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But gains stall in following months and government is stuck in telecom-vs-media battle over fees

New Zealand, like many nations, is struggling with how to balance the rights of big media investors that claim their work is being incessantly stolen by the masses, with the public's rights to privacy and due process.  New Zealand contemplated a "three strikes" plan, which involved sending pirates two warnings, then severing their internet service.  But unlike the outcome in most other regions where similar contentious plans were struck down or modified, the New Zealand plan passed, largely unchanged.

I. No Progress, After Modest Initial Gains

With all eyes watching, media attack dog New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft (NZ FACT) has looked to track the bill's performance, in hopes of showing its efficacy.

The results were impressive -- for a month.  In one month, the top 200 movies were illegally viewed 110,000 times in August, but only 50,000 times in September, the month the law took effect.  But the group admits that in the months since there has been no "discernible progress" in terms of decreased piracy.

Kiwis (New Zealanders) have taken to referring to the laws as "the Skynet" bill.  The bill creates a Copyright Tribunal, which has the power to fine citizens up to $15,000 NZ ($11,870 USD).

You're out
After early gains, New Zealand's "Three Strikes" plan to ban copyright infringers has stalled, with 4 out of 10 citizens still regularly pirating. [Image Source: Ed Zurga/AP]

So far, fewer notices have been sent than some expected.  Aside from government officials double-guessing the passage of the bill, one obstacle to mailing notices has been the $25 NZ ($20 USD) reimbursement fee under the law which media companies must send telecoms to cover their processing costs.

II. Debate Over Notice Fees Rages

NZ FACT has not mailed any notices, but the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) -- the sister organization to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) -- has managed to send out 2,766 infringement notices between October and April.  Of those, only 58 were challenged.  And only two individuals won their challenges before the Copyright Tribunal.

The RIANZ is pushing for the fee to telecoms to be cut the review fee to a few cents.  Telecoms are upset about this, saying it will not cover the cost of warning and cutting off customers.  

The largest telecom in the nation Telecom New Zealand says it lost approximately $431.68 NZ ($342 USD) per user to verify and process the notices.  It sent 1,238 notices and thus lost approximately $400K USD complying with the ruling.  The carrier and internet service provider is pushing the government to raise the fee to $104 NZ ($82 USD) to come closer to covering the costs. 

Telecom New Zealand
Telecom New Zealand complains its lost hundreds of thousands of dollars
complying with the new law. [Image Source: TechDay]

New Zealand's Ministry of Economic Development is currently contemplating whether to cut the fee or raise it.

However, one thing is certain -- in recent months the bill is making little progress.  While the global average for citizens who commit at least one copyright egregious infringement per month is estimated at around 28 percent of the population, the RIANZ estimates that 41 percent -- or approximately 2 out of ever 5 Kiwis commit such an offense, as of Feb. 2012, despite the threat of the three strikes law.

Sources: Fairfax NZ News, Ministry of Economic Development

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RE: Ok, so you made some progress...sort of
By TheJian on 7/23/2012 7:04:42 PM , Rating: 3
The Witcher 2 and Legends of Grimrock both sold well at different ends of the spectrum. Both are great games and needed no help selling even without DRM. I thought removing DRM/manual/disc would drive the price down on Witcher2 but I guess they were a bit scared and sold it high, or just wanted to capitalize on the group who bought the first and wanted more. Either way they won't get my money if their next game isn't down at $40 or less no matter how good or DRM free. I just don't think any game is worth $60. I will admit to paying $53 for Wiz8 though, I have played them all as a kid and just had to have it on day one. But that's the exception NOT the rule. Also they dumbed it down for console users and lied to PC users about it right up to release day (and after!). That left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. It was designed for consoles but RELEASED on a pc first ;)

RE: Ok, so you made some progress...sort of
By someguy123 on 7/24/2012 1:15:39 AM , Rating: 3
What are you going on about? The Witcher 2 is a great game and the launch build runs circles around the substantially graphically reduced (and model overhauled) xbox version. It's night and day and uses PC hardware very well, especially with its jitter-correcting ubersampling. They also ripped the security off of it after users were experiencing performance problems. Not to mention the game itself is long and has substantial story branches.

If that isn't enough to warrant a purchase I don't know what is. You act like they slap video games together on a factory line and upcharge for the hell of it.

RE: Ok, so you made some progress...sort of
By BillyBatson on 7/24/2012 3:19:25 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think he was saying that game prices are marked up too high but that no video game is actually worth $60~ period... And I agree, regardless of how much it cost to make, market, etc. That is a lot for a game. Single player games can be beaten within days if not earlier, all games depreciate almost instantly and very drastically, and the average person won't play a game for more than a few months and that's if it's multiplayer/online.
If a movie ticket is $12 then in my eyes the perceived value of any game is $36~. Sell me games at that price point and I would actually buy games. If game studios have to cut costs to reach that price point then do it, don't develop a game that has to be sold at $60

By Paj on 7/24/2012 9:39:17 AM , Rating: 2
I've been re-evaluating the way I think of games prices recently. Granted, games in the UK seem to be a lot cheaper than elsewhere - most new releases are priced at between £30-£39. Indie games can be half of this, and when steam sales are on you can pick up games for less than the price of a pint.

I often ask myself if the enjoyment I get from buying a game is equivalent to the same value of beer. If I can buy a game for £20 that will give me unlimited hours of entertainment (ie Civilization V, which plays differently every time), well thats basically a couple of rounds of drinks, worth a few hours entertainment and a hangover. Its easy to rationalise that way. If its some AAA single player title with about 4 hours of gameplay then the situation is very different.

By someguy123 on 7/24/2012 2:44:40 PM , Rating: 2
Single player games can be beaten within days if not earlier, all games depreciate almost instantly and very drastically, and the average person won't play a game for more than a few months and that's if it's multiplayer/online.

Really? You're complaining that a few months of gameplay online isn't worth $60 period?

What the do you do for entertainment anyway? You can't watch movies because they're too expensive, I mean it's only about an hour or two for about thirteen dollars on a regular night. Five dollars to swim in a private pool? That's a horrible price/performance ratio! Forget about paying for a club to go golfing.

I can understand short games not being worth the $60 tag, but to say every game isn't worth it just seems silly to me, especially when you're talking about how months of entertainment online is STILL too expensive.

RE: Ok, so you made some progress...sort of
By TheJian on 7/24/2012 8:22:03 AM , Rating: 2
Did you even read the post? It is in english, which you seem to understand. See Billybatson's post.

I commented both games are GREAT and at different ends of the spectrum (major release in the case of the witcher2 and indie in the case of legends of grimrock)...Read it again. However, it must be said that witcher2 didn't lower the price of the game at all for having no manuals, boxes or DRM (although you could buy retail if desired and get a box/drm). Why still $60 for a game I can download? It should have been $40 or so since it is what I'd call a AAA game.

Umm, you haven't played Grimrock have you? Graphics are not bad and it was done by 4 guys in a year or so with family/friends/forum users as testers. The game runs in 2560×1440 resolution for crying out loud. It looks awesome for 4 guys...Devs need to take a page from their book! I hope we see more people in the industry LEAVE EA/Blizzard etc and go indie and do it themselves. These guys have proved it can be done and make a large portion of money even with no brand at all! I'm sure they'll get more for the next one. Look at Torchlight/Torchlight 2 for another example. I'm sure being the EX-DIABLO devs help sales in their case. Torchlight 1 can be had for $15 without DRM on Torchlight 2 has been announced at $20! These guys made Diablo/Diablo2 and the FATE series. GREAT GAMES CAN BE MADE FOR $20! Although I'd happily pay $30 for both torchlights and a much longer version of Legends of grimrock 2 etc. I think $30 is the sweetspot to get every honest person without DRM.

You can argue all you want over the fact that it was DESIGNED for consoles or not. The game did NOT have DRM on If you're dumb enough to buy from a place WITH DRM, that's not what my comment was about and is your problem, not mine. Telltale signs it was for consoles came in the combat changes/menus and gamepad centric style. I'm not alone in thinking that. Google it.

Games can be made cheaper - They're just GREEDY and create a market for piracy at $60 (I'm talking most game devs here, not CD Projekt/ Any game that can be beaten in <15 hours and charges $60 is asking for a LARGE audience to pirate it. See Billy's movie example. PERCEIVED VALUE IS NOT $60. Also note CD projekt says the DRM version was the most pirated NOT GOG.COM's version without the DRM...LOL.
Supporting is supporting CD Projekt! Buy all your games at! If you have any money left, buy at a regular dev if doesn't have your game.

DRM SUCKS! Without it though, the witcher 2 game should have been cheaper. They sold 1.7million copies on the PC alone! It would have been 3 million if it was $40 and that many more would be sucked into the next game from them. I'd venture to guess it would sell 4million+ at $30 as many more can afford that then and would avoid more waiting for later or for the pirate version (you'd just buy at $30 without thinking about waiting for the bargain bin prices or pirating it). Note I think they'll hit those anyway as prices have come down and they even say it has great long term sales it seems for both part 1 and part 2. PC's sell games at the right prices with no need for DRM. Cut out EA/Blizzard/Activision/Bethesda/taketwo etc and you can get your game done for $20-30 easily as already proven by games like fate 1-4, legends of grimrock, torchlight 1&2 etc.

I'm not sure what YOU'RE going on about. Better to just keep your mouth shut if you're not even going to read the post you're complaining about. Billybatson got it, why didn't you? It wasn't a complicated post...LOL. I'm pretty sure the impression was the two mentioned games were GOOD and WORTH purchasing. I'll buy the 3rd witcher if they price it at $40 or wait for reductions. Are we clear yet?...ROFL. But everyone should just pirate EA games until they die :) Blizzard now too. ;) Hung up on morals? Just don't pay them for any games then :) Turn them all into SPORE sales: Meaning, just about NONE. :) DRM should DIE!

By someguy123 on 7/24/2012 2:36:14 PM , Rating: 2
I did read your post, and this second post, and it's nothing but ranting. You offer no reasons for why $60 is "too much money", and you have go out of the way to ignore how much it costs to produce. I've played grimrock and it's incredibly short with classic grid movement. Do you honestly not understand why it's easier to produce better graphics in such a constrained environment? Have you never played an old myst or resident evil game?

You get tens of hours of entertainment from either game, and in the witchers case this is literally hours of text and dialogue as well as combat, story branching and character customization. I always find it hilarious when people say games cost too much when they're cheaper then they have ever been in history based in currency inflation, yet substantially more expensive to develop in general, mainly because of guys like you clamoring for 2560 resolution graphics while complaining that games cost too much.

RE: Ok, so you made some progress...sort of
By Ringold on 7/24/2012 4:31:34 PM , Rating: 1
Games can be made cheaper - They're just GREEDY and create a market for piracy at $60

Like the other guy said, they can be, and are; they're called indie games. $9.99 to $19.99 isn't uncommon. Small teams, often 1 or 2 guys.

Other games cost 100 million to produce, with vast bleeding-edge art assets, huge teams, etc.

It's like you're bitching about Porche's being expensive, as if those are the only cars out there. For people that don't care so much, there are Hyundai's. For the gamer equivalent, there's indie developers.

Almost every product market is segmented like this. Only difference is asshats trying to steal a car may get shot, whereas people anonymously sitting in front of their computer feel no remorse for not compensating others for access to their product. Who cares what your "perceived value" is? Does the world have to revolve around YOU and YOUR perceived value, subject to YOUR budget and income? Grow up.

By Reclaimer77 on 7/24/2012 6:57:38 PM , Rating: 2
Other games cost 100 million to produce, with vast bleeding-edge art assets, huge teams, etc.

But..but...but Grimrock was made by 4 people! In a basement! RAWWWWRRR

By HoosierEngineer5 on 7/24/2012 9:55:34 AM , Rating: 2
For me, $60 for a really good game is a much better value than, say, going out to dinner or a movie. Put those toghether, and $60 seems cheap. Plus, the game will probably provide more than one evening's worth of entertainment. Then, you can even play it again.

I bought Witcher 2 immediatly after planying Witcher 1. I haven't had time to play it yet (still re-playing some old non-DRM games I bought some years back).

I WOULD buy a DRM game for $10, if it had a $10 rebate for including DRM.

Of course, that's simply my perspective.

RE: Ok, so you made some progress...sort of
By Ringold on 7/24/2012 10:43:42 PM , Rating: 2
For me, $60 for a really good game is a much better value than, say, going out to dinner or a movie.

Are you married, and if so, does your wife agree? :P

If you are, and she does, then KEEP HER.

By HoosierEngineer5 on 7/25/2012 8:20:51 AM , Rating: 2
That's one of the reasons a dinner-movie combo GREATLY exceeds the normal cost of a single game.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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