Tag Archives: Software Piracy

Facebook Ad for a Pirate EverQuest Server

Or private server, if you prefer.

I am not sure which is technically more correct, but when in doubt I always go with “pirate” in a headline when I have a choice.

There is, and has been for almost a decade, a private EverQuest server community out there based on an open source EverQuest server emulator called EQEmu.

I have no idea what SOE thinks of this.

Certainly, if this project were emulating World of Warcraft, lawyers would have been involved almost right away.  And Sony itself is no stranger to litigation to protect its interests, real and perceived, so I find it interesting that these servers have been running for as long as they have been.

But I have to imagine that part of the implied truce between the emulator community and SOE, if such a thing can be said to exist, is that the private server community keep a low profile.

So I was a bit surprised to see this ad on Facebook.

Okay, it is just a Facebook ad and not, say, a billboard planted on the 805 at the Miramar Rd. exit.

No, not this at all

But it is an ad.  And it is no doubt a targeted ad set to display to those who have “liked” EverQuest on Facebook.

Certainly the Shards of Dalaya picked an opportune time, and not on accident I am sure, because right about now anybody who likes EverQuest sure isn’t playing EverQuest… at least not with SOE.

And even Sony’s legal department is probably tied up with more pressing issues.  There are a lot of government entities out there who are demanding answers from Sony right now.  They will be busy for months to come.

So maybe this is a canny move by a private server to get a few more players.

But that assumes that my theory about a need to keep a low profile is true.

Does anybody know what SOE’s stance is towards these servers, the people who run them, and those who choose to play on them?

Piracy vs. Opportunity

There are always multiple ways of looking at a problem.  The entertainment software industry sees the used game market, embodied by GameStop, as a bad thing.  As THQ’s Cory Ledesma put it in an interview over at CVG:

We hope people understand that when the game’s bought used we get cheated

And Penny Arcade got in on the act and made the “used games = piracy” association.

I wrote 1,500 words on the subject, but tossed them because in my mind it all comes down to a simple choice.

You can say “screw you” to those who purchase the used version of your game, as THQ did in that interview:

I don’t think we really care whether used game buyers are upset because new game buyers get everything. So if used game buyers are upset they don’t get the online feature set I don’t really have much sympathy for them.

Or you can figure out how you can turn them into a customer.  Here is somebody who has an interest in your game.  Getting that far is most of the battle.

Couldn’t you just tell them that if they want to access the online content they need to enter the code that came with the box, but if that code has been used or missing, they will have to purchase a new code for, say, $10.

$10 seems like enough to keep from rewarding the market from buying used.

Sure, you’d want to tinker a bit with what people got.  Maybe the original code gave you a little something extra, some sign that you didn’t buy used.  But you would want the second-hand purchaser to have access to all the functionality.

But if you work that out, it makes that person your customer in fact.  You made a sale that had very little overhead, the customer having provided his own box, disk, and manual.  It gives your marketing department another name and email address.  And I am going to guess that a certain percentage of such buyers will feel invested enough to buy your next game new.

It isn’t that I think THQ’s point of view is not legitimate.  They do have a point.

But is their response necessarily the best one?