Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Buying The Witcher 2 from www.gog.com gives pretty much the full amount paid directly to the creators of the game, as far as I've understood. It's 49.99€ for the digital download, where some shit like maps and making-of videos come included. Bear with me, this isn't a commercial, nor a review. It's gotten pretty decent reviews, packs quite a long playtime in a well thought-out world, and comes from the company that made the first The Witcher. They were a fairly unknown Polish group, who produced one of the best RPG's of its time. GoG also recognizes that because of laws and taxes and all that funky stuff, the European digital download costs 16$ more than the US, so they give you games from their store to the same value. The Witcher team also makes a point of trusting their players, choosing to believe that if their product is good it will stand for itself: The Witcher 2, like the first, comes without any DRM. No, this is not a request for them to have my babies.

So what is it? It's a question: If I hypothetically said that I know a site that is 100% reliable and legal but possibly much less ethical (in how they acquire what they sell, but I don't know, I don't know if anyone knows), that sells The Witcher 2 for a little more than 16€, but where it's very doubtful if the developers get very much, if anything at all... how is that different from torrenting it for free? Because it feels different. If this was any other game I would probably buy it cheap, but why? Have they successfully guilt-tripped me into buying their game from being too nice? I'm extremely curious how the game sales are. Is the DRM-free way the way to go to win the war against pirating, not because you defeat the hackers, but because you win the players hearts and loyalty? Or is it the eyes full of hope of a catholic sheep on its way into the wolf's den?

Does a product that is good ever stand on its own?


Kristin said...

It is important to not apply precentages straight off. If you pay 500kr at a physical store or 100kr at unnamed internet site, makes no difference for the developers. Their share of the revenues is a fixed sum, as according to their deal with the publishers. The publishers also get a fixed sum for each game, since they sell it to the retaliers for whatever ammount they feel like. The price you as an end-customer pays for the game depends on the costs involved for the retailer. If the retailer has warehouses, that's an added cost right away. If they also have physical stores, that adds another, rather huge, chunk to the price. If a site simply throws the physical discs away after scanning the CD-key, there's not a whole lot of costs involved there. Therefore they can still make a PROFITABLE sale at a lower price. Very simple. Non of this affects how much money the devs make.

But, if the devs publish the games themselves, then obviously they will get more money if you pay the physical store price directly to them.

Kristin said...

I feel that was somewhat incoherent, sorry.

Yeonni said...

Mostly, the point here was that in the case of the Witcher, they pretty much do publish the game themselves. GoG and The Witcher team belongs to two branches of the same company, and they said that a very large percentage of their sales go to the developers themselves. Which is why I said that normally I wouldn't mind buying games where they're cheapest, but in this case it's different.

It is also the reputation of the cheap game store that makes me uncertain of their ethics, not their prices. Of course, that reputation might have come around because people mistrust something that's "too good to be true", or because the other stores try to discredit it.

Yeonni said...

And the reason, that I didn't write because it's gossip but I'll write it here then, that the developers might not get any money for the games is, according to some, that the store acquires their games illegally; stolen or unpaid for in other ways.

Riklurt said...

Well, not having certain information is what makes this a tricky question.

If you knew for a fact that you could choose between buying from the producer and buying from a fence, then of course, it's my opinion that it would be unethical to buy it from the fence. Simple at that. When the information is unclear, though, the situation becomes more muddied.

I believe "winning the players' hearts and loyalty" is the way to go for companies. It might not necessarily work, but it has a higher chance of working that attempting to beat the hackers - simply because you only need a small leak for everything to come down in flames. If one single hacker out of 10,000 succeeds in cracking your protection, you're screwed, because that one hacker can spread his program to thousands upon thousands of other people, in less than a week.

If you have customers who don't give a rat's ass about you, and don't care about "ethics" - in short, who behave absolutely and blindly selfishly - then all it takes is one single successful hacker for you to make 0 dollars, theoretically speaking. (Of course, in practice some people might buy the game because they didn't know it's been cracked, and some folks might be smart or unselfish enough to buy it anyway, but you see my point.)

Alex said...

The game industry has been on the same course as the music industry, altho abit slower..

Theres a need for developers to come up with new ways of reaching the masses, while earning money doing it, the same way as the music industry is now doing with stuff like iTunes & Spotify.

Because honestly its not about pirating games anymore to get them for free. Its just that piracy and torrents is the easiest way for me to obtain some games.
I'd gladly pay money for a game i want if its easy for me to obtain it.

The thing is, these people have every opportunity to come up with ideas of distribution, they're developers, designers, brainstormers for gods sake!

Piracy forced movie and music industry to evolve. Its about time it does the same to the game industry.