Super Meat Boy dev Tommy Refenes has published a long but very interesting blog post where he argues that “apathy and refunds” are more dangerous than piracy.
The post, which covers elements of the Sim City DRM fiasco, is well worth a read if you have the time, but what caught my eye is Refenes’ thoughts on creators’ relationships with potential and existing customers.
The 31-year-old, who has a number of Windows, XBoX and iOS games under his belt, says that there is not much anyone can physically do to stop people pirating their games, but there are opportunities to make that less likely.
First, the issue of service.
“I do believe people are less likely to pirate your software if the software is easy to buy, easy to run, and does what is advertised. You can’t force a person to buy your software no more than you can prevent a person from stealing it,” he writes.
But of equal importance, and perhaps crucially given the opportunities that creators have today to interact and connect with their customers, comes the issue of old-fashioned respect.
“People have to WANT to buy your software, people have to WANT to support you,” Refenes writes.
“People need to care about your employees and your company’s well being. There is no better way to achieve that than making sure what you put out there is the best you can do and you treat your customers with respect.”
This definitely makes sense. Faceless corporations don’t seem to know how to deal with customers on a personal level. Their robotic responses and automatic, conveyor-belt processing of clients is way too impersonal and interactions with these companies tend to be sterile affairs.
Of course, as gamers we love the huge production values of today’s A-list games but invariably they’re produced by the big companies with the most impersonal attitudes to customer service. Perhaps these giants need to rethink their approach, so along with great games comes a new and more human thinking on dealing with fans.
If Refenes is right – and it would be cool if he was – ridiculous DRM would be needed no more. That would certainly be something to look forward to.