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Sony, Nintendo, EA hide behind PR move. Still support SOPA (destructoid.com)
138 points by nextparadigms on Dec 31, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

While I agree they were supporting it twice, and now only once, they did remove the support that they actually control. While each company is part of the ESA, they don't control it.

The ESA will have to take that action itself. Maybe it will get a clue from it's members.

The point is that if they really didn't support the bill, the would either pressure the ESA into removing themselves or leave the group in protest.

How big is the ESA? Does any one of these companies (or even the three colletively) wield enough power to change the stance of the entire organization?

Anybody who initially supported SOPA, has to come out against SOPA to win any browny points as far as I am concerned. Dropping support is just weak and non-believable.

On the other hand, the game companies probably also don't want to tick off the media industry. So while Nintendo, Sony, et al don't have much to gain from SOPA, they have quite a bit to lose if the major content industries decide to blacklist their platforms.

Which they would absolutely never do.

Right now Hollywood is desperate to break in to videogames. They know that games are an important part of the future, and want very badly to start making good movie based games. But so far they haven't had much luck.

As it stands, if the game industry couldn't continue making weak movie tie-ins, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. They are a handy cash cow, but as often as not they are abysmal games, no thanks to the movie industry itself.

I was talking more about things like cutting off Nintendo, EA, Sony, etc. from deals with Netflix, licensing music to use as game soundtracks, and things like that. Basically, not letting their media hit the game consoles.

So what? Surely the aim is to reduce the number of companies financially supporting SOPA and similar legislation, not punishing companies for wanting such bills to pass?

I think SOPA is a really bad idea.

How should companies like Nintendo or Sony (the game division) deal with the rampant piracy of games on their systems?

I like the idea of people getting paid for their work but I don't like the idea of 300 million people being forced to give up their freedom for it.

Just because someone thinks of a way to make money doesn't mean it has to work. If a business can only work by infringing on other people's freedom we have to ask if it's worth it.

Anyone can make money if they can get a law passed that outlaws doing it without them. That doesn't mean the population will support that law.

It's pretty much impossible to completely stop it. You can only choose how you will attempt to delay it or discourage it. Consider the war on drugs: at least there you have the advantage that you have a tangible object that you're seeking to limit access to which under our current understanding of physics is possible, but look how successful that has been. But trying to stop the spread of information that has no tangible limit and is trivial to spread?

As Corey Doctorow pointed out in his speech at a recent conference, copying will only get easier. In this world of increasingly computerized things, corporations will continue to struggle with this core problem: Computers (of all types) are general purpose (at the architecture level) and execute instructions given to it. How can we make it so it doesn't execute code that we don't like?

As others have pointed out, if your profitability relies chiefly on the secret order of 1s and 0s and restricting access to that voodoo then you're in for a long uphill battle because all of computing can be summed up as the art and science of copying bits from one location to another as cheaply and as efficiently as possible.

In the case of video game developers we've seen a few models that take into consideration copyright infringement. Some games have demonstrated profitable virtual economies with the company taking a cut of the profit, and even a company like Nintendo sells its hardware at a profit so as long as people have a reason to purchase Nintendo hardware there is room for a company like Nintendo to exist. This isn't to say these are the only or the best solutions, but rather just pointing out that to stay profitable going forward there is no reason to believe outdated business models will continue to thrive.

There are two ways current hardware makers are beating piracy, increasing hardware complexity and value-added services. A lot of people are complaining about the Vita's proprietary memory cards, but I wouldn't be surprised if that move was 100% solely made to prevent 3rd party execution. I'd imagine that more anti-consumer features would be coming in the next generation of console hardware too.

The flip-side is rewarding good customers. By not having a hacked console, you can use online services (such as Xbox LIVE).

Although amusingly, I think the answer may actually be in free-to-play games. 2011, in my opinion, was the year F2P changed from evil Zynga social games and last-ditch MMO fallback to a serious triple digit growth area with games like League of Legends and Team Fortress 2. Expect to see F2P on Sony consoles soon. (Sony is more liberal with their online policy, which is why I'm predicting the first popular F2P on their systems. Microsoft is very domineering of Xbox LIVE and how their online play works, and Nintendo's online strategy is somewhere in the pre-fire stoneage.)

Quick correction: It's 'Cory' not 'Corey'.

Aren't they doing relatively well against piracy? I remember pirate psx games were absolutely rampant, but nowadays it seems most people I now just buy the games. Second hand games market is probably more of a problem.

I guess the best way is to make online content delivery coupled with the physical product the norm for games products. That gives vendors a chance to make piracy more trouble than it's worth.

But there maybe are changes to law that can be made too.

It exists but I don't think it's as bad as previous consoles. Several things could be at work.

1) The anti-piracy systems in the consoles are more advanced; got cracked later than before.

2) Online is more prevalent and it's much harder to play online with a pirated copy; getting your online account banned for piracy is punishing due to trophies/gamerscore. This is definitely the way that the games industry is heading, with a really strong push towards adding online value, DLC and IAP to even single-player games.

3) Games are usually not region locked and worldwide releases are more common: one of the major reasons to chip a console was to play import games, which would then allow you to play all those cheap knock-offs.

Make customers love them. Lower the price eventually.

People I know who pirate games say they will only pirate the ones that aren't "worth buying". When a company makes something impressive enough, they like to reward that company with their money.

When those people have bought your game and sales drop off, lower the price! You'll never be able to get down to "free", but there are a lot of people who would buy a game for $5 who won't ever buy it for $60, no matter how long the price stays there. I have dozens of games on steam that I wouldn't have bought if they weren't 70% off.

I think console game makers would fare better if they did the same. They get mad about used game stores selling their old games for cheap when there's no reason they couldn't do the same thing and take that market back with the sales pitch of "hey, its new" and "you're supporting us by buying from us instead of GameStop".

All of that being said, I don't think it's quite as big of a deal as some would make it out to be. The game industry's already bigger than movies and music. I haven't heard of a company that made games everyone loved, then went under because of piracy. Anyone got an example?

Console piracy is nowhere near as bad as PC game piracy, and yet, as you say, the PC game market has some pretty impressive sales. Even so, the prices do drop on console - very rarely do you see a $70 game keep that price, they generally settle to the $15-$25 mark over the course of a year (with a few exceptions). $5 barely breaks even the manufacturing costs so it's no surprise they don't want to sell at that rate. In any case, $15-25 is affordable pocket-money territory for kids.

The problem here is immediacy. Even with savage price drops, games are notoriously short-tailed. Gamers want them as soon as they come out, not a moment later. BEFORE they come out if possible - leaks are massively popular. Gamers will see the $70 price at launch, find they can't/won't pay that, then turn to bittorrent. They won't wait until it becomes affordable.

I suspect the brakes are off on Wii piracy at least. I've no idea how it's done, but I've seen a Wii hooked up to a network or hard drive that had every published Wii game on it.

Personally, I'd rather not break the law, I have about 15 games on my Wii, and one or two get played a few times a year, so my itch to play Super Mario occasionally, gets scratched just fine.

Yes, you're right. I was forgetting about the Wii.

Game publishers could follow the example of books. They used to price discriminate based on time, with ebooks they had to rethink their strategy. $15-$35 for downloadable-only, $50-$70 for downloadable + physical games, maybe even higher for collector editions, would probably work well.

I'm not sure. Games publishers have been at this for many years yet, they've experimented with price points, different forms of DRM and various online strategies.

I don't think there's any real evidence that cutting price affects price in any major way. Entertainment products are fairly price-inelastic* and collectors' editions are almost Veblen goods.

*Although they obviously respond well to sales and temporary price drops, permanent price cuts don't seem to help much.

Charging less would help.

Purchasing the game is significantly more convenient than downloading one from the community which may or may not have bugs or malware installed. The only reason that torrenting is competitive with the legal game market is because the price of a game far exceeds the added value it provides in the eyes of the target market.

They seem to be making a profit, and to the extent that they aren't, they aren't losing money due to piracy. Seems like they're dealing with it fairly well already.

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