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What do you think of Asset Piracy?

04-14-2015, 11:21 PM
#1
Joined: Jan 2015
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Posts: 156
What do you think of Asset Piracy?

Read an interesting article about why western developers should be concerned about Asian app piracy. What are your thoughts? Should other developers copying ideas, or more specifically, source code be a concern in the mobile landscape?

What effects does piracy have on the value of being first to market(s)?

--
Simply,

// Faisal & The Frosty Pop Corps
04-15-2015, 08:36 AM
#2
Joined: May 2012
Location: Decatur GA
Posts: 80
Link? It's hard to tell what kind of discussion you want without the full context.

04-15-2015, 08:51 AM
#3
Joined: Apr 2015
Location: Arendelle
Posts: 654
Quote:
Originally Posted by redpanda33 View Post
Link? It's hard to tell what kind of discussion you want without the full context.
Almost a link.

Link.
04-15-2015, 09:11 AM
#4
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 339
This is a very complex topic.

On one hand, stealing is wrong. However, the definition of "stealing" has been broadened quite a bit in just my lifetime.

Is it stealing if I buy an app but let my kids install it on their device? It used to be covered by fair use that you could buy a tape cassette, make a copy, and let your family use it. In fact, it was widely regarded as ok for friends to have copies as well. Not sure about the legality, but fair use essentially said that once you made a purchase you could make as many copies as you felt you needed.

It's not like anyone expected you to buy multiple copies of anything for the same household.

In today's world if you bother to read most EULA's they really want you to make a separate purchase for everyone in the house. I think that's kind of silly but that's exactly how Steam works. Either only one person can play a game at a time or you have to buy additional licenses.

On the other hand, the rampant outright no matter how you define it piracy is a real problem. My stance is that you should at least pay for fair use. If you have a game installed and no one in your house paid for it, you've stolen that game.

Just to make this even more complex though is the industry tends to consider pirated copies "lost sales". That is insane. You can't realistically expect people who are stealing your product to actually pay for it if they couldn't steal it instead. If they thought it was worth money, they would have paid for it in the first place.

However, if you think always connected apps are a pain and hate the rise of F2P "freemium" apps, thank a pirate.
04-15-2015, 09:49 AM
#5
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: NYC suburbs (New Jersey)
Posts: 1,325
It's plain stealing. There is no justification. Everybody has a mouth or family to feed, including developers.
04-15-2015, 11:11 AM
#6
Joined: Apr 2015
Location: Arendelle
Posts: 654
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazedJava View Post
Just to make this even more complex though is the industry tends to consider pirated copies "lost sales". That is insane. You can't realistically expect people who are stealing your product to actually pay for it if they couldn't steal it instead. If they thought it was worth money, they would have paid for it in the first place.

However, if you think always connected apps are a pain and hate the rise of F2P "freemium" apps, thank a pirate.
I agree with the first paragraph, but the second one is just as ignorant as the first one that you are negating.

But this topic isn't about "that" kind of piracy anyway, it is about game developers stealing assets (code, art, ideas, etc.) from oher game developers and using them in their own game (or make slight adjustments to them).

I think that this is completely blatant as it doesn't lead to innovation or anything original. For this reason I am also not a big fan of art assets and game templates being sold, which is pretty much like stealing, except that it isn't free (in most cases), it's legal but the assets might show up in even more games. With that being said, I am kind of split on those legal assets, as they might sometimes be used to produce someting original and those assets might even be in good games that we don't know that they use them. I might have gotten a little bit off-topic here as this has nothing to do with piracy, but it's still about using non-original assets.

We aren't really damaged by this, only the developers are, at least in the short run (in the sense that companies rather work on copies of succesfull mini games, rather than creating original ones).

Anyway, all this discussion is pointless because of the nature of the mobile market. Most people who own a phone are casual and won't ever get any of this information because they either have no time, no interest or simply don't care about stolen assets in games. Other gaming platforms don't really deal with so much ignorance as mobile does. Hell, even pirates inform themselves very good about the game they are planning on pirating and aren't interested in crappy games. Whereas on the mobile platform people just download whatever is on top of the lists, which is usually free crappy minigames which got to those positions with 99% of the budget spent on marketing.

Last edited by Elsa; 04-15-2015 at 11:15 AM.
04-15-2015, 11:20 AM
#7
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 339
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elsa View Post
I agree with the first paragraph, but the second one is just as ignorant as the first one that you are negating.

But this topic isn't about "that" kind of piracy anyway, it is about game developers stealing assets (code, art, ideas, etc.) from oher game developers and using them in their own game (or make slight adjustments to them).
Not sure how the second paragraph you quoted is "ignorant". It's not exactly a secret that the reason many publishers want always connected, and not just mobile apps, and also the rise of F2P is due to rampant piracy. Those kinds of games are money makers and while fraud still happens it is not near as rampant.

As to the kind of piracy being discussed, that wasn't really made clear by the OP.

However, I'll play. Stealing art assets is just as wrong. Someone spent time and effort to make them. It's also been happening forever. Can't remember the game anymore but some game became notorious about 10 years ago for blatantly lifting art from other games including Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. When you're taking assets from popular games it's hard to believe they thought no one would notice.

This is also why so many technology departments with in house applications guard their codebase. Not only for security reasons (to hide any vulnerabilities that might exist) but also so their competitors can't simply steal all their hard work. Software is ridiculous expensive to create, which is why my mind almost boggles at games like Card Crawl selling for $2. Granted, enough people buy it and they will make money, but even with a relatively small team it will take some time for them to make a profit past their R&D costs.

Unfortunately, due to copyright laws, there isn't much that can be done about it.
04-15-2015, 11:34 AM
#8
Joined: May 2012
Location: Decatur GA
Posts: 80
I don't normally say that one type of stealing is better than another, but in this case it really is true. One person pirating a game = one lost potential sale. A company pirating your game and changing the name to release it in another territory and make money = thousands of potential lost sales. This is an odd discussion as I can't imagine anyone is on the side of ucool, but it would be fun to hear their defense.
04-15-2015, 01:46 PM
#9
Joined: Apr 2015
Location: Arendelle
Posts: 654
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazedJava View Post
Not sure how the second paragraph you quoted is "ignorant". It's not exactly a secret that the reason many publishers want always connected, and not just mobile apps, and also the rise of F2P is due to rampant piracy. Those kinds of games are money makers and while fraud still happens it is not near as rampant.
Preventing piracy is more of a convient side-effect. Always online can also serve other things, such as fair leaderboards, events, multiplayer elements, smaller patches and most important - data collection. That last one is especially important in F2P games, so the designer can figure out the player's behaviour patterns and maximize the income of iAPs. The developers aren't idiots. They won't ruin the game experience for each of their players just so the smaller percentage of pirates won't be able to play their game. This especially goes for F2P games again, because the game is free from the start. And I'm sure developers aren't so naive that they would implement always online just so the stingiest people (pirates) would have to buy iAPs.


F2P didn't happen because of piracy, but simply because it offers a wider outreach to players and it turned out that it maximizes the income as well.


Microtransactions aren't a new idea but smarphones were perfect for exercising this on and making them mainstream.

Last edited by Elsa; 04-15-2015 at 01:57 PM.
04-15-2015, 03:28 PM
#10
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 339
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elsa View Post
Preventing piracy is more of a convient side-effect.
I don't know about convenient side effect. While everything else you've said is true, game publishers have been talking about always on connections since at least the 90's and once everyone essentially had broadband they immediately began trying this scheme. Gamers have always hated it because it is not unreasonable to expect to play the game you paid for without having to be on the Internet, especially on the PC. The rationale was always about piracy.

Not that the other things you said aren't true as well but it's more of a total package. All of these things from data collection to stopping piracy are part of the push to make sure they can always keep an eye on you. They want to know everything about you and they don't trust you.

The other side effect is that F2P not only entices players but the publishers have complete control since you often make purchases within the app while it is connected to the Internet. So they can watch the transactions and make sure you don't "cheat". Granted, I've found glitches in various games over time but not sure if it's really theft when there are often ways to earn, very incrementally, premium currency without spending real dollars in most games. Also, it's pretty darn hard to steal something that is "free" to begin with.

Really, all of these things from "free"-to-play, micro-transactions, always connected, etc. are things that really began to take hold in the 90's but the technology and means wasn't quite there. A lot of it was driven by the perception of game publishers that piracy == lost sales not to mention the rise of monolithic marketing and big data.

FWIW, discussions of micro-transactions may be older than the 90's but the infrastructure not only didn't exist but could barely be conceived back then. People don't appreciate how much computing advanced between 1950 to today. If you saw the stuff my Dad used to work with compared to what I work with today you wouldn't even recognize it as a computer unless someone told you. Hell, I remember when a Cray was a big deal.