In a new nation
enemies and debt,
you're the president.
Can you survive?
RANDOM MUSINGS on the fin-de-millénaire games scene . . .
4 December 2009 . . .
Do you notice anything unexpected in the photo?
Prices? In Chinese currency:
Conversion to the US dollar at the moment is achieved by dividing by 6.8, meaning the going rates are about $13.09, $11.62 and $5.74, respectively.
All sounds great, right? Except for one little detail: these games, strictly speaking, are not German at all. Each one has been meticulously copied from its original in every last detail. Judging by the prices alone, but also by the open admission of an employee there, none of this activity has been licensed.
Asked about this clear violation of publishing copyrights, the employee stated that the Chinese market is not yet affluent enough to pay the prices that licensing these products would require.
He may be right. Although the US media – driven now more than ever by the desire for more and more ratings points – generally likes to demonize China, usually portraying it as godless, an oppressor of Tibet, a dangerous creditor and a nuclear threat, it often fails to report its more mundane realities. For every newly-wealthy person in China, how many thousands or even millions continue to live in poverty? How many in the western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang are openly hostile to the regime and are engaged in near low intensity conflict with it, to the detriment of both? It may be that China is developing in a direction similar to the way we used to think of Mexico, a few very wealthy individuals with the majority trapped in poverty and almost no prosperous middle class.
Might it even be true that the activities of this company, illegal and unethical as they are, indirectly aid gamemakers in the sense that they are developing the market and whetting the appetite of the Chinese gameplaying consumer for the future?
Maybe it would even be worth it for the various publishers to assist this effort? Of course it would mean slashing their usual licensing fee to a third of the usual, but considering the size of the market and potential for the future, perhaps it's worth considering. Of course, keeping these low cost products in China and not letting them proliferate everywhere might be something of a challenge (forcing all text to be Chinese might help), but then again, it appears this might shortly be a challenge that will need to be faced anyway. Would it not be done more easily via engaging with the producers rather than by ignoring them?
It's curious how all this started. It wasn't so many years ago that many publishers turned to Chinese printers and suppliers to have their games manufactured. Is it the ironic truth that in trying to save a buck by having games made in China that the idea and practicality of knockoffs began in the first place?
One aspect that gives a nice feeling is that at least the games are seen as worth being knocked off. It's not just movies, music and video games anymore.
Update: more on this topic in the next post.
|Board Games in China|