Tagged: copyright

Becoming an ethical gamer in China, a brief guide

Be an ethical gamer in China

Be an ethical gamer in China

Improving what we have in the Chinese game industry requires a combined effort from three ends:  the government, the game developers and the gamers. while as gamers we can only hope the government to loosen the restrictions and  the game developers to make quality games. As gamers we can also contribute to improve the gaming environment in China. Here are my thoughts:

Be proud of your gamers identities.

Gaming is a entertaining activity. despite all the negative issues that gaming has involved in, there is nothing to be ashamed of If you’re a gamer. It’s just as normal as, or should I say, as cool as a basketball fan or what else you have on your mind.

Don’t be a game snob.

You are a gamer, the games you play does not define who you are. you should not let other gamers judge you by your gaming preference and more importantly, you should not judge other people by the games they play either. Playing games like Halo does not make you worse than others and playing World of Warcraft certainly does not make you better than others. Respect other’s gaming preferences.

Give substantial advises to game developers when given the chance.

Support our game developers, encourage them to make high-quality games for us to enjoy.If the game is considered distasteful by you, try to be nice, tell the developers what you expect in a decent game, don’t curse them, they( at least most of them) work very hard to deliver the game to you and they deserve your appreciations.

Have leisure activities other than gaming

So that gaming would not be the thing that consume all your time. Or in other cases, If the situation won’t allow you to play games, you have some other ways to enjoy your spare time. Which I think, would be a solution to reduce gaming -related crimes in China.

Pay for your games, to the right person.

I can’t stress this enough – the copyright issue in China. Like I mentioned above, the developers worked very hard to deliver those great games to us, they deserve to be rewarded, both mentally and materially. After all, it’s what they do for a living. Paying for the game you like means a lot to them. And remember, give your money to the authorized retailers.

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Social Media Observation: EA China’s Weibo Account

Let’s begin by taking a look at EA China’s landing page:

EA China's Weibo Landing Page

EA China’s Weibo Landing Page

As you can see, like Ubisoft China, EA China’s landing page is also well-developed with a profile page and a background that is consistent with the organization’s positioning, a list of links to the subsidiary accounts and a message board.

Let’s find out if EA China is developing substantial contents on the page:

EA China, like Ubisoft China, also releases information on games that won’t be coming to China, but with less counts, based on the contents provided by EA China, a followers would easily notice that most of the tweets are related to EA’s mobile apps, which is consistent with EA’s current strategy in the China market – mobile gaming. Furthermore, tablet/mobile games are accessible for Chinese gamers, so instead of putting informations that Chinese gamers can’t relate (about PC/consoles that can’t be purchased in China), content’s of tablet/mobile games are more attractive to Chinese gamers.

However, it seems that EA China is covering gamers’ gaming experience of PC/Console games(e.g. trivia of Dead Space series, the celebration of N7 Day from the Mass Effect Trilogy) at the same time with it’s awareness of the pirated versions of EA products. From my standpoint, this is EA’s effort to promote it’s gaming culture , however, this might go both ways: there is a possibility that the gamers, who play pirated EA games, would think that EA is embracing their behaviors by communicating related gaming events with them.

What about Interactions with the followers?

A Sample of EA China's interaction with customers

A Sample of EA China’s interaction with customers

Questions, Retweets, Polls and interactions on the message board. It seems like EA is doing a much better job interacting with followers compared to Ubisoft. Besides that, the tone EA China uses is very casual and humorous when communicating with followers.  With the efforts EA China put into online interaction, it is certain that followers are more likely to engage with the brand because they get the sense of their voices being heard.

Gaming history in China 101, Pt. 3: What keeps us from buying the games? (Continued).

If you can recall from one of my past posts. I gave a brief explanation of why Chinese gamers won’t pay for the copyrighted video games.

Today I seeks to find out more factors that keeps Chinese gamers from buying the games and here they are:

1. Uncertainty about the game quality

You have the will to do this but you can’t afford to do so.

You’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen the promo ads and you’ve seen the celebrities endorsing the games. Now, imagine that you buy the game and you realize that it sucks or not your thing by the first 10 minutes of playing. in the meantime, you realized that the $59.99 (or the equivalent value in Chinese currency) you just spent is in vain. Will you be having second thoughts when you see another new game being promoted?

2. Uncertainty about the games’ hardware requirements

Enough said

Given the situation in China, most gamers play video games on their PCs, therefore their gaming experiences are solely depending on their computers’ performances. Now Imagine this, you brought a game, you installed it, and what’s ahead of you is the numerous time of lagging and freezing due to your outdated hardware. Or even worth, your computer won’t even let you finish the installing process, now you don’t even have an opportunity to find out whether the game you bought sucks or not.

3. No demos

the gesture which Chinese gamers would definitely appreciate turned out to be “a waste of time and money”

If a demo version of the games were provided (like they used to, ages ago), gamers would have the opportunity to find out if the games match their tastes or if their computers are capable of running the game, without paying the seemingly high prices. However, game developers/distributors/retailers decided that releasing demo versions for the gamers is a waste of both their time and money. Then what happened? Please refer back to the last two bullets.

4. Geographical restrictions

Sorry, we don’t sell that to your country.

This one might have been one of the chicken and egg dilemma. Which started first? The piracy or the restrictions? All I know is that big companies like EA and Activition Blizzard are not considering China as their market segments when it comes to PC games, which in a sense encouraged piracy of gaming in China: with the power if Internet, Chinese gamers are also being updated about new games, they want to play the games as well but there is no place to buy the games in China, thus it seems like there is no better alternatives for them to download the games illegally.

5.  Pirated games are free for most of the time

Need I say more?

Instead of trying out the demo for a limited time, pirated games allows Chinese gamers to play the whole games without paying. Again, who doesn’t like free stuff? Moreover, there is a trending mentality among Chinese gamers that, big gaming companies couldn’t care less about the so called “loss” caused by pirated games in China because they are just filthy rich. Well, this might be true to the big names, but in the meantime, small studio suffers, due to the cost of developing the games and the lacking of generated revenue.

 

Those are the major reasons that I concluded with my friends (Thank you!). If there is anything that’s left out, let me know in the comment.

CloudUnion: a new hope for the gaming industry in China?

How Cloud Technology works

For a lot of Chinese gamers, playing the newest videogames is hard due to hardware limitation (outdated graphic card, little memories left .etc. ). Now CloudUnion claims that this won’t be a problem for Chinese gamers anymore: the cloud technology allows the latest games to become accessible for gamers who have below-requirement devices.  All gamers need to do is to subscribe the service and then download a terminal from the website.

This sounds like a brilliant idea to get gamers to pay for the games they want to play, but here are two concerns about CloudUnion.

1.Where and how did CloudUnion get the resources?

Let’s take a look at CloudUnion’s content providers. Besides Ubisoft, the rest of the providers are Chinese organizations, so where and how did CloudUnion get foreign games which are not produced by Ubisoft? Was copyright involved in the service?  How much does CloudUnion have to pay the providers in order to get the contents?

The questions above reveals opportunities and concerns following these opportunities: CloudUnion can reach out to foreign companies so that it can get its content legally, but the subscription rate will definitely go up. Besides, with so many popular M rated videogames on the market, if they are provided through CloudUnion, how would they pass the censoring processes conducted by the Ministry of Culture in China?

 2.The seemingly strict requirement for DTR

Let’s assume that all the questions in the last bullet were solved. We can pay to play whatever games we want to and we are OK with the subscription rates. In other words, we are happy with the service, but will we also be happy with the experience we paid for? Given the Internet service provided in China, I’m afraid not.

Based on my understanding of CloudUnion’s technology, it transforms your interaction with the game into video in the server and plays it back to you. In other words, CloudUnion enables you to watch videos of yourself playing games online. If you are a frequent Youtube (or any other online video sites) visitor, you know that video with higher definition takes longer to load. Now try to think of what you are trying to do at CloudUnion as a process of playing and making a very high definition video online at the same time. I haven’t tried it in the States yet, but let me tell you. It will be a nightmare filled with freezes if I were to use it back home in China.

In China, most Internet users subscribed to service speed of 1Mb/s or 2Mb/s, which are far from fulfilling the DTR requirements  for  using CloudUnion.

If you are experiencing lagging and freezing while playing a game you installed on your device, you can always go to a store to get your graphic card or other hardware replaced/upgraded. For your internet speed however, is another story: due to the high cost of providing Internet and server building in China (approx. 3 times higher than it is in the States), getting high speed Internet service is very expensive, so expensive that the majority of users in China choose to only subscribe to the 1Mb/s or the 2Mb/s packages.

Wait, It gets worse. Not only we subscribed to the already poor packages, we are also not getting what we paid for. With the worse than expected Internet speed, how are we going to enjoy CloudUnion?

The Reaction of CloudUnion + Slow Internet Speed

CloudUnion brought a very interesting and somewhat promising model for the gaming industry in China in regards of distribution. But It needs to be tied more into the actual situation and needs to make several huge adjustments to its service in order to function.

Gaming history in China 101, Pt. 2: What keeps us from buying the games?

I will pass this time, sorry guys…

Recent rumors indicated that Diablo 3 won’t be sold in China, Chinese gamers were irritated by this rumor and started to accuse the company Blizzard and the Chinese distributor NetEase. However, should they be blamed, should they carry the reputation of being money-driven?

Although I can’t recall the time when they started to “ban” games in China, my most recent memory of paying for a game in China was the time when the first Call of Duty came out. I paid 60 RMB for it (approx. 10 USD), I failed to install it into my computer for the first time and asked for a replacement from the retailer, finally I started playing it after 3 days.

Ah the good old times

You may ask how I can remember that after all these years. Well, it is a good game of course; other than that, it took me a long time to find an official retailer; last but not least, it was the last time I’ve ever paid for a copyrighted game in China.

So what keeps me and people of my generation from buying the games in China? It’s a no brainer, the notorious issue of piracy in China. You can play a pirated game for free by simply downloading a cracked version of the game. It’s not that we’re poor and we cannot afford to buy games. If you ever have a chance to go to Time Square around Black Friday, you will be amazed by the Chinese consumers lining up in front of the cashiers of luxury brands, therefore economic wellbeing is never the issue. But why don’t we pay for games? Hey, who would pay for a game when given the option of getting it for free?

Of course there used to be restrictions reacting to the non-copy issues such as the CD-Key system and later the Steam platform and Origin platform. The ideal was to encrypt the games so that they cannot be replicated illegally, but Chinese gamers always go beyond estimation. CD-Key generators, cracked version of Steam games, just name it, we can make it happen.

Now do you think that abandoning the Chinese market is the gaming companies’ fault? Probably not, Gaming companies are in business as well and no company would like to operate on a loss (e.g. budgeting huge amount of money in promotion and distribution only to find out that gamers are playing your games for free).

We now have gaming websites aiming to provide p2p sources for gamers to download. Ironically, these websites often publishes articles on how we should not download non-copyrighted games for free. It’s difficult to figure out whether this kind of game websites is being pretentious or desperate, but it is easy to notice that the articles are not moving the gamers.

If I was to analyze the situation from a very, very basic PR approach, I’d say that Chinese gamers are fully aware of the non-copyrighted gaming issue. However, the attitudes toward the issue are neutral/positive: either they don’t really care or they are satisfied with the way it is right now.

This is hard, especially when you’re going against free stuff. But there are still possibilities to change this kind of attitude (I suppose):

(The following bullets contains messages and tactics suggestions and they are not in particular order)

1.Emphasizing on the benefits of being a gamer who pays

If you want them to buy the game instead of downloading it, there better be some really good perks along with the games: content packs, redeem codes for bonus weapon/items/gears What have you, throw out free stuff might give you a chance to sell a game that is not intended to be free

2. Emphasizing on the disadvantage of being a gamer who doesn’t pay

One of the successful examples I can think of is the Serious Sam HD. The developers did not put too much effort on encrypting the game (maybe they know it’s pointless?), instead, they worked something out in the content. If you get a pirated copy of the Serious Same, you can play it like other regular games do, but you would engage a red scorpion with a machine gun on its tail and won’t stop hunting you at some point of the game. And yes, it’s undefeatable. Eventually you’ll get frustrated and give up the game, and hopefully, if you are still interest in the game, you might go buy a copyrighted version.

3. Play the “value/ego card”

Tell the gamers what it takes to be a “cool gamer”, and ask for their opinions. Hold on to the responses involving copyrights and payments (you want to make money, duh), so you can have your message communicated. Remember that feedback from the gamer are very important to your progress, the articles I mentioned above already proved that one-way propaganda is no longer working. This would be a time-consuming process but it would come back with good results if you succeeded

As for ego, my opinion is to break down the sense of achievement from cracking a game. Tell the crackers/hackers (what do you guys call them in English by the way?) it’s not worth the time, and it’s not cool, they can put their programming skills to much better uses.

That’s what I got so far, Let me know what you think, especially if you think my suggestions suck and I look forward to your valuable input. All in all we share the same goal, right?