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First concrete proof of the harm of piracy

The developers behind the Project Zomboid game have announced that they’re taking it offline. Someone recently released a new pirated version of the game and it’s causing some problems. Project Zomboid has been pirated before, and while I’m sure they don’t like it, they realize there’s not much they can do to stop it. But the new pirated copy is different.


The new pirated version now has an "update now" button, and that’s a problem. The developers have to pay for the bandwidth for each copy that is downloaded. It’s killing them.

I have to say that I admire their attitude: "We’ve always turned a blind eye to pirate copies, even on occasion recommending people who had problems with the legit version try a pirate version until the issues are resolved. We realise the potential viral benefits of pirate copies, and while obviously we’d prefer people to purchase our issue is not with those."

I call this the first concrete proof of piracy because all the other times I’ve read about income lost to piracy there was always a large degree of handwavium built into the figures.

image by spaceninja

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Scott_T June 18, 2011 um 5:50 pm

maybe they need to switch to some kind of torrented update system

Brian O’Leary June 20, 2011 um 9:29 am

I’m reasonably sure that there are cases in which the impact of piracy on paid sales is negative (college textbooks comes to mind), and this may be an example. What the game developers seem to be saying, though, is that paying for bandwidth on pirated versions is costing them money.

That’s not necessarily the same as a loss, or at least the data is incomplete. It could be that the pirated versions are promoting paid sales of the game. I’m not arguing that to be the case, but the gain or loss is a function of more than just bandwidth costs.

Of course, if you are a smaller developer and you have to pay for bandwidth ahead of revenues, it’s hard to accept my call for more data. Bills come first.

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