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Open Source

Ask Slashdot: How To Get Paid For Open-Sourcing Your Work? 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the open-source-bank-robbing-software dept.
kc600 writes "Say you're a freelancer, using mainly open source solutions. You notice that customers, although they don't object to the whole open source idea, don't see the point in paying you for the time it costs you to properly open source your code. As a result, code is not released, because it would take too much time to factor out the customer-specific stuff, to debate architecture with the other developers, look at bug reports, et cetera. You feel there's something to contribute that many might benefit from. The code would also be better maintained if more people would use it, so the customer's project would also benefit. But you're not going to do it in your free time; you have enough on your mind and the bill is paid, right? What useful tricks can you think of to encourage yourself — and your customers — to properly share code, to the benefit of all, and get paid for it?"
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Court to Decide If Man Can Keep His Moon Rock 390

Posted by samzenpus
from the dark-side-of-the-moon-rocks dept.
Joe Gutheinz, a former senior investigator for NASA's Office of Inspector General, has made it his goal to collect all 230 moon rocks presented by the US to governments around the world, and put them in a museum. Deadliest Catch Captain Coleman Anderson wants to keep his little piece of the moon. Anderson says he found the rock in the trash mixed with debris following a fire at an Anchorage museum in 1973. He's kept it as a good luck charm ever since. "Our astronauts and their descendants are not permitted to have an Apollo 11-era moon rock to sell for their own enrichment and neither should a private citizen who acquired one in a less-noble manner," Gutheinz said. An Alaskan judge will now decide who legally owns the rock.

Comment: Re:The Bigger Picture. (Score 1) 345

by Stumpeh (#31631886) Attached to: GameStop Sued Over Lack of DLC For Used Games

Unfortunately the used games market is the one place that car analogies fall down on (Shocking, I know!). The difference is the time scales. When a brand new game comes out you can pick up a second hand copy within a week. Noone is mad enough to buy a car and resell it within the same time frame because they'll be out a few thousand local economic units at least. The only way to combat this is to effectively lock second hand buyers out of the market. Resale in games does nothing for the companies. if I'm willing to wait a week or two and buy second hand in the first place why would I have to have the sequel on launch day? The perfect solution would be resale of games after a limited timeframe. Give them a month or so to shift their first sale units then put them up for resale. The problem with that, of course, is that GameStop and their ilk make the vast majority of their money on resold games. They buy them for maybe a third of their RRP and resell them for a couple of dollars off RRP. How can they lose? There are two Electronics Boutiques in my local town both of which have one shelf rack (that's a stacked shelf maybe three feet across) devoted to new games for each platform and the remainder of the store (ten plus shelf racks per platform) devoted to second hand. How can those sorts of sales be good for the games market? Us game developers (so yes, I'm biased!) have to eat!

Comment: Re:i hate stupid bad guys (Score 1) 461

by Stumpeh (#28023495) Attached to: Special Effects Lessons From JJ Abrams' Star Trek

Actually his revenge is sort of justifiable. Remember that they're in an alternate universe and Spock, at least, appears to be aware of this. While I'm sure Nero probably sent a quick text to the Romulans in this universe to let them know what to look out for *his* Romulus in his universe was still destroyed because of that damnable Spock. So why shouldn't he get a little bit of revenge by destroying this universe's Vulcan? That's obviously not as good as hitting the real Vulcan, but a close second.

Plus he's a Romulan. They don't calm down. Polar opposite of the Vulcans and all. *hand wave* *hand wave*.

Comment: Re:People still buy used games? (Score 1) 129

by Stumpeh (#28011441) Attached to: Wal-Mart Enters the Used Game Fray

Righto, I've just typed a monster of a reply to bsdaemonaut below(#28011267) so I'll direct you to that for the crux of my argument.

I see your point that in a capitalist society asking for hand outs isn't cool. My point is that in a capitalist society you're going to get well and truly screwed up the arse by the game developers, because you're forcing them ALL to adopt unpleasant tactics in order to make a profit.

I think perhaps video games are something new really. They don't suffer from wear and tear like physical products, so can be readily resold, and they fall in a price bracket that's just about perfect for encouraging the resale market which will kill them dead or force them to adapt in unsavoury ways to avoid it.

Smaller niche titles are cool, but they're going to have to be really small to avoid the resale market. The size of the existing indie market, in fact. This market produces some stunningly inventive and fun games, but if you're after a big budget high production value shooter it just can't match up.

Publishers will certainly try to increase their profits with DRM. They're ardent capitalists just like you, and are just following the system. I'm suggesting that we should break the rules a bit to allow companies the chance to produce DRM free games, or suffer the consequences.

Comment: Re:People still buy used games? (Score 1) 129

by Stumpeh (#28011267) Attached to: Wal-Mart Enters the Used Game Fray

I think you'd be surprised at the resources needed to create games these days. Budgets run at tens of millions even for the cheap and cheerful. The really big names run to hundreds of millions. They're by no means a guaranteed cash cow. Most new games, in fact, make a loss, which the publishers try to offset with their blockbuster cash cow titles.

That aside though, I agree it costs a lot more to make a car, and therefore follows that it should cost a lot more to buy one. That's not what I'm arguing. It boils down to this:

The used games market provides a method for someone to sell a brand new product, at no loss to themselves, for 2/3 the sale price available to the creator of that product, regardless of the sale price set by the creator. The creator is, therefore, stuffed. They can't beat the competition on price.

Proof:

Assume games sell new for 60, resell for 40 and are bought used by the retailer for 20. Assume the retailer makes a hefty 66% profit on new games (not far from the truth either. They make the big bucks).

Customer X has 60. He buys one new game a month. 20 goes to the publisher, 40 to the retailer.

Customer Y has 60. He buys (and re-resells) 3 1 week old games a month, at a total cost of 60 (40 * 3) - (20 * 3). 0 goes to the publisher, 60 to the retailer.

They essentially shift ALL of the profits to themselves, rather than share it with the publisher, and it's rather attractive to the buyer too. He only has to wait a few days to get a nearly new game.

This is the point I'm trying to make. You're right that no-one would want a six month old used game, but the problem is that a few days after release people will start trading in their games, so the market is undercut. Games are therefore MORE likely to be bought used. Why not? They're basically identical to the brand new version in everything except price.

This market undercutting can't be done with cars because there's no ready supply of used cars available for a significant period after a car is launched. Few people are rich or crazy enough to trade in their brand new car. A couple of years down the line the market will appear but the car manufacturer doesn't care (too much!) because they've got a brand new model out and everyone wants that one now. They still have a market. If we could buy cars for 50 quid each car manufacturers would have the same problem.

Books and CDs are an excellent example of similar markets to computer games which don't suffer from the same problem. I suspect that's because they're cheap enough that there isn't enough profit in it for the resellers. Unfortunately you can't just drop the price of games down to book level because the cost of development is significantly higher.

So, solutions:

Reduce the development costs of games? Fine, but you can't do that without sacrificing either quality or quantity. Not what any of us game buyers want, right?

Add on-line purchaseables that are so good people will just HAVE to buy them? The slight problem with this is that publishers and developers are amoral, capitalistic, companies and will take the line of least resistance to maximum profit. When you jack your first car in GTA 10 a screen will pop up asking for your credit card details. And again for the second. And so on. Essentially this is a form of DRM which locks out reselling, because the game's unplayable without an injection of cash.

On line monthly sub or pay to play of some variety? Well, yes. That's about the only workable solution, and effectively anti-resell DRM again.

Essentially we're screwed! Not buying resold games, however, gives developers one less reason to go down this road, and allows those developers who want to be a bit more moral about it an avenue to do business. It's not capitalism, but what can you do?

Comment: Re:People still buy used games? (Score 1) 129

by Stumpeh (#28010533) Attached to: Wal-Mart Enters the Used Game Fray
The resale value of cars is still significantly lower than the cost of the car new. That's my point. Generally speaking, people can't afford to be trading in a car while the manufacturer is still making a profit out of the "brand spanking new" sales. Just because you might know someone who can afford a new car every few months doesn't mean that that's the buying habits of the majority. As to housing I don't see your point. The "basic repairs" add value, so its to be expected that you sell it for more money. You can't add value to a game. The housing market tends to appreciate, rather than depreciate, over time (well, most of the time!). They're completely different markets. Essentially the computer games market, as it exists today, is not really viable. If you're a firm believer in capitalism you might say "Bollocks to it then. Sink or swim", but by doing so you stifle innovation. If the only way to make money is by producing GTA 15 or Halo 67 you'll end up with a market consisting of one or two publishers churning out the same games over and over because it's not profitable to produce something that has any chance of being resold. It's either that, or accept some form of DRM that enforces no reselling for games within their few month initial release profit window (and I'm aware that that's naive as hell. If they've got the tech they'll lock down their games for all time, another happy side effect of capitalism). Neither of these options are any good at all, but the current games market cannot work under your market economy so as far as I can see you're stuck with one or the other.

Comment: Re:People still buy used games? (Score 1) 129

by Stumpeh (#28010353) Attached to: Wal-Mart Enters the Used Game Fray
No no, I don't think you understand my point. It's easy to find a used car, yes. It's bloody hard to pick up a used car that was released a week ago, though, because noone can afford to swap cars every other week. By the time the car company has a new car out to sell to all the people who want brand spanking new cars their last model is a year or two old. They still get to make big money on the new model. The games industry makes almost all their money on new releases. A few months after release very few people are buying that game any more. The problem with the used games market is that its competing directly with the new games market. The same game is being sold as brand new and as used, so why wouldn't people pick up the cheaper version? They're being priced out of their market by the retailers and there's nothing they can do to stop it.

Comment: Re:People still buy used games? (Score 0) 129

by Stumpeh (#28009481) Attached to: Wal-Mart Enters the Used Game Fray
THAT logic is whacky. The used games market is totally different to the used car or house market because of the turn around times. You could happily buy a game for 60 quid/dollars/whatever, play it for a week, then sell it for 20 and you're only out 40. Not so bad. You'd be mad to buy a 6000 pound car and sell it a week later for 2000, though. People can't afford to do that, so they'll hang on to the car for a couple of years. This means that the car manufacturers aren't competing with the used market when selling their brand new cars. That's the big difference. Most of the money made on a new game is within the first couple of months. After that it's old and tired and something better has come out, so sales tail off.

The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold

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