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Video Game Marketing

Indie Game Marketing from the author of the Game Marketing book, The Indie Developer's Guide to Selling Games. Video Game Marketing made simple... or at least as simple as I can make it.

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Location: Philomath, Oregon, United States

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Friday, August 18, 2006

An interesting hack...

The other day it was brought to my attention that a game I used to play a whole lot had been hacked. That is, technically they took the ancient beta code and got it working again, offering up a subscription game for free.

So the initial reaction is "Well, that is bad"- except there's more to this story. See, the game is pretty much on its last legs with the real publisher. They refuse to update it and keep it current, offering up meager patches and addons without any direction to improve the product. It's like walking through a ghost town, really.

Further, the company in question KNOWS about this "hacked" version and has sent a cease and desist letter... and the hacker's response was: "They don't care enough about their game to update it, they're certainly not going to care enough to waste money on a lawsuit."

Ya know what? He's right. So, if a hacker ressurrects a game from death out of love of a product (making no money himself) and the company who owns the product doesn't even care enough to file a lawsuit- is it really wrong? Or has this hacker done the now hundreds of players who are playing the 'free' version a great service by bringing their game back from the brink of destruction.

I don't have any answers to this one. It is legally wrong, no doubt, but I find myself in support of it. I like this game and I missed it, but without content and opponents it just wasn't any fun: And now it is.


Anonymous soniCron said...

Well, so what game is it?! :)

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't agree less with you. This is wrong, end of the story. It doesn't matter if the company doesn't care enough to do whatever....

If you have some old junk in your loft or garage and your are not using it anymore, do you think it is ok for me to just come and steal it?

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Dave Gilbert said...

It's an interesting question. While I do wonder about these hackers that have so much time (and devotion) to these old products, it's certainly nice to play them again. I know Sierra/Vivendi has often encouraged fan remakes of their old games (King's Quest 1,2 and 3 have been remade with their blessing), while other companies certainly have done the opposite. LucasArts has stopped many fan-made projects from being made. While it is disappointing, LucasArts is totally within their rights.

Whether or not it's "wrong" or not is academic. If the company didn't care enough to stop the hacker, then there's no reason why the hacker shouldn't continue.

7:40 AM  
Blogger VGsmart said...

Ah, Anonymous- Legally speaking it is illegal to steal junk I don't use anymore.

However, if you are ignoring the legal side of it, if you have use for my junk and I don't- then by all means you SHOULD steal it. Afterall, it would help the world if everyone utilized things more efficiently, right?

Also legally speaking (US legal) if you commit a civil offense and I refuse to press charges it isn't illegal at all. So if you break into my house and I say "eh, I don't care enough to charge you with breaking and entering" then the illegality is irrelevant.

It's way more complex than "Well, it is wrong so there." - It is also a slippery slope though, and I recognize that.

There are many things people do that are just as bad. Playing a ROM video game, watching a burned movie (even if you weren't the one who burned it), listening to an illegal MP3: I find it hard to believe that there are many people out there who have NEVER done one of those things; even if it was in your youth.
To me, this act is much "worse" in that the person is stealing and the company KNOWS they are stealing. In any other industry that person would be charged and this is done with... but games are different because the value of a song is apparently much higher than the IP of this product.


9:21 AM  
Anonymous Dave Gilbert said...

I never said it was RIGHT, I said that if the company doesn't do anything about it, it's fair game. If I leave junk in my garage, but leave the door wide open and make no attempts to protect the stuff, I shouldn't be surprised if someone comes and steals it.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Paul Eres said...

I think the argument that it's similar to not pressing charges has validity. However, that's not the case here. They sent them a cease-and-desist letter, and the hacker refused to honor their request.

If you leave some junk and leave the door open, and someone takes it, and you don't press charges, that's one thing. If instead you ask for the junk back, and they refuse to give it back, that's another thing.

8:00 PM  

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