Piracy is no laughing matter. Sure it may feel good to get the better of some multibillionaire corporation who is known to release what can only be described as hot garbage. Screw those guys right? That new platinum CD you just released? You already have more money than you know what to do with. What’s an extra 15 bucks that comes up missing?

This type of piracy happens on a personal level, a one on one basis where someone receives a product that is not free, for free with the sole creator getting nothing in return. Whether it is movies, music, books, piracy is against the law and shouldn’t be done by anyone.

It’s in video games as well. Alpha builds of games being leaked onto the internet to suffer criticism from players and pirates alike. As technology advances and internet downloads take the place of physical CDs being sent in through the mail, new traps have been devised to stop piracy at its core; mainly digital rights management or DRM. DRM stops (or slows) the ability of sharing games with others. If it’s not being played on the system it was originally downloaded and paid for, it’s not being played. A tough business, but so is piracy.

With the induction of download keys that represent a doorway to a unique downloadable copy of a game, the business of selling keys has taken the place of CDs. You pretty much can’t buy a game nowadays unless it’s a key that you redeem on a different service like Steam, Humble Bundle, or GOG.

A new market has evolved with the selling of said keys to video games known as the grey market. A market, where if you didn’t want to particular game key that’s in your possession, you could resell it. The problem is, these keys can also be stolen by using fraudulent credit cards, then resold on these types of sites. One site in particular, G2A.com, had found themselves in possession of thousands of stolen codes from developer TinyBuild totaling $450,000 is lost sales. Damn. One developer  has even gone on record as to say that they would rather you pirate the game for free rather than buy a key from one of these resellers.

As an indie developer, much like TinyBuild, how can you protect yourself? Everyone is a target and suddenly piracy is a big thing. There’s no way to stop it, nowhere to turn, nowhere to run.

Luckily there is something you can do. A couple of things anyway.

If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: creating a great experience with your game will help anyone make the right decision to throw money your way. How you accept that money is up to whether it is a flat fee or a donation. Allowing someone to purchase the game directly from you (DRM or DRM-free) with a direct link to download a EXE gives us a chance to give money straight to you rather than wading through the bureaucracy of Steam or GOG. If we like it and we like you, we will go that extra mile to give you want you deserve.

I know it’s not all daisies and roses and sometimes terrible people will do terrible things. But good people will also make mistakes too not thinking what it is really doing to the indie dev themselves. What you can do is give the gamer as many options as possible that will benefit you to maximize your success. Do not rely solely on Steam or other streaming services. Like everything else, you never know if these services will suddenly disappear or change their terms of service.

Leave yourself open to any possibilities. Gamers will catch on. And you’ll be able to profit from it.

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Eric M Hunter

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