In today's main Gamasutra feature, game developer Adam Martin gets on his Soapbox and makes a case for allowing pirate P2P networks to distribute independent games. He suggests that game creators can 'go out and tempt the pirates' by making online play an enticement to pay, even though the game has been cracked.
In Martin's piece, he explains his relatively unconventional idea, suggesting:
"Pirate networks move very fast; the watchword is "0-day," referring to the time between release and the crack appearing. The people who go to warez sites are the impatient as much as they are poor, and know they can get the latest and greatest any time they want from these sources. Indeed, it is common for it to be faster to find a warez site and download a pirated copy than it is to wait for stock to arrive in the local shop and drive down to pick up a legitimate copy. There are even people who claim to do both - they are happy to pay for a copy, but aren't willing to wait, so will pirate it first, and in parallel order a copy from a retailer to "make me legal (as soon as it arrives in the post)."
How does all this benefit the indie studio? Two benefits are self-evident: simple visibility (being seen, gaining name-recognition, etc, but without spending money on a marketing campaign), and exposure to a wider market (through social networks demonstrating your game to peers). But we should really be looking at what it is pirate networks do best: distribution. Got a 2GB game to distribute? Use a pirate network to get it onto 10 times as many desktops as your own marketing and sales activities - including free downloadable demos - will ever manage to colonize. And ... practically for free. Just as studios making shareware games have found it is often easier to sell a game for $10 than for $2.50 for myriad psychological reasons, the perceived value of getting a $30 game for free is greater than of getting a limited, official demo from the developer."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature
on the subject (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).