Worst dick moves ever pulled on developers by gamers

Case #6: Pirating the Humble Indie Bundle

It isn’t controversial to declare pirates to be self-entitled assholes. Why pay for someone else’s hard work when you could get it for free? It really feels like developers are giving you the game, then.

Above: Stealing the Humble Indie Bundle was stealing from charity. These guys stole from sick children

Let's say up front that piracy is piracy, but we can't help but look at pirate incidents in shades of gray. Pirating a game like StarCraft II makes you a dick. But Blizzard can afford it. Pirating an indie game from a tiny studio full of people making massive career and personal sacrifices to do what they love, even if it means barely scraping by financially, and whose proceeds go to charity – well, that makes you a mega dick.

That's exactly what happened to the Humble Indie Bundle, a collection of indie games that included World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru, and Penumbra. The bundle was put on sale for a short period of time, for the low, low price of whatever the hell you wanted to pay. Gamers could buy the games for as little as a penny and decide how much of the money would go to the developers and how much would go to charity. At the end of the sale, the devs had raised over $1 Million, of which nearly $400,000 went to charity.

But not everybody paid.

Above: Currently there’s a new bundle of games for sale. Pay a lot for it this time as penance 

Even though they could get it for a penny, gamers still pirated the game in astounding numbers. Since the download was provided for free and players merely paid for the key, the developers were able to figure out exactly how many people paid and how many didn't. A full 25% of the downloaders didn't pay for the games. When you steal something that costs a penny, it doesn't make you frugal. It makes you a complete douchebag.

Case #7: Bleeding PC gaming to death

Sorry to end on a downer, but this last one is a really big deal. PC gaming will never be “dead” – however, it will also never be the same as it was back in the platform’s heyday. And piracy is one of the biggest reasons for its decline. While illegal distribution of games occurs on all platforms, the PC has struggled with it the most. As a result, the days of the AAA PC title are gone. Most games are made with consoles in mind, and then ported to PC. Franchises and developers that made their names on the PC now call the console home. Where do you think most people are going to play the next Fallout, Deus Ex or X-com? If you guessed Xbox 360/PS3, you’re probably right.

Above: Hope you folks enjoy playing Crysis 2 over Xbox Live as much as you liked pirating Crysis

The numbers don't lie. It's the pirates who are to blame. According to developer 2D Boy, a full 90% of the copies of World of Goo out there are stolen. And it’s often worse with AAA titles that have higher price tags - developer Crytek claims that pirated versions of its flagship title Crysis outnumber legit ones 20 to 1.

Hurting one game is a nasty move by an individual, but effectively killing an entire platform is a virtual monument to shortsighted entitlement and selfishness. And we gamers ourselves are responsible. We are literally doing it to ourselves. Why? Because we can be real dicks sometimes.

Above: How can someone steal a game this adorable?

But sometimes we gamers can be good people, too. So there’s still hope for us. With any luck, gamers will never give us enough material for there to be a “part two” of this article. We’d be proud to find something else to write about if that were the case.

Dec 21, 2010

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  • sfdrew - October 15, 2013 1:06 p.m.

    I hate to be a dick, but pirating is not the same thing as stealing. Anybody whose even taken a 101 economics class will know what a demand curve is; the lower the price, the more people will buy it. Obviously, if the price is zero, a lot more people will buy a game than if it costs $60, or even $5. When it comes to things like apples, or frying pans, or bookcases, there is a limited supply. The availability and demand for those products, along with competition, determine the price. If I take a dining room table from a store, I've also taken value away as well. Digital goods don't work that way. The supply is basically infinite. Everything is value-added. The games themselves have no inherit value, like the wood that makes up a table, for example. Once the cost of development has been recouped, each new copy can be made for practically nothing, especially if other people are doing the copying. When EA did their Humble Indie Bundle (the thought of which still makes my stomach turn), it didn't cost them anything. The games were already made. "Stealing" a copy, doesn't take any value away from them like it does when you swipe an apple from the grocery store. The argument made by the RIAA and game companies that a pirated copy is a lost sale is complete nonsense, as I pointed out before. There will always be far more people who will take something for free rather than pay for it. All the people who thought the game was worth the asking price, bought it when it went on sale. Would some of the people who pirated the game paid had that not been an option? Perhaps, but they likely make up a tiny portion of the "pirates". The fact that people pay so little (around 5-10 on average) for most Humble Indie Bundles just goes to show that most people find those games to be nearly worthless. I'm not entitled; as an author, game developer, musician, or whatever; to decide what my creations are worth. The market will decide. If some people find them to be nearly worthless, then so be it. I don't download things without paying for them, but that doesn't make people who do a thief either; It doesn't equate to a lost sale, or take food out of the stomachs of children. Game companies are exactly that. They are interested in making money. Most of them, especially the large ones, have gone to revolting lengths to take advantage of their customers. Why are gamers to blame for doing the same?
  • RiksK - January 25, 2011 6:29 p.m.

    People pirate if they don't have enough money to buy the games, not even used or old ones. But if you have the money to buy the games, but you pirate them instead, you are truly pathetic. Pirating a game is like boycoting the game and saying, "Please, don't make a game like this anymore". So pirating a game you like but not buying an original copy of it, is insanely pathetic.
  • Shuuvuia - January 25, 2011 6:57 a.m.

    The Left 4 Dead controversy still makes me laugh. We spend all our time complaining that Valve takes 10 years to release sequels, and when they finally release a sequel in a reasonable amount of time people go crazy. The Humble-Indie Bundle is probably the lowest gamers have ever sunk. Pirates are already insufferable douchebags, but stealing from charity (and from people who are making personal sacrifices to make games that will benefit charities) is just low and inhuman. I don't know how those people sleep at night. Oh, and the two words I had to type in the "human-validation box" thingy are Flagellum Appointed. What?
  • MassEffective - January 25, 2011 3:37 a.m.

  • LordUberDowzen - December 25, 2010 2:08 a.m.

    @ misfit199, why can't you use that same TV for your computer?
  • misfit119 - December 23, 2010 10:31 p.m.

    I can definitely agree we need more articles like this. Except, ya know, to actually get their facts straight when they're trying to sound clever. As it is this particular article is terrible. I can get the sarcasm and all but if you're going to tell me I'm a dick, even in jest, get the facts right. #2 You do realize that part of the reason people complained about L4D2 was because Valve ran their mouth Peter Molyneux style. They promise a bunch of free stuff and then only gave survival mode. Then we got Crash Course which was a half a campaign. Great. I also like how the concern that this would split the player base so soon after the game was released isn't mentioned. #4 So we throw "justified" whine fests when movie producers have no idea about a game franchise they're working on but it's unjustified when those people who know nothing about a game franchise are working on the franchise? Makes sense. Fallout 3 was awesome in spite of some parts of the dev team I think. #5 Many of us complainers don't WANT to play 90 levels for $50 bucks. All we want is to get to play as Zerg or Protoss in non-multiplayer modes. But we have to pay $50 to start the story up and then $50 and another $50 to get to the installments we actually care about. #7 The Crysis developers have nobody to blame but themselves. Here's a great strategy - let's make a game that's major selling point is the graphics, then require that you have Windows Vista (garbage) and a ridiculously powerful (and expensive) PC to enjoy said graphics. Then lets be surprised when most of the gamers out there can't be bothered to pick it up and the pirates inflate the numbers. Great idea! Totally not the developers fault. @LordUberDowzen - That doesn't make sense. I have an apartment, I buy a TV to watch television. Oh look a video game console let me hook it up. I don't just have a monitor lying around that I can then hook up to a PC. You add on monitors to prices of computers because it serves no purpose otherwise.
  • LordUberDowzen - December 23, 2010 9:39 p.m.

    @ gilgamesh310, I'll tackle your points in order: The load times are much shorter on PC (except for the elevator rides which can't be shortened because of the way the game is coded). The ordinary load screens in that game appear for about 5 seconds whereas the elevators take at least a minute. You're right that most people will already have a TV, my issue is with the cost of a monitor being added onto the price of a PC but the price of a TV not being added onto the price of a console, which seems a little bit unfair. Slight confusion, didn't mean big controllers. "Big Tv" + "expensive controllers". They're not that expensive, but I wouldn't call them cheap either. The constant upgrades thing has kind of disappeared too. I'm still using a PC that I bought in 2008 which hasn't been upgraded and I can still run almost every new game at full. Crysis is an exception, not the rule. Crashing can still be an issue, but it doesn't happen nearly as much as it did 5-10 years ago.
  • EarlyGrayce - December 23, 2010 4:58 p.m.

    @Rufnux I think you are just trying to balls up things. Either pay up or wait for it to go on special instead of looking like a dick
  • EarlyGrayce - December 23, 2010 4:29 p.m.

    I wonder what the numbers Bought to Downloaded copies of the Humble Indie Bundle really mean as since I last commented I purchased the second bundle for $10 just for the charity and a few games for my partner then downloaded the games for PC, Mac, and Linux just in case I have to use any OS other than Windows in the near future. Will this make the stats say that three times the amount of copies were downloaded as bought? I am now off to register the pack with Steam so that if I lose the files I will then redownload them through that service. The HIGB website also recommends that you keep your email from them as a safeguard to data loss so they are advocating downloading the data again if you have any issues or lose the data.
  • ZakanSparta - December 23, 2010 1:38 p.m.

    Oh yes, about StarCraft 2... Mark my words, with second part of the trilogy, BLizzard will add small amount of new units per side, maybe one, and some balance tweaks, that will only be avalble to those that will buy the addon/second part. They well know that only small amount of the buyers will get it for single player. The majority is in for MP, casual or hardcore, but still. And BLizz got them by the throat. They did that with WoW, and they sure won't pass the oppertunity to do it with another huge franchise. So it will be another 50$ for campaign most players dont care about, and minor MP tweaks. Thats what gamers were realy upset about, and - imo - justly so. Sad thing is - Blizzard said that with Wings of Liberty you will have full MP part. Sure, sure. Untill the next one comes out, and you will have to buy it again, for full sum.
  • ZakanSparta - December 23, 2010 1:25 p.m.

    About that HL2 theft - while I don't advocate it, I can't stand that almost all those that cry for poor Valve seem to ignore the huge videocard war that was about that time, and the fact Valve with their "Nvidia cards can't handle HL2, go ATI" repeated PR basicly saved ATI at that generation. Newell gave tens of tech reasons to that, basicly trashing Gforce 5 (if I'm correct at the tech gen) but somehow forgot to tell one interesting fact. When that Leaker got the HL2 code out, it came out that huge chunck of the rendering code was done by ATI *ENGINEIRS*. If you didint got that, please read again. When one GPU company makes the rendering tech for you, what right have to to say that one video card or another is better? Say that you prefer one side, and that that you work with them - fine, its your call, nothing wrong here. But blaming Nvidia for making lousy tech, when your renderer built to NOT work on it?? I still didn't got HL2, and not I intend to. Its maybe game of the year,and excellent product overall, but thats my way of saying some things done by companies won't be ignored by me.
  • EarlyGrayce - December 23, 2010 6:01 a.m.

    I am a PC and 360 Gamer. I am am on a Disability Support Pension and can't use either most of the time as I am too sick to get out of bed or even think straight enough to string together three words so even this comment is written by my carer. I get almost every PC game as a pirate copy then bin the copy after 6 months as the local game market is priced at between $80 and $110 for a new game so I would rather spend money on the games I still want after the 6 months when most games have come down to a reasonable price as in $40 to $60
  • fenris117 - December 23, 2010 5:56 a.m.

    As a PC gamer myself, it makes me ashamed about how others are hacking their own arms off by pirating games and complaining that developers are looking away from PC.... c'mon guys really?
  • EarlyGrayce - December 23, 2010 5:56 a.m.

    I forgot to mention The Humble Indie Bundle and downloading screwups, how many of the extra DLs are because of a download or other data problem
  • NightCrawler_358 - December 23, 2010 5:33 a.m.

    I love PC gaming but people can be such dicks in it, because they take it so seriously. But really, who wants to have fun with a video game!? Pirating is wrong because the devs dont get anything for their hard work, but often times its really hard to say no. Its not like theres consequences on the internet... ._.
  • jonathanaltman - December 23, 2010 4:44 a.m.

    Blaming piracy for the demise of PC gaming is pretty silly. Not that it's not a valid component, but it is far from the main one. That is, maintaining a PC to perform for new games is really expensive. Also, when was the last time you walked into a Gamestop and found any PC games beyond that one depressing rack with three City of Heroes expansion packs alongside a bunch of games from 10 years ago? I see piracy as a library. Because I am poor right now, I have to go to the library instead of having the pleasure of going to a store and buying something outright. Making the argument ALL about piracy would be like blaming the fall of print media on Libraries.
  • mgpeacewalker - December 23, 2010 4:38 a.m.

    Paying one cent for the humble indie bundle doesn't make you any less of a dick than someone who pirate it. Hell if you did pay 1 cent you might as well have pirated it to save you the effort of going thru the process of buying it.
  • TR4rules - December 23, 2010 4:18 a.m.

    First of all,lay off Fox News, the only news station that reports the truth. Secondly I am one, probably of the few, that has never wantd any part of pirated or mode gaming. I cant stand the state of mind that every thing is owed to an individual and that the companies providing there services can afford there dishonesty. To all you DICK, F@#$ you.
  • MikeT - December 23, 2010 2:58 a.m.

    Its hard to realize the full scope of douchebagginess that developers have to deal with. These guys gotta be thick skinned to deal with this, and think about the indy developers working so hard on something just to have it ripped by kids that probably don't get it, that's really the sad thing is that the people who do this don't really know how hard the developers work. We need more articles like this and a community that educates and promotes knowledge.
  • Markstone - December 23, 2010 2:12 a.m.

    Its sad when people refuse to pay a PENNY for multiple excellent games, they should be ashamed (especially since it helped benefit charities!)

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