Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cliff Harris on Game Piracy

This story's all over the place, but I'm gonna wade into it anyway.

If you've never head of Cliff Harris or his company, Positech Games, well, get in line. At least, I'd never heard of him. But after he went out and petitioned the pirate community to learn the different reasons why they pirate he drew quite a bit of attention for himself. While I think just going out there - wading into some pretty hostile waters, no less - is pretty cool, what's really impressed me is the post he put up at his company's website that aggregates the responses he received and his reaction to them. Some of his conclusions, whether accurate or not, are remarkably frank and incredibly open and forward thinking. If you are even a casual gamer you owe it to yourself to read what he's got to say. Just click your way over here.

Here's a snippet:

My games aren't as good as they could be. Ironically, one of the things that reduces your enthusiasm to really go the extra mile in making games is the thought that thousands of ungrateful gits will swipe the whole thing on day one for nothing. It's very demoralizing. But actually talking to the pirates has revealed a huge group of people who really appreciate genuinely good games. Some of the criticisms of my games hit home. I get the impression that if I make Kudos 2 not just lots better than the original, but hugely, overwhelmingly, massively better, well polished, designed and balanced, that a lot of would-be pirates will actually buy it. I've gone from being demoralized by pirates to actually inspired by them, and I'm working harder than ever before on making my games fun and polished.

For the record, if you steal games, you suck. I'm not gonna lie and say I've never done it, but it's been a very, very long time. And when I did it, I sucked. Just don't embarrass yourself by trying to justify it.


James said...

Agreed, pirates do suck. Also note to EA, making the same game every year adding a few features and never fixing anything that is wrong from year to year and charging 60 bucks for it means you suck as well.

Activision, 60 bucks for Guitar Hero Aerosmith? Really? It's a song pack at best. You suck.

The dozens of companies releasing compilations of 5 or 6 cheesy activities and calling them games for wii, you suck.

Sorry, got carried away. I actually bought Kudos and Kudos Rock Star or whatever and they were decent titles for a little while. They definitely weren't as good as they could be with some polish though. I really don't like that he says he's not driven to make the best game he can due to piracy. Kindof a slap in the face to people like me who buy your games. If that's your attitude, you kinda suck too. Although your games are kinda cool.

todd brakke said...

Oh, I definitely agree with you about the sucky developers/publishers. Especially with regards to GHG: Aerosmith being overpriced (a refrain oft-repeated in my Gameshark review of the game).

As for Cliff and his drive to make the best game. I don't think he's saying that he ever sabotaged an effort over piracy. I think he's just saying that the level of enthusiasm for doing your absolute best is affected by it when you're a developer. Either way, I still respect the fact that he was honest enough to admit something like that and that his informal survey has helped to change his perspective.

James said...

One more complaint about EA while we're here. I bought the Madden collectors edition so I could get Head Coach early, as did many people, and the little pamphlet they call a manual is useless at best. Forcing people to buy prima guides just so they can understand how to play the game they just spend 60+ dollars on is ridiculous.