone of his daily bread.

The problem is that Matt isn't in the industry, and as no idea how piracy can impact a dev team. As with most people the industry I have profit points on the games i made. Sales figures determine the size of the checks i'm getting. It also determine what kind of project i'm going to be involved next. Even if the game I just worked on is a classic, gets amazing review, if people don't buy it, we won't be making more of them.
I'm not trying to be "Holier Than Thou" here, piracy will always be with us.. but if you enjoy a game a lot and play it all the time... and you think it's quality... just go out and buy it. It really makes a difference. They're a lot of work involved in making these games, folks.

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 13:26

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
How many people went out and bought Half Life 2 instead of pirating it when there was no proper "warez" release the first week it was out?

bullet Fighter17 | 16 Jan : 13:52

Comments: 64

Registered: 05 Nov : 06:31
There were many Warez release of Half Life 2 out (I know, I piratiing DC games you know). The good news is that when you install Half Life 2, you have to do it via Stream. Many of these Warez version of HF2 I saw have old Stream accounts that was remove. What I mean is that go ahead, download HF2, and when you try to install, it will tell you to enter the Stream account on the HF 2 box. When you try to enter it, it saids that this account was expired and invalid. So if many PC games use the Stream system like in HF 2, they would be less pirating on PC games.

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 14:03

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
Fighter17, i think that Steam/activation based systems is where the industry is headed... From the posts on IsoNews the first few weeks of release most people just gave up jumping through hoops trying to get one of the pirate version of Half-Life 2 to work and just went out and bought the game... which is good news for Valve and people who worked on that project.

bullet David Torre | 16 Jan : 15:31

Comments: 13

I certainly hope not. Steam is overkill. I really have no idea what I'm going to do when I have to format my hard drive. Guess I won't be playing Half-Life 2 again. Valve really has made a poor choice in using this obscene copy protection. If more PC developers try this stuff, I'll stop playing PC games, plain and simple.

Steam introduces all kinds of problems in the equation. When you are done with a game, you should have the right to sell it. Steam pretty much makes that impossible, because you cannot register a key twice (and I see no option to "unregister" a key).

I know the industry thinks illegal copying reduces profit, but has anyone ever considered the effect of draconian copy protection on game sales? If you treat the buyer like a criminal, then that person might not ever buy another one of your games again. After I finished Half-Life 2, I loaned it to my brother to play the single player game, but I have no idea if it's going to work. This is unfair.

Mark my words, when every company starts using this obscene copy protection on every PC game, it will be the death knell of PC games.

Seb, I imagine you've been convinced that copyright infringement has a significant effect on sales. You've probably heard that if there was less copying, then games would be cheaper. If that was the case, why does the Nintendo Gamecube, which happens to have the most effective copy protection of all the systems on the market, have the most expensive games? It really doesn't make any sense according to common industry-held beliefs.

bullet Matt Barton | 16 Jan : 15:46

Comments: 169

Well, there are versions of Half-Life 2 out that you can download. The crackers made an "emulator" for Steam that lets you play the game (in one player mode only) without Steam. I won't tell you how I came by this information, but I will say it's reliable info.

I must politely disagree with your contention (placed in bold) that people won't pay for what they can get for free. There are so many examples of people paying for what they can get for free that it would take centuries to recount them all. I can't tell you how many people are buying bottled water when they can turn on the tap and get water for free. Why do people contribute to charities? They aren't forced to. Why do people pay for books when they can just get them from the library? And so on, and so on.

The answer is that people buy stuff they can get for free if they think the company selling them the product has added value to it. So, if I buy a Dasani, it better not just be tap water in a bottle. I expect it to be taken apart atom by atom and reformed with all impurities removed or some such nonsense. If I buy a game instead of downloading it from another source, it's for the following reasons:

1. Convenience. Downloads take time and are unpredictable.
2. Security. I don't want to install a virus on my machine or have the game stop working half way through it.
3. Added value. Maybe I want a manual, a colorful box, or (more likely) access to a server or the like.
4. Supporting the company. If I really like a game, I may want to do everything I can to encourage the development team to produce another one like it. If I buy the game, theoretically that sends out a message that we want more of that.

Now, why would I download a game from an unauthorized source instead?

1. Cost. Maybe I want to play the game, but can't justify spending $50 or whatever. This is exponentially more important with games I want to install on my LAN. I am *not* going to buy 4 copies of a game just to play it with my friends on my LAN.
2. Convenience. Again, maybe I don't want to deal with intrusive copy protection schemes and want a "clean" version. I will never buy a game encrusted with Safedisc or anything remotely like it. If a company won't trust me enough to ship the game without invasive copy protection, I will look elsewhere for a clean copy.
3. Try it before I buy it. Again, this is increasingly a non-point because developers are releasing fully playable demos that give anyone a reasonable idea of what they are buying.

Ultimately, what is good for the industry is NOT necessarily good for gamers. It'd be great for EA if they were the only game company and it was impossible to share any of their games, etc. However, this wouldn't work out well at all for gamers. Again, I return to the question of a fair deal and an equal balance.

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 15:57

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
How can the fact that people have easy access to free games *not* affect sales? Of course it does. You can either buy the game for $50 or download it for free... what is the percentage of people who are going to choose the latter? Hey, i don't blame them -- it's just human nature. Nobody likes to pay for stuff.
People like the justify piracy by saying that the games are too expensive. Look at the music industry and the movie industry... music and movies are cheap and people are still pirating like crazy so my guess is that even if games go down in price, people are still going to pirate them no matter what, so that's not the answer...

Steam has its problems although i've had a good experience with it. I like being updated automatically. The fact that it was a tremendous success for Valve is showing that it's been accepted by the majority of users. For better or worse, it's here to stay...

As for the death knell of PC games, well, it's already coughing blood. When you look at the sales figures PC vs Consoles you understand why.

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 16:06

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
Yes, they are Steam emulators around (a few came out a few weeks after the release) but will you be able to get the updates? I just played this afternoon and i got another automatic update. My guess is that you won't get it through your emulator. Not to mention that they're a pain to set up...

bullet Matt Barton | 16 Jan : 16:16

Comments: 169

I recently read a book about the culture industry and how it's based mostly on exclusion, or excluding non-payers from access. Movie theaters are really good at this because they can easily physically bar people from entering that haven't paid. Thus, the movie industry was extremely upset with the invention of television, and even more upset with VCRs, and so on.

What these companies ALWAYS forget, often to their detriment, is that as long as there is a demand for something, there is an opportunity to earn a profit--assuming that the company can add enough value to justify its cost. Why do people go to the theater when they can wait for the VHS or DVD to come out? Well, they want to get at it early, and they like the huge screen and atmosphere of the theater.

I think that excluding non-payers is not the key. The key is trying to turn non-payers into payers by offering them a service that can't be free. For example, you can download and burn a DVD of a hit movie, but you're not likely to get as good of an experience at home as you would in the theater.

I've maintained for a long time that there is great potential to make profits by giving away a MMOG's data and then charging for access to a well-managed and reliable server. I'm not sure the update system is acceptable; my question would be why you should be paying for patches and fixes for bugs that shouldn't exist in a commercial release in the first place. Still, that's a different argument.

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 16:18

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41

Anyway, Pirate will copy and companies will keep trying to make money. We're not going to solve this here. Perhaps you'd feel different if you worked hard for three years putting all your efforts making something only to see the fruit of your labor on the net for all to download a week before its release date. I'm sure if you'd spend time on the other side of the fence you wouldn't say things like:

1. Cost. Maybe I want to play the game, but can't justify spending $50 or whatever.

Especially when you can get it for free, eh?

bullet Matt Barton | 16 Jan : 16:21

Comments: 169

People are always complaining about the pisspoor AI of bots and non-player characters in games. Well, it'd be simple enough for a game developer to host an online server staffed with professionals who players could compete against. The staff could not only monitor the service to prevent cheating, but also ensure that the players had fun and were introduced to an "atmosphere."

If you've been to a Renaissance festival, you know what I'm talking about. There are paid people who walk around "in character" and really, really add to the atmosphere. They are indispensable and the main reason why people like me love these festivals. Well, why not have an online game in which teams had to work through challenges that were "led" by the staff? Instead of playing against bots, you'd play against humans that were paid by the company and very good at keeping up the intensity and challenge -- but not so much that you'd lose interest.

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 16:23

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
I think that excluding non-payers is not the key. The key is trying to turn non-payers into payers by offering them a service that can't be free. For example, you can download and burn a DVD of a hit movie, but you're not likely to get as good of an experience at home as you would in the theater.

Well, that's what's happening with Half Life 2. You can pirate and burn the game, but to get the updates or play online you have to buy it...

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 16:25

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
If you've been to a Renaissance festival, you know what I'm talking about. There are paid people who walk around "in character" and really, really add to the atmosphere.

World of Warcraft: Extra challenges & interesting quests always being added to the game. Paid people to walk around and help the players...

bullet Mark1970 | 16 Jan : 16:30

Comments: 114

Matt wrote ...The copyright is the state-supported monopoly granted to creators, who promptly hand it over to a publisher, who typically owns it FOREVER.

That combined with copy protection schemes will make sure that game code will not be accessible anymore in the future especially when it's not profitable to release the game again. So we are bound to loose out on specific game experiences in the future.

Software activation is another thing. It may be very good now, copy protection wise. But what if in 10-15 years time you want to have a go at one of today’s games like Half life 2 on your state of the art MacOS 20/Doors 9.1 machine, you know just for old time's sake and nostalgia, and there's no stream servers or other software activation servers around anymore? Besides emulating WindowsXP may well be very very illegal then too! I really don't know about that sort of thing.

What about windows media center edition and it's digital rights content management. What if we all store our photo's, video's etc on these windows machines and Microsoft goes bankrupt and takes the digital rights content management with it down the drain. What are we to do when we cannot install windows XP (software activation is not possible anymore since microsoft is not there anymore???). Just reformat our harddrives, forget all our photo's, movies and memories and install Lindows 35.1?

I think by going overboard with copy protection schemes and software activation bla bla you render systems very vulnerable and we are heading for a data / content graveyard for sure if we keep these closed systems.

What's wrong with just paying for stuff. If you keep the price reasonable and people are able to afford it! I don't see the baker copy protecting his bread, where you'd have to go to a specific dentist or gastroenterologist that prescribes you dentures and specific enzymes to be able to digest the food!

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 16:32

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
my question would be why you should be paying for patches and fixes for bugs that shouldn't exist in a commercial release in the first place.

Because there no such a thing as a completely bug free product. Games today are so complex that bugs are inevitable. You can't predict everything... especially with all the different hardware out there. In the case of Half Life 2, you're buying a terrific game that took several years to make + great multiplayer experience (with new maps made available) + dev tools if you want to make your own mods + constant updates and fixes...
You have to admit that it's a great deal.

bullet Mark1970 | 16 Jan : 16:32

Comments: 114

The way things are going right now, especially with PC software, is that the whole gaming experience does indeed seem to have a very brief life and when game-servers die, the game is not supported anymore in time it will just not be possible to experience the game again...

bullet Mark1970 | 16 Jan : 16:34

Comments: 114

Developing a game almost takes longer than it's active life!

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 16:35

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
I think by going overboard with copy protection schemes and software activation bla bla you render systems very vulnerable and we are heading for a data / content graveyard for sure if we keep these closed systems.

I agree with you. And I think widespread piracy is one of the reason we have to deal with these protections in the first place...

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 16:38

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
Developing a game almost takes longer than it's active life!

It's insane. And it's going to get longer because people expect more and more from games (more interaction, bigger worlds, more detailed models & environements). And with the next gen consoles things are going to get worse. We'll see teams of 150+ people working over several years...

bullet Fighter17 | 16 Jan : 17:58

Comments: 64

Registered: 05 Nov : 06:31
A ex. of games that take a long time to be made and cost a lot of money is Shenmue I for the DC. The game cost $15 million to make and the reviews are good, but not great. Its so sad that it cost Sega $15 million to make the game and I could download the game right now. Sad.

bullet Fighter17 | 16 Jan : 18:24

Comments: 64

Registered: 05 Nov : 06:31
I belive is this: Game companys are not trying enough to make sure no one is copying their games. Like the N-Gage, a month after the release of the N-Gage, people were already playing N-Gage games on Cell Phones. Also if you copy a PS2 CD game, and burn it onto a blank disc, the burn games plays (with a mod chip.) What I'm saying is that the game makers is making games so easy for us to copy their games, its not even funny.

If you own a Dreamcast game, the disc is using a GD-ROM (1 Gigabyte disc), Sega used this disc so they will be no one copying their games and burn it (the GD-ROM discs don't work on CD-Drives.). So 6 years later and over 1000 DC games to download, that didn't work. It seems that hackers made a cable and put it back of the Dreamcast, and use a special program to copy the whole disc onto the PC. Then the Hackers compress the game smaller so the game will fit on a CD, and let it burn! The hackers is using the same "hook the cable back of the system and let it copy" thing on the GameCube. Two days ago, you can download the new Resident Evil 4 game for the GC (the game size is two Gigs.). How do you play this game onto the GC, you stream it!!! You get a special cable and you hook it up from the PC to the GC. Next you get a program that lets you Stream the ISO file of the game onto the GC unit. After that, download a GC game, open up the program, and let it start streaming the GC game onto your GC. Many games plays fine with Streaming, but not all of the games works with Streaming.

The XBox, well you open up the XBox, install a bigger Hard Drive, and used a cable (I think, I don't know) to get the XBox game onto the Hard Drive. Then play the XBox game from the Hard Drive with no loading times at all!

For the PS2, well get a mod chip (like I did), download the game off the internet, burn it, and play the game. Almost all games work, but if you what to play games online, well that is going to be a problem. When burning the game, the special code that let you play games online is gone, so you have to put a patch on the game file in order to play online.

In the end, for every system, you can play burn games on it.

bullet Matt Barton | 16 Jan : 18:25

Comments: 169

Especially when you can get it for free, eh?

First of all, I ask you as a courtesy to me that you refrain from the use of the word "pirate." Sharing software is not the equivalent of pillaging ships and murdering crews. The term is mere propaganda and makes intelligent discussion about the subject difficult. It'd be like talking about racism with someone who consistently used the term "nigger" or a sexist who says "bitch" in every sentence. Such a person will NEVER see the light until he learns that the term itself is part of the problem. Call it sharing, and affix the term "illegal" to it if you desire, but "piracy" is inaccurate and misleading.

As I mentioned in my Hot Topic editorial above, I don't consider economic considerations to be justifications for lying or acting in a self-serving matter. However, I refuse to accept a business model that can only survive with direct and invasive intervention by the Federal government. Ultimately, any type of monopoly is harmful to innovation, and the best thing that a company can do is TRY to create or shift a business model so that it doesn't need monopoly-conditions to exist.

As someone who is working in the industry, Frac, you know how ridiculous it is to claim that people would stop making games if they weren't paid to do it. People who love making games will make games, pay or no pay. They will do it for the glory or just for the sake of making something work.

Let's take another of your arguments. "Do you want programmers to starve? Pay for the game!" First of all, only a tiny fraction of the $50 you pay for the game goes to the folks who did the work of creating it. Most of the money is going to repay investors and "suits" who don't care if they are involved with game-making, weapon production, or drug manufacturing. All they care about is realizing a profit.

If the guys from e107 were to write me and say, "You know, you guys obviously find our program very useful, why don't you help out by donating?" I'd feel obliged to do that. I'd also feel obliged to share my code if someone found something useful. A guy recently asked me for the code to that Rob Hubbard flash player, and I gladly obliged. Why? Because it cost me nothing to help him. I don't care if he puts that thing on his site, as long as he doesn't take credit for making it (At this point, I need all the reputation points I can muster). I imagine that as I continue to learn programming and get better at it over the years, I will be able to make more useful programs that other people will want. Should I charge them? No. I wouldn't charge anyone to share something if I could share it without cost to myself. Now, if it involved burning it to a CD and mailing it, yes I'd charge them for my time and expense.

Now, if someone approached me and said, "I see you're good at programming, can you design something for me?" I might charge him. After all, it would take me time that I could be working on something for me. The same would be true if a magazine editor called and asked me for a piece for his magazine. It's one thing for him to take one of my articles and reprint it--he has my blessing to do that. It's another for him to commission something new that I wouldn't write otherwise--now, that requires payment.

One thing I learned from talking to developers for my Hackers article was that making games is about 10% fun, 90% tedium. It's hard to get people to volunteer to do work that is tedious. What I'd like to see is for game making to become 90% fun, 10% tedium. I think that will become possible when we stop being so obsessed about frills and get back to the basics. As long as we privilege graphics and animation above all other things, we're not going to see much change. When we start valuing gameplay more, then we'll see that "tedium" level fall as hackers get more interested in solving unique problems.

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 18:55

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
As someone who is working in the industry, Frac, you know how ridiculous it is to claim that people would stop making games if they weren't paid to do it. People who love making games will make games, pay or no pay. They will do it for the glory or just for the sake of making something work.

If you had any experience in the industry, Matt, you would know that yes, people would definetely stop making games if they weren't paid to do it. Perhaps a small percentage would go out and make games on a smaller scale (like small shooters that sort of thing, in their spare time) but the majority would simply go do something else. People need to earn a living. Pay the rent. Put food on the table. If you think hundreds of people would get together for 3 years, working full time (for free) to make you a new Half Life or a new GTA you're dreaming. It's *impossible* to make a commercial game on that scale without major funding. It requires tremendous planning & effort... It's ridiculous to think that you could substain that level of quality without having any monetary incentive... You've seen how difficult it is to get a couple of people to put together an internet magazine like this and how complicated it can get. Imagine making Half Life 2 in your spare time... it ain't going to happen.
As for software piracy, that's what it is. Sorry if the accepted term for stealing software offend you, but i'm not gonna sugar coat it to fit your utopic views. Sorry.

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 19:00

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
What I'd like to see is for game making to become 90% fun, 10% tedium. I think that will become possible when we stop being so obsessed about frills and get back to the basics. As long as we privilege graphics and animation above all other things, we're not going to see much change. When we start valuing gameplay more, then we'll see that "tedium" level fall as hackers get more interested in solving unique problems.

Then i suggest to support free open source games, and forget about big commercial productions. You say you don't care about gfxs and hope to go back to basics... but at the same time you got yourself a big fancy high-end graphic card and you're playing Half Life 2 & Doom 3... you can't have it both ways...

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 19:06

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
One thing I learned from talking to developers for my Hackers article was that making games is about 10% fun, 90% tedium.

I think it's always going to be like that. From what I've read even back in the days of the Atari 2600 it was *very* tedious programming games. Money make the "tedious" part bearable... Take the job of an animator for instance. Think of all the different animations in a game. They won't be all fun. Think of the 3d modeler who has to make all these textures on the walls.. it can get quite tedious. It's a job. The fun part is when you see it all coming together...

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 19:12

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
but "piracy" is inaccurate and misleading.

...and calling people who steal software "liberators" or whatever you call them isn't propaganda?

Gimme a break...

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 19:28

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
One last thing: People who illegally copy & distribute software refer to themselves as "pirates"... you've never seen all the skulls and pirate flags in the .nfo files and intros? How about all the BBS back in the 8bits days called Pirate somethingorother?

bullet Bill Loguidice | 16 Jan : 19:45

Comments: 307

Pirate is a fair and accepted term, as is hacker. Both terms have been embraced by both sides for YEARS. Fair or not, they're valid terms and easily understandable to most people.

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 19:59

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
I can't believe i got sucked into one of these debate!

Let's enjoy a break from this tedious & neverending argument:

bullet Matt Barton | 16 Jan : 20:58

Comments: 169

Accepted terms aren't the best terms. Again I return to the infamous "nigger." This term was "accepted" in its day and was the common term to describe a black person. Was it accurate? Hell, no. It was a hateful term associated with all of the bullshit associated with slavery and racial hatred. OVERCOMING the problem meant changing the terms--from negro, to colored, to darkie, to finally the neutral black or African American.

I can't argue about this with someone who insists on the word "pirate." It's inaccurate and, frankly, stupid. If you can somehow explain to me why we should use a term referring to captains and sailors who pillaged ships at sea and murdered their crews to folks who remove copy protection from games and share them with their friends, I'll use it. As it stands now, the term is sheer propaganda and unacceptable to anyone who isn't blinded by hatred.

The term "liberator," on the other hand, is accurate. Literally what these people do is remove copy protection (a restriction) on a piece of software so that others can freely share it. They literally set a piece of software free. The term that I've found that best fits this verb is "liberate," and the people who engage in the practice are "liberators."

As far as the people who do these things referring to themselves as pirates, I hear rappers constantly referring to themselves as "niggas," yet they do so in a fully ironic sense and would be enraged to hear a white person using it.

bullet Fractalus! | 16 Jan : 21:33

Comments: 76

Registered: 26 Mar : 11:41
I'd like to nominate the previous post, Matt comparing the problems of slavery & racial injustice with guys who steal games in their spare time being called 'pirates' as the most mind-bogglingly stupid, jaw-dropping insensitive post i've ever read on the internet... and that's saying a lot.

Congratulation, sir!

bullet Fighter17 | 16 Jan : 22:19

Comments: 64

Registered: 05 Nov : 06:31
What the F*** is going on here? I'm a god damn freaking pirate. Then again I what to stay out of Fractalus and Matt's converstation.

bullet Bill Loguidice | 16 Jan : 22:52

Comments: 307

"Liberator" sounds retarded to me in this case. It's like calling a "terrorist" a "freedom fighter". Is a "bank robber" instead a "liberator" of capitalist pig money? Is a "rapist" instead a "liberator" of another power over whether they want sex? I mean come on, we have to call piracy what it is, piracy. It's an illegal act, plain and simple. "Pirate" is accepted, as is "hacker", by nearly everyone (except you?). That to me makes it all right and yes, ACCURATE. To somehow say that it's equivalent to "nigger" or "slave" is reprehensible and ignorant.

bullet Matt Barton | 16 Jan : 22:59

Comments: 169

I can see I'm not going to convince anyone here. Wisdom only comes to those who are willing to resist the bleats of the herd and find truth where it lies, not where they'd like it to be.

If you insist on using the word "pirate" in this totally ridiculous fashion, so be it. You're the ones making yourselves look silly by doing it and only showing how much you've been brainwashed. As to the rest of you, remember that rational thinking begins with rational thoughts, and those are best expressed in the most accurate language possible.

bullet Matt Barton | 16 Jan : 23:01

Comments: 169

BTW, here's what the GNU Philosophy page has to say about this term. I suggest you read it carefully and apply it.


Publishers often refer to prohibited copying as "piracy." In this way, they imply that illegal copying is ethically equivalent to attacking ships on the high seas, kidnapping and murdering the people on them.

If you don't believe that illegal copying is just like kidnapping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word "piracy" to describe it. Neutral terms such as "prohibited copying" or "unauthorized copying" are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as "sharing information with your neighbor."

bullet Matt Barton | 16 Jan : 23:17

Comments: 169

I'll just say one more thing on this topic and then (hopefully) we'll move on. Like Frac, I do not support unauthorized file sharing. However, *my* reasons for not supporting it is that such sharing inhibits the growth of free software. Someone who sets up a Doom 3 torrent and shares the game with a thousand people is indirectly supporting proprietary software. If people weren't so willing to illegally share proprietary software, there might be more interest in free software and thus more incentive for that software to be better developed.

My contention is that the ease with which people can illegally share files provides a rather unfair competition for the folks who are working so hard to provide us with good FREE software. So, my recommendation would be that if you don't want to pay $50 for Half-Life 2, spend your money supporting free software developers. Sure, the games may not be as good-looking as these other games, but if no one supports them or shows any interest in playing them, they NEVER will be.

In short, sharing free software is ultimately good for the planet, whereas sharing non-free software is bad for everyone, no matter what the "savings" are in terms of cash.

bullet Bill Loguidice | 16 Jan : 23:40

Comments: 307

I keep waiting for the punchline when I hear people here talk about how software developers/publishers are at fault for making it "too easy" to pirate software. Huh? If something is relatively easy to do we should punish the provider by taking advantage of their "stupidity"? I'm missing something here. Bottom line is, this stuff IS protected and a person has to go to SPECIFIC lengths to copy/download and use the stuff. It's not like it falls into the pirate's lap with NO EFFORT on the pirate's part.

This IS ridiculous, and I DO hope that someone comes up with a fool-proof method of copy protection so maybe all the wonderful free and/or public domain stuff out there CAN get noticed. Of course we know that if there is some whiz-bang type of copy protection, the PIRATES will do their best to crack it and probably succeed. It's all part of the game.

Pirate - take arbitrarily or by force... or ...A person who obtains the latest software programs without paying for them. (A skilled software pirate is able to break the protection scheme that is designed to prevent copying.)

bullet wingnut | 17 Jan : 01:32
Comments: 9

Registered: 14 Jan : 12:44
If someone buys a steak & decides to share it with you Does that make you a criminal ? You didn't pay for it . By both of you eating that steak you have prevented the meat industry from making another sale. If you are riding down the road listening to a CD that your friend let you barrow, Does this make you a criminal ? You didn't pay for this CD & you are using it thus taking money away from the producers of the CD. If you barrow a game from someone & play it until you get finished with it does this make you a criminal ? You didn't pay for it so what gives you the right to play it. I'll tell you what gives you the right the consent of the owner of that product. So what makes sharing anything wrong ?

I don't know about you but I was always taught to believe that when u tell someone they can share what you have you are not doing anything wrong or stealing. Stealing is taking something without a persons consent. When someone puts somthing there for you to take at any time they you have their consent to do so.

I think we have to be very careful with what we label as a crime because the more law you have the more freedom you loose.

I totally agree that a person who creates a product has a right to reap the benefits of it. I agree that when a person puts there heart & soul into something that they take great value in it. I agree that when you earn something it holds more value to you.

But when you BUY a product and make it available for others to take then You are the one who is responsible for the problems that proceed. If I made My entire cd collection available online I would feel it is my right to share it since I did buy it. But the problem is that once it gets past the person who borrowed it then it becomes an issue.

In America, Most people resent very deeply when a company tries to rule their way of thinking or way of life. Even when the government interviews. I'll give you an example. When the seat belt laws were enforced about 60% of the population polled thought it was an intrusion on their rights to make their own choices & felt as if they were being forced to do something they did not want to do. I can tell you from one expierance that if My sister had been wearing her seat belt she would have surely died in an accident.

It is a matter of check's & balances. Most people feel betrayed when such laws & rules are enforced & lash out at the system in ways such as the hacker community did at steam by creating a steam emulator. By enforcing more rules & laws you only create more problems. You open the doors for more opportunities to commit more crimes, break more rules & manipulate the programs or products you create.

It's not about what a product is worth it's about resentment. Did you enjoy spending $280.00 for windows XP pro ? I know I didn't, but I needed it to use my computer. I think the price was insane ! Since I paid for the product I feel it is my right to do with it what I will. I shared it with my family. Is that wrong ? According to microsoft it would be wrong. But I paid for it. It did not go beyond that point. So since I shelled out the bread for it, What would give them the right to call me a criminal ?

So should I be considered a criminal if someone is blasting their music as they drive down the road ? I didn't pay for it .. So do I have a right to hear it ?

bullet davyK | 17 Jan : 05:05

Comments: 76

Registered: 19 Jan : 08:40
It is one thing to share something you have purchased with a friend by your own choice. It is quite another to make it available to all and sundry 24 hours a day - for profit or not.

I have an amazingly small amount of copied software (you could count on one hand what I have used extensively) . I like to have the packaging, manuals etc and, being in the software development industry, have a real understanding of the efforts required to get something working and out of the door - and I'm still not convinced that free software can be as good as proprietary software.

I do have a lot of 2nd hand software which deprives the developer of money - but this is simply because it isn't available as new.

bullet Fighter17 | 17 Jan : 08:59

Comments: 64

Registered: 05 Nov : 06:31
And for me, a lot of backups.

bullet Bill Loguidice | 17 Jan : 10:34

Comments: 307

It's one thing to share something on a casual basis - lending a CD to a friend, watching a pre-recorded DVD with someone, etc., it's another giving someone a COPY to own. Yes, you OWN what you BOUGHT and you can do with it just about what you please, but those "rights" stop short of making a copy and bestowing ownership to someone else for something that is not yours. You can GIVE someone the original CD, you can SELL the original CD, but once you start distributing COPIES of that CD, you cross the line.

Again, each person has to decide what is right to them as long as they understand the consequences. If someone doesn't want to wear a seatbelt (frankly I don't buy the argument that you're somehow safer without it other than by a freak occurence) then that's their right. However, if they choose to live in this society and reap the benefits of said society, then they will suffer the potential legal consequences. If you don't like it, work to repeal the laws or move to somewhere where the "rules" are more agreeable. Same thing with copying software. If your personal ethics allow it, do it, but don't then get all upset if there are legal consequences. Again, if you don't like the system, work to change it or move to somewhere that better fits into your personal beliefs. Society, for better or worse, runs on a system of compromises, particularly when it comes to laws. It's not perfect - it never could be - but it's what the majority of people agree to live by. We don't have to like it, but we should at least understand and respect it.

Personally, I've participated in software indescretions in my past, but have come to a new understanding. The only thing approaching piracy that I do these days is use/download/transfer software for classic hardware that is no longer commercially available. I still make an effort to pick up original versions through the used market however.

bullet Matt Barton | 17 Jan : 10:41

Comments: 169

Those are some tough questions, wingnut, and you're not likely to hear them answered by "their side." Pretty much all you hear there is the same old claptrap about "It's against the law, so it's a sin" or "You're stealing food from a poor starving developer." The truth of the matter is, we're not interested in paying for production costs. In so many words, that's the crux of it. So what if it costs $5 million to make an AAA title? It only costs fighter17 a few dollars to burn it, and he'd just be a jerk not to share it with his friends or anyone else who wanted it.

The culture industry is convinced that it can use law to force consumers to pay for R&D, advertising, and all other sorts of overhead instead of just the costs of distribution. People don't want to pay that. Instead, they want to pay for their own distribution and production costs be damned.

The only thing that makes it possible for companies to pass on the costs of development to consumers is copyright and patent laws, which prevent other folks (who didn't invest in the production process) to quickly generate their own copies and sell them at a tremendously lower cost (probably cheaper than you could burn your own copy at home).

Again, is it in the consumer's best interest if companies are able to use these laws to pay for excessive and wasteful costs of production AND earn a profit? Hell, no.

This is even more acutely felt in the pharmaceutical industry. There you have companies taking out patents on discoveries made in tax-payer supported projects, then ripping the bejeezus out of anyone who desperately needs the medication. A pill that costs less than a penny to manufacture will cost you (or more likely tax-payers) $40. Who needs this bullshit?

No one will ever, ever convince me that the only way a human being can be creative is to be paid to do it. I've never seen it work that way. An artist will produce art even if it's at his own expense. Before inventions like the record player got popular and affordable, guess what people did? They sat around and played their own damn music. Is the world a better place now that we have Brittany Spears? You decide.

For me, games like Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 are guilty pleasures. I suppose I feel about them the way a guy might have felt about a classic opera around the time the era of feudalism was drawing to a close. I know that the free games aren't going to be nearly as "polished" and well-produced as these games. They'll likely be much rougher and cheap. However, they will also be free to be as innovative and original as they can possibly be.

bullet davyK | 17 Jan : 11:23

Comments: 76

Registered: 19 Jan : 08:40
Where are the innovative free games ?

Now that games are being built by committee there are very few innovative games (free or otherwise).

I'm not fussed about a rough game - for example I remember playing Pilotwings on SNES for the 1st time - it was rough - but it was (is!) such a playable game that it didn't matter.

I have yet to experience that from free software - I enjoy some great remakes but no original stuff.

Indie development is my arena of hope for original work but I just don't see it.

I'm afraid a great many game production actvities are not art - but a slog against hardware, graphics libraries, counter-intuitive logic and bitch-hard-to-find bugs... and after a while the novelty of doing that for free wears off.

bullet Matt Barton | 17 Jan : 11:51

Comments: 169

Those are good points, Davyk. Again, people have difficulty doing "tedious" things unless they are being paid to do them. Most free games are the work of tinkers who just enjoyed learning how to make something and put it out there. They haven't taken the time to really polish it. Maybe they lack the time, or maybe the skills, but most of the time the results lack the slick production value of a commercial outfit.

You don't really see the same thing in free music. Anyone who appreciates live music can tell you that there are some amazing bands out there who either work for free or work for free (or perhaps free beer!) These bands are every bit as good as their commercial counterparts, and often better. They really love what they do and put a lot of work into it. Sure, it's not fun practicing a set of songs over and over again, but they do it because they love music.

We need that kind of attitude in free game making. Tinkers are cool, and we appreciate that, but at some point people have to say "Okay, it's not enough just to make a prototype of a Space Invaders clone," the ante has to be upped. We need people who love making games so much that they are willing to endure the tedium of polishing a game and really putting something out there that can hold its own. We also need people who are good at working with others and encouraging people to do their best.

I think you could look at Armchair Arcade as a model of how this stuff can work. If you ask yourself, "Why the hell are these guys doing all this for free?" and you realize it's because we enjoy what we do so much the tedium is manageable. There's a level of excitement and pride that develops. When a new issue rolls out and it gets 6500 unique visitors in one day, I felt a powerful overwhelming feeling of pride. I think at some point you have to say "Money or money, I want to be part of this." If people see you working and basking in all this glory, they'll want in.

I can't imagine how I'd feel if I were able to get a group of skilled and dedicated people together to make a totally awesome free software game, more the less a game that was a big hit and downloaded and discussed all over the place. That would be an amazing feeling of accomplishment.

I think most of us here share some of these feelings. All of us, to some extent, are hackers and enjoy learning about computers, games, and software and really "getting our hands dirty" with this stuff. We want to know how stuff works and just play around with it. We're the kids that took everything apart we could get our hands on just to gawk at its guts. Other people are interested in the outside; we want to peer in there and see how it works and play with it. If you give a kid like that a movie camera, within half an hour he's making his own movie. You know the type! There's just something electric about doing something on your own and not having it done for you.

When we started AA we had problems. Some folks wanted to just tinker; to be "just a hobby thing" and not really put the "polish" on it. Others weren't satisfied with that; we wanted AA to be the best damn gaming reader out there and refused to settle. When you have THAT kind of drive and ambition, talented people come out of the woodwork to help you. Everyone loves the thrill of working on a project that has sky-high goal and a dream to keep you awake at night.

What we need in the free gaming world are a few men and women of vision who are deadly serious about making games that are BETTER than commercial games. We need people who can block out the negative influence of doubters and pessimists who are, in the end, total losers. What we need are people who have something they REALLY need to prove.

If you gave me a choice between ten men with vision and the dedication to reach that vision, and ten men who were limited to mere monetary concerns, then I'd take the first group ANY TIME. Those are the kind of men that change the world.

bullet davyK | 17 Jan : 12:04

Comments: 76

Registered: 19 Jan : 08:40
You're right of course....it is those type of people who, with a hatred of Microsoft mixed in, have made Linux the success it is.

Polishing a title can be enjoyable - I used to enjoy polishing software I produced...and you can get a big kick out of that (YES - even with commercial software!). I have always got a kick out of seeing someone's job improve as a result of something I have done -it's why I work in the public sector for less money.

It's keeping the momentum going in teams that work remotely that is tricky.

Most innovative games have been from one person's vision - and I am a great believer in the power of the motivated individual with a vision - even though that goes against my belief that individuality is an illusion - but that's another story!

bullet wingnut | 17 Jan : 14:13
Comments: 9

Registered: 14 Jan : 12:44
My point is, Where does individual rights begin & end ? I see what company's do as nothing more than witch hunts. I think thats a fair assessment. Much like the way someone who takes something a pirate. My concern is that organizations & company's will become too powerful & thus become a law unto themselves. Something matt pointed out about the drug industry struck a nerve with me & makes My point very clear. The FDA is a government based ( public servant ) that has grown too powerful for their own good. They make the rules about what defines a drug. for instance. The definition of a medical drug is this : to cure treat or prevent a desiese. But it is also interesting to know that anything natural that can be found in nature without the intervention of the hand of man is not considered, simply because a natural product cannot have a patent.

This drives the drug industry to snuff out anyone or anything that claims to cure or treat anything. This is an example of how an industry left unchecked can be detrimental to a society that prides itself on human rights. Any industry that takes the law into their own hands has crossed the line no matter what the reason.

As for free software. If you think back to about 1992 or so You'll remember a peace of free ware that shook the gaming industry upon its release. I know you are familiar with it because it's one of the Biggest icons in the gaming industry today. Know what it was ? Thats right Doom. Doom upon its release was free ware at least for the first year or so & had a following like no other. Now the game is a total uncontrollable juggernaut in the gaming world & many first person shooters all the way up to half life 2 was based on the concepts that the team at ID software created. I totally support these guys. I have owned many variations of this game from the original PC version to the atari jaguar all the way up to the current Doom 3 & this game never gets old to me.

Like I said I understand that company's have a right to earn money but they must understand that anything they sell now is a target for ( sharing / piracy .. depending on your take ) It is all how they handle the situation that will determine how they are precieved.

bullet wingnut | 17 Jan : 14:22
Comments: 9

Registered: 14 Jan : 12:44
But I must point out davyK. The moment Linux becomes a commercial product it will face the same resentment that Microsoft now faces. It would be unwise to believe it wont happen. It will, given enough time.

bullet davyK | 17 Jan : 15:59

Comments: 76

Registered: 19 Jan : 08:40
I totally agree wingnut - and I am also sure that if Linux was the target of as many hackers Windows is then many security holes would be revealed in it.

bullet davyK | 17 Jan : 16:01

Comments: 76

Registered: 19 Jan : 08:40
Remember though that when Doom was released it was really sharware - you only got 1 chapter to play. It was in essence a big demo of the game - and many were enticed to buy the full version.

bullet wingnut | 17 Jan : 17:23
Comments: 9

Registered: 14 Jan : 12:44
True, but if you used the cheats you could play the game all they way through.

bullet davyK | 18 Jan : 07:42

Comments: 76

Registered: 19 Jan : 08:40
Cool.... I didn't know that.

bullet finkelmana | 18 Jan : 19:20
Comments: 3

Registered: 11 Jan : 11:21
Ive just patented 1s and 0s and therefore everything digital is under my copyright. But, Im generous, for every bit you use, send me 1 penny.

bullet wingnut | 18 Jan : 19:49
Comments: 9

Registered: 14 Jan : 12:44
slammin Idea ! But be careful. Microsoft might get ideas then they will truley rule the world can you imagine how many holes the world would have ? hahahaha

bullet Matt Barton | 18 Jan : 20:02

Comments: 169

A Microsoft world would be full of bugs...

Damn, come to think of it, the world IS full of bugs. There goes a fly now.

bullet Mark1970 | 26 Jan : 14:02

Comments: 114

Now this is indeed a very funny iPod sketch, made by the BBC!

bullet Mark1970 | 26 Jan : 14:03

Comments: 114

Very very Brittish!

bullet davyK | 27 Jan : 04:45

Comments: 76

Registered: 19 Jan : 08:40
Indeed.....Have you watched "Little Britain" yet ? - very odd. You have to watch a couple of episodes to "get it" and then its hilarious. The League of Gentlemen was like that too.

bullet PoloPlayr | 30 Jan : 07:31

Comments: 19

Registered: 29 Mar : 07:32
I love Little Britain! Almost just as much as The Fast Show...and that's saying something!

bullet davyK | 30 Jan : 10:33

Comments: 76

Registered: 19 Jan : 08:40
Oh....suits you Sir !

bullet PoloPlayr | 31 Jan : 05:43

Comments: 19

Registered: 29 Mar : 07:32
...and I was terribly drunk at the time.

bullet geogray | 01 Feb : 22:20
Comments: 9

Registered: 10 Jan : 19:19
Just one observation about the whole piracy thing (and, while it may be offending to some, piracy is appiclable.) If price is the SOLE reason for stealing (er, 'borrowing') a piece of software (game) why not just wait a bit and buy the damn thing on discount? I detest paying full price a game, so I wait and purchase it on clearance/discount or even used. Rollercoaster Tycoon is a perfect example. A great game at $29.95, but more than I want to pay. It's a fandamtastic game at $9.95 and even better at $4.95. I've seen it at Target, Best Buy, EBGames and even a Rite Aid (I think) for those various price points. Ditto Half Life, Doom 2, Grand Theft Auto 3, etc. Why not just be patient and wait a bit? It usually does'nt take long. Being a developer myself, I can completely understand the resentment publishers and developers have toward theft. Ford is'nt going to let someone steal an auto, why should Bungie let someone steal Halo? Anyway, I don't to rekindle this. And to Matt, I love the idealism, dude.

bullet Bill Loguidice | 02 Feb : 10:53

Comments: 307

Those are good points, geogray. Despite arguments against it, I have always maintained that while we may WANT games, we don't NEED games. I myself very rarely pay full price for a game unless I really, really, really want it, or someone else is buying it for me for a holiday or birthday. Otherwise, I go for the $15 or less bargains, and usually much less. It just makes sense, particularly if I know I won't get a chance to even try the game for a while. As we all get older - and especially if we keep a lot of the older stuff - there's no way we can reasonably play all of our stuff, so having the latest and greatest is less of a driving force.

bullet Gerryc | 16 Feb : 13:06

Comments: 5

Registered: 15 Feb : 20:33
If someone tells me his dream is to become a millionaire, I'd tell him that dream is a poor one. One can only acquire such riches by denying basic human needs to others. It's reprehensible and base to want such things.
What if that person believes that they can do a much better job of helping humanity than the people who currently hold it?

bullet Lachek | 24 May : 10:36
Comments: 3

Registered: 23 Dec : 13:17
...why not just wait a bit and buy the damn thing on discount?

...I wait and purchase it on clearance/discount or even used.

Geogray, Bill, et al. I hope you realize that if the games you buy are mostly used (second-hand) then any assertions that you shall not copy your games because it will hurt the developers are null and void. As far as games publishers are concerned, allowing second-hand game sales at all is a necessary evil under current copyright law, and they're actively working to prevent it using technical measures. MMO and Steam-type registration services, and online, non-transferrable "accessory" purchasing a la XBox Live is the way of the future for these publishers.
Second-hand game sales do not support the publishers or developers in any way. In fact, second-hand game sales of, say, Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 may be detrimental to the sales of RCT3 (I have no facts to back this up, but it appears plausible). It is beneficial to games publishers to create a scarcity of old games on the market, as a near-infinite supply of old, classic games available for no or a small charge would hinder purchases of new games at full price. This is the real reason the ESA hates abandonware, even those that have no chance of a continued commercial life. Even such relatively minor infractions such as downloading a C64 disk image of "Elite" or a Colecovision ROM of "Zaxxon" is out of the question; according to ESA's FAQ on "Anti-Piracy":
Haven't the copyrights for old games (like Atari & Commodore) expired?
U.S. copyright laws state that copyrights owned by corporations are valid for 95 years from the date of first publication. Because video and computer games have been around a little more than three decades, the copyrights of all video and computer programs will not expire for many decades to come.

These guys assert that Pong should not be available to the public until the year 2067 - and by that time, considering the policies to extend copyright every few years, it'll probably be locked away in the vault until 2167, and so on.
This is obviously not due to commercial concerns - what the ESA, and the publishers it represents, wants to do is to create an artificial scarcity of games in the marketplace and in the public domain. It would not be possible to maintain huge production costs for new games if you could not charge $50+ for it in stores - and you couldn't do that if people had full, free, immediate access to a library of games that was no longer in its prime commercial life.
Suggesting that people buy their games used is no different than suggesting that people download all their games for free, other than that the former would be within the constraints of law (for now). The end result is the same - the developers do not get paid (by you) for the product they created. One method will make you poorer, but will keep you within the constraints of legal behaviour. It is also inconvenient (you have to leave your house), chancy (the game may never reach a second-hand life and may disappear into obscurity, your dealer may be shady (pawn shops or eBay, for example)) and sometimes annoying (scratched up media, obsolete but intact copy-protection schemes).

bullet Raenydyne | 29 Jun : 04:48

Comments: 3

Registered: 29 Jun : 04:16
First hello and big respect to conversing like adults about this subject. I have been into PCs and games all of my life but not like todays kids. I loved the Commodore 64 and I'm not even sure how, but even at the time Infocom games were coming out, I got pirated copies from my dad's friends at work. So if not for the internet, there would be many knowledgable small groups sitting around cracking games instead of big release groups IMO. And yes, most people would just buy the games.
My question isn't about right or wrong, but how much different would it be if nobody could have access to downloading games. It would improve things for the gaming companies but not by the figures of how many pirated copies were downloaded.
Personally, I consider myself the average internet user who downloads games whether they be demos or cracked, new or old. My observation is that a downloaded game is like a rental. If I would've paid to rent it it would work because I only check a game out for a few days then delete it and download another one. The only games I play a lot are games I bought that have online updates and downloads. I still play Half Life GOTY and games on Steam. Once in a while I play Doom and hack at it some more and play around with the enhancements that come out. Updated content is what will make me buy a game, unless it is a console racing or RPG with a good review.
Unfortunately, also RPGs and Racing games with high replay value (and all in one games like GTA) will be used as if owned. People will not delete it then buy it. Most people wont even rent it because they know it's good, by word of mouth or reviews. These are the game downlaods that hurt the industry. The once every few months buy that almost everyone will scrounge to get. Personally, I will never buy another GTA or d/l it until my kids get older.
Now the question for say old Amiga games gives a different answer. I put together an amulator package with 2000 installed games. The emulator even though you can download it free, is copywritten and is selling well. The games are mostly free if you can find them. Not all 2000 are PD, I know but you must also buy a key file for all of them to load or get rid of a nag screen. Does it change anything if someone attempts to get the games on eBay? Well, the WHDLoad project and CAPS, actually came from a lot of eBay sales. So buy this example, it is good for the economy.
Now a questionable one. Nintendo 64. I have all the roms, like over 400 games not counting the Japanese ones. I felt bad that Nintendo announced using them as downloadable content. Now I do not have them on my hard drive (although on disk mind you). This is a head scratcher. BUT if you tink about it without all of the work people put into ripping roms and making emulators, would nintendo have thought of it or done it all themselves? I doubt it. Same with MAME and classic game packs. A lot of those came from an idea someone had to remake the games. Until they were emulated, there were very bad versions of them. The "underground technology" of yesterday is good for today.
Now we'll get to the dark side of it all. Bit Torrent can be good, I'll just assume you know the bad. Many games are legitimitally giving away free licensed downloads of games. This is the future. Free game, pay to play. Sometimes by beta testing you get a free ride without paying. Can all games somehow have an online connection that no crack can stop? I think not under the current OSs of today. I think we can expect though that Microsoft's next OS will have a lot for gamers to want. Better games, interactivity, downloadable content, free servers. And built into the OS will be a way to check for pirated games and stop them from being used. And programmers will not have the source code to work with the OS and crack them. Is that a safe assumption?
So all in all, I wouldn't worry about a thing because what is going on today will make a better future for gamers and developers through the hard lessons learned.
Everyone that wants to continue doing what they do today will be retro gamers generation 2 and anyone that has to have the latest stuff will have to get the hardware, which includes uncrackable protection BUT has to be so enticing that people will realize what a waste of time it would be to stay with the old. And then someone will come out with an emulator that plays the old cracked games of XP, lol.

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