A response to Notch's How piracy works.
This was probably written up a little while after his blog entry.
I was really put off at not being able to try the game before buying, but I did end up buying it after seeing some videos. I still think this game absolutely needs a free download version.
Instead of only thinking of the game from the angle of what "value-added" elements can be added server-side, also think about how you can promote the distribution of a freeware version.
A free version should be made which has no:
- modding/customization functionality
- "end-game" elements like complex crafting
online interaction (save games, community stuff, etc)
Make no assumptions that it's even possible to avoid piracy of any sort, even with online services. However, being the central and most popular point for a community makes everyday people come to and stay with your site.
Even if it were possible to pirate the client and server, clone all online service features and copy all user-customization, the sheer popularity and community of the central point would keep people there.
These days, it's quite easy to justify cost when you have a large and active online community. People can easily think "server bills". Also, people will be pleased to "only" pay up-front and not have a monthly subscription.
Also, consider something like locking the game client to the person's nic's mac address and allow them to change it once a year. If done the right way, this prevents "simple piracy". Also, do not have the for-pay version simply turn into the free version if it fails its security check.
The original post is quoted on the next page.