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Chief Rovio Executive: “Piracy May Not Be a Bad Thing: It Can Get Us More Business by the End of the Day”

One of the first times I actually heard a professional support piracy was back in college at a concert of band I liked. In between songs, the singer implored the crowed to either buy some CDs at the merch table, or go home and download their music: “We don’t care how you get it, we just want to be heard.” What a novel approach, I thought. The next time I heard professionals not bemoan piracy was in a few interviews with people in the comic book industry: “Most likely, anyone who pirates our comics weren’t going to buy them anyway, so we’re not losing money, but we’re gaining fans.” Interesting view, I thought. Now, Mikael Hed, chief executive of Rovio, the company that took over the mobile gaming market with a simple game about suicidal birds, has a similar point of view: “Piracy may not be a bad thing: It can get us more business by the end of the day.”

A similar view that both the band I saw back in college and the interviews I’ve read with people in the comic book industry. Piracy can act as a demo, or a token of good faith that if a pirate enjoys a product, they’ll likely spend money on it in the end, or might spend money on a new product from the same company.

Gaining some Internet cred, Hed said Rovio could learn from the music industry, “and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy.” He views it was “futile” to try to quash piracy through the courts, unless the products in question are harmful to the Angry Birds franchise, or ripping off fans. One may quickly respond that pirates downloading Angry Birds for free would be harmful to the franchise, but one must remember that the franchise is already wildly successful, so Hed is probably referring to the fact that missing out on a few thousand $0.99 downloads probably doesn’t destroy a franchise that quite literally took over the mobile gaming market.

Gaining more Internet cred, Hed said, “We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans,” continuing to say, “If we lose that fanbase, our business is done, but if we can grow that fanbase, our business will grow.”

Hed goes on to mention that with people spending so much time within Rovio apps, they’re looking to create some partnerships with certain industries to help get their content into Rovio apps — the music industry, for instance. Whether or not Rovio manages to pull this off, at least we know that someone over at Rovio has a refreshing view of piracy. Granted, not paying for a product that has a price tag probably won’t ever be kosher, but the first step toward combating it in a way that might actually make room for change is to look at the problem in a new light.

(via The Guardian)

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