"Quality or Actuality?"
Thus read the editorial headline of Februari's "ST Computer", the
German computer magazine for users of ST Computers. Major issue
in that article was the fact that one has to choose whether to
have a very up-to-date magazine filled with reviews of pre-
versions or even illegal copies of software packages, or to fill
one's magazine with thorough reviews of older programs (that
would be supplied with usermanual, which is often not the case
with pre-versions or illegal copies).
Obviously, the editorial staff of "ST Computer" chose the
"Quality" option, whereas I think there has to be a way in-
between both. Of course, the user (and the potential buyer of
software) is only served when a thorough review of a program is
published, but I think it's quite stupid simply to ignore the
fact that you've just seen a brand-new program (which happens to
be an illegal copy or so) at an acquaintance of yours by not
writing anything about it in one's magazine.
It is a fact that software piracy is there, and I am afraid it
cannot be stopped as long as software is still quite expensive
(especially games, which are usually cracked within days after
their launch, so it seems). Why shouldn't one make use if it here
and there? A magazine needs to have things that catch the eye.
What if a magazine has a cover with the hottest software around
on it? It would sell earlier than a magazine which proudly offers
"Brataccas" on the front, wouldn't it?
It is very difficult for software houses to fight against
software piracy, but I am sure (and with me, many other people
amongst which are several software developers) that making better
copy-protections won't help. All protection schemes, however
complicated they may be, can be broken. And if a protection is
tough to break, the more people will try breaking it until one is
good enough to do it; it must give the hacker quite a 'kick' to
crack a really heavy protected program!
On the first place, software developers should keep the software
to themselves until it is finally launched. Many programs turn
out to be on the hacker's tables even before the first versions
of the program are put in the shops. Everyone must have heard of
1st Word Plus already - I wonder how many dozens of versions
whizzed around since early summer 1986? I still haven't seen it
anywhere in any shops, though. Software authors should take
better care when distributing their programs to 'friends and
acquaintances' who apparently cannot be trusted.
Another thing that, so it seems to me, greatly increases the
software piracy is the fact that much software is simply too
expensive. Most games, for example, could have been sold
massively when they only would have been cheaper. Nobody likes to
pay, say, more than 100 Dutch guilders for a really good game,
not even for excellent games like "Flightsimulator II". It must
surely be possible to reduce the price of software to around 50
guilders for a good program or possible around 80 guilders for an
excellent program (like "Flightsimulator II", "Degas Elite" or
even "GfA Basic"). The acual costs of producing a program (disks,
paper, manual, etc.) aren't that much, and one mustn't forget the
increase of sales when prices go down. It must be possible to
create a huge number of sales at much lower prices, so that the
profits for the programmer will still be high enough, or maybe
even higher. When prices decrease, the software sales will
increase, the ST will be sold more massively, more companies will
start writing software for it, and it will be possible to
decrease the prices - a visual circle!
I agree that programs are sometimes worth much more than that
they cost, even when I think the price should be reduced. It
simply is a fact that the ST is becoming a computer of the
people, and most people simply cannot afford to buy all the
programs they want. In that case, they just copy it. I know
the fault also lies with the crackers and copiers, as well as the
people that buy the original software, but the software houses
are largely to blame as well!
The only programs that can be much higher in price are the so-
called vertical applications; these are aimed at a totally
different group of people, who generally also have the money to
buy these programs (like shops, dentists, architects, etc.). But
software that is aimed at the general user should definately be
Something that has been growing rapidly, especially on the ST so
it seems, is the freeware circuit (a circuit of programs that may
be copied freely, also called Public Domain). This is something
very positive to the development of a computer system, since it
greatly increases the library of programs that can be obtained by
the average user, which again increases the number of people that
buy the system - and the freeware circuit also helps to lower the
current software prices as it very often offers high quality
programs at a minimum of costs (if you order freeware through us,
you'll only have to pay the post costs back and forth, so that
can safely be called a minimum!).
I have noticed that interest in ST NEWS has greatly increased in
the past few months, which proves not only that we tend to offer
the people what they want, but also that the freeware circuit has
experiences enormous growth recently - now I understand why
dozens of PD libraries pop out of the ground everywhere (but
especially in Germany)! I hope they will go on serving the ST
users, as we will for a long while to come!
(Editor of ST NEWS)
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.