What's more to blame for piracy: a lax and ineffective legal means of going after and punishing offenders, or lack of access to your products? It's more the latter, according to a Canadian study by their International Development Research Centre. This probably applies more to foreign markets than domestic ones, obviously, but it makes sense--people are most likely to pirate when it is difficult or impossible for them to buy something legally. Maybe the product simply isn't physically or legally available in their country (such as new BBC shows in the U.S. or abandonware), or it could just be that the product is priced too high for the locals to afford (which is the case in developing countries). The study also suggests that anti-piracy measures (legal and educational) have completely and utterly failed to demonstrate a significant result. I should probably put that last sentence in bold.
Would you still pirate if the game was widely available and priced to match your budget? It could be that publishers would be better off simply lowering prices than investing in DRM, regional lock-outs, and fighting so many legal battles over piracy. Or would this simply make it impossible for publishers to make profits on their games?
I saw in the headlines today that Sony is suspending its million+ unit floppy disk production (3 1/2", of course). I guess what surprised me most was that it hadn't stopped long ago. Outside of retro purposes, does anyone seriously use these disks anymore? I have few good memories of them--just all the read/write errors and the inevitable march to destruction. The disk drives themselves were also always unreliable. I know I've replaced more faulty disk drives than any other component. They were a significant step up from the 5 1/4" disks, of course. It's too bad that the industry couldn't settle on a standard for the bigger capacity disks (iomega, zip, etc.), but of course those were mere flashes in the pan compared to the 3 1/2". The article suggests that USB and other types of storage killed it off, but I'd say it was more the CD and later DVD burners. Once the price got cheap enough, it made more sense to burn everything to those and tuck them away.
What are your thoughts on the floppy disk? Will they be missed? (And, yes, I realize that other companies will keep making them into the foreseeable future.)
Eric-Jon RÃ¶ssel Waugh of Next Generation has another excellent feature out, this time about five legendary game companies that bit the dust--or, as Waugh puts it, a tribute to "five fallen icons of the videogame industry." In case you're wondering, the icons in question are Atari, Origin, Sierra On-Line, Black Isle Studios, and Looking Glass Studios. All of these companies made outstanding games, and I'm sure you'll enjoy reading about their rise and fall--and contemplating how things would look now if these companies were still with us. He ends the piece on a powerful and insightful note: