DreamRift co-founder: publisher piracy fears lead to unambitious games

Is a pirated game truly a lost sale? Do some people buy games after playing a pirate copy? In a way, it doesn't really matter. The mere belief amongst some publishers that hardcore gamers are frightful pirates is why the DS and 3DS are given over to safe bets like licensed games and sequels, according to Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion developer DreamRift's co-founder Peter Ong.

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Is a pirated game truly a lost sale? Do some people buy games after playing a pirate copy? In a way, it doesn't really matter. The mere belief amongst some publishers that hardcore gamers are frightful pirates is why the DS and 3DS are given over to safe bets like licensed games and sequels, according to Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion dev DreamRift's co-founder Peter Ong.

"There's a perception that the parents/grandparents/non-enthusiast/mainstream/etc. are less likely to go about pirating games," Ong told Gamasutra. "Now I want to make this point loud and clear: Regardless of whether it's true that enthusiast/hardcore gamers are more likely to pirate than mainstream gamers, the fact that publishers believe it to be true has a very real, unfortunate and ugly impact on games."

Ong explained DreamRift's experiences with this. "When we approached publishers to propose potential game projects with them, most of them brought up their concerns about piracy at some point," he said. "Many publishers even cited the issue of piracy as a specific reason why they decided to back away from our game project, especially with it being an original intellectual property concept."

Evidently publishers do still greenlight original properties, but some are inclined to lean towards ideas that are less likely to target players they believe would pirate rather than buy.

"This means that not only are gamers presented with more and more sports/licensed/sequel games in favor of original IP games, but also that even within non-original IP games, the type of design and gameplay will tend toward less innovative/risky mechanics," Ong said.

Boo! There's a pirate behind you! Calm down, dear: I was only joking--this time.

From The Chatty

  • reply
    January 11, 2013 3:00 PM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, DreamRift co-founder: publisher piracy fears lead to unambitious games.

    Is a pirated game truly a lost sale? Do some people buy games after playing a pirate copy? In a way, it doesn't really matter. The mere belief amongst some publishers that hardcore gamers are frightful pirates is why the DS and 3DS are given over to safe bets like licensed games and sequels, according to Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion developer DreamRift's co-founder Peter Ong.

    • reply
      January 11, 2013 3:12 PM

      Good thing nobody needs publishers anymore with kickstarter. Bring on the FTLs and the Hotline Miamis.

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        January 11, 2013 6:09 PM

        Still need publishers for marketing and distribution, since they won't do one without the other. Most dev studios stuck at marketing. Yeah, Steam makes digital distribution easier, but if you want to go international, you prob want help with the translation stuff. That's another thing the publisher usually does better.

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        January 12, 2013 11:32 AM

        While you may not like Halo, Call of Duty, or the Grand Theft Autos of the world, others do, and we're not going to get those types of games without a publisher at the moment.

        No one on kickstart is going to supply 20-100 million dollars for those games, so we still need big business to a certain extent.

        Not to mention the people working in the industry, you can say that big studios are bloated with too many employees, but big games employ people, and there are a lot of people in the industry, not all of them are capable of starting a kickstarter and if everyone was starting a kickstart, fewer would be successful.

        So knock publishers all you want, I know I do, but we still need giant games to keep the industry rolling and people paid. They're going to have to take some risks eventually or change up their business model or they'll go under. Guess we'll see what they choose.

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      January 11, 2013 6:35 PM

      Until Kickstarter is regularly funding 50+ million dollar game projects, yes you do still need publishers if you ever hope to play a "triple A" game, particularly one on the leading consoles.