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The End Of Copyright (28 Nov 2005)
Movies and video games are more problematic. They take millions to make in the first place and a good many of them donít earn back their investment, even with full copyright protection in place. If weíre going to go on making video games, the publishers have to find a way to make them pay for themselves. One approach is an advertising model, although Iím reluctant to say it because I hate the idea of ads in games. Another is to treat games as a service rather than a product. With broadband distribution, I think this is increasingly likely: you wonít ever have a durable copy of a game, youíll download it every time you play it. Each instantiation will be unique, personalized for a particular machine and Internet address; encrypted to discourage hacking; and expires after a few hours. After that youíll have to download a new copy.

Yet another model is the donor model: somebody who is known for creating great work can collect up donations in advance; when he has collected enough to fund the work, he builds it, and releases the game copyright-free when itís finished. The donors will have paid and everyone else gets it for nothing, but they get it first and perhaps some special recognition for their contribution. Iíd be happy to put down $40 two years in advance for a new Sid Meier game, particularly if I knew it would be released copyright-free when it came out. And I bet a lot of other fans of Sidís work would say the same.

The donors have to trust that the developer will finish it, of course; but this is effectively how freeware development works now. Somebody makes a name for themselves with a piece of freeware; they ask for donations; the donations help to fund further work on a new version. So far it has only been tried on a small scale, butóas the mobile and casual games are showing us-thereís still plenty of demand for small scale games in the world.
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