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[Rogue Games] Our Pledge to the Gamer

April 7, 2009

So the news about Wizard of the Coast pulling their PDFs and running has hit the web, and gamers are angry. Fear not gamer, because Rogue Games is here, we are still selling our PDFs, and guess what? They are still as affordable as ever, and we still treat you, the Gamer, with respect.

When the Rogues started Rogue Games, our goal was was simple: make our games affordable. We strive to keep our prices low. In addition, we want you to play our games, and we feel that we should not get in your way when doing that. How are we doing this? Simple:

Why all of this?

Simple. We. Want. You. To. Play. Our. Games.

Strange concept, we know, but that is the truth.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2009 8:08 am

    You go, guys!

  2. April 7, 2009 8:20 am

    Thanks Jae.

    James and I always said we wanted to do things differently. I never would have guessed treating people with respect was different. :)

  3. April 7, 2009 12:08 pm

    I’m actually a little surprised by your post, Richard! I wouldn’t expect you to have posted “We’re also designers and publishers, so we stand 100% behind WoTC’s position”, but I’m amazed by the almost one-sided nature of this debate (everywhere, not your post), even from other publishers. Apologies in advance for the long post…

    Yes, WoTC handled this poorly, and to cut off the re-downloads to those who have legitimately purchased is a break of trust and possibly detrimental to the PDF-based portion of RPG industry. But I’ve yet to see a single post anywhere yet decrying the disrespect that some customers have shown toward WoTC, the distributors involved, and other legit customers for creating this situation in the first place. There are currently thousands of downloads and seeds for PHB2 alone. Can it really be argued that this has *zero* effect on WoTC?

    Don’t get me wrong. I have no love for WoTC or their products, and I’ve never purchased one of their PDFs. As such, I’m perhaps unqualified to comment as I wasn’t one of the burned. But I’m coming from this from a somewhat different POV, as the employee of a software company that is on the ropes in no small part due to years of software piracy, and who may very well be out of a job this summer. A few thousand more purchases offset against a few thousand pirated copies (including *corporate* piracy, of all things) over the years may well have extended our lifeline through this recession. I’ll never know for sure, but it will be on my mind if the summer comes along and I find myself unemployed for the first time in my life.

    I can’t say whether or not a few thousand digital copies of a dozen or so WoTC products (easily totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in value, if not lost revenue) would have kept someone in Redmond employed, but I’m surprised that no one is asking themselves that question. I’m sure you’ve Googled a few key words yourself about RG products and wondered if the results equated to lost (or gained?) sales, and perhaps wished some kharma upon the perpetrator?

    As someone who purchased the whole of CG on PDF last fall through RPGNow and all of TS through IPR, I’m not thrilled when I see your work pirated. Yes, I know that in all of these cases, not every one of those downloads equates to a lost sale. Some may even translate into a few eventual sales. But I look at all the resources and efforts you make on the website and through things like the Scribd initiative, and I simply don’t see a reasonable excuse (certainly not “I try before I buy”) for anyone to pirate the whole of your works. I don’t see why the same can’t hold true for WoTC.

    Suppose that you — Richard, as RG — looked and saw that piracy of your work was out of control and you felt you needed to call a time-out to address it and get back control over your product. If you determined that that meant doing the same thing WoTC did, I would hope that you would give me the chance to grab what was “mine”, just in case, before closing shop (and as I said, I think that WoTC’s one and only sin here). So I find your words above reassuring in that sense. But regardless, I would not be pissed at you, or at the online distributor. I would be pissed at the customers and non-customers who put you in that position in the first place.

    I know this is long, but I also can’t help but think about an indignant post last night from someone (unnamed) who is also a designer and a publisher, primarily PDF-based. He is shocked, *shocked* at WoTC actions and the effect it may have on his own sales. Last October, he was bemoaning on a number of the boards the effect that the recession and torrent-based piracy was having on his own sales. And yet, in that SAME WEEK on his LiveJournal, he was asking someone to point him towards a cracked version of 3DStudio Max, because he couldn’t justify the price, and he didn’t want “crippleware”. Others tried to point him toward the free and open Blender 3D application, but he insisted he was only interested in Max.

    That may seem off-topic, gossipy and anecdotal, but it is an example of the mindset that perpetuates this issue. How many software engineers downloaded pirated 4E Core PDFs last year because they didn’t want to pay $60+, but didn’t want to role-play using OSRIC?

    As I said, I’m simply surprised that the controversy seems so one sided. Believe me, I’m grateful to you and James for your work, your approach, your support for the games, your pricing and options and your respect for your customers. It shows in everything you do (and I recently made a decision to stop doing business with another particular and unnamed company precisely because of the *lack* of respect for its customers I feel is shown in their products).

    At the same time, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for you, WoTC or any company to expect the same amount of respect from us, and do what is necessary to protect your business. WoTC certainly handled this badly, and seems to be punishing all the wrong people. But it is also their right and responsibility to attempt to sieze back control of their product.

  4. April 7, 2009 12:57 pm

    Wow Robert, what a post. :)

    Your thinking was what my thinking was once. I use to get angry about pirated copies of the game, and worry about trying to stick it to the thieves. Then I realized something: no matter what I did it would still happen.

    Do I like that you can download our games “for free?” Yes. However, any action we take has a side effect, it makes things harder for those who bought our games legally. For James and I, why should we punish those who support us, when we deal with the pirates? In the end that is what DRM does, it punishes those who legally buy our product and does not allow them to use the content.

    Do I agree with WotC did? To a point yes. They have the right to do what they choose with their product. However, the way they treat their fans was very poor. In addition, for me, it always seems as if companies (regardless of industry) take their customers/fans for granted. For James and I, we don’t. The fact that we choose to admit it is just another example of us doing things differently.

    What I do find funny with this, the way we are open with our customers/fans is that by treating them with respect, we do get it in return. Yes, we do have those who are negative and take what we do for granted, but they are the exception.

    Piracy’s is a bad thing, it truly is, but I wonder if all the effort that is put into fighting it, was put into making the content easier to get and use, we would not be better?

    The thing with the piracy of WotC 4E items, a lot of that was printer’s proof. That had to be leaked from somewhere inside their chain. Our games are pirated, I just am not going to loose any sleep over it. Why? I have not seen sales take a hit either way. Maybe I would see things differently if we were bigger, but I doubt it. I’d rather spend resources making better games, then fighting pirates. :)

    In the end, I might not agree with how WotC went about their actions, but I understand where they are coming from business wise. For James and I, we choose to do things differently. Will we change? I doubt it. Because in the end we are guided by our principles: treat people with respect. :)

  5. April 7, 2009 1:28 pm

    I definitely agree that piracy will continue. iTunes and Amazon’s mp3 Store are great solutions to online music, but it hasn’t ended music piracy. And the RIAA’s lawsuits certainly didn’t.

    But I suppose that’s almost admitting that there is no solution. I’m a little uncomfortable with the thought that it the only way to reduce piracy is to first earn respect. It does not follow that if a company does not earn that respect, then piracy is the price they should pay (my words, not yours). I may hate the staff at my local Walgreens, but that’s not an excuse to shoplift there.

    Further, I would bet that in an alternate universe, WoTC announced their plans 5 days in advance, gave everyone fair notice to grab their products, and they still earned nothing but derision and loathing for their decision. Because, you know, they’re The Man and we must stick it to them. I can make this bet because I have no way of being disproven. :)

    They may very well be working on that “better way”, but based on what I’ve seen of DDI and 4E itself, I find it hard to believe that it would a) have the desired effects and b) make anyone happy. Actually, there is a set of solutions that would increase the value of their online products, increase their market and reduce (never eliminate) piracy, but I’m not on their payroll and feel no obligation to share, lol. I will say that RG is much closer to the mark than most others, IMO.

    When you say “DRM”, do you just mean watermarking? Because I’ve never found that at all obtrusive, and it keeps good people honest. I have no idea if WoTC was doing anything at all with their materials, though I suspect they did in this last round if they feel confident enough to file lawsuits.

    BTW, I have never seen one hint that you and James take us for granted. Now that you admit you have, my faith in the world is shattered. ;)

  6. April 7, 2009 6:38 pm

    DRM, yes watermarking. In the past we’ve locked down the PDF as well. Not going to do it anymore. Hell, we are doing Scribd because it is a great tool to get the info to people’s hands.

    As for shoplifting, I agree, piracy is that. However, the genie is out of the bottle. No matter what we choose to do, it will not stop it. In addition, what we do to fight it, in the end causes those who purchase the product legally to be felt as if they are thieves.

    In the end, there is only so many hours in the day. I’d rather design games, write up ideas and the like, then act as IP Cop. :)

    BTW, I fixed the typo. :P

  7. April 7, 2009 7:12 pm

    Well done, Rich!

  8. April 8, 2009 5:14 am

    Thanks Zach. A lot of this has been in place since James and I started, but the no DRM is something I have been thinking about since the start of the year. The events of the past few days sort of spurred me to make the pledge.

  9. April 8, 2009 11:47 am

    Richard,

    Quick question. I bought Transmissions from Piper through Studio 2. I usually buy Rogue stuff through IPR, but as I was already purchasing Hellfrost for Savage Worlds I picked up your product there.

    Is there a way I can benefit from your new program of free pdf with physical purchase without resorting to torrents?

    Christian

  10. April 8, 2009 11:49 am

    BTW,

    I think that DDI is currently well worth the price. The Dragon and Dungeon magazines have had consistently good content and are a part, along with digital Pyramid, of my list of digital magazine subscriptions.

    Christian

  11. April 8, 2009 12:54 pm

    Hi Christian.

    Shoot me an email at riorio2@rogue-games.net, and we can from there. I am working with Studio2 to get all the books shifted over to this as well. At this time, we do not have a means to do this for retail, but it is something I am working on. Just shoot me an email.

    Thanks!

Trackbacks

  1. Industry Responds to Wizard’s PDF Revocation | Mad Brew Labs
  2. rob_donoghue: Interesting and Random

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