Nintendo Doesn't Blame Piracy for Poor Software Sales

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Nintendo Doesn't Blame Piracy for Poor Software Sales

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Some games don't sell all that well on the Wii and DS, but Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata doesn't think pirates are to blame.

When a game doesn't sell well, these days it seems like two very familiar scapegoats get trotted out time and time again: Poor sales are often blamed on either widespread piracy or the used-game market. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, however, doesn't agree. In an investor call, the Nintendo boss said that a quality game would beat out piracy every single time.

"I do not think we should attribute bad software sales solely to piracy," said Iwata, almost certainly referring to the lackluster performance of third-party titles on the Wii and DS. "Even with piracy, as long as we can create products which can attract attention from many consumers and which can greatly entertain them, that software can make it to the number one position of the hit software sales chart."

"So, we would like to consider it from both perspectives simultaneously. It is true there is always the influence of piracy, but it is important for us to increase the number of our consumers who are willing to shell out their money to purchase our products."

In other words: Yes, piracy is a problem, but an excellent game will win over customers willing to plunk down their cash. Given the popularity of Pokemon Black & White in Japan - on the notoriously piracy-vulnerable DS, no less - it's not hard to see his point. Not that it stopped more than a million people from downloading New Super Mario Bros. Wii last year, but it still sold like hotcakes.

This isn't to say that Iwata doesn't think Nintendo shouldn't do a thing about piracy, especially with its upcoming 3DS handheld. "Of course, as a responsibility of the platform holder, we will tackle piracy. For example, when we launch new hardware, such as Nintendo 3DS, it is a good opportunity to beef up the countermeasures, and we are actually working on that now." From what we know, he means it, too.

Not that it won't be cracked within months at the latest, but eh, at least it's worth a try, right?

(Via Eurogamer)

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Nothing like being a little proactive with the problem. In most situations pointing a finger at one thing simply leaves a whole lot of other problems unattended.

Iwata knows what he's talking about.

Third party Nintendo games doth often suck now.

At least one executive gets it. Piracy would, in my opinion diminish if every game released was 5 star quality, with great after release support from developers.

Aye. Saying that "piracy is the main reason why games don't sell" is basically a free-pass at a shoddy attempt at an extra dime.

Some might say that the worst insult one can inflict upon a problem or a foe is to ignore it. Though it is unsurprising that those who focus upon the monetary side of it all can't see such things and instead keep quoting their numbers of 'lost' sales. At least someone though wants to look past just the numbers so...thank goodness that someone's bothered to look a bit deeper into this issue rather than resort to the standard rethoric.

But given how many anti-piracy measures thus far have always 'almost succeeded' (and, just by the way, cost their developers god-knows how much cash and bad press only to have the game cracked later on anyway and thus negate any returns they might've hoped for from those anti-piracy investments), to me it really has always presented itself as the most logical option.

Furthermore, pirates are certainly not as uniform a group as most demonize them out to be and I'm quite sure that for certain games even other pirates go 'dude...you pirated *that* awesome game and didn't buy it afterwards? Come the hell on! Now you're just spoiled.'

In short, the best way to reign in piracy is to make the pirates feel like ponces. And that has always best been done, not by going into rage mode against them, but by making games so good that they can't deny that they're being dicks for not paying for something as awesome as that. And the only way to not feel like a dick is to indeed...just buy the game. :)

Err, just how rampant -is- console piracy? I never really got that, as whenever it comes up people mainly tend to talk about torrents and file sharing websites, mostly in the realm of the PC.

I mean, I was aware that it happens, but I thought that used games were a bigger dint against consoles rather than piracy because of the relative difficulty involved compared to PC piracy. Then again, maybe I'm just out of the know, I did have a friend once offer to hook me up with the entire PSP library. (I didn't take him up on it by the by.)

It's nice to know there is someone who knows something rather than blaming everything on piracy.

Loonerinoes:
Some might say that the worst insult one can inflict upon a problem or a foe is to ignore it. Though it is unsurprising that those who focus upon the monetary side of it all can't see such things and instead keep quoting their numbers of 'lost' sales.

But given how many anti-piracy measures thus far have always 'almost succeeded' (and, just by the way, cost their developers god-knows how much cash and bad press only to have the game cracked later on anyway and thus negate any returns they might've hoped for from those anti-piracy investments), to me it really has always presented itself as the most logical option.

Furthermore, pirates are certainly not as uniform a group as most demonize them out to be and I'm quite sure that for certain games even other pirates go 'dude...you pirated *that* awesome game and didn't buy it afterwards? Come the hell on! Now you're just spoiled.'

In short, the best way to reign in piracy is to make the pirates feel like ponces. And that has always best been done, not by going into rage mode against them, but by making games so good that they can't deny that they're being dicks for not paying for something as awesome as that. And the only way to not feel like a dick is to indeed...just buy the game. :)

Any DRM software that does prevent the game from being pirated for the first week does correlate to increased sales, how much varies from game to game, but the fact is a given. If they can keep the game from being cracked for a month that's all they really need to catch most of the crowd that would have bought the game if they couldn't download it.

Now how much the game actually makes back (if it even recovers the cost of the DRM software) from these DRM measures is anyone's guess, but if the measures always cost them ridiculous amounts of money and they never saw even a small return I doubt they would still be bothering.

I didn't know piracy was too big of a problem on most consoles, though I've heard handhelds do have a bit of a problem with it. Overall it's nothing compared to PC pirating, mainly because PC pirating is a lot easier most the time.

But back on topic, at least he's admitting that the poor sales aren't mainly due to pirates. It's due to the fact that 9/10 Wii/DS games aren't very good, with a good 6-7/10 of them being absolutely horrible. That's not anyone's fault but the ones who made it, and sometimes it's not even their fault (I'm looking at you, movie game tie-ins). That's not to say piracy ISN'T a problem, but that doesn't mean that it's the only reason for the low sales. Hell, for consoles, I think used sales hurt worse then pirates. But again, bad games just don't sell well for the most part (though there are some bad games that sell well, don't get me wrong).

Dear John,

why are you guys posting information from the September 29th Nintendo Investors Q&A piecemeal? Why not just post all relevant information in one article and be done with it? Not trying to be rude, just curious.

Sincerily,

Frank.....ergh, Tom Phoenix

On another note, it is really gratifying to see that Iwata isn't using piracy and used game sales as a scapegoat. That said, I am concerned that Nintendo's anti-piracy measures for the 3DS will include region-locking it....beacuse that wouldn't help curtail piracy at all. Quite the contrary, it would just increase the number of people developing piracy methods, since import gamers are willing to do anything to enjoy the games they like.

Don't get me wrong. I love Iwata and his calm, reasonable outlook on the industry, but could he just once dig down deep and give us one of those crazy, tyrannical Yamauchi rants, just for old time's sake?

They would be the first.

Ubisoft blamed piracy because their shitty Prince of Persia games didn't sell well. It's a convenient scapegoat.

Dioxide20:
At least one executive gets it. Piracy would, in my opinion diminish if every game released was 5 star quality, with great after release support from developers.

This, one thing I've learn that is somone wants to go as far as to steal something, there's nothing you can do to prevent it besides changing their mind, or locking them up.

I don't pirate.
I have friends that pirate, and I don't like it.

I refused to Pokemon battle my friend because he plays on an R4. I'm the best of my friends (I've never had a legitimate full battle loss), and I would have destroyed him, but I refuse to play with pirates.

There is really nothing I can do about it BUT refuse to play with pirates.

pirate gamers have been around since video games began. That's just how it works. they don't want to pay for their entertainment and just want it for free.

What I've told them is that instead of wasting their time playing pirated video games they should spend that time getting a job so they can buy the games legit.

I've played a game off of an R4 (because I wanted to see what games he had), and I just felt dirty... It wasn't right.

Dioxide20:
At least one executive gets it. Piracy would, in my opinion diminish if every game released was 5 star quality, with great after release support from developers.

I doubt even that would stop it. In your propesed scenario, every game would be worth owning, instead of a relatively small number of them. Honestly, I think piracy would increase in this situation.

Riddle me this. Why is the most child friendly and "toy-ish" games company being the adult of this issue?

hittite:
Riddle me this. Why is the most child friendly and "toy-ish" games company being the adult of this issue?

Because underneath that 'child friendly' exterior, they're business-men? XD.
And very clever ones at that, who actually seem to have some idea of what they're talking about, instead of just making weird excuses for everything they do.

But in all seriousness, it's nice to see someone who doesn't immediately blame piracy for everything that goes wrong.

Even so, DRM measures hurt me a lot;
I'm not a pirate (I used to be, when I was younger, but then I realised what I was doing), but I do like hardware hacking, and creating unique software for some of these devices;

A process which is only possible through the same means that pirates use to play illegal software.
Unfortunately, that means anti-piracy measures also stop me doing interesting things with the hardware itself...

The 3DS sounds like it'd be great for augmented reality projects - But since trying to hack it would be so annoying, and I'm hardly rich enough to own two of them, I'll probably never be able to do anything with it.
So yeah. Anti-piracy measures are still annoying anyway.

hittite:
Riddle me this. Why is the most child friendly and "toy-ish" games company being the adult of this issue?

Because they've been in the game longer than the rest and understand the way the market works since they have been there from the dawn of piracy until today. They've seen how the trends go and how games will still sell huge amounts if they are good games. I'm willing to bet the number of pirates who never spend a penny on games are about 1/20 of the gaming public, the key is to give those 19/20 a game worth buying.

hah the main reason that Iwata said that is because he knows that like every other console most of the releases have been to poor for people to pirate them (ref Ubisoft POP piracy rant) i have been a gamer for most of my life (26 years and counting) and have a large group of gamer friends, the nearest place that i know of for pirated games is malayasia (3000 miles away) piracy is not in my opinion a big issue on consoles the biggest hinderance to these companies sales is poor game after terrible game after reskinned, re-release of game.
Heres a free tip Game devs; make something new and interesting and your sales will go up.

Certian people's response to this:
So if the game is good enough, it'll sell well despite piracy?

WHAT IS THIS STRANGE ALIEN LOGIC, AND WHY DOES IT CONFUSE ME SO?!
/sarcasm

IAS (in all seriousness), yes, piracy is a problem, but it's a minor problem. Most companies have made a mountain out of a molehill. I mean not all consoles have PSP-level piracy. Good to see someone understands quality beats piracy.

A high-ranking video game company employee with a reasonable opinion on lackluster game sales and piracy... how did this eldritch creature find its way to civilized society?

Dioxide20:
At least one executive gets it. Piracy would, in my opinion diminish if every game released was 5 star quality, with great after release support from developers.

Not putting malware on games would help too.

Piracy is a problem, Quality games sell well, what next? The moon is in outer space?

Seriously though who wants to pirate a DS game, there all affordable, and the good ones are usually worth your $20-40.

He talks a good talk. But every dollar spent on anti-piracy measures is a dollar that isn't being spent in game development.

John Funk:
Nintendo Doesn't Blame Piracy for Poor Software Sales

Not that it won't be cracked within months at the latest, but eh, at least it's worth a try, right?

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Not sure about this, see PS3... well, if they manage to make it pirate-free for as much time as sony has, it'll be very successfull...

You see what Iwata said? That is so true. Piracy is a problem that will never go away no matter how much they try to solve the problem and if the game is truly good, people will by it anyway. If companies want less piracy they should make better games and maybe even drop the damn price! Piracy is embrassed due to the cost of games so how about dropping the price on some off the game? You want proof that it's the costs fault? Look at the sales on XBLA! They sell tonnes of games there every month and it's because they're cheap.

If you give people a reason to buy, they will buy. Most people are willing to pay for good games. I also think a lot of the games that get pirated are games people wouldn't have paid money for and therefore would never have played anyways. Of course there are some that pirate everything, but I don't believe that piracy that as wide spread of a problem some company's and groups try to make it out to be.

GothmogII:
Err, just how rampant -is- console piracy? I never really got that, as whenever it comes up people mainly tend to talk about torrents and file sharing websites, mostly in the realm of the PC.

I mean, I was aware that it happens, but I thought that used games were a bigger dint against consoles rather than piracy because of the relative difficulty involved compared to PC piracy. Then again, maybe I'm just out of the know, I did have a friend once offer to hook me up with the entire PSP library. (I didn't take him up on it by the by.)

in the west it isnt that bad but in asia... well you can get any console game you want in china despite the fact you cant actually buy the consoles there

Finally someone with a brain! A pirate will pay for a game they like, assuming it is good enough, and assuming they aren't some idiot who just goes "hurr durp, free gamez!" and anyone who acts like that doesn't deserve to be called a pirate.

Piracy isn't all bad. Especially when it enables:

1. Try before you buy
2. Backup of games

You could argue that renting is the same as trying before you buy, but in my mind renting is just as bad as piracy. Only a fragment of the income earned on rented games ever goes to the content maker. Afterwards, the game is sold as used.

The backup argument stands for itself. You're allowed to make backups of your own games, but content makers make it extremely hard. Pirates to the rescue, helping the little guy.

Sure, some people pirate and never buy. But most these people were never buyers in the first place. It's a minority who would buy a game, if they couldn't pirate it. Most who cannot pirate something, to avoid paying for it, simply won't bother with it at all.

Thus it makes sense for companies to focus on their actual CUSTOMERS, instead of this crazy idea that piracy somehow matters in any significant way.

People only have a certain amount of disposable income. It would be insanity to assume that eliminating the ability to pirate suddenly would turn the Asian pirate customers into paying customers. Most people who pirate simply cannot afford it. The same goes for a lot of western pirates too, maybe with the exception of kids living at home, mooching off their parents, who pirate because it's "cool" :)

Finally a developer isnt making excuses for them not wanting to get off thier lazy ass to do some actual work for thier money or lack of sales. Ive always loved nintendo for its respect for the gaming community.

A quality game is like anything people are drawn to: They are more inclined to support it. There will always be pirates and those who attempt to cheat the system, but there are not always games and other media that more and more people can justify buying full-price. I find that I am often more compelled to simply buy more games/movies used or rent them instead of purchasing for retail. But if I know that a game will provide an experience that is long lasting and well-made, I consider its value to be higher and would rather support more of that.

Given all of the shovelware thrown out for game systems, it is harder to sway the masses with those titles as they hold them in low regard or value.

Dioxide20:
At least one executive gets it. Piracy would, in my opinion diminish if every game released was 5 star quality, with great after release support from developers.

Even if it didn't diminish, sales would be higher and there would be little need to worry. So either way, it's a winner.

Finally, someone who gets it! It pisses me off how many people think pirates are to blame for every time they get low sales. I mean sure, sales will drop a little due to piracy, because the pirates aren't going to buy the thing if they don't like it, but most of them will buy it if they do like it, so it won't be too bad as long as the game is good. And really, if you made a crappy enough game that you're counting on sales from people who buy it only to find out they hate it, you don't deserve that money in the first place.

To be perfectly fair, that is a very... eastern take on the whole piracy issue. The idea quality will essentially shame or make a person feel good enough about the product to lay down legal tender for a legal copy is very naive.

In possession of a pirated copy of an absolutely fantastic game, most "western" people will not think, "damn, I should pay money for this. The people who made this truly deserve it!" Conversely, these people wouldn't be customers anyway. They'd never buy a game. They may get one or two as gifts, but they'll typically be angered by this, as they'll feel they've been given something worthless.

But its not like a proverbial instantaneous and recursive end to piracy would turn these people into consumers either.

So... go nintendo. I guess.

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