Larian's Swen Vincke Reveals His Piracy Past

After analyzing both sides of the anti-piracy coin (draconian DRM or unsubstantiated fines), Larian Studios' Swen Vincke weighs in on the war that rages against piracy and why he feels that cloud gaming is eventually going to be the best way to fix it. Interestingly enough, he admits to pirating "thousands of games" himself during his teenage years:
As an executive having to pay my employees every month, I understand the reasoning behind wanting to maximize revenue as it costs a lot to make these games. I also understand the business logic if only 10% of those addressed by those lawyers pay out of fear for the court, the revenue multiplication factor of 40 makes it worthwhile. And it communicates the message to the public that is susceptible to these kinds of threats that pirating their products can bring them in trouble.

But that doesn't mean I'm pro-DRM. You see, I wouldn't be in this industry if it wouldn't be for the abundance of copied games I played when I was a teenager. I built up most of my gameplay instincts playing those games, and being a slow learner, it took a lot of games, some of them being very bad.

I probably played a couple of thousands of games illegally, and so I'd be quite a hypocrite if I'd condemn something I've been doing myself for years. I now make enough money to buy all my games, but I didn't back then. To be frank, I actually didn't think about the developers and how they were affected by my piracy actions. I even cracked/fixed bad cracks when I discovered that my gameplay experience was being disturbed by some fancy copy protection. (edit: Obviously I know better now, and those were the days when copying music from radio to tape was a well-practiced art across all ages.)


That's why I'm a fan of the streaming model, even if there still are plenty of technical and business logic issues to be solved in this area. If these issues get solved, pirates who claim that they buy a game if it's good don't have an argument anymore: everybody can try out the game immediately, for free, and if if you like, you pay as you go, until a certain limit.

I also like the evolutionary pressure this puts on developers to make good games. Marketing can't compensate for a bad game anymore, because people will quit playing rapidly if the game isn't any good.

And good developers won't have to go legal to earn some extra revenue by threatening their fan-base with fines.

So as far as I'm concerned, providers of cloud gaming are the future, both for players and developers, and it's a future that can't come fast enough. I just hope the cloud service providers that become dominant will offer fair deals, and not regress into using some of the practices their precursors employ.
Cloud gaming might fix piracy, but it will likely limit the customer base dramatically, too.