Macworld UK has an article on Mac Game Piracy. As someone who owns 3 copies of Halo for Mac and one for PC, I think I’m more an oddity than a normal gamer. The author of the article states that downloads from MacGameFiles outnumber sell-throughs by a factor of 10 and this is news. Um, no, mate. This ain’t news. Downloads will always outnumber sell-throughs by an order of magnitude. Put it another way, I downloaded the DOOM 3 demo and then bought the boxed game. I very very seldom buy games supplied online because I have no desire to play Fish Tycoon, Puppy Luv or Teddy Factory.
Aspyr Media’s Director of Development Glenda Adams didn??????t have much better news. She sees the industry inevitably heading towards more copy protection systems like Steam, a scheme created by Valve Software, makers of Half-Life 2. Steam requires players to have an online connection to validate their software each time they want to play.
Frankly, I have no problems with this. After all, internet access is nearly ubiquitous. If an internet connection was required once a week, I think that would be a reasonable compromise.
This piracy is driving game developers to develop for consoles where it is harder but still not impossible to steal games. That sucks because the only “gaming” machine I carry is my Mac. I’m not enthralled by the PSP. I’m not in awe of the DS Lite. It’s all nice hardware but what does it do other than play games? Hence, to me, it’s a gimmick. I know lots of you love your gaming gadgets but….well….they don’t do anything for me.
A model I’d support would be similar to STEAM. Steam allows you to play offline once you have downloaded and validated the game with their servers. I’ve always maintained that I’d like Mac game makers to start a scheme like Steam – mainly because finding games to buy here in Northern Ireland is hard enough. We have to resort to Mail Order which removes a lot of the impulse buy. An online download system would put that impulse buy back in.
Also, there are games which are really a lot of fun at a LAN meet. We tend to play games which have reasonable licensing (Halo doesn’t but we really wanted to play it.). This means looking at games which permit “spawning” like Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, Myth. Games which permit one licensed store-bought copy to allow a multiplayer install to use them as a server.
I think that the Mac game market really need to look at iTunes for inspiration. Not the DRM but the model. iTunes is not designed to compete with the many Microsoft-WMA also-rans. It’s designed to compete with online music theft. If game developers started to look at the problem of game piracy and the reasons why people attempt to steal games, then they might gain some headway. I think they need to get in bed with Scott Kevill of GameRanger and see if there’s a way validation can be added. It’s notable that games which permit multiplayer demos are in the top 15 games being played over GameRanger. With 230 000+ members and 81 games played in the last hour, it seems ripe to exploit further and yeah, it might make Kevill very rich if it worked. It just seems there’s a disconnect there….(pun intended). ???