Kevin kelly writes about "Better than free"

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by techbear, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. techbear

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    Kevin Kelly writes:

    "From my study of the network economy I see roughly eight categories of intangible value that we buy when we pay for something that could be free.

    In a real sense, these are eight things that are better than free. Eight uncopyable values. I call them "generatives." A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated, grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced. It is generated uniquely, in place, over time. In the digital arena, generative qualities add value to free copies, and therefore are something that can be sold."

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kelly08/kelly08_index.html

    I found it interesting and relevant, so I'm sharing. :)
     
  2. Mollusk

    Mollusk New Member

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    Thanks for sharing, this IS interesting :)
     
  3. Game Producer

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    Thanks for sharing
     
  4. Davaris

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    So he's saying make a product, give it away free and sell a service relevant to it. So in our case we'd make two copies of each game, one free and the other an online version with extras and community interaction. Sounds like a lot of work. :)
     
  5. cliffski

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    You only need to make something better than free if you accept the fact that some thieving bastards have decided you no longer have the right to sell the product of your hard work.
    Sod that.
     
  6. Jack Norton

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    Maybe he wants that we all start making those MMORPG clones free to play, pay to get bonus items? :D
     
  7. lakibuk

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    Hm... I could re-release my game as freeware, remove the hints pages from my site and ask for money when someone emails me for a level solution.
     
  8. Allen Varney

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    That's not a stupid idea, and it shows imagination. I think of the 1-900 number you can call for three clues to today's New York Times crossword. And this approach is at least more practical than embittered trench warfare against the multi-billion dollar Asian piracy industry.

    But this approach isn't the kind of thinking Kevin Kelly is advocating in his blog post. The problem with selling/seeking donations for puzzle solutions is that the solutions are, themselves, just information, and hence copiable. Someone will buy each of your solutions and then post them on his own web page for free. So anyone who bothers to do a Google search before e-mailing you....

    The correct strategy is to develop a resource that isn't trivially copiable. In gaming, that usually means "community." I don't know offhand how that would apply to your specific example, but in any case, look for an approach that isn't easily copied.
     
  9. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    "Aspirin is free, but aspirin tailored to your DNA is very expensive."

    ???

    I'm surprised this guy is a senior editor at Wired. Aspirin isn't free, and what would it even mean to tailor aspirin (a specific chemical which if you change it is no longer aspirin) to your DNA?
     
  10. Jack Norton

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    In gaming, this means only one thing: MMO or online-only games. That's the only thing not easily copiable. Fun, exactly what I was talking about in these forums 2-3 months BEFORE that article. Ok I can get a job at wired now?? :D
     
  11. oldschool

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    Okay a bit of a stretch but look at it this way,

    regular cold medicine is cheap($2 - $3)....I can't take it at all.
    special cold medicine for me is expensive($5 - $6), and its made with (relatively)cheap ingredients and made by the same company that makes the regular cold medicine. Can you say profit!

    Incidentally, aspirin($5.99 for 1000) gets more expensive with customization ie. buffered, low dose($7.99 for 500). Tailored aspirin would be like derivitives of penicillin the basic functionality would be there(β-lactam) just different enough to kill more bacteria.

    So what science nerd? The guy isn't completely stupid just should have said "Aspirin is cheap, but aspirin tailored to your biology isn't cheap."
     
  12. cliffski

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    The thing is, although its impossible to prevent piracy, its also impossible to prevent shoplifting. A determined gang of 16 shoplifters who all scam out of different exits at once, all armed with guns, are unbeatable.
    yet shops haven't given up selling stuff, and most of them have CCTV cameras security tags and security guards. I cant prevent determined burglars either, but I don't leave the door open as a result.

    I genuinely read articles on this theme as being people saying "I cant help pirating everything I like, and I don't want to feel bad about it, so can you change your business model to enable me to do it openly please".

    My answer is no. If you enjoy the fruits of someone else's labour and you avoid paying for it, you *should* feel bad.
     
  13. RoadMaster

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    Degrading the article to the point where you are assuming the producer is a pirate is like calling someone a communist when they tell you your puppy got hit by a car. You have no way of determining whether the person is a communist, nor do them being a communist effect the fact that your puppy is still a pancake on the side of the road.

    Piracy is real and there is more than one way to deal with it. Kevin Kelly, at least in my eyes, isn't even saying DRM is not the way to go. I consider the points on "Immediacy" and "Authenticity" to advocate a DRM route because DRM makes it so that pirated copies are no longer "perfect copies" and thus may get a delay in going online, or may not be as reliable due to their circumvention measures. The value-add in this case is that of speed and trust.

    That said, DRM is a tool to reach the same goals as other tools, to convert non-paying customers into paying ones. If someone doesn't want to use DRM and thinks that their time is better invested in other measures such as creating community or other value-adds I don't see the problem in it. Go ahead and use DRM or chase after pirates if you believe its the best investment for your time, and let those who think other methods or a combination of methods would work better do their own thing.
     
  14. Sybixsus

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    Given the articles I've seen this week discussing Reflexive's numbers on piracy where they demonstrated that despite a huge piracy rate, they sold very few more copies when piracy was stopped, I think some articles discussing alternative thinking to increase your profits are very welcome.

    I found it an interesting read, and it's certainly sparked off a couple of new ideas for me.
     
  15. Sakura Games

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    Reflexive articles was referring to one specific casual game. Cliffski's games aren't casual at all, and beside that doesn't mean that what works for one game can be applied to every kind of game.
     
  16. dma

    dma New Member

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    I've always liked cliffski's views on piracy, because they happen to be the most honest. And truthfully, when you're honest with your customers, when you're not afraid of what they'll think of you when you're "ranting" about piracy and how it affects your financial bottom line, sometimes you can be very surprised by thier response. Customers will often agree, and say things like "Yeah, you deserve the support, screw pirates, I just sent my order today, thanks!... etc...."

    It's everyone who's saying there's nothing you can do about it, blah, blah blah... well, there is some truth to that... but most people don't think they can bench press 315 pounds either. The only ones who can, are the ones who believe they can and actually work at doing it. In other words, while piracy is of course something that exists, just like shoplifting, giving into it, and saying nothing can be done about it, will simply result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    It's interesting to me that many who are saying, "Whatever, we can't do anything about piracy," also often happen to be the ones who have the lowest sales. Is that just a coincidence? And then you have cliffski, who rants about those bastard pirates like a man possessed, but he's proven by his sales reports that he's done very well for himself. So... I think there's a lesson here, somewhere... :eek:
     
  17. Coyote

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    What, you mean the 70% increase in sales across the board they received when they plugged a gaping hole in their DRM?

    Yeah, I scoff at a 70% greater income too.

    I did, however, like Kelly's article. I have heard it said before that businesses are really all about relationships. And much of the article talks about ways that software / information businesses, in this day and age of easy / almost-free distribution of data, can strengthen those relationships. I think doing business in this age will require a combination of carrot-and-stick. Not just a stick.
     
    #17 Coyote, Feb 17, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2008
  18. Sybixsus

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    Aren't statistics fun when you can take them completely out of context like that? Russ concluded that they had to eliminate 50,000 pirate copies to get an extra 50 sales, and I'll trust his ability to draw conclusions from his numbers over anyone elses, including my own.


    Really? I've always found quite the opposite. For one thing, anyone who disagrees with him is painted as a communist and/or barking mad, and anyone who suggests that there may be better uses of time than reporting rapidshare links is portrayed as saying that you shouldn't do anything about piracy ever. Not quite my definition of honest, but ok.

    And there's a perfect example of the twisting of people's words. Most people aren't saying they don't think they can bench press 315 pounds. Most people are saying they're not sure that the time spent training is worth it because bench pressing 315 pounds isn't particularly useful.

    I don't remember making any reference to Cliff in my earlier comments. I said it was an interesting article, and that it was particularly interesting given the Reflexive article and had sparked off some ideas for me. I'm not sure about your judgement of it being a casual game though. I seem to recall comments made from Russ or perhaps Michael in the past where they suggested that Ricochet had a fairly non-casual audience. Even if I'm remembering that wrong, there are people here who are making casual games.

    Is that addressed to me, among others? I don't know how anyone could know my sales, because I don't share them with anyone but HMR&C. I haven't released a game for three years, and I'm not working in Burger King yet, so don't let my "low sales" keep you awake nights or anything.

    I think you've made a logic error. Since Cliff has - to my knowledge - had the same views for a long time, there is no evidence of whether he is successful because or despite of his views on piracy, nor whether he would be more or less so if he did not have them. While it's quite possible you're right, there is no way to draw a conclusion. I could equally say that Microsoft is a hugely profitable company and their CEO is Steve Balmer, therefore the best way to have a profitable company is to hire a CEO who's stark raving bonkers. And indeed maybe it is, but there's insufficient evidence.
     
  19. Coyote

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    Cool. Then here's his conclusion:

    That's right out of the article. Those are his numbers, not mine. Did you read the entire article? Or am I not understanding what "Sales up 70%" means?

    And then his comment to the re-posting of the article on GameSetWatch:

    I'm sure he'll jump on here any time to clarify in case we've screwed it up. He says he really wanted people to note the take-away of 1 in 1000, which people are doing. But it still seemed to me that the article suggests a moderate approach to clamping down on piracy might be the most effective measure. It's rampant enough that a moderate approach yielded a high return in terms of sales, BUT he stresses that the 1 in 1000 figure as evidence that spending too much time and effort trying completely put an end to every pirated copy of the game is unlikely to yield commensurate improvements in sales figures.
     
    #19 Coyote, Feb 17, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2008
  20. papillon

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    IIRC, the first time this data was posted here (by thorbrian?) what they tried to get across with that initial crackdown was that closing simple exploits, things that anyone could do without downloading extra software from scary pirate circles, made a big difference. Stuff like 'never close the game' or 'copy it to a new directory'.

    However, if you had to crack the game to make it work, changing the security so that all the old cracks were broken and had to be rewritten didn't make much difference. The conclusion was that people who were already willing to download cracks were not good potential customers.
     

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