Gabe Newell’s Valve “gets” gaming like very few others. Here are but a few examples:
- They made Half-Life (enough said)
- They made Half-Life 2, and they gave us the gravity gun at the start of the game, rather than holding out on it till the end as some kind of nonsense reward for playing through their game.
- They released Portal, after buying the developers who made the original Narbacular Drop
- They only release games when they’re ready. Sometimes that takes a looong time, and sometimes, not so much.
- They developed Steam, which has changed gaming forever.
Gabe says that piracy will not be cured by price reductions, but by improved services. As someone who lives in Finland, but would consume North American content by choice, I can tell you that he’s right on the money. iTunes store? Location restricted. Netflix? Geographic restrictions. XBox 360 media content? Restricted. Beatport DJ downloads… geo restricted. And the list goes on. I’m keenly aware that these limitations are put in place by the publishers and copyright holders of the content, rather than the distribution channels. But when push comes to shove… if pirates are offering a product in region x, that cannot be had by legitimate means, then it’ll be had by piracy. And this isn’t even a lost sale! There never would have been a sale in the first place, because of the regional restrictions, so your cost analysis is wrong.
“Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customer’s use or by creating uncertainty.”
Valve get this, and so they’ve built Steam with that in mind. My hat is off to these guys, pretty much all the time. If publishers and copyright holders could get it in their heads that people actually do want their content, and are happy to pay for it, then we’d all be a happier bunch.