Valve: Piracy is not related to price

Monday, 24th October 2011 22:59 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Gabe Newell believes rising game prices isn’t what drives would-be customers to piracy.

“One thing that we have learned is that piracy is not a pricing issue. It’s a service issue,” the Valve co-founder said at a conference in Seattle, as reported by Geekwire.

“The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It’s by giving those people a service that’s better than what they’re receiving from the pirates.”

Newell revealed the startling news that Russia has become Valve’s second-largest European market.

“For example, Russia. You say, oh, we’re going to enter Russia, people say, you’re doomed, they’ll pirate everything in Russia.

“The people who are telling you that Russians pirate everything are the people who wait six months to localize their product into Russia. So that as far as we’re concerned is asked and answered. It doesn’t take much in terms of providing a better service to make pirates a non-issue.”

Valve recently embarked on a partnership with Xsolla to allow Russian Steam users to add cash payments to their accounts via kiosks.

The full transcript, available through the link above, continues Newell’s discussion of pricing, outlining some fascinating economic experiments.



  1. xino

    ““For example, Russia. You say, oh, we’re going to enter Russia, people say, you’re doomed, they’ll pirate everything in Russia.”

    he is right, Russia are always the bad guys? why because video games always portray Russians as the bad guys:)

    but seriously I don’t trust what he is saying.
    They know that the piraters will still keep pirating games and the ones who buys games will keep buying games. So if they increase the price of games, the same ones who buy games will still pay for it. So they don’t have to depend on pirates buying games.

    I still like the $10million preorders scheme from Afterfall Insanity and get the game for $1!. I believe publishers should start doing a scheme like that!

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Erthazus


    Prices are also a huge factor and it’s a very huge factor in post soviet countries and in Russia where economic is a bit different compared to Europe or US.

    Yes, service is important as fuck, but when there is a mediocre game that costs 60$ it’s outrageous.

    and in the day where people recieve a lot of console ports on their PC with lack of patch support you get a simple answer: Piracy.
    Because sometimes you get much better support from the community.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. freedoms_stain

    @1, everything you’re saying is conjecture, assumption. There is no real-world way to measure if pirates are converting to buyers or not. You don’t trust what he’s saying, which is based off experimentation and real-world data, but you do trust your own assertion that Pirates always be Pirates and Buyers always be Buyers, based on what? Your own prejudice, assumptions and what else?

    All I can offer you is a quote from a friend who used to be a big game software pirate: “i actually buy games now.. just because of steam”.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Christopher Jack

    He’s half right, but a majority will still do it regardless of accessibility, so affordability is another issue, some people just simply don’t want to fork out the money. Music & Movies are still heavily pirated despite the accessibility of services like iTunes & Netflix.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. DSB

    Price is obviously a part of the service itself, but for me it makes all the difference. I’ll gladly put down an extra 5 bucks at a store I know I can count on when it comes to service and reliability than save 10 and get shit.

    @4 Based on what? If people can’t afford to buy games then they were never potential customers in the first place.

    Piracy hasn’t managed to put even the slightest detectable dent in the industry for about 30 years, in spite of their own claims, whereas Ubisoft has managed to forfeit 60% of their business on the PC by introducing piracy punishment for their paying customers. Quite obviously accessibility is the way to make some money.

    I also don’t think you can compare the music industry with the movie or games industry. You’re dealing with entirely different figures, and entirely different business models. If anything services like Spotify should’ve been a given a long time ago. There’s also a huge difference between music listeners. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that people who listen to pop music are far more likely to suck it from the internet, than the people who listen to stuff like metal or jazz or classical, who actually value their records.

    I think that industry just got so cheap and fat that it ended with a massive coronary.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. freedoms_stain

    @4, did you read the full thing? He talks about experiments with pricing in there, so he may in fact be all right.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. ultramega

    Gabe is my one and only love. We will be together forever.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. The_Red

    So true. Seriously, companies like Ubisoft treat their legit customers like pirates with all kinds of annoying measures while pirates get to enjoy the game free of DRM and other restrictions.

    Even a $5 game WILL get pirated if it treats the buyer like a thief.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. silkvg247

    The only time I’ve wanted to pirate is when I’m faced with DRM or activation issues.

    Point in case; bought a legit Deus Ex from Zavvi. Code wouldn’t work. Sent it back, vanished in post, didn’t even get a refund.

    Will I “pirate” that game since I effing well bought it? Yes I will. Though I am very annoyed that I have to play a dodgy version.

    #9 3 years ago

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