Monday, April 28, 2008

Software Piracy

Just consider this: you are a programmer or developer, and after spending almost 16 hours a day for months or may be years, you’ve launched your software package in the market. But before the sale of the product actually starts you find that the market is flooded with illegal/pirated copies of the product. Imagine how it would feel? For many of us Indians, it really doesn’t matter at all. Purchasing pirated software is almost a birth right. We are habituated to purchasing our pirated copies. After all who’ll pay 1000 or more bucks when the pirated version is available only for 40-200 bucks? And sometimes, for free also!

Let’s take an example of one of the very popular action games; MAX PAYNE 2: THE FALL OF MAX PAYNE. When the product was launched in Indian market the price of the original version was Rs. 2199. As a gamer looking for the game in the market, I was surprised when I saw that the Game was selling in the grey market for only Rs 100. Like me there are thousands of gamers all over India who bought the game for Rs 100 saving Rs 2099 in the process. The extra money they saved was probably used to purchase another 20 odd games.

Now we all know that this is an unethical practice but what else does a gamer do in this kind of situation? As long as the prices of games/software are that high average gamer can’t afford to buy original ones. On the other hand, from the business point of view companies make tremendous losses. This issue has lead to many great software companies actually shutting shop or falling prey to big companies that acquire them (Game loft’s Mobile gaming division at PUNE for example was acquired by UBISOFT recently).

One possible solution to this dilemma is to have the Indian government reduce the various tax levels being levied on imported software, so that everyone can buy the original version. However, it is not only the responsibility for the Government alone, the Developer and Publishers also must consider the problem of piracy due to the high rice and distribution. Many a time, the original softwares are unavailable in Indian market. So, to satisfy the need, users turn to the grey market. With a proper price point, strict IT rules and policy about software piracy, supported by a proper distribution channel, the piracy scenario can be reduced. According to Mr. Vishal Gondal, CEO and Founder of India Games, if the piracy can be stopped, then the profit margin from selling softwares will increase up to 70%. Today, the total game market in India, is around $ 500 mn, but if the piracy can be reduced up to 20% of the current level, then it could be somewhere around $ 1.7 Bn Market.

No comments:

Post a Comment