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'How do you stop piracy? Try giving hackers a job. And make better PC games.'

Just Cause boss offers alternative route to curbing copyright problems

With Nintendo's new ability to brick consoles, Sony casting out PS3 hackers and Geohot taking a timely 'vacation', video game piracy is very much back in the news.

But is there a better way to tackle those gleefully infringing on publishers' copyright than simply wielding the ban hammer?


Christofer Sundberg, boss of Just Cause creator Avalanche studios in Sweden, certainly believes there might just be.

Sundberg is a long-term opponent of 'always online' DRM measures, and is keen for the video games industry to look at other ways of curbing piracy - including the rarely-discussed possibility of job interviews.

"Piracy is always worrying," he told CVG. "It's never been a helpful thing. We'll let our publishers fight that battle. But I mean, 50 percent of the people that work for me come from a hacker background - that's true."

When asked whether approaching leading hackers and asking them to put their programming skills to good use was a wise idea, Sundberg added:

"Oh yeah. I absolutely think that's a fair approach, to think about how these people can fit on the right side of the law. It's one way, at least. Perhaps the truest pirates are too much down the road of anarchy to ever work with you in a proper way; these are the guys who see us as evil!

"But in Sweden the [hacking] scene was huge... As a studio, we've found that there's definitely a lot of talent [in that community]."

Sundberg once again labelled DRM measures as "stupid".

"The DRM does not stop piracy," he said, "it just punishes the people who have actually paid for the game. It's completely useless. Forcing people to be online all the time and so on doesn't show respect to the people who actually buy PC games."

Sundberg's solution to denting video game piracy doesn't stop at cherry picking the brightest sparks from the hacking community, however.

He also believes that better, exclusive PC games - powered by constant updates - would reduce illegal software sharing.

"We've always made PC games, but we actually don't like [porting games from console to PC]," said Sundberg, whose Just Cause games have been hugely popular on the format.


"I've always been of the opinion that we should design PC games for the PC players. PC players and console players are completely two different types of consumer. It's always unfair to not design the game for the consumer you're targeting. The PC version is always a second thought [for publishers], like: 'Oh, and we need a PC version too.'

"You end up just doing a port, so there's not a lot of time, budget or creative thinking going into using the PC. I think that's quite sad. We [as an industry] should take the PC platform more seriously. Everyone is just complaining about piracy on the PC, but when it comes to in-game DLC or social connectivity, the options on PC compared to console are endless. I would like at some point to do a really good PC game designed specifically for PC players."

He added: "I think piracy wouldn't be as much of an issue if there were better PC games out there. We could just scrap the whole concept of stupid DRM."

Strong stuff. What are your thoughts, readers?