World of Goo:
82% Pirated

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Nov 19, 2008

Filed under: Rants 71 comments

2D Boy – the team behind World of Goo – has reported that 82% to 90% of the people playing the game are playing pirated copies. (They actually get into the particulars of the numbers here, where they came from and how they arrived at these figures.) We’ve heard figures in this range before and some have cast doubt that it could possibly be that high, but I don’t doubt it now. In this case, it’s coming from two guys who deliberately put out an open game with no DRM. These guys have no reason to inflate the piracy rate. I count them among the good guys, and take them at their word.

That doesn’t make this news any less depressing, though. World of Goo is a fun, innovative game for all ages with no DRM and a low price tag. The people downloading this game aren’t “evaluating” it for purchase. (There is a robust demo available.) They aren’t protesting DRM. (There isn’t any.) They aren’t sticking it to some large publisher. (This was self-published by two guys.) They aren’t protesting “price-gouging”. (The game is $20.) The people pirating World of Goo are simply amoral assholes.

The guys from 2D Boy come to the same conclusion I’ve been fruitlessly evangelizing here for years: Pirates are multitude, but going after them with DRM is a waste of time and money. I think their reasoning is inescapable, and I long for a day when big publishers will grasp these simple concepts and we can go back to conducting commerce and playing games without this DRM business in the way.

I’ve bought the game twice, (once for PC and once for WiiWare) and don’t regret it for a moment. This is a deeply satisfying experience for gamers of all ages and backgrounds. Your mom will enjoy this game. Your kids will enjoy this game. Your Mountain Dew-amped, Halo-playing, tea-bagging, trash-talking college buddies will enjoy this game. (Even if they don’t pay for it.)

Check it out for yourself, if you’re curious.


From The Archives:

71 thoughts on “World of Goo:
82% Pirated

  1. Avilan the Grey says:

    This is truly depressing; these are the exact products that we all should try to support a little extra. Admittedly I prioritized my wallet (Married and all, you know) and bought Fallout 3 instead, and a pair o jeans but anyway. At least I have not pirated it.

  2. Illiterate says:

    And somehow they have lower piracy numbers than games with painful and restrictive DRM.

    World of Goo is on my christmas list, right next to Orange Box (yes, i’m behind the times) and Fallout 3.

    haven’t had a chance to try the demo yet.

  3. Lady Kat says:

    Bought for WiiWare just last week and I love this game. It’s so addictive. But yeah, people who pirate this title need to be smacked upside the head.

  4. qrter says:

    I think it’s great that 2D Boy are one of the first companies to be actually open about some of these statistics – if there’s one thing that has been sorely missing from every debate on piracy on the PC it is some dependable numbers, to show how big the problem is, etc.

    I do think John Walker of Rock, Paper, Shotgun asks the more interesting questions in his article on this subject:

    “If piracy figures don't represent lost sales, what do they represent? Is it an indictment of humanity? Are they free advertising? Could 2D BOY have benefited in any way from them? Or are they causing active harm?”

  5. Woerlan says:

    I was saddened by this news when I first read it a couple of days back. But at least my conscience is clean. I downloaded the demo and fully intend to purchase the game (as soon as I finish On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Eps 1 and 2).

  6. Agaib says:

    This is bad. EA is going to look at this and say. “See? This is what happens if you don’t use DRM!”

    In our minds, it represents an unpleasant portion of the gamer population. In their minds, this represents a complete validation for their idiocy.

  7. scarbunny says:

    Im a little disapointed with the majority of these pirates. Like Shamus says there is no reason for the piracy other than being asshats.

    I spend some time on warez forums and have to say it seems that the newer wave of “pirates” are pretty amoral, I know I know piracy is bad no matter why you do it. But in the last few years the pretence of fighting the good fight, or what ever, has gone to be replaced by a “f**K it its free” mentality.

    Oh well I bought my copy so I did my bit.

  8. Sesoron says:

    Hm. As someone who actually did pay full price for the game (only on PC after the first time you mentioned it; I’ve considered it on WiiWare, but my short experience with the console so far has proven me far more dexterous with my laptop’s touchpad than with the Wiimote), I feel like I have the right to ask: how profitable is the game anyway for them despite the piracy?

    On a side note, I think I’ll convince myself that pirated copies are the reason so many people have goo ball counts in the 700s and 800s, while I can’t seem to break 300…

  9. DaveMc says:

    Well, it’s been nice having the PC as a gaming platform. I’ll miss it when it’s gone. Then I’ll miss consoles, and eventually I’ll miss everything except games where you play by connecting directly to pay-to-play central servers controlled by the game companies. That’s where this is heading, if people demonstrate so clearly that they are simply not willing to pay for the games they play. Thanks for pointing out this example, it’s a particularly stark illustration of the hollowness of many people’s defences of piracy — 2D Boy cannot, even in very dim light, be mistaken for The Man, so sticking it to them != sticking it to The Man.

  10. lebkin says:

    I think that most people pirate things for two primary reasons. One is because they are cheap. Free is always better than any price, no matter how reasonable.

    The other is simply because they can. That’s why you’ll find pirated copies of all sorts of games, from the most mainstream to the most obscure. For example, every single DS game is out there, even the most horrible, total waste of time games.

    “We've heard figures in this range before and some have cast doubt that it could possibly be that high, but I don't doubt it now”
    Now, I do have some doubt (which is brought up in their comments). They are basing this 90% figure on IP addresses, as if all IP addresses are static, and that most users only connect from a single IP address. In the past week, my laptop has been on three different networks. Even if they were all static (I’m not sure), an install of World of Goo would have appeared as three different copies, thus showing 66% piracy where there was actually none. While the pirating is real (I found a torrent in less than 30 seconds), I do not support their method of testing the actual numbers. I am not sure how I would do it differently though.

  11. Viktor says:

    The game gave me a lot of trouble buying it. It rejected my credit card repeatedly, to the point where I pirated it so I could play while I cooled down and tried again later to buy it. That time it went through, but I could easily see it being enough of an issue to turn off a paying customer.

  12. Factoid says:

    Very sad, but not unexpected. The better your game is the more pirated it will be. I haven’t played it so I can’t speak to whether it’s worth 20 bucks or not, but I know that any price over “free” is an insult to some people. A lot of them are teenagers who don’t have any money, or college kids who have less than no money.

    It’s not an excuse, but I would bet that, despite what is to us a low and reasonable pricetag, some will complain that it was too expensive and that’s why they pirated it.

    1. Darkstarr says:

      Or folks on disability/retirement who have little money to spare beyond what they need for medical care, etc.

      Sad but true. Some people just don’t care that game designers have bills to pay too. It’s one thing to pirate games because you disagree with the game’s maker’s policies or because you can’t get a copy of the game in your country legally, but bootlegging just because you can is kinda rotten. But then again, even if you shut down one site like Pirate’s Bay, another will pop up in its place. Either way, the decent companies like 2D Boy are the ultimate losers.

  13. Jeremiah says:

    I must be in the minority here. I tried the demo for World of Goo. Wasn’t that into it. Don’t get my wrong, I like puzzle games, but this just really didn’t interest me.

    On the other hand, I can see why people do enjoy it. So it’s sad that it’s getting pirated so much. Hopefully this doesn’t deter the folks at 2D Boy from making more games.

  14. Gamercow says:

    So it finally dawns on you that DRM is a necessary evil. The trick is to find the correct method to stop or slow pirates without being intrusive to the honest buyers.

    Or we can just watch PC gaming die.

  15. Gobo says:

    Wonderful game, although it has given me a bad case of scrolltext vision. (Everything on a screen feels wobbly now).

    Was originally irritated that the game was not available for European players, but I decided to wait it out. Then when I looked up why it was delayed I found out it could be bought from their webpage instead of through Steam, and did so. But this option is not very clear for European users who downloaded the demo through Steam and is only met with a useless “This game is not available in your region yet” when trying to buy it.

    I’m sure that at least counts for a certain amount of the pirates of this game. Would be nice to see piracy numbers for different regions of the world…

  16. JT says:

    Anyone else getting the “domain suspended” message trying to read the post?

  17. Adam says:

    “So it finally dawns on you that DRM is a necessary evil. The trick is to find the correct method to stop or slow pirates without being intrusive to the honest buyers.

    Or we can just watch PC gaming die.”

    Did you uh, read the post?

    Not only did that particular fact not “dawn” on Shamus, it didn’t even dawn on the developers of World of Goo. Their opinion (as echoed by John Walker) is that the vast majority of piracy is not lost sales.

    Considering how utterly ineffective DRM has been, I can’t imagine how anyone (besides a large corporation) could come to that conclusion?

  18. Spearhead says:

    @#13 / Gamercow: Nope, if you read the article right, it does NOT dawn ;)

    “The guys from 2D Boy come to the same conclusion I've been fruitlessly evangelizing here for years: Pirates are multitude, but going after them with DRM is a waste of time and money

  19. Hirvox says:

    As I said on the comment thread on their blog, I’m lucky not to be among that 90%. I managed to buy it from Steam before it was un-released in Europe.

    However, it may not be all gloom and doom. Anime and manga authors and distributors consider some forms of piracy as free advertising. Specifically, piracy of any series that does not have a licensed US/Europe distributor. They aren’t getting any money from US/Europe customers anyway, so piracy doesn’t hurt them. There’s plenty of established groups that record the series from the Japanese TV, translate it and distribute it with subtitles and/or dubbing. Most of them have a gentleman’s agreement with the Japanese authors/distributors and will stop distributing a series as soon as a local distributor is found. The fans get free stuff to read/watch, and the authors/distributors get an established fan base for the eventual US/Europe release.

  20. Kel'Thuzad says:

    So if that’s how much it was pirated…
    How much would it have been if there was DRM?

  21. ima420r says:

    How many people who downloaded the game would have actually bought it anyway? You can say that 90% of the players have not paid for the game, but if 50% of the players would never have bought it to begin with then those numbers don’t count for as much. With no DRM the number of people downloading the game skyrockets and that skews the numbers a bit.

  22. Sitte says:

    My guess, Kel, is that if there had been DRM, both piracy and real sales would have decreased, likely at a rate of 8:1 or 9:1


  23. Luke Maciak says:

    @Gamercow – did you read the article? They compared their numbers with another game released by their published that was released with restrictive DRM and noticed that the piracy ratio was almost exactly the same.

    DRM (or lack of thereof) had no impact on their numbers. In fact they estimated that including DRM in world of goo would only result in forcing only around 1 in 1000 of potential pirates into paying customers. So their number would still be in high 80%.

  24. briatx says:

    We shouldn’t be *too* surprised by these numbers.

    The piracy rate for games is very very high, because pirates can afford to copy far more games than we can afford to buy.

    Think of it this way: This month, I could only afford one game (WotLK). Bob the Pirate downloaded 9 games on his lunch break. That’s a 90% piracy rate. There are probably (hopefully?) more honest people than pirates but they would have to outnumber pirates by an enormous margin to get us even close to a 50% piracy rate.

    And of course World of Goo was pirated just like any other game. Pirates copy because they don’t want to pay, regardless of what the vocal minority says.

  25. qrter says:

    Although I can see how it annoys people who’ve paid for a game that a lot more people are simply taking it for free (eventhough I don’t think like that myself – personally I pay for a game because I want to, not because I should) there is indeed the question how much it would matter for 2D Boy’s sales if those pirates weren’t there.

    Surely they would sell a couple more copies but I’d guess it wouldn’t be much more. I think the best thing to do is to simply ignore the pirates, see them as a lost cause and focus on the people who do want to pay for your game (again, with emphasis on wanting to pay, not should pay) – this seems to be what 2D Boy are doing.

    They could’ve gone Steam-exclusive but that would get cracked eventually too – Steam is perhaps only handy for singleplayer games when you’re afraid of losing first day sales, in other words, if you’re a big developer with a big budget title.

    (And this all comes from someone who didn’t even play the demo of WoG but immediately bought a copy..! :) )

  26. Larixk says:

    As long as it’s easier and more trusted to pirate a game than to buy it, it’s an unfair fight.

    Lots of teenagers and college kids worldwide don’t have credit cards or paypal accounts and are scared of the risks of buying stuff online.
    Pirating is relatively safe (well hey, at least there are no real risks of losing any money) and easy, while paying for stuff online is often a hassle and sometimes a scam.

    That’s also what makes the whole paradox of DRM: It often makes legal copies even harder to use than pirated copies.

    When legally buying becomes the most trusted and easiest way for the target group to get their games, the people will come. (same goes for the music and film industry)
    Of course this winning of trust is a slow process, which requires some patience from the producer’s side. But installing some more raunchy DRM-like techniques would be a great shot in the foot for the game industry.

    By the way, I really respect 2D Boy for their tone of voice and their way of releasing this game. I saw a friend playing this game, didn’t know its name, but just now ordered a copy for myself, which is downloading as I type this.

  27. briatx says:

    When legally buying becomes the most trusted and easiest way for the target group to get their games, the people will come.

    Doubtful. Because taking without paying will still be cheaper.

  28. RR says:

    I still question the accuracy of their numbers and the method they used to arrive at the 82%-90% figure. However, it would not surprise me if the figure was still relatively high.

    I count myself as someone who did not pirate it, but also did not buy it. I’m sure it’s a lovely game, but casual games don’t interest me much. Also, my funds are limited and there are just too many games being released right now. I think 2D Boy released World of Goo at a bad time. If this had been out 6 months ago when there was a drought of good titles, it probably would have sold a bit better.

    What does annoy the hell out of me, though, is the fact that “the scene” apparently had no respect for 2D Boy and World of Goo. I saw the game on the torrent sites only a couple of days after it was released. For f’s sake man! I’d always believed that the scene at least had some morals and respect for certain developers. That there was at least some “honour among thieves” when it came to game piracy.

    But it seems that the latest generation of pirates have no more honour.

  29. mc says:

    “Lots of teenagers and college kids worldwide don't have credit cards or paypal accounts and are scared of the risks of buying stuff online.”

    ^ This is the primary reason I pirate. Not games – books and music – but I’m concerned with my privacy and the inability of many vendors (Amazon, Ebay) to keep their mouths shut about what I buy. It’s not that I’m buying anything that would lead someone to question my ethics (well, I probably have) but that I want to buy without having to worry about a paper trail.

    I’m not much of a gamer so not a lot of that sort of piracy happens for me. My PS2 is modded, but I’m okay with pirating Koei’s Dynasty Warriors Super-Extreme-Empires 8 for my brother – practically the same thing as the previous version that I paid for.

  30. Luke Maciak says:

    Btw, did I mention that I hate people who refuse to capitalize the first letter of each sentence and/or paragraph? As I was reading that article all I wanted was to scream at the guy and tell him to locate the fskn SHIFT KEY!

    Also, I agree with whoever mentioned that piracy is prevalent because it is easy. It is still path of least resistance for a lot of people.

    If you want to play a game, you go to your favorite torrent site (one stop shop for all your pirated stuff), search for it (using familiar interface), click on a link which launches your favorite torrent app (one that you know, love and are familiar with), then wait few hours, apply a crack (usually using the familiar copy file A to directory B method outlined in the helpful .nfo file) and you are done. It’s easy, familiar and you know what to do.

    If you want to buy the game, now you need to do some new stuff. First you need to figure out if it is available online. If it’s not you have actually step away from the computer and go to a store (OMG, annoying!). If it is, you need to figure out where to buy it from. Do they sell it on the official game website? Do they accept your credit card?

    How do you download it? Do you need to do it via the browser? Do they make you use some sort of proprietary downloader/installer? How do you activate it? Will they send you an activation key in the email? Or do you need find it on the website? Do you need to register an account before you download the game?

    Also if you are a teenager (as a lot of pirates are) you now have to ask your mom for the credit card number and have a 4 hour argument about playing stupid games instead of doing your homework.

    No wonder that pirating seems so much more convenient. Systems such as Steam or Stardock attempt to offer their customers that level of familiarity (ie. you go to one place for all your games, and download/installation always works the same) but they can never even hope to compare with the popular torrent sites with respect to the sheer number and variety of titles they offer.

    So frankly, I’m not surprised that these numbers are so high. But it’s like that for most software. Your customer base is a small fraction of your total user base and that ratio seems to be fixed. This means that as your customer base grows, your user base will expand proportionally. DRM helps to decrease your total user base, but unfortunately it does not discriminate, so you lose both pirates and paying customers when you implement it. In fact it affects paying customers more, because pirates never see it.

  31. MintSkittle says:

    Just threw some money their way. Seriously, these are the guys that need supporting.

  32. Nillo says:

    While I can’t say that this game interests me (I don’t really like physics-based games, or puzzle games for that matter), I’ll just echo what others have said: When it comes to fighting pirates, DRM does about as much as goggles. It’s best to just ignore piracy and focus on making a fun game that honest people want to buy.

    PC gaming will never die, as long as there are people who develop games for free, and people who enjoy those games. Has anyone here played Iji? Or Cave Story? You’d be surprised by the gems you can find if you look around a little.

  33. Strangeite says:

    I wonder how much of their sales were from people that bought the game BECAUSE it did not contain any DRM. Not just on this blog, but on many others, I saw this game held up as a shining example of the “good guys” and my gut tells me that they made a not unsubstantial amount of money based upon this fact.

    Now the real question is, if we lived in a world that was completely free of all forms of DRM, what would their sales figures have been?

    I am against DRM. I feel that it doesn’t work and is anti-consumer. However, I do believe that these small independent publishers are benefiting from a market that is saturated in DRM when they choose not to include any. What happens to them if we woke up tomorrow and got our wish?

  34. Michael says:

    Proud to say I bought it. I installed it twice, one at home and one at work (I work at a game studio). I didn’t share my installation with anyone or anything like that.

  35. If you really read into their method for determining the piracy rate, I have to admit I’m a bit skeptical. I’m not saying the piracy rate isn’t ridiculously high, but it’s more likely that it’s about 50% instead of the 85-90% numbers they’re posting.

    A really good idea, for you non-DRM popular devs out there, is to have your game check in with a uniquely generated id. You’d still get inaccurate results because of multiple computer installs, but it’d be more accurate than tracking an IP address. If the id doesn’t stop the gameplay in any way, the pirates wouldn’t bother hacking it. At the very least, it’d give us better numbers to look at.

    It’d still be depressing though.

  36. Lee says:

    I’m far more interested in the implication another studio made, and that these guys agreed with, that shutting down 1000 cases of piracy would likely only result in 1 additional sale.

    Run with me on this. For every 1000 copies of the game, 900 are pirated and 100 are legitimate customers. You add “perfect” DRM that defies the blinding reality of piracy, and eliminates every last pirated copy in the world. You gained (less than) 1 customer from the 900 pirates. You now have 101 customers. How many customers can you lose due to the annoyance of DRM before you were better off not using DRM at all?

    If these numbers are correct (and this is the first time we’re shown how they’re obtained), the threshold for DRM annoyance is that it cannot cause 1 in 100 customers to walk away, or you’re gaining nothing. Add in the cost of licensing the DRM, and the significantly higher cost of supporting it, and the results seem to be so blindingly clear that even a EA executive meeting could figure it out.

  37. Mr. Son says:

    Aw man, that’s sad… Personally, I paid for it.

  38. Noah Lesgold says:

    I just now finished the last level of World of Goo, acquired as a birthday present that a friend got me on Steam (the fact that he’d found a way to give it to me with DRM when he could’ve just bought it for me for the same price through 2D Boy’s website or Greenhouse was not lost on me, though I was inclined to be gracious). I’ve also bought it for a friend of mine (direct from 2D Boy) and I am planning on gifting at least one more copy this holiday. Frankly, the game is fantastic, and these guys deserve to be massively rewarded. I’ll anxiously await their next production, which (given Kyle Gabler’s involvement with experimental gameplay) is at least as likely to be a totally original product as, say, World of Goo 2.

  39. What Shamus wrote: “The guys from 2D Boy come to the same conclusion I've been fruitlessly evangelizing here for years: Pirates are multitude, but going after them with DRM is a waste of time and money.”

    What Gamercow wrote: “So it finally dawns on you that DRM is a necessary evil. The trick is to find the correct method to stop or slow pirates without being intrusive to the honest buyers.”

    Illiteracy: Making People Look Like Gorram Fools on the Internet Since 1969.

  40. Mr_Wizard says:

    I think its piracy is high in this case because people look at it and don’t see the blur mapping 8.0 with blimp stencils and megabloom, with AwesomoAI with a built in Sock-Simulator. They looked at it and saw Bejeweled and then pirated it without a second thought. :\

  41. Galen says:

    Wow, that’s sad. I got the demo online at awhile back when you first mentioned WOG and I loved it. I’ll buy it for wii when I finally get it connected to the internet… technology is slow around here…

  42. locusts says:

    For those people, like myself, that do not have credit cards or Paypal accounts there are those “green dot” credit cards, which are a limited fund pre-pay credit card. It is like a debit card with a limited account. It allows me to buy things like World of Goo, without having to worry about risky monetary transactions. If the deal goes south and the seller wants to take money from my account they get exactly what I put on the card and no more. This allows me to buy World of Goo and support the good, rather than pirate it.

  43. vdgmprgrmr says:

    I’m glad to say that I didn’t pirate this game. I didn’t buy it, but I played the demo and loved it. Unfortunately, I lack the necessary funds to purchase it.

    I wanted to pirate it. I really did, but I’m not going to pirate an indie game like that. It’s just wrong. Sure, you can argue that pirating any other game is wrong, but… I don’t know. Indie developers are more small-scale, and each sale matters much more to them than to any big company like EA or Bethesda. It’s like, you can buy an can of Pepsi, or you can find the recipe and give free to your friends. But if some kid in school makes a new type of soda, then you copy the recipe and give the drinks away for free, you’ve probably hurt that kid a lot more than you could ever hurt the people who make Pepsi.

    Oh yeah, and I wonder if a way to count pirates might be to just ask them when they install it how they came to possess the game; bought from them, a retailer, borrowed from a friend, pirated, etc. You’d have to note that they’d still be able to play the game like anyone else if they were a pirate (but that you frown upon such practices), but that you just want to know for statistical reasons. You might even go into more detail about why you want the statistics, so people will have no worries when they say they are pirates. It’s a simple solution to a problem that looks like it needs a complex answer. Of course, you’d have to account for people who lied and such, but still…

    Also, I’ve come to the conclusion that gaming would be better under a communist government (a good communist government, not a propaganda-fueled robot society). If people didn’t care about how well their game sells (because they’d get paid the same anyway), but made games simply because they loved making games, I think that the gaming industry would be much more varied and interesting. They also would have no need to include DRM, because as long as the government can supply them with money enough to live and be happy, not selling your game to X person doesn’t matter. Just thought I should say that.

  44. Ozy says:

    The mere fact that such piracy efforts are possible underlies one of the major philosophical arguments against intellectual property in the first place: lack of economic scarcity. Some of the serious libertarian arguments against it can be found here, as a free pdf, appropriately enough.

  45. Namfoodle says:

    I don’t think the big publishers really believe that Harsh DRM is going to have any impact on piracy or increase their sales. However, piracy is clearly a potential issue to their bottom line. How big the problem is in dollars or customers is open to interpretation, but it is in the publisher’s best interests to overstate the problem, because it gives them cover for a harsh response. It’s likely that very few pirates are actually potential cash customers. (And I wonder how many pirates download more games than they have time or desire to play?)

    I think that Harsh DRM schemes serve four functions for the big publishers (stopping piracy is not on the list):

    1. Investing in DRM (and lawsuits) serves to show the world that they are doing something about the problem – it bolsters their repuation as a big dog. But it’s all a smoke screen.

    2. The spyware applications within the DRM can provide information they would like to have.

    3. The annoyance factor may drive more people to consoles, where I suppose the publishers feel they have more control (the old “Kill PC Gaming” conspiracy theory).

    4. If they screw just one guy out of his $60 bucks because the DRM decided he fit the profile of a potential pirate, they feel happy inside.

    They know they can’t directly attack the majority of the pirates and hackers. So they do the next best thing – they take it out on a segment of their own customers, because they can. They figure that they won’t have pay any refunds or damages, because the can hide behind the EULA, their lawyers, and anti-piracy hype.

    Have you ever been picked on at school and then gone home and taken it out on your younger sibling? It’s kind of the same thing.

    Bottom line, I think EA can’t help but be well aware that DRM pisses customers off, and they don’t care. If the DRM singles you out, then EA doesn’t want you as a customer.

    I think that EA would prefer that all their customers were sheep with very little practical knowledge of computers. If you know eoungh about PCs to be dangerous, they would rather you not play their games.

  46. General Karthos says:

    As a college kid with less than no money, I still do not pirate anything. Not games with DRM, not games without DRM, not even music. On principle, I don’t buy games with DRM activation, and I’m annoyed about CD keys, but I tolerate a certain amount of security, even though I know full well that people who pirate the games make sure those security measures are useless.

    Want to make the point that piracy by college students isn’t acceptable. Y’all should hold us to the same standards you are held to. Some would make the “is stealing bread to feed your family still stealing?” argument. (I have heard many of my fellow college students make this same argument.) But you’re not feeding your family by stealing games. You’re just stealing games because you can’t be arsed to gather what little change you collect over the days and weeks (or in my case from working your terrible, terrible job that consumes a lot of your free time, while college eats up even more) and pay for the game.

    I mean, it’s just my opinion, but if I can scrape up enough money to afford the games I really want (I can’t at the moment.) then you can too. :)

  47. neminem says:

    Dang, that is depressing. I’m not even sure if I’d even ever play it (it looks shiny, but I have so many games on my list that I’ll probably never get to because I have a real job, plus two MMOs I’ve been sucked into, and the internet to distract me). But I’m tempted to buy a copy regardless, for exactly the same reason I intentionally pirate the games/music/whatever I do pirate. I hate supporting giant, moronic companies like EA, so I don’t like giving them money. By contrast, I really do like supporting guys like this, so I try to go out of my way to give them money.

    I’m at least downloading the demo, now – as you hinted at, having a demo that’s actually fully-functional and gives you a decent idea of the way the game works, is a huge plus. I miss the days when everything worked like that…

  48. Namfoodle says:

    Yeah, got no sympathy for college kids with no money. If they had no money, how did they get to college in the first place?

    Maybe if the majority of folks who hit the torrents got stuck with a misdemeanor petty theft conviction, fewer folks would pirate because they want to play but not pay.

    Even a misdemeanor theft conviction can be hassle to live with. I once had a job where I had to do background checks on everyone who worked for the company, even temp workers. If any theft or dishonesty type convictions popped up, I picked up the phone and told the person’s supervisor to immediately fire them and escort them from the building. It didn’t matter how small or long ago, even a shoplifted candybar from 20 years ago was grounds for the instant boot.

  49. Nick says:

    vdgmprgrmr wrote:
    I'm glad to say that I didn't pirate this game. I didn't buy it, but I played the demo and loved it. Unfortunately, I lack the necessary funds to purchase it.

    I wanted to pirate it. I really did, but I'm not going to pirate an indie game like that. It's just wrong.

    You could argue that this actually lost them sales anyway, if vdgmprgrmr had pirated the game and mentioned to friends that otherwise would not have heard about it, how good it is, the friends may have purchased it.

    I played the demo, and if it was 3 months ago when the exchange rate was great, I probably would have bought it, now it costs me about 40% more.

  50. Derek K. says:

    “But it seems that the latest generation of pirates have no more honour.”

    So, I’m gonna get on my high horse.

    “What does honorable piracy hurt?” is a question often asked by people, point out that they have good reasons.

    Because this generation’s honorable pirates create the next generation of asshats.

    Just like the first gen of “Oh, it’s just a CD-Key and CD-Check and one little registration” created EA’s schemes.

  51. FNORD says:

    I think that Harsh DRM schemes serve four functions for the big publishers…

    You missed an important one. It strengthens norms for IP protection of various sorts. The companies can go to Congress and say, “Look, even with these technical protections, piracy happens anyway, so we need stronger legal protections. Give us the DMCA, and more like it.” Then, they can make a revenue stream out of carpet-bombing lawsuits, ala the RIAA.

  52. Tom says:

    Well put, Lee.

  53. Hawkehunt says:

    “Yeah, got no sympathy for college kids with no money. If they had no money, how did they get to college in the first place?”

    Maybe, just maybe, all their money goes to paying for tuition, accomodation, and this little thing called food?
    Some people actually work for their education, rather than drifting along on their parents’ gererosity.

    Not saying this justifies piracy – it doesn’t – but a college education is hardly the exclusive right of the rich and famous.

  54. John SMith says:

    Its depressing to read that a game where the developers/publishers have choosen to show their fans some respect (i.e. low price and no DRM) that they have had piracy retes this high.

    Like Shamus pointed out though lots of other games with DRM have piracy rates this bad or worse. (I’m looking at you Bioshock, Red Alert 3, Half Life 2, Crysis Warhead etc) At least the World of Goo developers did not waste a bunch of money on ineffective DRM.

    I intend to buy this game later in the new year as I have too many games to play at the moment and not enough time. Hell I don’t buy games that require Internet actiation as that is a DRM step too far for my liking, but even so I’ve still got plenty of games to keep me going. (Crysis, Fallout 1, 2, 3, Multiwinia, X3: TC, SotS, Dirt etc)

    For anyone thats interested another Indi developer have releaed another DRM free game. If you play the game online your serial will be authenticated but if your offline you can still play without the authentication. Take a look at:

  55. Rich says:

    I preordered Goo months ago. The demo sold me instantly. The people who pirate a game like Goo are the lowest scumbags imaginable. There is NO excuse. It literally makes me furious. I need to go calm down.

  56. Bryan says:

    I’ve had more fun with World of Goo than most of the PC games I’ve bought in the last several years. But then, I’ve always liked puzzle games. I tend to ignore the mindless shooter games anyway. I can handle the violence, but not the gore. If a game is gory I won’t even consider it. It’s no fun to play a game that makes you vomit.

    #8 Sesoron: “I think I'll convince myself that pirated copies are the reason so many people have goo ball counts in the 700s and 800s, while I can't seem to break 300…”

    I bought my copy on wiiware a few of weeks ago. The last time I played I had a goo ball count of over 900. The trick is to figure out the OCD’s. For example, on “you have to explode the head,” I put 50 red goo balls on the green goo ball line next to the mine before building to the mine. This prevents them from burning before pipe activation. Once I build to the pipe I release the reserves and get a high count. Also, the World of Goo Corporation area restricts you to 300 goo balls, even if your score is much higher.

    #14 Gamercow: Are you a troll, an EA representative or just clueless? I think the fact that DRM makes no difference in pirating has been adequately demonstrated.

    #33 Strangeite: I first considered the game because it looked like a fun game. The fact that there was no DRM was the clincher. I don’t buy games with DRM, but if the game doesn’t appeal to me I won’t buy it, with or without DRM.

  57. Tom says:

    Even a misdemeanor theft conviction can be hassle to live with. I once had a job where I had to do background checks on everyone who worked for the company, even temp workers. If any theft or dishonesty type convictions popped up, I picked up the phone and told the person's supervisor to immediately fire them and escort them from the building. It didn't matter how small or long ago, even a shoplifted candybar from 20 years ago was grounds for the instant boot.

    Evidently your company had no truck with the idea that criminals should be reintegrated into society at some point, rather than remain outcasts for the rest of their lives. When and where was this, if I may ask? In the UK, at least, I believe the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act has existed to oppose such treatment of employees since 1974 (although it seems to have little real weight – it enables applicants to disregard “spent” convictions when making statements on their application without being accused of dishonesty, but doesn’t seem to do much to stop employers from digging them up in background checks and discriminating based on them anyway).

  58. A different Dan says:

    I usually don’t comment here, but the disappointment of it all has driven me to do so.

    I rarely if ever buy games. I’ve bought two in the last year — one a DRM-ridden EA product, purely because it was on sale for $16 and because of its online play value. Because frankly, it doesn’t have anything else. I chose to live with the DRM this once, but I’m highly unlikely to buy anything from EA in the future.

    But this isn’t about that game. This is about the game that I bought after coming across the indie developer’s site via a link on this blog. I did the good deed, didn’t even consider finding a pirated copy, and shelled out the $20 to support small game developers.

    I’ve played the game once, and will never play it again. In replayability value, it was an utter disappointment.

    I’ve pirated games before, and will do so again. The value I receive for the money is simply not there, as far as I’m concerned. And frankly, the indie developer card is no longer something that’s going to pull a lot of weight with me.

  59. Namfoodle says:

    @ Tom:

    This was in the USA, within the last decade. I was working for a large stock brokerage. The company was required to have a very restrictive policy because they were minding “other people’s money” and buying and selling stocks on their customer’s behalf for retirement and investment accounts.

    My understanding at the time was that the restrictive policy was necessary in order to maintain their license to do the business of buying and selling securities (stocks & bonds). What I don’t know is if their policy was more restrictve than the minimum requirement. I recall that even if you were only going to be in the building for a few hours to fix the plumbing or lay some new carpet, they wanted a background check. In practice, they didn’t do business with any type of contractor / tradesmen until after all of the employees of the contractor had been checked and issued special ID badges to allow them in the building.

    In the USA, I believe there are various methods for surpressing or “sealing” a criminal record if it’s a one-off thing and you can convince the court “it will never happen again”. I think it may involve getting some couseling or paying restitution or doing community service. If you jump through the hoops, the court will take the conviction off your record. I imagine you only get a limited number of second chances. I think you may have more leeway to clear things up that you did before turning 18.

    However, this is something you have to take care of directly with the courts. If the beauracracy is working correctly, the conviction won’t show up on any employer searches. Employers that are required to do background checks generally have to go by whatever comes up on the search. Sometimes things show up that were supposed to be removed, so folks can and do appeal.

    But if you messed up in the past and just let the minor conviction and punishment sit on “your permanent record”, you couldn’t work for that company. No Save.

    I really fired some guy because he stole a “Little Mermaid” VHS tape from Target.

  60. Namfoodle says:

    @ FNORD: Yeah, I agree. That’s what I was implying when I said “it’s a smoke screen”. The DRM budget can be pretty much considered part of the government lobbying budget. You spend millions on DRM, and it doesn’t work. So then you go to your legislators and whine: “Look at all these people getting something for nothing – it’s Un-American!”

    Then they push for more attractive legal terms for their business model.

    That’s the attraction of consoles – the conventional wisdom seems to be that pirates in that space are more likely to be dealing with and caught with physical discs. It’s easier to track down catch someone selling discs in meatspace. You can hold the physical evidence over their head in the lawsuit and force a settlement.

  61. Namfoodle says:

    @ Hawkehunt:

    You miss my point. I don’t expect all college students to be wealthy. I worked 40 hours a week while attending college classes at night while helping raise my two kids. My wife was attending college at the same time. The budget was tight, but I managed to buy Warcraft, Starcraft and Total Anhilation at retail without missing rent or running our of diapers. I never even considered pirating any software. I suppose you could argue I didn’t have the time…

    If someone is attending college, they made a decision to pursue that and must have at least some resources for living expenses, books, fees whatever. Even if it’s scholarships, government loans and parental handouts. They are not some homeless destitue street person begging change and stealling bread to avoid starvation and death.

    If their college budget doesn’t extend to purchasing $70 video games, that’s no excuse to pirate.

    If they can’t afford their preferred form of entertainment, they need to make adjustments. Drop out of college, eat more ramen noodles, or find a cheaper hobby. There is no shortage of low / no cost entertainment options on a college campus, or the world in general.

    Video games are one of those things you can easily get away with stealing to extend your enertainment budget. But that doesn’t make it right. And don’t expect big publishers to pull any punches. I’m sure they would love to f#ck with pirating college kids out of spite. I don’t think they care if most of them will become paying customers once they get a job.

    If you’re on a budget, you have to make choices. If you try to make ends meet by stealing food, money, cars, whatever, you usually end up with legal problems.

    Trying to argue that stealing software when you’re broke is less morally wrong than other thefts simply because it is currently easier to do without suffering the consquences is pathetic. And it encourages the big publishers to take a “Scorched Earth” policy in regards to DRM. If no one will play “by their rules” than they’re okay with no one playing at all (self-destructive as that may seem).

  62. vdgmprgrmr says:

    @Nick: Simply because I didn’t buy it doesn’t mean I didn’t tell my friends. From what I played in the demo, I was pretty sure that this was an awesome game, and made sure that my accomplices knew about it. So even though my money didn’t end up in their bank account, a few of my friends’, or their friends’ money may have.

    But I can see what you’re getting at here, just thought I should clear that up, though.

  63. Kel'Thuzad says:


    SecuROM still is not removed though. Just the activation limits.

  64. Dann-O says:

    One of the things that might not be factored in is the developing world. I lived in China for 5 years and computer games are very popular there but everything available there is pirated. Yes I bought a few over there but that was because buying a legit game was impossible. The ironic thing is that I was actually trying to get legit copies so I could get on servers in the states. They did crack down on illegal DVD’s a bit but you could still buy 3D studio or autocad for fifty cents. So factoring those things maybe nobody in the states is pirating it.

  65. Damian says:

    I’m buying it right now. I have no idea if I’ll like it or not, but I am just horrified at those numbers (inflated though they may be); it depresses me that the pirates of today are, as someone pointed out, merely arseholes rather than coming from some allegedly principled standpoint.


  66. method3 says:

    Hi all, I was wondering if you guys could fill me in on something I’ve been wondering for quite a while. Can you all please fill me in as best you can?

    I would like to know as clearly (and briefly) as possible why you appear to be morally against piracy (or are depressed by it apparently). I’ve heard the arguments about benefiting from hard work before, but that doesn’t really cut it for me. These people are earning a living doing what they love, how much more can they expect? Do you think they deserve more than what they’ve got from their work (it’s hard to say what they’ve actually received since they have not apparently released actual sale numbers that I know of)? Are the people who pirated it morally wrong for not monetarily compensating the creator? I say monetarily because we don’t have any idea what else these pirates could be doing, are they spreading the word? In this case it would seem to me that they are indeed providing a service to the creator by advertising word of mouth, and that is definitely something worth money.

    In short, do you believe that these people deserve more money? Or is the money they’ve received good enough, regardless of the pirates? What are games worth? Should making a good game compensate you for the rest of your life? The next 10 years? 5? 1?

    My point of view is this, piracy is not a “necessary evil” at all. In fact there is inherent value in the role piracy plays, not only economically but also culturally. As with all things in nature, piracy finds a path of least resistance to spread culture, which would otherwise stagnate without it. Imagine a world where old games don’t get emulated for instance, would we really be better off if they were all locked away?

    I think even in the short term piracy can benefit many products by spreading things as quickly as possible to many people. Thanks for reading!

  67. Damian says:

    method3: no-one else has answered you, so I’ll take a quick and brief stab.

    I am morally opposed to piracy because… actually, it’s easier to say why I’m morally opposed to Stallman-esque data-freedom. This concept of data-is-free basically boils down to one person creating something and offering it for others’ use on his terms and then other people taking it but not complying with the stated terms. I find that morally objectionable – if you don’t like the terms, don’t take the offer.

  68. Knut says:

    It’s depressingly high numbers. But I think if they released it with DRM, the pirating numbers would be even higher.

    I like World of Goo, it’s innovative and fun. And when they released it for Linux a little while ago, I had to buy a copy. Gotta support multiplatform games :)

    I also bought a copy for my girlfriend. I love how they put up an infrastructure that allows you to buy it as a gift :) Very good work by 2D Boy.

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