Team Meat's stance on combating piracy: build trust and positive experiences
Team Meat's take on piracy is just as blunt as its bloody platformer Super Meat Boy, with the two-man team stating in 2011 that it "doesn't #%@$ing care" about gamers stealing its game. Now, co-creator Tommy Refenes says in a tumblr post that a more worthwhile alternative to intrusive DRM systems is to forge trust with gamers and deliver a solid, reliable product. I know, that's just crazy talk.
"As a forward-thinking developer who exists in the present, I realize and accept that a pirated copy of a digital game does not equate to money being taken out of my pocket," Refenes begins.
Refenes believes it's impossible for a publisher to absolutely claim that the implementation of DRM made a game more profitable. "There is no way to calculate this because it is not possible to quantify the intentions of a person," he says. "Also, there’s no way of accurately determining which customers would have stolen the game had there not been DRM." He continues: "I do believe people are less likely to pirate your software if the software is easy to buy, easy to run, and does what is advertised. You can’t force a person to buy your software no more than you can prevent a person from stealing it."
Refenes boils the issue down to building trust between a company and its customers—if a developer or publisher shows consistency with its works and treats everyone fairly, he says, people will want to buy and show support with their wallets. "People need to care about your employees and your company's well being," he writes. "There is no better way to achieve that than making sure what you put out there is the best you can do and you treat your customers with respect."
And yes, Refenes does bring up SimCity as an example of What Not To Do in the case of customer relations and product quality, believing the waves of refund requests EA received during the game's messy launch are "much more dangerous" than piracy itself to the company's bottom line.
"When EA/Maxis create their next new game, how many people are going to be excited about it and talking positively about it?" he asks. "I imagine that the poison of their current SimCity launch is going to seep into the thoughts of potential customers and be a point of speculation like, 'Is it going to be another SimCity launch?'"
Read the rest of Refenes' comments on his tumblr page.