There is much to debate about piracy but I’m just curious about this assertion which I’ve made as general as possible to encompass all kinds of piracy:
True or false? If a product has a wanted feature that can’t be pirated, it’ll succeed.
I believe that you’re asking a different question but I’ll answer you. Clearly, CDs and DVDs do not have any wanted feature that can’t be pirated. People clearly don’t care about cover art, silver discs and plastic containers.
In fact, DVDs have an unwanted feature: unskippable anti-piracy warnings and trailers.
None of this means CDs and DVDs are not successful. They actually are and this is outside the scope of this thread.
False. There are any number of other aspects of a product that can sabotage its success other than pirating. Which should be self-evident: there were plenty of failed products before the concept of pirating existed, and there are plenty of failed products today where the concept of pirating does not apply.
For example: there could be a lot of demand for a particular feature. But the product that includes that feature is not well made, and has a poor implementation of that feature, or other defects that outweigh the advantages of that feature.
Another example: there may be a lot of demand for feature X, but only if it costs less than Y dollars. If the process of implementing that feature requires that the product be sold for more than Y dollars in order to turn a profit, the product is likely to fail.
Agreed again. I should have clarified that I meant they will not fail because of piracy. It seemed an obvious implication.
In that case, it stops being a wanted feature the same way delicious fried chicken stops being delicious when it’s dipped in excrement or when orange juice is diluted with water.
Sure. A sound business plan is a pre-requisite. Thanks to your arguments, I can precise my claim further:
Assuming piracy is the only threat to a product and given a sound business plan:
A product (with pirate-able parts) with a wanted feature that is well-implemented and cannot be pirated will be successful despite piracy of its pirate-able parts.
So, what you’re saying is that if piracy is the only threat to a product, and there’s no piracy, then there’s no threat to the product?
Your examples don’t exactly shed light on what you mean either – as far as I know, Netflix isn’t really a product, but a service, and what it offers is pirated all the time. Blizzard, too, is in a constant legal whack-a-mole battle with emulation servers over pirating.
Given the OP’s clarification, I would say no. One piracy-proof feature, desirable though it may be, won’t guarantee a product’s success if everything else can be pirated. It might, but it’s no guarantee. It depends on the value added for each feature.
I’m answering hypothetically, because I can’t think of a good “features a la carte” example. Everything I can think of, the primary demand is for a feature or features that are more or less a package, and they’re either piracy-proof or they’re not. Maybe a video game where the manufacturer discovers a way to make certain features airtight regarding piracy, so that someone could pirate the game, but it would play in some lesser manner? If that’s an example, then the answer is still “it depends.”
Product, service, it can be a hazy line nowadays. People can download movies but Netflix offers the fastest streaming, the highest streaming quality, the best interface and it works with your xbox, playstation, your pc, your iDevice and a myriad of other screens. It also offers the best movie recommendation engine.
Piracy offers either high quality downloads or poor quality streaming. For most people, the download speed is slower than netflix and the paid piracy services are more expensive than Netflix streaming which starts at $8/month.
Piracy: 3 features (DRM-free copies, no regional restrictions and price (p2p only).
Netflix: 5 features listed above.
BluRay: 2 features (portability, resale rights)
As you can imagine, there will always be people who want different things so in this case, there is no monopoly. All 3 appear to be thriving because of their own exclusive wanted features.
Sure. Starcraft 2 can be pirated to play solo but to play against other humans and compete in rankings, tournaments, etc. you need to buy the game since all this happens on Blizzard’s servers.
Official leaderboards that can be used to stoke competition and powering smart matchmaking formulas (to maximize player fun) are alone a wanted feature, even if online multiplayer can be achieved via some hack that 2 players agree on using.
Yes, my answer assumed that the disparate features were all wanted. What makes this indeterminate in the absence of details, is it depends on what is wanted most, the relative “value add” for each feature. Not everything “wanted” is “wanted real bad.”
Good example, then. There is some profit-maximizing choice here, depending upon what the collective market values most. If the market desires easily procured competition most, then the “selective protection” could be smart. Let people pirate it to get a taste, and when they’re hooked, they clamor for broad competition.
But if the market doesn’t care enough about playing other humans, it’s possible that this strategy reduces profitability. Too many people happy to play solo–or, worded differently, too many people who might like to play other humans, but not enough to pay for it, “I’ll just play solo, thanks very much.” In that case, you’ve piracy-proofed a desirable feature, but it’s a feature that’s not quite desired enough to provide the protection it was trying to secure.
Use the same example. The piracy-proof feature is so much less attractive a feature (thought still an attractive feature) that almost nobody buys the product. IOW, it’s not just less profitable, it’s disastrously less profitable. Go-out-of-business less profitable. Unless you count that as “success,” then your statement is incorrect if you meant it as universally true. A desirable feature that is made piracy proof may not be sufficient to make a product a success.
I don’t see how Netflix is a relevant example in discussions of piracy. Netflix’s success is based on their level of service not on some exclusivity. Other businesses, legal or illegal, could offer the same services Netflix does - Netflix succeeds because it does it better than its alternatives.