Jeff Atwood catches an interesting connection. He quotes a blog comment from one of the developers of 2D Boy's World of Goo. In it the developer says their software is pirated by about 90% of users which Mr. Atwood connects to a 1976 post by Bill Gates where Gates quotes the same 90% piracy rate for Altair Basic.
The lesson being that not much has changed. Mr. Atwood elaborates...
The crushing piracy rate is especially painful in this case because World of Goo was handcrafted by a tiny 2 man independent programming shop. Even a cursory 10 minute session is more than enough to demonstrate that this is a game built with love, not another commercial product extruded from the bowels of some faceless Activision-EA corporate game franchise sweatshop. Nor is this an exorbitantly priced bit of Adobe software that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars; it's a measly twenty bucks! Fifteen, if you count the fact that it's on sale right now via Steam. Oh, and did I mention that the developers explicitly chose to avoid any form of onerous copy protection?
The bold above was added by me. Mr Atwood then closes his post by giving this advice...
In fact, the most effective anti-piracy software development strategy is the simplest one of all:
- Have a great freaking product.
- Charge a fair price for it.
Do you see the problem here? He starts the post with a company that charges a fair price for a great product and is being pirated by 90% of it's users. He then ends by advising companies to do exactly what didn't work for that example company.
This honestly amazes me. I'm not sure I've ever seen a clearer example of someone so invested in their dogma that they stick to it even after spelling out exactly why it isn't true. Maybe Mr. Atwood feels he's ok because he spelled out the problems with his advice in the post but the fact that he still believes the advice at all is downright bizarre to me. In that way I think it's instructive. I, like most people, tend to assume people will change their opinion when faced with logic that disproves it. But that's not always the case.
Mr Atwood does ask people to purchase the software to "revive [his] waning belief in the essential goodness of the human spirit" but even if that works it matters very little. What about all the companies that don't have Jeff Atwood to make a post on their behalf?