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back to article Angry Birds boss: Piracy helps us 'get more business'

Music industry chiefs must have been pleased to hear that the maker of pig-squishing iPhone game Angry Birds has learned from its mistakes in combating piracy. Contrasting the music industry's ignore-then-crush approach to piracy to his own softly-softly approach with Angry Birds, Rovio chief Mikael Hed told assembled music …

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FAIL

ETITLEDOESNOTMATCHBODY

please correct title

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Another Big Cheese gets a clue. Let's hope a trend develops.

I'm reminded of this article by the makers of Ink, my favourite fim:

http://www.jaminwinans.com/2009/11/a-360-degree-view-of-internet-piracy/

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No clue.

The reason Rovio like it is because it helps "Angry Birds". What helps Angry Birds does not help the software market as a whole. Angry Birds makes money from merchandising, most software does not. Piracy targets popular items, so establishes them further. It supports Rovio's dominant market position, it harms everyone else.

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fuck me.......

Finally somebody who subscribes to the argument that piracy can lead to actual sales and not every pirate item had is a lost sale.

Music/film companies must hate him right now.

Quite a refreshing attitude.......

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Grateful Dead

From DRMipedia: Grateful Dead - A band that went bankrupt and disappeared in the early 70's after they encouraged their fans to copy and swap recording of the bands work.

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I do hope I missed a <sarcasm> tag somewhere (and I can't be arsed right now to look up the "RDMipedia" you mention.

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The same Grateful Dead whom I saw live in 1989? They sounded rather fine when I saw them and seemed to rather enjoy playing concerts in massive arenas.

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I'm always pleased with how the angry birds twitter deals with fanmade stuff. People make angry birds everything, something most other media companies would shoot down, but Rovio highlight and congratulate homegrown use of their IP.

It also helps that the games are incredibly good value, and the updates just keep adding ridiculous amounts of levels. Thankfully EA only bought their publisher and nothing more, 'cos Rovio are doing almost everything right at the minute.

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It's not piracy per se

It's not piracy per se that makes AB so popular, but there some are similar effects between piracy and the AB model -

1) It's cheap

Piracy is generally free, but even buying the AB app is pocket change.

2) It's so darn easy to get a hold of

Piracy is sometimes that much easier (and quicker) to get hold of something than buying it thru proper channels. AB (altho this holds true for all mobile apps) is just as easy (if not easier) to get from the "proper" channel than to pirate it - fire up your phones app store, a few clicks, enter your pass, fire the thing up.

If music/video was cheap enough that ppl thought "meh, what's £x? May as well get it" they'd get less profit per item, but would likely increase total sales substantially (compare 'berry app prices and sales with Apple app for example - who the hell pays £5 for a phone app?!)

Try before you buy would likely help too - taster apps with a few levels to get you into the game go a long way to giving ppl a reason to buy your app.

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Paris Hilton

It's changing

On a slightly related note (games being pocket change), the number of comments I see on game/apps reviews rating it "1 star as it's not worth the price" when they're talking about a 59p game is incredible, occasionally you see it applied to free games too where they may not be great, but still provide at least 10 minutes of entertainment... for nothing. Fav example at the moment is the modernised Dizzy game.

I only mention this as I'm not always sure that people will stick with the "m'eh, what's £x?" argument once they acclimatise to the new price point - people will forever demand a bargain and a cheaper-than-what-they-currently-pay product. Be an interesting (but likely unworkable) experiment to launch an abysmal game on the App Stores with a negative price, i.e. you're paid to download it and see the results...

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What's this? Level headedness?

Not a phone gamer, but this makes me seriously consider buying AB just to give them the support.

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Don't do it. I've done nothing else for weeks!

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Linux

Don't do it

Ditto for Plants vs Zombies. Also available from the Apple Crack Store.

Non-angry bird as icon.

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Piracy is just the symptom of bad customer service: http://www.shockandahh.com/2012/01/piracy-is-symptom-not-disease.html

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Angry Birds has never (to my knowledge) been a game you go into a shop and buy. At least not initially.

It has been an online distributed game on app stores. Which just shows that the media industry needs to embrace online more in a more sensible fairer way.

These days who needs TV stations and Sky? why can't I just go on the website of a TV series production company and pay to view a TV show?

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Anonymous Coward

Why you can't just visit a TV company and pay...

Because you fundamentally misunderstand the mechanics of broadcast media - the purpose of commercial media is not to deliver content to viewers, but to deliver viewers to advertisers. The content is simply a means to an end. Any TV production company that broke ranks and allowed potential viewers to bypass the broadcast/advert model would be smacked down fast - not to mention that the money invested in the programming often comes from the distributors and hence also comes with exclusivity clauses.

If you want to watch online-only content with no upfront investment from broadcast distributors, visit YouTube.

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YouTube is free. I'm willing to pay (a reasonable amount of) money. I can go to a store and get a boxed set of my favorite TV show, and I don't get advertisement that way - so, content makers are actually willing to sell stuff without advertisement. The problem is that I need to physically go to the store or wait several days for Amazon (or whatever) to deliver it, and I can't get single episodes, and I can't get it on the same day as it is broadcast, and the price is very high because it's a niche product. Legit video-on-demand services typically still have one or more of these problems - for, frankly, no good reason at all.

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Wasnt it TIVO who in the distant past came up with technology that allowed you to set your PVR to just miss the adverts out? IIRC it never came out in their products as they were taken to court by the TV companies/advertisers arguing that it would ruin their business.

TIVO IIRC lost the case

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Linux

Not Tivo.

It was not Tivo that enabled commercial skip. It was Replay TV and they got slapped down hard for it.

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Anonymous Coward

mmmm

what about sky. Their box allows you to fast forward through adds last time I checked. The anytime service even cuts them out for you. RESULT. Treating customers like customers, and not like scum that will pirate your material = WIN.

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Boffin

Why you should be able to just visit a TV company and pay...

AC, I think you're the one fundamentally misunderstanding the mechanics. It would be fairly trivial for a TV company to broadcast shows with embedded ads - in fact many already do just that. I can watch catch-up shows as often as I like on Comcast, and they stream with sometimes unskippable ads. Also many cable TV studios have websites dedicated to cable subscribers where they can watch online.

A pair of eyes should be worth the same price whether they are staring at a TV or staring at a Monitor (or in this day and age they can be both - only the delivery mechanism changes). If your advertising model values internet-eyes as less money than cable/satellite/aerial eyes, then you're advertising model needs revisiting.

I've often imagined how the world would be if Big Media had embraced P2P instead of trying to stomp it out. If they had been first to release a TV show torrent for download - tagged a couple of sponsored adverts on the beginning and the middle - then used seed count for their viewing numbers, they might have made a nice tidy profit on the sidelines and curbed much of the piracy they can now no longer control.

I'm sure some will argue that someone else might strip the file of ads and re-upload a clean version - but this would be countered by the greater intertia of fans who want to see asap releases (who wouldn't bother going to the trouble to download again just a for a few ads stripped). A lot of wasted opportunities to embrace fans and open new streams of revenue.

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RTFC

"pay to view a TV show"

is the clue that plugs the revenue gap.

if programme makers can finance their content without relying on ad revenue, then we wouldnt have ads in programs, and a whole new dynamic of story arcs would be released without there being the obligatory minor cliffhangers & reveals every 12 minutes used to hammock the add breaks.

also fyi - try watching sky (a commercial tv station) content on catchup. no ads. so how does that fit with your model? - they own the content, and the channel, and take the ad revenue, so why no ads?

And another thing!!!

ad makers have already shot their wad as far as this goes by insisting on about 20db boost of the audio on their content over the 'bait' programming content. Result ;

watch everything on catchup/tivo and skip the ads completely. starting to watch 10 minutes after the programme starts will do just fine.

channel hop for a couple of minutes. maybe finding something else equally\more interesting on one of the other squillion channels aailable to me. losing viewers to the content provider.

mute the fucker and go make a coffee. not a bad solution as the caffene keeps you watching for hours and hours.

either way their (ad) content is not reaching its target audience.

which all amounts to what i have suspected all along that tv advertising is bollocks. i may like the ad but no way is it going to change my mind even 1 iota about the company paying for the ad. and i cant off hand think of even 1 person that i know who is stupid enought to do that.

there is some cool marketing going on, but it's by the people selling ad space on tv, not the idiots buying it.

simples!

(case in point my car insurance was sold to me by iggy pop, not a cute meerkat in sight)

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was with you until the last bit. Advertisers pay millions for adverts because they work. On everyone. It is a proven psychological effect which works both at conscious and subconscious levels and is pretty much unavoidable.

What car do you drive? What chocolate do you buy most often? What coffee do you drink? What bread do you eat?

People who don't think they're affected by adverts remind me of the quote : "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist"

You buy the products whos advertising worked the best on you. Simples.

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Facepalm

the devil

err... hate to shatter your willing suspension of disbelief, but the devil doesn't exist, all part of that outragous jewish folk tale about a snake and an apple im afraid. all smoke and mirrors.

Although it does speak to your high opinion on the efficacy of advertising.

Just because millions are spent on it does not mean that anything is achieved in the process - the cost is added to the products so the ad is at worst cost neutral to the company. AFAIK all metrics of advertising efficacy consist of measuements on how much it cost to put the ad infront of how many pairs of eyes, or how carefully selected said eyes were (the guys about to buy into facebook will get burned by this in time). I have never seen a study that said;

"last month we saturation advertised 'new whizzo' detergent and shifted 10 million units, this month we did no advertising and only shifted 2 million units'

once the market realise the existence of new whizzo they will use it or not - irrespective of advertising, it's either good or cheap, or smells particularly nice or it goes out of business

ads for new produsts/services/promotions which carry a basic 'news'element i can see a case for. But far and away the significant factors in deciding one product or service over another will be things like; price, value, perfomance, and i dunno... cache (like for i products eg) not the warm fuzzy feeling engendered in a 30 second feature about a meerkat

FYI

Never seen an ad for the car i drive.

the brand of coffee i drink, likewise is not advertised in mainstream media,

I dont eat chocolate anymore, but i used to prefer hadmade belgan fresh cream chocolates made at a local chocolatier - with an annual ad buy of £0.

and bread.... who cares its just bread,

as the (fictional) little boy pointed out - the emperor has no clothes.

QED

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Just one problem

Some countries have structured their IP laws in such a way that if you turn a blind eye, then you risk losing control of the IP.

This could mean that angry birds goes into the public domain, which is probably not a desired situation.

The laws really need overhauled.

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Anonymous Coward

Right

IANAL, so which countries are those then, where they risk that problem .... ?

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I believe Chris is referring to patents, were you have to defend them or risk losing them.

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Anonymous Coward

Not just patents

If you don't stop people using your name generically as a description of something you'll find that you can't use your name as a trade mark any more, in UK law at lest. Google, Hoover, Portakabin et al are all quite aggressive in defending their names.

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Names...

"If you don't stop people using your name generically"

No, it's if *you* use it [your mark] generically. You don't have to run around the world suing people for doing stuff like using the word sky to refer to TV generally.

If Sky themselves did then yes their tradmark would be open to challenge.

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Not the same cup of tea

Angry birds is/was a fun and original concept that was interesting to play. It was free on Android and payable on iStore, even the wife bought and she is definately not a hard core gamer.

The major difference being that

A : It was original.

B : It was amusing.

C: It was free or very cheap.

D: it was available on almost all platforms.

E : I didnt feel cheated.

In my humble opinion the music industry is suffering because it has almost nothing substantial left to offer. They are churning out "pop stars", they are not producing musicians. Pop Stars with no apparent musical talent, their talent lies in their capacity to simply "produce" what the Music Company dictates.

Music companies dictate who they want to be succesfull but that dictatorship has no long lasting effect and thereby is a poor source of income. Rovio didn't/doesnt need to dictate, it is simply a good product at a good price.

The golden era is coming to an end for the major film and music companies. It is now time for the small and independants to surface and allow us access to where the real music/talent lies.

The unfortunate side is that if some music wasn't pirated we would never even know that it existed because the majors do not publically make it available. "They" have deemed it to be less interesting, read *profitable".

RIP....Simon Cowell....

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Anonymous Coward

I agree with most of what you say but 'original'? No, the concept of the game has been around for ages, there are plenty of flash versions out there that pre-date Angry Birds by years, they don't use birds as the projectiles but they're esentially the same game.

Still doesn't stop me playing new levels as they come out and long live Rovio (as long as their Boss keeps the same attitude)

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Scorched Earth

And even earlier games (VGABomb)

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No, not original. I played a game in the early 80s that pretty much used the same dynamics as Angry Birds- Only you had to hand input your direction and speed.

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Anonymous Coward

hmmm

Quite a lot of bollocks in there.

Who are the acts which we wouldn't know exist if they hadn't been pirated, because the majors didn't make them publicly available? How did that work, did someone sneak into their house and record them, then stick them on KaZaa?

It doesn't matter who the record companies push. You buy who you like the sound of. You can easily find people playing interesting music if you look around a little in legal ways.

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Devil

It was like the internet but analog.

> Who are the acts which we wouldn't know exist if they hadn't been pirated, because the majors didn't make them publicly available?

The entire New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Same goes for the entire Thrash genre too. Lars was a filthy pirate back in the day.

Some consumers are smart enough to ask for what they want. Quite often they have to handle the distribution end of it too, at least initially. Or some club owner might be the pirate.

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Pirate

Piracy: Who it helps and who it harms

Piracy of Windows, Office, Photoshop, AutoCad and so forth helps Microsoft, Adobe and Autodesk, and harms vendors of inexpensive, competing applications.

Why would someone pay even £20 for a photo editor, when they can get Adobe Photoshop for nothing and "It's what the industry uses" ? And if they ever get a job which requires them to edit photographs, then they have already learned to use Adobe Photoshop in the meantime.

Had Adobe locked down Photoshop more tightly to prevent piracy, then it's likely that Fred in the Shed, no longer able to get a pirate copy of Adobe Photoshop, would gave gone out and bought something else instead. So all those pirate copies of Photoshop are hardly lost sales for Adobe (though they might well be lost sales for Adobe's competitors. Not that that is even a market that any sane person would enter; it's very hard to compete with free -- unless you have some other selling point, such as the ability to run on the user's choice of hardware, or an appeal to some notion of "purity" [whether that be "I'm not breaking the law", "I'm not giving money to baby-poisoning multinational corporations" or "I know exactly what is running on my hardware"]). It's also likely that a whole army of Freds in a whole bunch of Sheds, deprived of free lessons in how to use Adobe Photoshop, might have ended up persuading their future employers that something other than Adobe Photoshop might satisfy their needs, and for a more modest price to boot -- in other words, lost sales for Adobe.

Yes, the big software publishers really do have it all ways up. They get to b!+(h about how they are getting ripped off, aid and abet the people who rip them off, and deprive their competitors of market share by virtue of their product getting ripped off. And although Cheap Photo Editor 2012 by Mom+Pop Software was ultimately killed off by piracy, nobody is ever going to believe that; because no goon squad dawn raid ever turned up a single pirate copy of it.

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Photoshop

"Had Adobe locked down Photoshop more tightly to prevent piracy, then it's likely that Fred in the Shed, no longer able to get a pirate copy of Adobe Photoshop, would gave gone out and bought something else instead."

As far as I'm concerned they have already locked it in too tightly for me - last time I checked (and that was a few years ago) they were locking the 'shop to individual machine. I doubt much has changed for the better since...

I prefer to use Mediachance's products which are small, powerful and you just get an unlock code once and don't have to worry if you need to move it from one machine to another. OK there may not be layers support but it can use 'shops plugins.

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Ah, but...

The Photoshop strategy has moved on. When was the last time you bought a camera or scanner that didn't have a copy of Photoshop Elements bundled with it? As they now have another vector to catch the newbie, they don't need piracy any more.

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Linux

The last time

I honestly don't know whether or not my last digital camera came with a bundled copy of "Photoshop Elements"; as I have neither hardware capable of running it nor, in the absence of Source Code, any inclination to do so.

(Yeah, it's that purity thing I was talking about.)

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WTF?

@ A J Stiles

Do you have the source code for your digital camera's OS?

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Just an excuse...

"Some countries have structured their IP laws in such a way that if you turn a blind eye, then you risk losing control of the IP."

Some companies maintian an iron grip over their so-called IP, up to and including suing fans.. and want to use this kind of law as an excuse to divert blame away from themselves by saying they are required to do this. They are not.

These types of laws do have a purpose.. Firstly, to prevent an unscrupulous company from sitting on something for years, and by inaction allowing people to either assume this item is public domain or that they tactily approve use of it.. .then popping up after years and suing everyone. Secondly, to prevent a company from accumulating so much IP they can't even keep track of it all, so they didn't know they even had the rights to something. Companies do both, but at their peril.

In this case, they are NOT really turning a blind eye. In the case fan items, as Craig 12 says, they are interacting with their fans. They aren't charging a licensing fee, but they are effectively maintaing control by approving of the items produced.. since they are in close contact, they could say "no" to some or all items down the road. As for the Asian counterfeiters, they say it's not economical to go sue each and every one of them.. but at least this means they have stated their disapproval for this counterfeiting. Both avoid the main peril under the law of saying nothing at all, losing control by letting everyone assume tacit approval. In one case they give explicit approval, in the other they give explicit disapproval.

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@ A J Stiles

"no longer able to get a pirate copy of Adobe Photoshop, would gave gone out and bought something else instead. So all those pirate copies of Photoshop are hardly lost sales for Adobe "

So if they can't get it for free they won't take it at all. That *is* a sale lost to piracy, lackwit. What's that? They could at least match other peoples' prices? Why, if people will pay the higher price? That's just business, my friend. Mom&Pop couldn't get a break into the market? Tough. Business again. Uncompetitive companies deserve to go under, as the sentiment towards, for example ISPs goes on these pages. If customers don't shop around they deserve to pay what they're willing to for what they want (whether it's what they need, the most economical choice or whatever.) Anr what's with the Fred in the Shed crap? Some kind of smug condescension? Pathetic.

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WTF?

"That *is* a sale lost to piracy"

Bullshit. How could Adobe lose a sale that would never have happened?

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The Gimp. That is all.

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mccp got here first with the essential argument, but let me expand a little by re-using an argument I made a little while back.

Consider your favourite purveyor of cakes and sweets. You visit, look around at a particular cake and think that it would be rather tasty. Then you notice the price and think that, whilst it looks tasty, it's just too expensive. You realise that you could make it yourself so you go home and do just that, trying to make it look like the cake you saw. You're quite pleased with the result.

A month later you're arrested for cake piracy because you caused the cake shop to lose a sale by not buying the cake and making your own instead. You're fined for the potential losses the cake shop suffered in addition, as you shared the cake with some friends.

Ok the analogy isn't perfect but it should demonstrate the complete idiocy of the "lost sales" argument. Lost sales are a fallacy: if the means of duplication didn't exist, those sales still wouldn't have been made, because the price is beyond the means of people who resort to piracy. If cake ingredients were banned then the cake still wouldn't be sold because it's priced at a level the market can't bear - and if it's priced so high nobody buys it, then it's actually worthless.

The solution is actually quite simple: reduce the price. They probably don't have to go too low to generate much greater sales. They might even turn a bigger profit.

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Did you make a cake, or did you make the SAME cake?

There's a difference between making a cake, and making an exact copy of the cake you saw; and between making a cake for yourself and making cakes for anyone who wants them.

"Lost sales are a fallacy"

You're right, but not in the way you intend. Pointing to "lost sales" is a fallacious argument BECAUSE YOU STILL GOT THE THING. In a legal transaction you would have compensated the owner in some way to obtain the product. You did not compensate the owner, and yet you got the product anyway. "Oh but I wouldn't even have got it if I had to pay!" Well, A: see previous, and B: you're saying you got the full-ride version of Photoshop just to faff around with it?

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Anything but!

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Lost sales isn't a fallacy at all. I am quite sure there are people out there who pirate content which they could well afford to pay for, and would pay for if they couldn't easily get it for free.

There are also people who spend as much as they are prepared to on CDs by artists they really like, but don't see anything wrong pirating other things (eg a pop song which is catchy for the first few listens but you know is going to annoy the hell out of you when the novelty wears off.)

The fallacy is to equate every single pirate download to a lost sale at full price. Especially when it is some obsessive collector who has a million pounds worth of illegal downloads. No he hasn't cost the record company £100,000s, that's more money than he will ever have in his sad life.

Every film starts in the cinema where it costs a fortune to see it once, and makes its way onto dvd, rental, premium TV and bargain bin dvd . We all choose how much we want to pay to watch the film. For most people, for most films, we just wait until it is free on TV. The cost of piracy has to be seen in those terms - it isn't nothing, but it isn't as much as the producers make out.

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FAIL

Way to miss the point

The point I was making was, if the casual user unburdened by excessive clue (sorry you didn't like the cute "Fred in the Shed" moniker) can't get a pirated copy of Photoshop for free, they are more likely to go out and pay for *something else*, for less than what Adobe want for Photoshop. So while a pirated copy of Photoshop probably does represent a lost sale, it's probably not a lost sale for Adobe, but for *one of their competitors*. Which includes The GIMP -- which can be had for nothing, legally.

The thing everybody seems to forget is that, for most people, "Not breaking the law" is actually a very weak selling point -- at least when the chances of prosecution are small enough. Big software publishers know this; which is why they tolerate (to the point where it borders on encouragement) rampant piracy among casual users, as long as businesses pay for their share. Because at least those Freds are going to end up knowing how to use *their* product, and not some competitor's product. And the few that end up working in the industry, will have their new employers buy what they already know.

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