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Patrick

Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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134 Responses

  1. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    I rarely pirate games anymore, partly because I can easily afford to buy them (& Amazon has awesome deals all the time, if you are patient), and with the boy child now in the mix, I have to carefully choose between gaming & sleep & currently sleep wins – so even when I do have time to play, a game can easily take months to complete, making the price worthwhile.Report

  2. Avatar David Ryan says:

    Or you can build a boat.Report

  3. Avatar dhex says:

    a cute approach. will be curious to see if it pays off.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Looking at it rationally, my $8.00 makes no difference in the profitability of a game. My choice to pirate it or not is purely self-regarding.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I understanding you’re making fun of Jason, but of course your $8 makes a difference in the profitability of the game – it means the game’s makers are taking in an additional $8. The dynamics of purchasing something are not equivalent to the dynamics of voting.

      And the game-makers themselves are making arguments for why buying the game is self-regarding (ie: why paying for it is in a person’s own self-interest). Although a person can also be motivated by ethical reasons not to pirate.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to KatherineMW says:

        And my voting gives my candidates one extra vote. I’m not seeing any difference.Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          If you buy a game, and the game makers get $8, then that $8 is a material benefit for them regardless of what happens. Whether they’re making a net profit or a net loss, they’re still $8 better off.

          If you vote, your one additional vote only benefits the candidate if it’s the one vote that marks the tipping point between “winning” and “losing”. And usually it isn’t. If a candidate wins by 50,001 rather than by 50,000 votes, they’re no better off. If they lose by 10,000 votes instead of 9,999 votes, they’re no better off. Elections are “yes/no” matters – either the candidate wins or they don’t. But profit happens on a continuum.

          (I am nonetheless of the opinion that voting matters anyway, and is a way of demonstrating your political views to the people who govern even if you live in California or Oklahoma.)Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to KatherineMW says:

            How is this not totally obvious? This is similiar to the argument about “I won’t work more because I’d end up in a higher bracket”.

            Because apparently taking home 75% of 100,000 is superior to taking home 75% of 100,000 and 65% of 50,000 more….

            (Although there are royalties that are structured to sales, but that generally changes the way %’s are divided once certain threshold sales are met).Report

            • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Morat20 says:

              How is this not totally obvious? This is similiar to the argument about “I won’t work more because I’d end up in a higher bracket”.

              Anyone making that argument is either 1) lying/playing dumb for ideological reasons or 2) doesn’t understand the concept of marginal tax rates.

              Group 2 is also certainly by far the larger one (I have encountered many members of it both online and in real life). I don’t know if that’s reassuring or depressing.Report

              • Anyone making that argument is either 1) lying/playing dumb for ideological reasons or 2) doesn’t understand the concept of marginal tax rates.

                Not at all, Katherine. Marginal tax rates matter. If you’re being paid less-per-additional-hour when you cross a bracket, it’s neither ignorant nor ideological to say “it’s no longer worth it to me (to work those extra hours).”

                It doesn’t have to be extra hours. It can be “Taking on the additional responsibilities” or “Relocating to corporate headquarters” or whatnot. When making decisions to do these sorts of things, marginal income (and thus marginal taxes) matter.Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Will Truman says:

                You’re still making additional money when you get a pay raise that moves you up a bracket. You may or may not be working additional hours. If the increased pay doesn’t sufficiently compensate you for an increased workload, that’s your call; the tax rate may have a small marginal effect, but it’s not going to be a central consideration, not when there’s about a 5% or less difference between most tax brackets.

                A lot of people, including people who should (and plenty of people on the right who , but pretend not to) know better talk about it like you lose money when you move up a tax bracket.Report

              • See, I think a lot of the time ignorance is being assumed where it does not exist. I may be biased, because I have myself been accused of not knowing “what marginal tax rates are” when I know full well what they are.

                A free raise is a free raise. Nobody with a lick of sense is going to turn that down because they don’t get to keep as much of it as they would prefer.

                But when making the decision to work more for more pay, the marginal tax rate matters a great deal. The 5% or less doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s part of a larger number that can easily be around someone’s tipping point. More than that, it can have the psychological effect of lost money. Which it is, on a marginal basis.

                My wife’s pay schedule is set up so that any extra money she receives is hit with a 34% tax rate for every extra night of call she makes. That’s her top marginal rate (federal income, plus state income, plus Medicare). When making the decision whether to take extra call, pointing out that her overall tax rate is less than 34% doesn’t help at all.

                Now, we’re nowhere near the next tax bracket. But if we were, while 3% isn’t much, that suddenly means 37% of the income goes to taxes. Not insignificant, and due to the marginal tax rate and due in part to the 8% increase in taxes on that income compared to the previous income. That’s making less money on a marginal basis, but it’s the margins on which the decisions are made.

                You’re right that each increase is relatively small (and on the whole, our tax rates are generally low). On the whole, a 3% marginal pay cut is not likely to make a whole lot of difference one way or the other. But, when someone is borderline, every little bit can matter.

                I’ve turned down overtime on account of gas prices that would eat up my marginal gains. Someone could point to that and say that I am ignorant because I don’t realize that even paying for gas, I’d still be making enough money. Which I would be, but not enough money for me to give up my Saturday. It was a close call as it was, before gas prices spiked.

                Up until last year, a locums coworker of my wife would literally work until he hit a particular tax bracket, then he would stop. That tax jump (I don’t know which tax bracket, but I’m guessing it’s a 3% or 5% jump and not the 10% jump) was his tipping point.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

                I thought that once too — that it was a marginal utility issue, if a somewhat incomprehensible one. “I’d work more for 45,000 net, but not for 40,000 net — that extra 5k in taxes just chaps my hide too much”.

                I don’t really KNOW anyone who is so sensitive to price that — at a 4 or 5% chance was enough to go from “yes” to more money to “no”, but I guess these people do exist.

                Until I started asking. And I found out that 95% of the time — minimum — it’s an ignorance problem. I’ve been routinely shocked at how many smart, intelligent, tax-paying people who have to fill out forms every year — literally think your bracket rate applies retroactively to income. (Which isn’t that surprising, in hindsight — computers do it for you now, before you used tables. The raw calculations were rarely shown).

                In the real world, though — I’ve never known anyone who would honestly look at a raise, or more contract work, and say “No thanks” because it’d bump them into a new bracket. They might say not to he work because they didn’t NEED the money or didn’t want to work longer hours or didn’t like new responsibilities, but never because “I’d work if it was X% in taxes, but I’d be paying Y% in taxes on that”.

                So while I’m sure it’s true for some people, I’m pretty confidant stating that the vast, vast bulk of people saying it are either (1) confused as to how marginal tax brackets work or (2) lying or using it as an excuse for their real reason.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Will Truman says:

                morat20,
                I’ve seen honest breakpoints. You’d have to offer me a LOT of money to get me to buy a car to get to your job.

                But the people who don’t want to pay taxes have learned what Al Capone didn’t… ya don’t need to pay if you don’t /spend/.Report

              • You’re like that HR guy who looks at someone whose desired wage requirements are $20-25 an hour and thinks “I’m not going to offer a penny more than $19.50, because nobody is going to walk away over getting 2.5% less than they want!”

                Everyone has a line somewhere for what they’re willing to work for, either as a wage for a job or a marginal wage for more marginal hours. It’s going to be a tax bracket that takes them over that line.

                Nobody is going to turn around a free raise, but there can be a point where making more money isn’t worth it anymore, in part because of the declining marginal income that comes with taking more jobs.

                I know in the Himmelreich-Truman household, once taxes hit 33%, we become less excited about future income. It’s a tax bracket that takes us over that line. Possibly coincidentally, my wife went to a 3/4 schedule after the baby was born. One of the nice little benefits is that none of our income is being taxed at 33% anymore. Which is one of the things that makes us more excited when we get the extra-call bonus checks.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

                You’re reading things into what I said that I don’t mean.

                Let me put it flatly — if I’m offered raise in return for more work, longer hours, or just flat BECAUSE — I’ll turn it down or not because of the money. The difference of, at most, the 4% of a changed bracket wouldn’t even cross my mind.

                So would, well, everyone I know. Which ranges from guys working barely minimum wage to guys making, well, an awful lot.

                With rare exceptions — apparently you’re one of them, I don’t even know anyone that makes salary decisions based on their projected after-tax pay, just on gross pay and differentials from current gross pay.

                In a universe where there were two brackets — 15% to a 100k and 20% thereafter, if I was making 99,999 dollars and offered a 20k raise to handle a major headache in addition, either 20k would be enough or it wouldn’t.

                The fact that my take-home would be 16,000 instead of 17,000 wouldn’t even cross my mind. A thousand a year is lost in the noise.

                And to be bluntly honest: Everyone I’ve ever met would decide based on whether 20k a year was worth it or not, and marginal tax rates wouldn’t enter their minds. The only time I’ve EVER personally heard that the person in question either didn’t understand marginal tax rates (thought they applied to all of income) or was quite obviously saying “No, 20k a year isn’t worth it but I don’t want to say that”. (And hey, they’re still saying: I’d do it for 17,000 net, but not 16,000 net, but they never seem to say “i’ll do it for 21,500).Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to KatherineMW says:

                “A lot of people, including people who should (and plenty of people on the right who , but pretend not to) know better talk about it like you lose money when you move up a tax bracket.”

                A lot of people, including people who should (and plenty of people on the left who, but pretend not to) know better talk about it like money is the only thing that means anything.

                Maybe I value being home while the sun is still out more than I value the ten bucks I’d make by working two extra hours.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to KatherineMW says:

                Anyone making that argument is either 1) lying/playing dumb for ideological reasons or 2) doesn’t understand the concept of marginal tax rates.

                Or 3) understands the concept of diminishing marginal utility.

                When you work more,

                1. You give up some leisure time. Because of diminishing marginal utility, each hour of leisure you give up is worth more to you than the last.
                2. You make more money. But because of diminishing marginal utility, each additional dollar you earn is worth less to you than the last.
                3. Adding insult to injury, progressive tax rates mean that you earn less per hour, making the marginal utility of an additional hour’s worth of income even less.

                So for each additional hour you work, you give up more utility from leisure than you earned for the previous hour, you get less additional utility from income per hour of work, and if you get bumped up into the next tax bracket, your post-tax hourly income drops.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                By the way, one place where progressive income taxes are especially distortionary is with careers that require very long periods of training, like surgery. You earn a high income once you’re done, but you sacrifice 20-25% of your productive years in training, earning little or no money.

                Basically, your earning years are compressed, such that you earn more per year over a shorter period of time. Consequently, you pay a higher effective tax rate on your lifetime income, even if its pre-tax NPV is exactly the same as someone who went into software straight out of college.

                Oh, and don’t even think about trying to deduct the interest on your med-school loans. You make too much money for that, you rich bastard.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                This used to be addressed via income averaging. That went away as part of tax simplification.Report

              • Yeah, since Clancy jumped from being a physician-in-training to a physician-in-practice wage, I’ve gotten much more of a “bad attitude” about taxes. We were finally in a position to start making that money that comes with the job, and then the next thing I know 38% of our paycheck disappears and 44% of all bonuses. (Our tax rate isn’t that high, we get a refund, but it’s still a shock to our system.)

                That was when I learned that yes, progressive taxation does matter as a form of demotivation (I still favor progressive taxation), and tax brackets do matter. Before Clancy went part-time, any job I took went straight into the 34% total tax bracket.

                It’s hard to mention this without being accused of “not knowing what marginal tax rates are” unless I put the word “marginal” twice in every sentence. Sometimes I forget, and then people get to explain to me about what marginal tax rates are and tell their friends about this guy they were talking to who didn’t know what marginal tax rates are.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Will Truman says:

                See? This tells me that you’re actually working for “recreation money”. If you were actually working for “real money” (safety margin, “keep house over head” money, keep baby in diapers money), you wouldn’t be that upset over raises going to taxes…

                I’ma ask a personal question, so if you wanna tell me ta kiss off, no bigsie. What percent of your current income (net) do you spend on recreational stuff?Report

              • Yeah, we’re beyond “food and shelter” income. But so is a high percentage of people in higher tax brackets. Or that can think in terms of the tradeoff between more work for more money rather than “How am I going to put food on the table??

                When we move east, we’re going to be back in a “food and shelter” situation.

                To answer your question, the bulk of “recreation” spending we do is flying back home to visit family and computers/gadgets/etc, neither of which do we spend an insane amount of money on. About half of our post-tax income goes towards student loans or savings.

                We lead reasonably thrifty lives.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Will Truman says:

                Will,
                hmm… I’d say that about 5% of my current income goes towards recreation (skitching internet under “necessary” to be fair, it’s a business expense).

                (though I’m certain someone would consider airsealing to be “recreational”, I consider it as hedging, just like retirement savings).Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Will Truman says:

                “This tells me that you’re actually working for “recreation money”. ”

                You’re right; no *true* Scot would give up the chance to make more money by working an extra few hours.Report

              • Avatar Just Me in reply to KatherineMW says:

                I have worked hourly wages my whole life and I can attest that you can get a pay check for less take home pay by working an hour more. I don’t know the math behind how it happens, but I have had it happen. I used to work for a company that had mandatory 16 hours overtime for a month. I had to come in early each night and assign personnel to their duties for the night. That time did not count towards my 16 hours OT requirement. I noticed that if I worked 18 hours extra a week I would get paid less on the pay check versus when I worked an extra 17.5 hours a week. I understood that overall before taxes I made more and I would see it back at the end of the year…blah blah blah…

                Yep I fall in the number 2. I know I got $x on one paycheck, worked 30 min more and got <$x on the next. That was all that mattered.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Just Me says:

                If you were living paycheck to paycheck, the actual take home pay could be a decent justification…Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to KatherineMW says:

            Ok, that is a good distinction. But if we simplify things slightly and say that the decision to write CoolGame III depends on whether CoolGame II was profitable, my $8 matters only in the unlikely circumstance that it’s the $8 that moves the ledger from red to black.Report

            • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              True, but business decisions are a little more complicated than yes/no, I think. The $8 could still help make CoolGame II marginally better than it would have been otherwise, or help the makers to upgrade the current game even if they still can’t afford to make a new one.Report

              • Avatar clawback in reply to KatherineMW says:

                But eight bucks isn’t enough to make any observable difference to the game company.

                And yeah, this argument has exactly the same problem as the “self-regarding vote” narrative. It has the absurd result that only high-price/low-volume markets are affected by price signals.

                But the fact is that the price mechanism works fine for low-price/high-volume items as well. The reason for this is exactly as with voting: a small effect is not the same as zero effect.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to clawback says:

                Exactly. And this too, I think: the only difference between the two cases is that there’s an objective exchange of value in one and not in the other. But it seems like all the libertarians on this site seem to take great pleasure in explaining to me that value isn’t objectively measurable.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Depends on the value. The value of 8 bucks can be said to be approximately 8 bucks.

                The value of how good you feel when you shoplift something worth 8 bucks is a little more intangible.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

                Maybe you should start actually listening then, Stillwater, and maybe you’d figure out why your “objective exchange of value” is an ignorant error, one tht I’m pretty sure has been corrected multiple times, but that you still cling to. Whether out of flat inability to understand basic microeconomic concepts or die to blind ideological commitments, agnostic god only knows. But it’s pretty damn funny that you write so smugly while making that same old mistake yet again. You’re like a creationist who sneers while saying, “those biologists keep telling me there are adaptations. For Christ’s sake, you can’t have an objective exchange of value or one person would be giving up more than they gained. Or at best each party comes put even, with neither gaining, but receiving precisely what they received. But because value is subjective, because item X has a different value to buyer than seller, it’s possible to make an exchange where each side comes out ahead. So, no, there’s no objective value here.

                Every year thousands of 18 year olds figure this out in their intro micro classes, and you’re still struggling to grasp it. Hell my 15 year old figured it out in her high school Econ class. Of course she’s not weighed down by the baggage of ideological commitments, so she’s still capable of learning.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Thanks James. It’s been a pleasure reading your response. As it always is.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Don’t really care. You’re either interested in getting it right or you’re not.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

                When someone gives you two fives for a ten, the entire structure of capitalism trembles.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Why would you trade a ten for two fives? Although of equal dollar value, you must want the fives more than you want the ten. For whatever reason, the two fives have more value to you at that moment than is the ten. If I’m in a laundromat whose change machine only takes ones and fives, a ten is not very valuable at the moment. A person might even reasonably trade it for a five and four ones and consider themselves to be better off.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

                But the person who gave up the fives for the ten: why? Overcrowded wallet? Dekaphobia? Neo-Confederate? Alexander Hamilton fetish?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Although of equal dollar value, you must want the fives more than you want the ten. For whatever reason, the two fives have more value to you at that moment than is the ten.

                To follow up on Mike’s point, suppose that a sub-culture in the US had a fetish for five dollar bills, and would trade them straight up for tens and twenties, bill for bill. According to you’re view of things, those people haven’t lost any value in this sequence of transactions. In fact, if what you’re saying is right, they’ve gained in value since value the five more than the twenty. It’s a classic win-win situation.

                So here’s a question: Is there a sense in which it’s appropriate to say that those people have lost value in the transactions they’ve engaged in? If you’re view of things is correct – and all value reduces to subjectively determined utility calculations – then it seems that there isn’t one. And that seems very strange.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Mike: Maybe they did it because they get value out of being nice. For them the actual exchange of fives for tens may be perfectly value-neutral, so whether or not they do it will be based on some other value calculation; how curmudgeonly or nice they are, whether he hopes trading her the fives gives him a chance to talk her up, etc.

                Stillwater:
                suppose that a sub-culture in the US had a fetish for five dollar bills, and would trade them straight up for tens and twenties, bill for bill. .. Is there a sense in which it’s appropriate to say that those people have lost value in the transactions they’ve engaged in?

                We could appropriately say they’ve lost capacity to demand as much goods and services as before. But as you specify, they have a fetish for fives, so they must value the five dollar bill itself more than the goods and services they could otherwise have demanded. It seems strange only because people like you and I cannot imagine why someone would value a five dollar bill more than the goods and services an extra twenty could buy. In fact it would be unusual enough that we’d question whether they were in fact quite sane.*

                But if someone was adjudged to be quite sane and mentally healthy, why wouldn’t we accept that they get more value out of papering their walls in five dollar bills than in using those dollars to buy paint? Or pizza, or a Pontiac, or paperbacks. Even if it seems like giving up a five for a ten must entail a loss of value, you can only make that determination by substituting your own value judgements in place of that other person’s, and saying that they must value the goods and services they’re forgoing as much as you do. But there’s no inherent reason why they must, since we all value those goods and services differently anyway.

                ——————–
                *(particularly since they could actually get 4 fives for a twenty in most cases, but let’s assume they normally do that, and it’s only when someone says, “I have only 3 fives,” that they forgo demanding 4 of them, when someone can only give them 2 fives that they forgo getting 3, and while they’re willing to trade a 20 straight up for a five they’ll do so only when they can’t get at least two of them.)Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                P.S. , I want to emphasize that there’s nothing specifically libertarian about subjective value. It’s an idea that dates back to the Middle Ages, although it didn’t become widely accepted until the late 19th century. It predates libertartarianism and is widely held by economists across the spectrum, excepting perhaps only Marxists (or only those Marxists who still insist upon a labor theory of value). Recognizing the fact of subjective value does not mean giving into libertarianism one iota. See here, for example, the liberal economist Brad DeLong approvingly quoting the liberal economist Paul Krugman.

                So whether or not I’ve persuaded you on subjective value, please don’t mistake it for some pernicious libertarian idea.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to James Hanley says:

                James and Still,

                “they’ve lost capacity to demand as much goods and services as before. ”

                This capacity is, I think, what Stillwater is referring to as value.

                For all your (Blaise-like, sorry to say) bluster about what he doesn’t understand, Hanley, it seems the two of you have a merely semantic dispute about “value.”

                You want to call any case where someone’s preferences were satisfied “value.” Stillwater wants to call the real (not-subjective) “capacity” to purchase more goods and services “value.”

                IMO, the standard usage in economics of “value” is closer to what Hanley wants, but its not like Stillwater is making some big conceptual error by believing in real, objective capacities to earn money, live happily, etc., especially since Hanley believes in them too. And it doesn’t seem crazy or ignorant to call those things “value” either.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                “they’ve lost capacity to demand as much goods and services as before. ”
                This capacity is, I think, what Stillwater is referring to as value…IMO, the standard usage in economics of “value” is closer to what Hanley wants, but its not like Stillwater is making some big conceptual error by believing in real, objective capacities to earn money, live happily, etc…. And it doesn’t seem crazy or ignorant to call those things “value” either.

                I don’t read him that way, but perhaps you’re reading him correctly. But it doesn’t save him from error because capacity to demand is not the same thing as value. I might actually value a new Ferrari at $1/4 million, but that doesn’t mean I have the capacity to demand (choose to buy) one (that is, if I could afford to pay that much for a Ferrari, I would in fact find it an acceptable price, but of course I can’t afford it).

                And if someone values hoarding cash over buying goods and services, it means they value the cash more than the stuff it can buy, even though they have the capacity to buy.

                Perhaps in casual talk we could refer to “capacity to demand” as value (although I suspect it muddies more than clarifies), but Stillwater was critiquing an economic concept, a technical definition of value, so it’s really his job to get that concept right. Whether my interpretation of him is right and he believes either money or goods or both can have an objective value, or whether you are right and he is saying capacity to demand is value (or a measure of value), he is still getting the economic definition wrong. So either way, his critique of subjective value is built on a misunderstanding of the idea.

                Really, this refers to any critique of a technical concept. E.g., people who critique natural selection and think it’s accurately represented by Hoyle’s junkyard analogy can never make a good critique because they begin with an incorrect understanding of the concept. When we set out to critique or rebut something, we really need to make sure we at least understand the basic concepts and definitions. We’ll all make mistakes at times, sure, but the question is whether we listen to those who try to correct our misunderstanding or whether we double-down on our error and stick to it.

                Stillwater has many good things to say. But his claim about objective value is, unfortunately, not among them.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to KatherineMW says:

            Either a game is profitable, or the game company goes out of business. Sometimes both are true.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to KatherineMW says:

        And I’m not making fun of Jason, I’m apply his reasoning to a different arena.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Looking at it rationally, my $8.00 makes no difference in the profitability of a game. My choice to pirate it or not is purely self-regarding.

      That’s a legitimate point, provided that it’s not being deployed as an argumentum ad absurdum.Report

    • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Mike,
      Naturally. You ought to instead found a game studio and make your own games.
      I hear Brian Reynolds is looking for work…Report

  5. Avatar Patrick says:

    This whole “$8 is or isn’t significant” is kind of silly.

    The guy obviously isn’t looking to get paid $8 for every copy of his game. Note his own, “Megh, you’re pirating the game because you can’t afford it, that’s okay”.

    He’s looking to make a big enough return on this game that he can make a go of making games. He’s stuck with choosing a transactional pricing model or crowdsourcing (effectively a non-governmental block grant) because there isn’t another option, other than micropayments.

    And while crowdsourcing is a possible way to make a go of it, you need the crowd first.

    But the transactional pricing model isn’t about making M transactions at $8 a throw; largely speaking, the M transactions are irrelevant to his cost of production. It’s about making M transactions, with M-N of them at $8 a throw. The blog post is about reducing N.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Patrick says:

      I’m no worse off if I free ride and no better off if I pay (my 8 bucks being insignificant to both parties), unless I assume that by some sympathetic magic my decision affects other people’s. Pure rationality tells me to pirate, and I purchase only to be a good citizen. Which I probably would, but I’m known for giving in to my self-regard.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        But purchasing has no good effect on society either because the game would e made or not or improved or not without your purchase.

        It is wholly irrational except as a gift to the developers. But it would make more sense to give the 8 dollars to someone who needed it more, maybe a libertarian think tank.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Patrick says:

      Mike’s right. From a purely self-interested perspective, paying the $8 just makes you $8 poorer. It doesn’t actually provide you with any benefits, or make it significantly more likely that other games that you like will be made.

      It’s a collective action problem. And it’s precisely for that reason that people who want to have a robust market in games should seek to discourage piracy, whether through social pressure, more vigorous enforcement of copyright laws, DRM, pranks like this, or other means.Report

  6. Avatar Russell M says:

    The 8$ squabbling is just silly. i tried the demo. i liked the demo. for less then the price of a pawn store 360 game I got a cute little game that i have been playing the last 10 hours since i read this post first.

    Games kinda cool. so i got my 8 bucks worth. maybe y’all could try the game before having a snit maybe? then decide if it is worth 8 bucks.

    or not. who gives a walking fish.Report

  7. Avatar Kimmi says:

    Obvs. no one’s gonna admit to piracy.Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Conversations like this make me want to scream. Really? If you don’t want to pay for something, you don’t get to have it. Full stop.Report

    • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Kazzy says:

      Because lending never happens. Or purchasing something for well off the original price.
      Or game companies going out of business.

      Or game companies refusing to ever ever sell that game again, or let the dev write a sequel.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kimsie says:

        You know what I mean, Kim.

        If the game is for sale and readily accessible via that mechanism, piracy is wrong, plain and simple.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kimsie says:

        Lending only happens because they haven’t found a way to pass a law against unauthorized physical transfer of goods.Report

        • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Will Truman says:

          Bullshit. Libraries are a valued commodity in the land.
          (or maybe that’s just me saying “they won’t do that!”).Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

          Isn’t there a resale doctrine that applies to physical things but not digital ones? I think that’s being litigated right now.Report

          • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Morat20 says:

            The “basic” technical problem with copying digitally is that you can copy an infinite number of times (you couldn’t with analog video tapes). And… that makes for problems. Or at least many (stupid) people claim that it does.

            GoT producer’s on record saying that word of mouth helps his franchise (HBO had to scramble to get some PR flunky to say “but we do not condone piracy”… reserving their right to actually go prosecute in the future).

            Piracy is a really dick move if you’re going to go play little indie games, where your $50 is 1/1000th of the actual game cost (okay, maybe these aren’t the most indie. that’d be $5 and $20,000, made in someplace that doesn’t speak english).

            For the really big games it doesn’t hurt much.

            But I truly think for all games, word of mouth means far more than people think.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Kazzy says:

      Problem is, Kazzy, you *do* get to have it. It’s more or less impossible to keep you from having it if you’re willing to pay a small amount of opportunity cost.

      And it’s very difficult to increase that opportunity cost with out all sorts of externalities.

      “Everyone should just be on the honor system” is a nice theory.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Patrick says:

        Actually, iTunes and Steam seem to do just fine breaking past that “opportunity cost” barrier.

        Do not make the mistake of thinking that a familiar task is easy. You might have plenty of ways to get pirated software, and you don’t have a problem with the registry work needed to get it going. Someone who just wants to push the button and have it go might consider all that stuff more effort than it’s worth, when all you have to do is pay ten dollars and you have the thing legitemately.Report

        • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jim Heffman says:

          I think you’re misunderstanding me.

          What I am saying is that establishing a DRM scheme that can effectively deter people such that they’re willing to pay $N requires you to deter almost everybody (moreover, since each game distributor wants to control the stream, you wind up with users having to deal with multiple DRM streams unless they’re limited to a particular vendor).

          Because once someone cracks the DRM, they can replicate the cracked game at zero actual cost, and the cracked copy is available at very low opportunity cost.

          iTunes and Steam change the equation by offering a channel distribution system. They work, to the extent that they work, because people are subscribing to the channel, and thus consume most of their content inside the channel. This changes the opportunity cost, sure.

          But unless you’re invested in iTunes or Steam to a particular “delta neighborhood” extent (no less and no farther), you can still get things that are available on iTunes or Steam via other mechanisms.

          Industry reports on piracy are varied, and the sources are in some cases questionable, but the general figure for pirated vs. legitimate purchased items when it comes to game consumers in the marketplace is somewhere between 5:1 and 12:1. I would say that piracy is pretty pervasive, regardless of where on that range it actually falls, for any given game.

          That would seem to indicate that all of the DRM or copy-protection schemes that have been tried, by industry, have largely been complete failures.

          Now, that’s a technical note, but it only maps indirectly on the market because it’s not clear that all pirates would be legitimate consumers *if* piracy wasn’t an option. So even if a game is pirated on a rate of 5:1, it’s possible that your DRM is good enough that you’re capturing – in that 1 – all of the people who *would* be legitimate consumers. So even though lots of people are stealing your game, really, you’re still at market saturation in one sense.

          I… I don’t find that to be likely. It’s possible, but not likely.Report

          • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Patrick says:

            1) I don’t think you have a large enough sample size to say if Stack 0verflow’s “copy protection” scheme worked. But at least there, you’re mostly able to measure the actual piracy quotient.

            2) Many people pirate and then buy the real game. (or vice versa, which I’ve actually done.)

            3) For a certain price point, no one (or at least virtually no one) would pirate. (sell a game for 50 cents.)

            4) If video game companies really wanted to have something reasonably effective in stopping piracy, they’d just release poison pill copies for free. (“well, you didn’t agree to pay 10 dollars for your game, but you also didn’t come by it legally, so you’re complaining??)Report

          • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Patrick says:

            “the cracked copy is available at very low opportunity cost.”

            This is an assumption, not a truth. It’s “low opportunity cost” in the way that getting a TV that fell off the back of a truck is cheap. If I know a guy who regularly catches things that fall off the back of a truck, then yeah, it’s cheap. If I had to go down to the abandoned industrial park and drive around with my windows open asking shifty-looking guys where I could score a free TV, I might find that free TVs had quite a high cost.Report

            • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jim Heffman says:

              It’s an assumption that is backed by data, Jim. Like I said, various industry reports put the piracy rate at between 5:1 and 12:1, which would seem to indicate that plenty of people have access to pirated copies at very low opportunity cost.

              Otherwise, who are playing all those pirated copies? Bots?

              You have better data, bust it out. You think those piracy numbers are wrong, explain why. Don’t just say for the fourth time on the thread, “you’re assuming”, because I’m not. I’m making an evaluation that fits the data. The data could be wrong, another explanation could be more probable.

              What is it? And don’t talk to me about TVs and trucks. Talk to me about video games and how right (or wrong) industry is about piracy rates.Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Patrick says:

                “who are playing all those pirated copies? Bots?”

                If piracy is so easy then why does anyone ever pay for anything?

                “don’t talk to me about TVs and trucks. ”

                It’s an example of how receiving stolen goods is actually more complicated than just “put out your hand and receive what you want”.

                You think this is easy, because you’ve built up the skills and networks that make it easy for you. You seem to not recognize the extent to which those skills and networks enable you to do what you want.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jim Heffman says:

                I haven’t pirated anything since 1998. I pay for stuff.

                I can’t speak for why other people who can pirate stuff choose to pay for it. I choose to pay for it.

                I think it’s easy not just because I *could* do it, but because there are several sources of data that suggest that a lot of people do it. Pretty much by definition that means it’s not a significant barrier, right?

                I mean, if you had a brick and mortar store and for every candy bar you sold between five and eleven of them walked out of the store, you’d probably think your security was insufficient.

                I’m really not sure what point you’re trying to make here.Report

        • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Jim Heffman says:

          The opportunity cost of piracy is more the danger of getting rootkitted, rather than “what it takes to learn how to be a pirate.”Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Patrick says:

        “Problem is, Kazzy, you *do* get to have it. It’s more or less impossible to keep you from having it if you’re willing to pay a small amount of opportunity cost.”

        I’m not sure I follow. Why is it a problem if I do have it after paying for it?Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

          I believe Patrick means the opportunity cost of not doing something else with the fifteen minutes you spent pirating it.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Got it. But just because it is impossible to stop someone from doing something OR they have sacrificed something they are willing to sacrifice that is not in line what the creator is seeking for it doesn’t mean it’s right.

            Otherwise, I could justify murder. Hey, you can’t stop me and I’m willing to do time in the can. Does that make it morally justifiable?Report

            • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Kazzy says:

              I don’t think anyone here disagrees that it’s wrong.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                Maybe, maybe not. I know a lot of people IRL who defend it as not morally wrong. Some even go so far as to say it is the moral course of action based on some really patronizing perceptions of the creators.

                But, you seem to be indicating you do it. Why would you engage in something you know to be morally wrong?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

                Where do I indicate that? (I neither play nor pirate computer games, and my livelihood depends on being able to sell software for money.)Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                My apologies. I misread an earlier comment of yours as indicating your course of action rather than just a particular line of argument you were pursuing.Report

            • Avatar Patrick in reply to Kazzy says:

              I think it’s not quite so cut and dried that I’m willing to call it morally wrong in principle.

              It can cause harm in practice (see example cited here), which makes it morally questionable at best, though, and likely morally wrong in practice.

              But that’s a function of how we compensate creators. It’s a systemic problem, not a moral one.

              The reason why theft is wrong is because you harm another party by taking from them. Nobody thinks you’re stealing if you take something that doesn’t belong to somebody. If there’s a wild fruit tree and I take fruit off of it, that’s totally fine, right? Because nobody in particular has a right to the fruit of that tree.

              Products of the mind aren’t like products of the world. If you take one, you’re not lessening the store of them. There are basically infinitely more of them. So I’m not limiting anyone’s store of goods.

              A goodly portion of the work done to create them wasn’t done by the person who finalized the product; they’re all based on a long development chain of products of the mind that the creator, themselves, acquired from other people. If you think that products of the mind are just like physical ones, then everybody steals from everybody else, in the art world (hell, hip hop’s basic foundation depends on it), and they’re all morally as culpable as pirates themselves. So the question of how much of it they have claim to in a moral sense (as opposed to a legal sense; there’s no question it’s illegal to pirate games or music or whatever) is also not quite so cut and dried.

              I don’t think they’re all morally as culpable as pirates. But I don’t think pirates are necessarily as morally culpable as somebody who steals physical stuff from a house, either.

              My observation is that the transactional model of compensation for art creation is fundamentally flawed because it’s built upon the assumption of scarcity like everything we’ve made since the first guy traded his deer haunch to some gal for a pail of berries.

              This isn’t even *news*. Up until you could make recordings of things, music creators were paid for the act of performance. Storytellers told stories to get meals, and if someone listened to one of their stories and told it to somebody else, nobody would accuse the reteller of stealing.

              In addition it’s also essentially impossible to secure. It’s the wrong tool for the job, and that tool doesn’t even work.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Patrick says:

                My friend who writes comedy doesn’t count himself as a terribly good comedian. When you pay someone to tell the story, it’s far from clear to me that what you’re paying for is merely the content of the story. The majority of what you’re paying for may actually be in how it’s told.Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Kimsie says:

                Ask your friend how comedians feel about people ripping off their material.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jim Heffman says:

                Is this a suggestion that social policy built on feelings is something you generally support? If I offer a social policy that an overwhelming number of people feel is important (and you don’t) are you going to jump straight to “feelings don’t matter”?Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Patrick says:

                “Is this a suggestion that social policy built on feelings is something you generally support?”

                It’s a response to the assertion that nobody cares about the material and it’s all in the delivery; in other words, the claim that the value of creative work is in the performance and not the creation.

                There have been some epic flamewars among comedians over who stole whose material. Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor are the first ones who come to mind, but there are innumerable other examples.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Jim Heffman says:

                Most people who try to rip off someone else’s material FAIL, and fail fucking hard. Because a lot of comedy is about timing (I was just watching some old HBO specials. Man, even the big names sucked hard starting out).Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Jim Heffman says:

                Also, I know exactly what he’d say: “there’s always another joke.”

                Comedians riff off each other all the time.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Patrick says:

                Patrick,

                I don’t necessarily disagree with anything here. But it is when people jump from these positions to the assumption that piracy is all fine and dandy that I start to have an issue. And I start to get really upset when people act as if they have a right to the content.

                There is an “Oatmeal” cartoon that attempts to explain it, but which I find exemplifies the screwed up logic. In it, the user intends to pay for the content (Game of Thrones) but he doesn’t have an HBO subscription and doesn’t want to wait until it is available on Amazon and he can’t access HBOGO so he just pirates it. To me, that’s crap. If you don’t want to pay for HBO, you have to wait for Amazon. If you don’t want to wait for Amazon, you have to subscribe to HBO’s services. If you don’t want to do either, you don’t get to watch GoT.

                Will has rightfully pointed out that copyright entails a certain responsibility to make content available, which I think is a fair point. If copyright protects me, as an artist, I can’t abuse that privilege. But I don’t think that most of the systems of distribution are abuses. Paying for HBO or waiting a few months for wider release don’t seem abusive to me.

                And while I agree that there are problems within the creation and distribution system, piracy does not correct that and that does not permit piracy. If a creator signs away distribution rights and he entered into that contract voluntarily, circumventing that harms his distributor. We might not like it, but, hey, dems the breaks. If we want to improve distribution models, we can. But piracy is not the way to it given all the moral entanglements, which often seem to be after-the-fact justification for self-serving behavior.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to Kazzy says:

                But it is when people jump from these positions to the assumption that piracy is all fine and dandy that I start to have an issue.

                I don’t think that anybody here thinks that piracy is all fine and dandy. I’m not picking on you specifically for this; but this is one of those times when the comment thread is going over well-treaded ground.

                But I don’t think that most of the systems of distribution are abuses.

                I think that most systems of distribution are probably abuses. They’re engineered scarcity, nearly the definition of a constructed monopoly. The entire history of IP law is basically a history of protecting distribution systems, not original creators. I think the whole thing is corrupt at the root, really.

                This makes the defense of the system by content creators really odd to me. “IP laws and artists” is one of those things where I shake my head and wonder what’s wrong with Kansas.

                But (and this is an important “but”) that doesn’t mean that getting on a high horse and going around the system of distribution is acceptable behavior. The right solution to systemic problems isn’t hacking away, willy-nilly, at the portions of the systemic problem you find most problematic, because you get all sorts of unintended consequences throughout the system (and I agree with you, the nature of humans is such that we’ll start doing a lot of post-hoc rationalization that minimizes the actual effect of those harms).Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Patrick says:

                No. Clearly you should strike at the distributors directly.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to Kimsie says:

                You cannot do this without impacting the artists, because we’ve systemically created the marketplace via our IP laws. Attacking the distributors directly will thus make the situation worse, not better.

                Although it would be suitable vengeance on the distributors, we’ve coupled them too tightly with innocent civilians to bomb them, in military parlance. We can’t even claim that the innocents are possibly culpable by proxy because *we’re the ones that put them there*.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick says:

                The entire history of IP law is basically a history of protecting distribution systems, not original creators.

                Questions (not attack, just trying to think through your idea, which I have never thought about before):

                What good would it do to protect the original creator if distribution systems weren’t protected?

                Doesn’t protection of distribution systems at least indirectly protect original creators, by making their product valuable enough for a distributor to pay them for it? We can argue that they aren’t paid enough, or some other abuse of them occurs, but without the protection for distribution systems, how would they manage to do any better than the presumably crappy deal they’re getting now?

                Is there something I’m missing here?

                (By the way, I agree with most of your comments above, and I’m just pulling at a thread that’s really a side issue in the general discussion here, so if you’d rather not distract from the main thread of the discussion, feel free to ignore this. I won’t be too horribly offended.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

                If I may throw something in, it has to do with two things:

                1) how the laws are enforced in practice
                2) the culture created thereby

                Throughout these comments, we are haunted by the ghost of Tony Comstock. A guy who used to make movies but then saw more of them pirated than he sold, realized that the authorities wouldn’t help him, so he stopped making movies and, instead, made a boat.

                (His movies are pretty good, for the record. Without going into too many details, we watched ‘Matt and Khym’ and we can say that we recommend it.)

                The law exists but it’s not enforced. If, however, someone tried to make a Mickey Mouse cartoon? WHAM. The law would come down like a ton of proverbial heavy things.

                Part of the problem is that we live in a world where the law is absolutely insane (what is it now? 90 years past death of the author?) and only enforced on behalf of corporations.

                So because the law is insane, it’s held in contempt in general… which means that such things as the movies of Mr. Comstock are no longer being made because they were pirated and the authorities just don’t care about that sort of thing despite the law applying exactly to this situation.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Hanley says:

                Actually, James, this is a really good question and it’s part of the structural problem of trying to replace the system we have with something that doesn’t suck worse.

                I suspect that the answer is, “as long as providing value to the content creator depends upon engineering scarcity, the system is going to suck”. I don’t think a transactional model works, for IP creation. How you replace that with something else is a whole host of horrible problems.

                It’s complicated a bit more by the fact that innovation is different from creation… making a thing is a bit different from designing a process which is a bit different from creating music which is a bit different from writing a novel which is a bit different from performing music.

                I suspect that the eventually end-goal is something along the lines of the old patronage system with a collection of public funding, private funding via R&D, crowdsourcing, etc.

                Pay artistic people money to make things, put the things under something that looks like a creative commons license after they’re created, encourage those who engage in transdisciplinary creation by creating easy-to-navigate collaboration frameworks.

                We need more of this:

                Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Thanks, Patrick.

                I think we probably have different views about whether it’s wrong that–using the example of the video–the person who designed the image that makes millions of dollars on t-shirts gets only $100. So I’ll just note that, and we can each internally run through the predictable dialogue that would leave each of us utterly convinced of our own position.

                “as long as providing value to the content creator depends upon engineering scarcity, the system is going to suck”.

                That’s a sticky wicket, eh? Scarcity itself is what creates value. Of course the absence of some digital thingamajigger that people would demand if they knew of it is itself a type of scarcity, so there’s latent value there, and the question is how to help the creator capture it, right? I think, anyway.

                Pay artistic people money to make things, put the things under something that looks like a creative commons license after they’re created,

                Hmmmm. The heavy lifting in there is the unstated element of who pays and–in the absence of noticeable scarcity to shape value–how much they should (in an efficiency sense, not an ethical sense) pay to whom.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Hanley says:

                I think we probably have different views about whether it’s wrong that–using the example of the video–the person who designed the image that makes millions of dollars on t-shirts gets only $100. So I’ll just note that, and we can each internally run through the predictable dialogue that would leave each of us utterly convinced of our own position.

                To be clear, I’m not quite all as “that’s not fair” as John is, in that video. Mostly because I’m not convinced that I understand what “fair” is, though. 🙂

                There’s latent value there, and the question is how to help the creator capture it, right? I think, anyway.

                Yes, that’s the problem. And I freely confess that I don’t have any stellar ideas, it’s a wicked problem.

                I note that there’s another issue there, though. Latent value becomes real value when the person who would want the thing (if they knew about it) comes to know about it. To the extent that the distributor or creator is involved, they have some right to the real value. But – and this is kind of a big but – when it comes to products of the mind, there are a lot of latent value customers out there who become aware of the thing through neither the creator nor the distributor but through a consumer.

                And also completely absent from our model is a way to compensate people who aren’t distributors who assist the creators in turning latent value into real value. Some content creators are good at working on this, some aren’t. Some good examples on the bad side: “here, fans, make cool things that make other people into fans, but only until I figure out a way to monetize it myself, and then screw you”.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                there are a lot of latent value customers out there who become aware of the thing through neither the creator nor the distributor but through a consumer.

                And producers/distributors play on our need for group identity by persuading us to pay them for the opportunity to advertise to other potential consumers–“Hey, look at my t-shirt. I like Marron Five! You should check them out!” 😉

                I’m not actually joking about that much. It’s a very weird thing to me (which isn’t to claim I’m entirely innocent of being that sucker myself).Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Hanley says:

                This is one of those things where perfect information would probably dramatically change thinks much more in the advantage of the consumer. It gives me hope for possible good outcomes of ubiquitous tracking, fairly implemented.

                Can you imagine if people were directly compensated for their contribution to communal behavior that had economic outcomes? Micro-advertising being truly compensated?

                I mean, I buy and read books on the advice of a small subset of people. If they actually got a representative share for recommending the book?

                Now, that’s a long ways off, because information isn’t free…Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to James Hanley says:

                James,
                I’m pretty sure that “herding” behavior is why anime companies don’t prosecute fansubbers. They make enough money off “cool posters” (or blow up dolls) that they dont’ really need to worry if people buy their actual product.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to James Hanley says:

                Patrick,
                this webfiction may not be your cup of tea. But they are actually trying for a “perfect information” sort of thing (give you more story if you advert for ’em). addergoole.comReport

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Patrick says:

                Patrick,

                I am indeed railing against broader arguments regarding piracy. And I got the distinct, but ultimately wrong, impression that folks were promoting piracy here.

                Personally, I see very few circumstances where one can really justify piracy. It might not be as bad as I make it out to be, but it is rarely, if ever, right. Certainly not with the frequency that most people do it. I know a lot of people who say, “Why pay for cable? I’ll just download everything for free on the internet.” These are people who *would* pay for cable if they couldn’t pirate and have a long history of having done so. In those circumstances, there absolutely exist people who are harmed.

                And I’m not sure that all distribution mechanisms create artificial scarcity. Most distributors would love nothing more than for EVERYONE to buy the content they are selling. But they do want them to buy it at a pre-determined price. Value is not only determined by scarcity, but also by demand or want. If everyone wants to watch Game of Thrones because it’s just that good and 90% of the people who want to watch it are willing to fork out $15/month to do so, I have no problem with HBO charging that much and do not think they’ve made it artificially scarce for the 10% of people who can’t or won’t pay that.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to Kazzy says:

                Most distributors would love nothing more than for EVERYONE to buy the content they are selling. But they do want them to buy it at a pre-determined price.

                This is actually broken. Sellers should not want to sell at a pre-determined price. Sellers should want to sell to maximize profit.

                When your cost of distribution is effectively zero, that means something very, very different when your cost of distribution is N. Then you should sell to everyone who will buy, at the price they’re willing to pay. Because refusal to do so won’t maximize your profit (but of course it’s difficult to determine how much people are willing to pay.)

                Value is not only determined by scarcity, but also by demand or want.

                Sure.

                But if I value Game of Thrones at $30, and HBO is willing to sell GoT at $30, that’s fine. If I value Game of Thrones at $60, and HBO is willing to sell GoT at $30, I make out like a bandit.

                But if I value Game of Thrones at $5, HBO refusing to take my money is HBO refusing to take $5 for… nothing. They’re turning down money they otherwise would get, at no additional cost to them.

                This is ass-backwards irrational behavior. This is the market we have. That’s a sign that something is wrong with it.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Kazzy says:

                If every videogame I played cost $100, I wouldn’t play. I’d grab a book from the library.
                I don’t play videogames that aren’t already at “profitable.” (well, except for Anachronox. I’d pay money for a sequel!)

                And there have been shows that I would have paid a pretty penny to finish (Carnivale). But they’d already been canceled by the time I started to watch.

                [insert standard disclaimer: I do not pirate. I do not ask where my friends obtain their entertainment, nor do I especially care. Besides, half the entertainment I consume happens beside one of the content creators… And a good deal of the rest could be considered “review copies” — or demos. I know a few guys got better jobs because I played their game.]Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

                Patrick,

                First, my use of “pre-determined price” is sloppy. I don’t mean to imply that they set a price and stick to it no matter what. I just mean that there IS a price which is known to both buyer and seller.

                And the costs of distribution are not zero. Distributors pay the actors. They pay for the rights. They have employees. Perhaps it does not cost them any additional money to sell 1001 units than it does to sell 1000, but it does cost them money to sell that first unit. The costs are not zero.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to Kazzy says:

                That’s not a cost of distribution, Kazzy. That’s a cost of acquisition/production.

                It costs you money to buy the thing to distribute. It doesn’t cost you anything to distribute it. Well, granted, this is a choice. If HBO wanted zero cost distribution of Game of Thrones, they could put an official seed up as a torrent and they wouldn’t even have to pay for a huge bank of servers for people to download it. The technology is there.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

                And I think the idea that distributors do nothing but rake money in (which I know you’re not necessarily positing but again is a common assumption of pro-piracy folks) is really flawed. GoT wouldn’t exist without someone to make it happen. The writer, actors, directors, producers, and distributors are all integral parts of that process. Take out the distributors and you’re performing one-acts at the community theater. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you won’t make millions.Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Patrick says:

                “Nobody thinks you’re stealing if you take something that doesn’t belong to somebody. If there’s a wild fruit tree and I take fruit off of it, that’s totally fine, right? Because nobody in particular has a right to the fruit of that tree.

                Products of the mind aren’t like products of the world. If you take one, you’re not lessening the store of them. There are basically infinitely more of them. So I’m not limiting anyone’s store of goods.”

                Okay, we got “random finding isn’t creating”, “copying IP doesn’t deprive you of goods”, IP Thread BINGO!

                “A goodly portion of the work done to create them wasn’t done by the person who finalized the product”

                This is true of anything in existence. See “I, Pencil”.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jim Heffman says:

                Dude, if you have an argument to make, make it.

                If you’re just here to lob spitballs at what other people are saying, without ponying up anything of your own to get shot at, I have better things to do.

                Go read this and the preceding four posts before you accuse me of not showing my work, all right?Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Patrick says:

                Yes, I remember when you made those posts, which were long bloviations filled with pulled-from-the-air numbers, and the whole thing was based on a childish misunderstanding of what IP law is actually protecting. (hint: IP law protects the same thing that an FAA gate auction protects.)Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jim Heffman says:

                And we’re done here.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

      What are you, a kindergarten teacher?Report

  9. Cracked.com [WARNING: This site is a bigger time-sink than TV Tropes] had an interesting article on ways developers (including those of Game Dev Story) inserted code to check for pirated version and mess with the pirates. Pretty fun and a good way to keep the games from being stolen.Report