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.
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?