I remember hearing a simple tip about how to protect your property in case of a burglary. You leave a moderate amount of cash, say a hundred dollars, in an obvious location. That way, the burglar doesn’t trash your house looking for your well hidden cash and possessions. Now I’ve never been burgled, but when I read this post about protecting your games from pirates this morning from indie RPG developer, Jeff Vogel, that old tip immediately came to mind.
Jeffs advice for game developers is to simply make it hard for your players to forget to pay for your game. Putting up all kinds of roadblocks to pirates also puts them in front of your paying customers. In his post, Vogel relates a couple of stories that occured when he did have barriers to players, and upon removing these barriers saw a net positive effect in the number of people buying his games.
The thing is that if someone wants to pirate your game, they will. Just like you cannot stop a determined and smart burglar from breaking into your house, there’s no way to prevent someone pirating a game. Your only hope is to delay them.
But this comes at the cost of pissing off and losing legitimate buyers. Isn’t it better to lower the barriers and gain extra sales from people who want to pay, than keeping those barriers and losing customers, and still not preventing pirates from breaking through them?