Angry Birds dev says piracy 'may not be a bad thing'

Rovio CEO Mikael Hed suggests games could learn from "the rather terrible ways" the music industry tried to fight piracy.

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While most publishers are pondering ways to stamp out piracy, the creators of Angry Birds are considering whether the theft of their games and intellectual property is all that bad to begin with. According to The Guardian, Rovio CEO Mikael Hed told an audience at the Midem conference in Cannes yesterday that despite the proliferation of bogus Angry Birds merchandise and pirated apps, the developer believes it might ultimately benefit from the illicit activities.

The studio behind Angry Birds isn't crying fowl over piracy.

"Piracy may not be a bad thing," Hed said. "It can get us more business at the end of the day."

Hed noted that the pirated materials may help attract more fans to the franchise, who could then spend money on legitimate Angry Birds offerings. He also said that the company didn't want to repeat the mistakes of other industries.

"We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy," Hed said, adding, "We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans."

Piracy has been a hot-button topic in the gaming industry recently with the fight over legislation like SOPA and PIPA. Those bills stalled after popular outcry, but the issue is one US lawmakers have pledged to return to sooner rather than later.

Discussion

113 comments
emmanuel123
emmanuel123

Use the disadvantage & make it your advantage

guildclaws
guildclaws

Wait, wait, wait just a minute, People pirated a game that only cost 1.00$???

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@Daemoroth Its been nice talking to you, it was a good debate even if we ended up with mixed opinions, and im also glad it didn't end in insults :) see you around. Happy gaming.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@RageSet Well, most of that's true, my only argument is that whether or not it's stealing is irrelevant. What matters is whether or not the individual in question is harming the company. Say you live in Iran, where many games simply aren't available, would it be WRONG of you to get the games you want to play via piracy? I don't think so. That company couldn't benefit from your purchase one way or the other, so no one loses.

irishdude199210
irishdude199210

I'm sure if someone is a big fan of a band but have only downloaded the music, they'll probably buy the music too. Same could be potentially true with games.

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@GamerLegend10, fair enough, I'm happy to agree to disagree. I do understand where you're coming from, but I don't agree in making exceptions as gaming is not a right. Thanks for the strong debate (And good arguments), glad it didn't devolve into insults as heavy debates so often do. :) And I do agree, I hate the music industry especially. "Normal" people work for 40 years to retirement, and some talentless pretty-face makes ONE hit single and they're in a position to retire..? And then they whine about the money they don't get when people copy their music!? I don't support music piracy either, but I'm not so sympathetic to their cause, primarily because that's not their only means of income. They have concerts, merchandise, commercial endorsements, sponsors. A whole smorgasbord of alternative means of generating an income, and they whine about one, sitting in their houses that are so grand they have an MTV show for them. @mike300zxt, you are aware of the fact that you're talking about a CEO of a company that makes a $1 game over 6 months, on a super casual platform on which piracy is hardly a problem, who wants to tell AAA devs, with hundreds of employees and who spend years creating a product, that piracy isn't a big deal?

mike300zxt
mike300zxt

Good for you Rovio! Let the fans help grow your popularity and your sales. Some companies get so bent out of shape over $ that would have never crossed their desks anyways, but you guys see how that activity actually financially benefits you. Yes there are lines to be draw, but this shows how new models can benefit fans (gamers), developers, and even 3rd party businesses.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@nik0la2 ah, ok...often counterfeiting has criminal links, but that seems fair enough (lol i have been criticizing people for making assumptions and then i go and do it.)...i understand that we all need to make a living, even if that sometimes means breaking laws.

nik0la2
nik0la2

@GamerLegend10 Back in those thays the `criminal` i bought games from was an innocent old lady trying to make some money. Piracy was tolerated for a long while. The games were on top of the flea market counters for every one to see. Later when the authorities found out a lot of dealers disappeared while the rest just hid their goods under the counter and gave you a catalog to browse to see whats new.On top they had legal movies and TV show to make them seem legit. And of course downloading games with a fax modem was just out of the question. I remember going with my parents to the flea market on weekends. The counters with games were always crowded on Saturday and Sunday morning. In the end they didn't get rich. One CD cost 150 RSD, Two cost 300 RSD and when DVDs came along they were 250 RSD. (modern rates 1 Euro=105 RSD, 1$=80RSD)

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

I hate when big names start complaining about piracy, im talking about famous singers and actors etc. They are hugely rich already, so why should they complain? Anyone who thinks that money is the most important part of their work is not a true artist...afterall its not as if they are struggling to survive with all the money they do earn, yet they want to deprive those who dont have the money to spare from being able to experience their art. If someone creates something with gaining money as the main purpose then it is not art, but rather a product, and they are not an artist but a business man/woman.

RageSet
RageSet

@parrot_of_adun It is technically correct that a digital product cannot be "stolen", but the actual theft comes into play with the product is "used". When you pay for a game (physical or digital), you are essentially buying a nonexclusive license to use it. We can argue about the legal semantics of licenses till we're blue in the face, but the fact remains that theft occurs when you download a game without payment or permission. I believe in the open-source concept of software, where essential software should be free, but I think there should be limitations. Video games are a LUXURY, as in nonessential. They are entertainment set pieces. If you can't afford them, there are other, low cost, entertainment options for people to enjoy. If you can afford a TV, console or PC, and electricity but not the actual games...you have a problem.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

nik0la2
nik0la2

@sknight175216 That's sort of true. For over 10 years I've been buying pirated games and movies for dirt cheap at the flea market until I got a high speed internet connection. In the last year I bought a few games I really liked while `trying` them out. My two main reason for using pirated software are a)I live in Serbia where few retailers bother to ship their products (Steam solved this) and b) It's not worth it. Unless it's a game with multiplayer where I won't be able to connect, the experience will be identical.

GeneralTrouble
GeneralTrouble

"We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans." This is the most important thing he's said. The music & film industry are still trying to stop piracy with heavy handed tactics instead of getting down to the root cause and adjusting their businesses accordingly to suit the consumer. They spend millions on measures to stop them losing millions in profits yet never get anywhere. They now have digital downloads at a fraction of the cost of producing discs yet still charge through the nose. And as for protecting the artists/developers etc? Well aren't they here for our benefit rather than the other way round? Without us poor Joe's buying the product there wouldn't be a music/film/game industry.

sknight175216
sknight175216

If you really think about it. Most people I know who pirate software, whether it's music, a game, or a movie, do it because they can't afford it. Because it's software and not hardware the company isn't actually losing money at all since software is basically intangible. Individuals who pirate because they are poor can't buy the product to begin with and so in most cases they can never experience the product. When they pirate it they experience it, can become a fan, and when they do get money can support the company by buying their products because they know they like them. That's just my perspective. I think of it as the equivalent of going to a friends house to play Mass Effect 2, liking it (even though you didn't pay for it) and then buying Mass Effect 3. Something like that ha ha. I'm not saying I condone stealing, I just feel like software isn't something you can stop from being spread around without inhibiting rights etc. So I just accept it I guess. Sorry I'm a realist. :P

nik0la2
nik0la2

Of course it's not a bad thing! I wouldn't have played a single game if it wasn't for piracy!

hereatlast89
hereatlast89

I don't say it's a bad thing, but Why would he care?? It's not like his games are costing anybody $59 rather than 99 cents.

Decessus
Decessus

@chingchow48 I think you are confusing my posts with somebody else's. I haven't defended piracy in any of my responses.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@Brakkyn Its not as simply as being either good or bad...it depends on the individual circumstance as well as the persons reasons for pirating and then their intentions on what they are going to do with that pirated material. Only once all of that has been taken into consideration can anyone make a judgement of whether it is acceptable or not. And those who support piracy are not bad either, it is a difference of opinion. Don't be so ignorant.

Brakkyn
Brakkyn

Piracy = bad. People who support piracy = worse.

DeFiLeDTitan
DeFiLeDTitan

Don't know if anyone said this or not, but basically Angry Birds is just a rip off of a 1000 games just like it. I had no idea what angry birds was 2 months ago, but as soon as I saw how it worked, I said "Hey, that's looks exactly like Crush the Castle." Now who's the pirate? Even if it is "legal" piracy. That's why he's not complaining

LittleRoys1
LittleRoys1

First, he knows it's futile to fight against piracy. Second, his game is cheap ass hell. He wouldn't says that if his game cost millions of dollars to make.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@Daemoroth It is impossibly to know how many people pirate for understandable reasons, and how many do it just to get away with free products...the only point i wanted to make is that we should not generalize everyone into the same category, when in fact there are many different motives, intentions and individual circumstances which should also be considered. I understand where you are coming from with the whole job and university thing, i still disagree, but i get it and think you have made a good argument. Overall i think we will have to agree to disagree, but it has been interesting talking with you, all i ask is that you take my opinion into consideration as i will do with yours.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@chingchow48 Your argument is completely made up of huge assumptions and made up information.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@chingchow48 Piracy is NOT the same as stealing...i think @parrot_of_adun gave a better explanation for this than my last attempt. And i do not agree that games are more expensive due to piracy, it just makes no sense, surely that would only give more reason for people to pirate. "esspecially with the gaming market shrinking over the past 2 years" This is completely false, actually its not as if the industry is deprived of money at all...in fact its biggest entertainment industry in the world and is growing every day at a very fast rate. "Also you know that "Terms of Agreement" when installing you've probably never read, ya pirating is mentioned a few times in that, so you should probably read that and learn some things about the laws. " Are you seriously saying that is shouldn't even talk about piracy? we do have the freedom of speech you know, or perhaps we should just be stripped of all our rights? Besides i have already stated that i couldn't care less about pathetic laws such as this one, they are meaningless nonsense to me. I believe you are also suggesting that i pirate, which is another false assumption...i dont not pirate, i am simply being considerate to those who do and acknowledging the various circumstances which may lead someone to do so (rather than sitting back and ignorantly assuming everyone who pirates is a thief, which is a ridiculous and unfair way of thinking).

Darnasian
Darnasian

@dxdevilex0 I totally agree...considering his games are cheap and he has few people to pay for creating them he doesn't mind a few pirates...because for him it doesn't make any difference... But for big developers this is a big time theft of money... He will change his opinion if he will go into the big retail market...mobile & indie games are affordable...that's why he has such a big mouth to talk about this issue

jamyskis
jamyskis

@dxdevilex0: You miss the point. The reason that Angry Birds has been so successful is because it is a decent game and it is cheap to make. There is absolutely no reason for games to cost tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to make. A good six-figure digit of those games' budgets are spent on elaborate marketing campaigns, overpaid celebrity voice actors and, in some cases, licensing other IP. The indie scene is a prominent reminder that when you scrape away all of this unneeded crap, you can make a game on a reasonable budget.

dxdevilex0
dxdevilex0

This is what they say when their games are cheap,but not when they start making full games that require years of developing and high amounts of budget.

jamyskis
jamyskis

The guy is speaking sense. I probably wouldn't have touched Angry Birds with a barge pole had it not been available on the Android Market for free, and since then I've bought it for PSN, which my girlfriend has since played to death and bought two of the plush toys.

Darnasian
Darnasian

This dude is ultimately idiot... He is in the mobile and indie games market where games even if they are pirated it doesn't make a difference for the developer Also his games cost 99 cents and people afford to buy this But this stupid hypocrite doesn't think that a BS game that costs 99 cents is nowhere near a 60 $ game buying it new... So yeah he talks all mighty about how piracy isn't "that a bad thing"...is jut the reason why SOPA PIPA & ACTA were made in the first place...and yeah for him piracy isn't a bad thing because his games are cheap and people can waste 99 cents on one...but it's total stupidity to say piracy isn't "a bad thing" for those developers that make real games...considering more people pirate their products then people that actually pirate this guys games... Man I've seen stupid people but this guy beats them all...comparing a crappy 22kb game with a real retail game...well...yeah....he has like 20 people working on his game...think of the major companies like Blizzard how many thousands or more people they have working on their products....much more talented people that cost more It's all about the money...

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@ chingchow48 - sale. Which is to say that they never had that sale to begin with. When someone pirates a game, there is no telling whether or not they would have bought it, people just assume they would on the basis that they like it enough to play it at all, but that's an illogical line of thinking. What if they don't have the money? What if they live in a country where the game isn't legally distributed (this actually accounts for a huge portion of piracy statistics)? There is no evidence to suggest that piracy equals lost sales. It's just a baseless assumption. Publishers just think of it in the most irrational way possible: They can't stand the idea of someone getting their product for free, even if it doesn't hurt their business, they can't wrap their heads around the idea that data can be duplicated (depriving it's original owner of nothing), and they hate the fact that you simply can't take an idea away from someone. They want a product that MUST be transferred and cannot be copied, and it just doesn't exist.

Lhomity
Lhomity

People are pirating Angry Birds at all? Isn't it like, 99 cents?

amirzaim
amirzaim

Looks like the CEO doesn't care about their piracy issues, but at least piracy can able this popular game attract as many fans that are lived in the world. Unlike the other game devs that are keep whining over a bad sales because of the piracy issues and then forcing game fans to pay too much just for playing a game that is you can finish for less than hours.

commando1992
commando1992

A CEO who isn't crying about lost profits? Madness!

snxx
snxx

Finally a CEO who understands the possibilities and ways of this century!

chingchow48
chingchow48

@GamerLegend10 You're arguement is completely flawed, they would try it out and then buy it? Why would they go out and buy it when they have a completely free version.you are depriving the devolper of the money it deserves for making a game you want to play, stop defending pirates they give gamers, esspecially legitimate PC gamers a bad name. Also the arguement he is making in the article is completely flawed, sure it may get your games name in the conscious of the public and you may gain brand recongnition from it, but if someone has already pirated one of you're games they sure as hell aren't gonna go out and legitimatly buy a different version, so yes pirating is theft, its theft of the money that the devolpers deserve, esspecially with the gaming market shrinking over the past 2 years, another reason why prices for video games are always so expensive, because they have to make up for all the people who have STOLEN THEIR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, the pirate also has no right to the game he has pirated also making it illegal. I can't believe the community on Gamespot is even thumbing you up, its a disgrace to GAMERS EVERYWHERE... Also you know that "Terms of Agreement" when installing you've probably never read, ya pirating is mentioned a few times in that, so you should probably read that and learn some things about the laws.

chingchow48
chingchow48

@Decessus actually you are depriving the devolper of the money it deserves for making a game you want to play, stop defending pirates they give gamers, esspecially legitimate PC gamers a bad name. Also the arguement he is making in the article is completely flawed, sure it may get your games name in the conscious of the public and you may gain brand recongnition from it, but if someone has already pirated one of you're games they sure as hell aren't gonna go out and legitimatly buy a different version, so yes pirating is theft, its theft of the money that the devolpers deserve, esspecially with the gaming market shrinking over the past 2 years, another reason why prices for video games are always so expensive, because they have to make up for all the people who have STOLEN THEIR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, the pirate also has no right to the game he has pirated also making it illegal. But i do see you are defending pirates and also attacking them in your posts below. but Pirating is Theft!

RageSet
RageSet

@Gelugon_baat A thief will use any excuse to steal. If developers offered full trials, pirates will claim the "game wasn't worth the $50 to $60". The excuses that pirates use run the gamut, including the classic "you can't steal a digital file". What content creators (not just game developers) need to do is extend the shelf life of their products. I'm not talking about just DLC, but free bonuses that tell the actual paying consumers, we're happy you've paid for our work. In the gaming industry, only a few developers do this, like Epic Games and Valve. It seems to work well for them, as they often sell tons of copies.

Erebus
Erebus

Game companies did/are learning. It's the TV and movie companies that need to learn a thing or two. It used to be that pirated games were better than packaged games. No disc check to fumble with, no keys to enter, and no storage media to to clutter your closet/desk. Now with services such as Steam and Origin, piracy is where it belongs -- in the ghetto.

RockySquirrel
RockySquirrel

Every time you play a pirated copy, you make Jesus cry...

pszone
pszone

This creator nuts or on drugs. And sound the creator werid i real life.

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

@Daemoroth - There's a catch. None of these two sides will stop. But abusive DRM is obviously contributing to piracy. The games that are most pirated are usually those with bad DRM. Not that i support piracy, but it certainly sends a message to developers. Ubisoft for example created an offline option for Assassins Creed's singleplayer.

poopinpat
poopinpat

it gets them more business because their apps are so damn cheap they're hard to justify pirating in the first place! not quite the same with full AAA titles on PC and consoles unless they are focused on online multiplayer. I've "demoed" a couple multiplayer games before I bought them just to make sure they are half decent and not just hype. and full agreement with daemoroth with not buying or pirating games with shoddy DRM *cough* ubisoft......letting those game tank without paying them any mind is the best course of action if we want to see devs do anything good about it.

bub166
bub166

I can see it now, the headlines of tomorrow: "Call of Duty devs say blatant stealing may not be a bad thing."

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@Henrique2324, the actual thing to do is not to go near the game in question, not to just pirate it. I am DYING to get my hands on Anno 2070, you have no idea. But I'm not going to buy it with that shoddy DRM, and I'm not going to pirate it either. Suits are businessmen, and most lack any knowledge of how a gamer's mind works. To them, if you're part of the "pirate" statistic, it means they need stronger DRM, not that they need to stop using it. If you want them to stop using it, then let it sink. If nobody buys it, and nobody pirates it, who can they blame other than themselves?

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@GamerLegend10, I agree, just trying it out I could live with, sadly that is a very idealistic view. Currently so many pirates claim that's what they do, yet so few actually follow through. Problem is it's not controlled - when you're doing a test drive, the dealer/owner is sitting there next to you, and in some cases they dictate the route you should take (In my home country at least, for security reasons so you don't lead them into a staged hijacking). Consumption is irrelevant since paying for something isn't determined by whether it's a physical (Or expendable) product. Experience and knowledge is merely your accumulated information and your personal interpretation thereof. Go ahead and create a proposal for your employer without applying any of your personal information (i.e. just randomly type out letters till it's 30 pages long), and see if they'll accept it. Took the same amount of effort physically, but without the application of your knowledge it's completely worthless. People in the same job, doing the same thing, get paid higher salaries if they have more experience. They both have access to Google and all the information they could need to do the same job, but that is irrelevant if you don't have the personal information of how to apply it properly. Why do you think the higher you go up the chain, the less the physical work becomes, and the more it relies totally on your knowledge?

Decessus
Decessus

@GamerLegend10 It doesn't matter if you purchase the product afterwards or not. If the creator has not given permission for their work to be copied, then you are disrespecting the effort that the person went through to create that product. As the creator, that person has the right to determine how his creation is distributed. All of your arguments for why a person would pirate something don't matter because it is not your decision to make.

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

Piracy is a good thing for games that hurt paying customers. Like Ubisoft, and their goddamn DRM.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

'@Daemoroth "If you have no intention of paying for it, you don't have the right to use it. It's a product that other people's livelihoods depend on. Pay for it, or don't use it, simple as that." If you dont know if you like it or not then you might not want to buy it...therefor no sale. But if you try it out through piracy and find out that you like it then you might decide to purchase it...therefore sale. But i agree if there is no chance you will pay for it then you shouldn't pirate it. (not that it would make a difference to the artist either way)

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

Mikael Hed had better be careful, the anti-piracy league might take him outside and hang him for such blasphemy!