Seek First to Understand

A game creator recently took the brave step of directly asking people who pirate his games, why they do so, and to open a dialogue with them about it. (as an exercise, anywhere you see the word “game” replace it with movie or television show and chew on that a while).

A few days ago I posted a simple question on my blog. “Why do people pirate my games?”. It was an honest attempt to get real answers to an important question… This is what I found:


Firstly it’s worth pointing out that there were LOTs of responses (and they are still coming in now), hundreds of comments on the sites listed, a ton of comments on the blog (despite it crumbling under the strain) and hundreds of emails made it through to me. I read every one of them…. Here is what they said:

The semi-political ones

I got a few people churning out long arguments about whether or not intellectual property is valid, and claiming that it was censorship, or fascism and other variations on this theme…


A lot of anger was directed at the retail $60 games, and console games. My games were $19-23, but for a lot of people, it was claimed this was far too high. People talked a lot about impulse buying games if they were much cheaper.

Game Quality

This was a big complaint too. And this also surprised me. Not a single person said they had felt ripped off by a game due to substandard visuals or lack of content. The consensus was that games got boring too quickly, were too derivative, and had gameplay issues. Almost everyone had a tale of a game that was bought based on hype which turned out to be disappointing.


People don’t like DRM, we knew that, but the extent to which DRM is turning away people who have no other complaints is possibly misunderstood. If you wanted to change ONE thing to get more pirates to buy games, scrapping DRM is it. These gamers are the low hanging fruit of this whole debate.

There’s more on his site, go read it.

Today, he posted his conclusions, and they are an excellent window into the things the market that we create and sell film, television and music for.

It’s worth reading the summary of responses, and what he’s going to do about it.

There’s a good lesson to be learned here.