Charles Pillsbury III

Geek. Dad. Writer?

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piracy, protection, and photoshop

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This little bit on gaming piracy opens up (or re-opens as I think Mudge and I have discussed this in the recent past) a whole can of “do the pirates really matter” worms. (the obvious answer is that pirates matter just because they’re so cool and say Argggh, but I digress).

If you want to talk about piracy, talk about desktop enhancements. The piracy on that is huge. But the question isn’t about piracy. It’s about sales.

So here is the deal: When you develop for a market, you don’t go by the user base. You go by the potential customer base. That’s what most software companies do. They base what they want to create on the size of the market they’re developing for. But not PC game developers.

PC game developers seem to focus more on the “cool” factor. What game can they make that will get them glory with the game magazines and gaming websites and hard core gamers? These days, it seems like game developers want to be like rock stars more than businessmen. I’ve never considered myself a real game developer. I’m a gamer who happens to know how to code and also happens to be reasonably good at business.

So when I make a game, I focus on making games that I think will be the most profitable. As a gamer, I like most games. I love Bioshock. I think the Orange Box is one of the best gaming deals ever. I love Company of Heroes and Oblivion was captivating. My two favorite games of all time are Civilization (I, II, III, and IV) and Total Annihilation. And I won’t even get into the hours lost in WoW. Heck, I even like The Sims.

So when it comes time to make a game, I don’t have a hard time thinking of a game I’d like to play. The hard part is coming up with a game that we can actually make that will be profitable. And that means looking at the market as a business not about trying to be “cool”.

[From Opinionated techie ยป Piracy & PC Gaming]

The conversation with The Mudge was in regard to the free on-line photoshop. His theory was, I believe, that it’s a way of limiting piracy and controlling the user base more. My theory is that it’s more an acknowledgment of the way things actually work now (most of those people pirating photoshop would never buy the product because they don’t feel it’s reasonable to pay $700 for a tool to crop and unsharp mask). I think the argument could be made that they’re taking a percentage of those people who would’ve been pirates, and turning them into, if not paying at least legal, customers who may in the future deem it worthy of spending their cash on the more advanced version of the product.

There was also some discussion (and a rat-hole of broadband penetration statistics I ran down) on how this may be widening “the gap.” I think the gap between rich/poor isn’t as clearly divided in the on-line realm, and I’m not sure this doesn’t help trim the gap vs widening it. I think Mudge’s basis was that this is something you need broadband to take advantage of (hence the aforementioned rat-hole). I think that A) broadband isn’t nearly as much an upper-middle-class and above phenomenon as it would on the surface seem and B) it would act more as a “gap shrinker” by allowing people who would’ve otherwise had zero (or only piratical) access to the software to learn at least the basics.

The concept I liked to ponder most was the technology behind it. I shoot 10MB Raw images in my camera and uploading those via DSL would still be painful, but if they had a little application that started with an upload of a smaller jpg it could help. Once the item is uploaded though the bandwidth to bring that much picture data up and down would be tremendous. My solution would be to make a much smaller jpg version of the file for editing, and then store the changes as a stack of commands to be run on the full-res item on the server. Then when the jpg one has been tweaked to satisfaction the user clicks a “submit” and the modifications happen at the end, on the server (using the server computing power), and they get back a new high-res .jpg to download. I assume this is how they do it, but I’m not sure.

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March 28th, 2008 at 7:09 pm

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