Activation …

John over at gameguiders made this article about activations, picking up similar themes to what Shamus Young doesn’t like about activation:

And I think this drives, for me, something that gaming companies miss about stopping piracy:

The easiest way to stop piracy is to make it so that the legitimate version of the game is better than the pirated version.

There are tons of ways to do this.  You can add little knick-knacks and collectibles to the boxed version of the game so that people want to buy the real game.  You can make getting it more convenient (if you go with a downloadable version of the game).  You can add nice printed manuals that are very convenient for users (and hey, whatever happened to keyboard overlays anyway) and add background story.  You can add downloadable content that you can only get if you officially register or activate online.  And other ways that I can’t think of at the moment.

But things like activations (that might run out) or intensely painful copy protection systems make the legitimate version more annoying don’t help.  Sure, if they actually stopped piracy they’d be great, but I think that pretty much everyone understands by now that that isn’t going to happen.  And so you annoy legitimate users to try to stop illegitimate ones, but all that does is drive legitimate users into become pirates since it makes the annoyances of piracy much less than the annoyances of the legitimate version.

Give me a reason to buy a legitimate version, and don’t punish me for buying a legitimate version.  That’s all I ask.

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