Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Future of Downloadable Games

Many of you may of heard of the Maker-Bot a new reasonably cheap ($1700 instead of $29,000) 3D printer, that can reproduce virtually any small plastic object, with up to two colors.

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In the next five years these devices will only get cheaper, so soon you may be able to not only download a PDF of a games rules, cards, or a board, but you will be able to download a STL of the figures, pawns, or even the dice. Imagine never having to pay international shipping again, or having to wait endlessly for that slow boat from China carrying the latest FFG releases.

But there is a dark cloud looming in our bright future, and that’s the Pirate Bay, now I know many of you may be fans of this “bastion of freedom of information” and all things stolen. But it’s not the best thing to happen to the internet, because of folks not wanting to pay people for their hard work making comics, movies, music, and more; we have the draconian responses of SOPA, copy protection, DRM, etc. So, we may never have DUST Tactics for download, because FFG will fear it will end up available for free on some site like Mega-Upload. This senseless drive to get things for free when they cost money to make, annoys me only because people deserve to be paid for their work, and only they should decide if they want to give it away for free.

I hope that we can figure out a way to create true board game downloads that people can’t steal, so the good people at FFG, AEG, Games Workshop, Days of Wonder, and the many, many more can bring us what we want, and still make a living. Because, if they can’t we will all miss out on a great opportunity.

Well that’s all for now.

Today the Huffington Post is reporting that the Pirate Bay is being sued by Games Workshop for uploading the 3D model for a 40K Dreadnaught, this is from the HP’s story:

“A model listed by an anonymous user as a ‘Tabletop Wargaming Robot Model’ – but identifiable to the Huffington Post UK as the likeness of a Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine Dreadnought, which is a trademarked design of the UK-based Games Workshop Group PLC – was freely available and had already been downloaded by at least 23 people as of press time.

The model, an official version of which costs £28 from Games Workshop, has been previously listed on a 3D printing community website , but the plans were reportedly pulled after a takedown notice was issued.

The Huffington Post UK was not independently able to test whether the available design was that of an actual Warhammer model, or a design ‘inspired’ by the official dreadnought.

In addition Games Workshop said they had no comment, and it was not possible to contact the creator of the design as the plans were listed anonymously.

But even though 3D printers remain a relatively niche interest for now, the prospect of widespread copyright infringement in even 5, 10 or 20 years must still be considered a worrying development. As the Pirate Bay themselves point out:

“We believe that things like three dimensional printers, scanners and such are just the first step. We believe that in the nearby future you will print your spare parts for your vehicles. You will download your sneakers within 20 years.”

Music and movies may just be the start. Lawyers, start your engines.”

From a check of Pirate Bay’s post (I like HP did not download the file), but the comment section reveals this posted picture of the supposed model.

pirate dreadnoght

Here is a real 40K Dreadnought for comparison:

real dreadnought

The above image is copyright of Games Workshop.