Goodbye Galaxy Games vs. Renegade Kid in Piracy Debate

Over the weekend, Jools Watsham of Renegade Kid wrote a blog post about piracy on the 3DS. Apparently, some hackers have finally opened up the system, and he’s concerned about this opening pathways for hackers to obtain and distribute illegal games.  He claims that piracy on the DS crippled the DS retail market, specifically referring to his company’s games Dementium: The Ward and Dementium II—evidently the second game sold far fewer copies than the first, and Watsham’s reaction is that low sales could have been caused by piracy:

“We’ll never know why that was truly so, but many seem to believe that piracy had a lot to do with it.”

And as a result, Watsham said he’s keeping an eye on the 3DS, and is prepared to stop making games for the system depending on how badly piracy becomes an issue.

Because statements like this tend to be a little controversial, naturally there was a response, and thankfully from another respected figure in the industry—Hugo Smits, game designer at Goodbye Galaxy Games.

Smits sees the piracy argument an easy scapegoat when a developer’s game doesn’t sell as well as they’d like, using Watsham’s complaints about Dementium II as an example:

“There are tons of other reasons that seem just as legit as piracy. For one, the game wasn’t as widely available (at least I haven’t seen any copy on store shelves). Secondly, it came late into the Nintendo DS life cycle as opposed to the first game. At this point the Nintendo DS established itself as a casual gaming handheld, yet the game was aimed at a more mature and hardcore public.”

Smits also mentions price and quality as detractors for the buying public, especially when it comes to lower-income European nations (noting Watsham’s mentioning of piracy crippling the retail market in Europe):

“An average game upon release costs between 40 and 50 euro over here. Now this is ‘expensive’ but doable where I live, in the Netherlands … however, the game prices stay the same even in countries that have a minimum salary of around 300 euro. How many games can be expected to sell in a country where the average game takes up around 16-20% of a family’s income?”

The post also mentions how, while Dementium II was a great game that was loved by those who played it, the DS’s market was burdened by “shovelware and quick cash-in”—namely referring to those branded games haphazardly put together and thrown on shelves with so many bugs and bad gameplay that parents become wary of spending their cash on any game, let alone one with a title they’ve never heard of, from a company they’ve never heard of.

And while Smits ultimately doesn’t condone piracy in his post, he maintains a broad view of the issue, saying that there are many wider issues playing a role in it. That said, there hasn’t really been an issue of 3DS piracy as of yet (thanks to Nintendo’s frequent system updates), so at the moment we’re all waiting to see how it plays out.


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Author: Dave View all posts by
Dave will tell you that he likes to play video games, this is in fact a lie. What he really likes to do is buy games, and leaving them sitting unopened on his shelf. He is a monster.

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