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May 18th, 2011, 12:23
I admit that I have never followed gaming piracy… I don't read articles, studies or magazines about games all that much - I'm much more interested in music and I have read a bit about music piracy when I had the chance. And there is one fact which was quite surprising the first time I read about it and I keep coming across it again and again: since Napster, CD sales have dropped noticeably, as expected, however the overall profits of the music industry have actually gone up! There are other sources of course: concerts, ringtones and all sorts of merchandise. Yet what is annoying is that music companies keep bringing up low CD sales to excuse any compromise they might make.

Now what this tells me is that there are often not enough data offered to a layman like me to reach into a truly accurate conclusion. If I hear 'piracy results in less CD sales and that leads to less profit for the music industry' I would probably find it perfectly logical and I would accept it as such… but after I've read some very convincing arguments that this is simply wrong, things got more complicated. Now saying the opposite, that piracy is responsible for the increased profits, would also be equally presumptuous… I just see two facts: a. piracy and b. increased profit and not the line that might connect them; as far as I know they are completely irrelevant.

Something like this goes on in this article… I see a lot of numbers but I keep thinking there's something missing. An example that draw my attention is this:
Only 20% of games that begin production will ever finish. Of those 20% that are finished and released to the market, only 20% of them will ever realize a significant profit… that equals 4% of games that start production return a significant profit.
Now this… does not compute… I don't get it. My common sense tells me that if your chance of not loosing money in your work is only 4% then… you would simply do something else! Instead there are new games coming out every single day! So there's something off here. I'm not saying that this figure is a lie or even slightly imprecise, I have no reason to believe that, but I am saying that there is something here that they are not telling me. For example the profit this 4% makes might be enough to fully cover the loses of the rest 96% and leave enough for anyone involved to live comfortably, if that's the case then it's not a valid argument for proving that working in the game industry is risky. I'm not saying that's the case, I'm saying I'm not given enough data to think it isn't possible.

Unfortunately it seems to me that such techniques, presenting me with two facts without proving they are somehow related and letting me just choose to connect them on my own, are very very common. Journalists do it all the time. It might work in a forum post if it stimulates discussion, I don't know, but when I read an article or, even more importantly, a study I expect to be given all the necessary data that lead to a clear conclusion and I won't to see the lines that connect them.
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