Newell: Piracy is "almost always a service problem" and not price, DRM agitates
Posted: 28.11.2011 13:01 by Simon Priest Comments: 7
Valve boss Gabe Newell blames poor service for the real reason software piracy is so widespread, with pricing a second consideration. Region locks and launch delays aid piracy.

There's a "fundamental misconception" about why people pirate software, argues Newell. Valve's goal is to "create greater service" than the pirates can offer, making it a "non-issue".

Russia is notorious for its black market but Valve has tamed the motherland, and it's set to become their largest European market contributor to Steam revenue.

"In general, we think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy," said Gabe Newell, speaking to The Cambridge Student Online. "Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem."

"For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable."

"Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty." Many turned on Ubisoft's 'always on' DRM PC system, and hackers attack their servers which rendered games unplayable because they couldn't authenticate. Ubisoft has since scaled back the system's demands.

"Our goal is to create greater service value than pirates, and this has been successful enough for us that piracy is basically a non-issue for our company. For example, prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become our largest market in Europe." Who's to blame for piracy? Publishers and DRM peddlers, say Valve.

We salute you Gabe Newell.


By djole381 (SI Elite) on Nov 28, 2011
Finally, a man with common sense. We need more people like him in the gaming industry.
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Nov 28, 2011
One major reason I dont feel bad for buying from STEAM, all contacts with them has worked splendid, and Gabe is the on-line king ;)
By Jasca_Ducato (SI Core) on Nov 28, 2011
Piracy has never been an issue about price; It's about quality. It's the same with films, the quality of films and games have dropped in recent years (and I'm not talking graphics, I'm talking story and features). I'm not saying I support piracy, but I can see where they're coming from when it comes to trying before you buy.

Remember, it was only a few months ago that a video game developers own survey (which they then decided not to publish) found that, on average, more pirates buy the game after testing it out beforehand, than new consumers to the IP.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Nov 28, 2011
Well coming from a country in the so-called Red Zone (high prices), pricing is the number one concern, as service is often denied due to this. Unless you face having to pay $80-100 for one game then you wouldn't understand. Regionalisation is quite often linked with pricing.
By SiyaenSokol (SI Elite) on Nov 29, 2011
Gabe Newell does make a very good point, but on the other side, pricing is a factor as well. In my country alone, a lot of people avoid purchasing games, because they tend to be expensive.

I purchase games that catch my interest. If I am unsure, I play a demo first, then buy the game afterwards, but other people pirate the game, and that is the end of it.
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Nov 29, 2011
@ViGotH - indeed - I prefer buying games in retail stores that is STEAM exclusive ;) Win win! :D