In a post back in January, I mentioned discussing my take on the whole piracy issue that faces the FS payware community in an ever so painful way. Since the topic seems to have died down a bit in the forums lately, I’ll rekindle the flame a bit with a bit of perspective on my end.
It is piracy that ultimately caused my leaving FSD. Why? I’ll get to that in a bit but first a brief history of how I came about as a team member at FSD in the first place.
FSD’s history as 3rd party content creators goes back before my time as a developer. It was in the late 90s that Jim Goldman (still an FSD team member) along with Yannick Lavigne, Marco Rensen, Fred Banting, and Steve Small (also still with FSD) started creating amazing content such as the original Turbo Porter for FS 2000.
During my first freeware adventure with the creation of the Project Open-Sky C-17, I sought out the very best people I knew of to help me develop it. For the flight model, I asked Steve Small and he happily agreed (at that time, he was still doing some freeware work). Well, time passed and the C-17 was put out and then I decided to take a hiatus from development. Maybe a year or so later, Steve and the rest of FSD (who, along with Steve, was Tim Dickens and Jim Goldman) asked me to come on board as a professional modeler. They had several projects in the works that needed some modeling help and they felt that I fit the build – plus they were working on transitioning from FSDS to Gmax and I had already been learning it on my own. Also, I had been secretly working on a T-38 that would become (to my amazement) a great contribution to FSD’s hangar.
So it began in 2002, I was officially on board with FSD. We utilized the Flight1 installer to distribute product. With the release of the Seneca V, we noticed a dramatic problem. We were getting support inquiries in our forums from people not showing up in the product database. In an experiment, we released the service package as a download at FlightSim.com. To our amazement, the download count was nearly 33% greater than the number of aircraft originally sold. That told us that we were losing nearly 33% revenue to piracy.
That was enough motivation for us to develop or seek another distribution method that allowed better control of piracy. At first I thought that this was a good thing, but ultimately caused my leaving the group. Let me first say that in no way am I criticizing work done by the team members at FSD – I still think the work done there is great. But I was getting the feeling that more time was being placed on protecting the product than creating quality content of the overall product. Support for the product really became an ugly issue, especially when we were accusing a user of having pirated wares on his/her PC. FSD’s reputation was sinking like a ship, so I felt my time there was done.
Then I moved to a short stint with Dreamfleet. I came to realize that Lou and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues – namely placing authentic avionics in the Twin Comanche I was developing, so I joined Eaglesoft with whom I currently develop. Yes, Eaglesoft product is shared on bittorrent and warez sites. Am I happy about that? You bet I am not. Will piracy ever go away? I do not think there will ever be a vehicle for distribution that will not be susceptible to hackers.
I prefer to look at the whole situation like this. If people are willing to steal my work, I would rather not have them as a paying customer. Period. To those who do believe in rewarding people such as myself for the time and effort to created authentic and highly realistic works for FS, I applaude you for your contribution. You help sustain and prolong our existence in the FS market.