Software pirates are the bane to the developer’s existence, particularly for the PC game maker. Valve Software, makers of the popular Half-Life series and Steam online games service, have a different view on pirates.
Most anyone who makes his or her living off the sales of software could understandably see pirates as vermin, but surprisingly Valve Software sees those who steal software in a different light.
Valve is one of PC gaming’s strongest supporters, not only designing and releasing all its games with the PC in mind, but also creating arguably the best digital delivery platform of the industry.
In a time when developers and publishers are all looking to consoles for the bulk of sales, Valve keeps the faith in the PC. And rather than seeing those who download PC games illegally as pure filth, Valve views them as a potential opportunity, according to comments from the Game Business Law summit.
"There's a big business feeling that there's piracy," said Jason Holtman, who serves as director of business development and legal affairs at Valve. He then adds, "Pirates are underserved customers. "When you think about it that way, you think, 'Oh my gosh, I can do some interesting things and make some interesting money off of it.'"
Holtman gave the example that gamers outside of traditional game publisher territories as some being “underserved.” Gamers in Russia, especially those who follow PC games intently, often have no legitimate option of purchasing a game on the same day as their U.S. or even western European counterparts.
Due to publisher agreements, or perhaps just indifference, publishers sometimes would bring the game to Russia six months following the first release. By that time, even pirated copies of the games would be old news. Valve, on the other hand, chooses to release its games day-and-date in Russia.
"We found that our piracy rates dropped off significantly," Holtman said, leading for him to conclude that the PC gaming market still has "tons of undiscovered customers."