Posts Tagged ‘video games’

… I would stop making movies altogether and just focus on making video games.

HALO franchise has sold more than 27 million units worldwide.  $1.6 billion or so in cash money.  This from a game that probably only cost $40 million to make.  and far less than that to market.

Beyond just unit sales the number of impressions generated by Halo and its online machinima, books, boardgames and other offshoots is pretty staggering.  Factor in additional sales of XBox hardware and peripherals.   Movies would be very hard pressed to beat this.  And, no, this isn’t the only game franchise with these kinds of numbers.

If you want a really neat look into games, gamer numbers and recent gaming behavior, this is a great preso.

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ADDED 12:30PM: TPM – Trusted Platform Module – it’s a hardware based cryptology
ADDED 11:45AM: I wanted to share a decent, but somewhat technical, research paper on downloading behavior.

“The SCT view of media behavior suggests that the expected positive and negative outcomes of downloading are important initial causes of behavior. The expected outcomes that users experience at a given point in time should govern both their current behavior and their intentions to perform it in the future. That is, if I expect to save money by downloading music, this expectation will logically be reflected in my current level of downloading activity and also frame my intentions to engage in further downloads from this point forward. “

Follow the consequences.  And to do that you have to correctly identify both the consequences (positive and negative reinforcers), the schedules of those consequences, and the behaviors (i.e. it’s not “theft” like you read in many accounts of “piracy”).

For those thinking about TPM and video game piracy and DRM in general, you have to dig into the science of behavior -100% of piracy deterrent or 100% of profit increase is there.  Forget cryptology and all that.  It’s like arguing the format wars in HD video make a difference.  They don’t.  It’s like thinking your door locks at home keep the bad guys out.  Really, do they?    

Why I like this paper:

  • It uses downloading and sharing rather than piracy as the behavior, which is more accurate to the behavior than piracy, which is a negative baggage word.
  • It uses actual data
  • It can be verified, refuted, retested
Why I don’t like this paper:
  • Social Cognitive Theory is a an unnecessary layer on top of the analysis of behavior
  • It uses a variety of technical terms that don’t add much clarity
  • It could use more data
  • It uses surveys instead of raw usuage (which is sometimes a limitation in social studies…)
Key Conclusions which certainly correlate to my anecdotal and NDA covered studies:
  • A sense of morality has little significant effect on downloading/sharing/piracy behavior
  • Schedules of reinforcement (getting the music/games I like immediately, sharing with others, keep doing what I’ve been doing etc. etc.) explain a major chunk of variability in sharing behavior
  • Social aspect is key – “Sharing music/games/conversation is cool.”
  • Habit – the schedules set in and you lose site of why you started.  “I download because at night that’s what I do vs. I really want this cd”
  • Improved downloading / purchasing experience (better quality downloads and easier to use software) should reduce free sharing (think itunes and amazon mp3s)
  • Pricing doesn’t matter as much as people think


FROM ORIGINAL POST early this morning:

This blurb on slashdot had a higher than average set of comments today.

a) TPM is not directly meant as a DRM facilitator (but it will be overloaded, certainly)

b) Piracy is about behavior not technology.  Stopping piracy can only be done by modifying behavior not through technology. Technology can aid in modifying behavior.  Unfortunately most DRM schemes provide incentive (reinforce) for cracking media/software, not punishment.

c) never say never (or absolutely) in technology, especially DRM.  There are too many variables, and most variables involve non-technical companies, not hackers. Oh, and hackers love the absolutist mantra.

d) our laws, economic policy and business practices are a generation behind our technology and media consumption behavior

e) Piracy Prevention starts with making something people value and pricing it according to that value.  GTAIV didn’t have any profit trouble caused by piracy, nor Halo 3, nor Call of Duty, nor World of Warcraft… is piracy in gaming REALLY keeping developers, publishers and companies from making their profits?

f) Does TPM get in the way of consumer satisfaction?  and, I mean real consumer satisfaction – consumers stop buying because it becomes so annoying.  That remains to be seen but it’s not like Vista (the biggest implementation of TPM to date) makes a strong case for this.

g) TPM adds cost which adds to retail price (licensing cost, manufacturing cost, customer support cost) which gives the consumer more incentive to pirate

Can’t stop piracy. You just can’t.  As long as people don’t want to pay the current price for media and the risk of punishment or losing access isn’t great enough to dissuade them you’ll always have someone trying to crack the DRM schemes.

Then again, we have to ask why media companies insist on DRM efforts.  They must value whatever revenue they think they are losing.  Or do they value something else?

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