Word on the Web: Learn to Stop Worrying and Love Digital Pirates
Digital piracy has gained a name of infamy as companies set out to crush a practice that is unloading everything from music to software without paying a dime. Still, while the conventional notion is to fight the practice tooth and nail, some of the most successful cases are those who have embraced it.
Among the success stories is that of “Minecraft,” the legendary game developed by one man that has sold more than a million copies before it has even reached its final release.
Markus Alexej Persson, better known as Notch, is the man behind “Minecraft.” Although he sells each copy of the game for around 15 euros, part of his business model is the word-of-mouth promotion of piracy.
His stance is that if someone pirates “Minecraft” rather than buy it, what he loses is “potential” revenue. “But what if that person likes that game, talks about it to his or her friends, and then I manage to convince three of them to buy the game? I’d make three actual sales instead of blocking out the potentially missed sale of the original person which never cost me any money in the first case,” Notch wrote in his personal blog.
He has, however, taken a method to combat piracy—offering Web-based services that only paying customers can have access to.
“None of these features can be accessed by people with pirated versions of the game, and hopefully they can be features that turn pirates from thieves into potential customers,” Notch writes.
The approach Notch takes of offering Web-only services to coax pirates into buying the full software is becoming more common.