Imagine that you are going to a restaurant for a meal. Upon entering, you are required to present two forms of ID and register as the authorized user of that restaurant. Then you are required to pay. Before you can see a menu, you are reminded that unauthorized copying of any recipe is a violation of the law. Also, you are more likely than not required to order an appetizer or dessert to get the meal you actually came for. There is no staff to serve you. While you wait for your meal, you are subject to advertisements for other meals they will be serving in the future. Then you get quick acknowledgements of the suppliers that provided ingredients, the name of the head chef and possibly even told the names of the cooks. Finally you are served. You are unable to finish your meal, but are not allowed to take your leftovers (or dessert) home with you. Now despite them serving your favorite dish, how likely are you to return? For most people, the answer is no.
For me, this is how I perceive large media company’s operations. I expect by now most everyone has seen the pirate DVD vs. original comparison graphic (if not, perform a Google Image Search for “Original vs pirated”). That image is really more akin to being inconvenient to doing business with. However that image is several years old. If anything, it’s worse now than it was then. Sometimes it’s downright hostile interaction with entertainment companies. This week Ubisoft is changing servers which, with their DRM scheme, means certain games won’t play. At all. (for more detail, click here). What this tells me is that Ubisoft can’t manage their IT needs. There is no excuse for this in 2012. Probably wasn’t a good excuse in 2002 either. This should be a huge PR disaster. I only found out about it because I was going to criticize Ubisoft for requiring an active internet connection on PC Games. Being as some ISPs are capping data useage, requiring data xfer for single player mode is stupid. But I’ll wager that not being able to manage to keep services active during a server move is higher on the stupidity scale. And remember kids, Ubisoft wants to do this on consoles too.
So what this leads me to is a question for the people in media companies. Would you take your money elsewhere if you were treated badly, consistently, by a business? I bet you have already done this. You want to be treated kindly; as if you were not someone just looking to take something without paying. How many of your invoices for supplies need to be paid in full up front? Do you see where I’m going with this? If the fundamental duty of human beings is to treat others in the manner they themselves would prefer to be treated, big media is failing, badly.
Whether the entertainment industry wants to admit it or not, piracy is not a widespread problem when compared to the popluation at large. There are FAR more people trying to play by the rules than breaking them. With the SOPA and PIPA related website blackouts, the majority is becoming more aware of the esteem media companies hold their customers in. There is no scarcity in entertainment product, so nobody should be feeling assured of their place in the market. Treat the customer better than the others at the same price point and expect to be rewarded.