GDC 2007: id Software CEO Talks Piracy

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M Nabil

Yellow Belt

Todd Hollenshead, id Software CEO, yesterday spoke about piracy and its impact on the gaming world

Todd Hollenshead, CEO of id Software, has had to deal with PC game piracy multiple times during his tenure at id. In fact, Hollenshead mentioned that many of the projects the id Software team worked on ended up being stolen -- Quake, Quake II, Quake III Arena, Doom 3 Alpha. The U.S. computer and video game software industry grew to $7.4 billion in 2006, with an estimated loss of $2-to-3 billion lost from piracy -- the number does not include piracy that occurs over the Internet.

During a speech entitled "The Videogame Piracy Problem: Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest," Hollenshead described how difficult the battle against piracy has been in the past. The effects of piracy cause much deeper issues than casual gamers seem to understand, both for gamers and developers. Game developers during this years Game Developer Conference, Hollenshead mentioned how much time and additional resources are wasted to try and stop pirated content from being shared around the world.

A problem the video game industry faces is how to safely stop piracy without causing problems for gamers. Hollenshead listed several solutions to PC game piracy, but none are perfect: titles requiring an Internet connection for authentication, subscription-based games, shifting focus towards console games instead of PC games.

An impact that gamers will feel from piracy is that companies which traditionally worked on PC titles are thinking about branching towards consoles. "We have changed our focus," Hollenshead said during the session. Because piracy for consoles is no where near as rampant compared to the PC, companies are beginning to enter contracts for console development.

The industry has several ways they are attempting to combat piracy. Physical protection on the disc is one of the more popular current solutions that is being used. Another option is online "guerrilla" warfare, aimed mainly towards warez sites. The DMCA -- notices of take down and/or or infringement lawsuits -- can also temporarily help.

U.S. government involvement, better protection for games, and attempting to educate gamers about piracy are several of the ways that developers hope to limit piracy in the future. Because many people still don't see piracy as a tremendous pirates, and pirates are sometimes thought of as icons, little can be done until gamers are taught that piracy is wrong.
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