Originally written on December 18, Newtown hit me very hard, then I
got wrapped up in holidays. Actual publish date is January 4.
tl;dr I still believe all this
but feel people who watch game streams with
ad block are acting supremely entitled because there are workarounds, and
compared to “theft” of mass media the inconveniences are fewer, and the producers
are more cheated.
I got into a Twitter disagreement with a good friend, Jake Eakle, mostly
over this tweet of mine:
Considered working in eSports when I
decided to change jobs, but goddamn can eSports fans be entitled asscactuses reddit.com/r/starcraft/co…—
Paul Meier (@SrPablo) December 14, 2012
To which he responded:
@srpablo I thought the top comments raised
valid points about problems with twitch ads. I have to refresh streams too often
to leave AB off.— Jake Eakle (@jseakle) December 14, 2012
@jseakle I don’t disagree with the points,
or that it’s a teensy bit annoying. But they cry bloody murder over it, and it’s
many … (1/3)— Paul Meier (@SrPablo) December 14, 2012
@jseakle streamers’ livelihood. Many act
cheated that this service that of continuous free content isn’t just perfect for
a few … (2/3)— Paul Meier (@SrPablo) December 14, 2012
@jseakle minutes/hr of content, so cheat
providers. Dunno, growing up with TV, I find it hard to agree with
conclusion/tone. (3/3)— Paul Meier (@SrPablo) December 14, 2012
@srpablo It’s a similar issue to content
piracy. You can rail against the entitled selfish thieves trying to (cont) tl.gd/kbl9bn— Jake Eakle (@jseakle) December 14, 2012
(I’m not putting this on twitlonger, because I prefer the data in my own space).
So I promised a rebuttal in a similar long-form vein as the Twitlonger post:
@jseakle Agree almost entirely, have for
years, see similarities in morepaul.com/2010/08/making…
insufficient in this case, at this scale, imo— Paul Meier (@SrPablo)
December 14, 2012
@jseakle might update blog for longer
argument, but short: ads work as model, $5/mo subscription option removes, diffs
with general piracy— Paul Meier (@SrPablo) December 14, 2012
and here it is!
Summary, and a brief aside.
First, I still agree with all this. No use arguing right vs. wrong on these
questions, prefer working over non-working, and in the case of mass media assets
like pop music, Hollywood movies, and royalties for scripts, the current system
is not working.
Note that this doesn’t mean I would pirate or endorse pirating: my
opinions in the previous post were concering a proper attitude as a producer
trying to make a living, not the morality or a judgement on the person obtaining
the assets. I didn’t state my opinion of that person or their actions.
Here’s where the two posts differ: in the tweet that set it all off, I was
stating my opinion, at least as in concerns game streams, and more clearly so we
don’t miss it: given the state of media, if you’re running an ad blocker
during a stream, you’re being entitled (in my opinion, unjustly) to free
entertainment and the labor of artists. And, well, I think it’s a dick move,
so I don’t do it, and hope you don’t either.
That said, here’s why it’s a more complicated situation for me than the standard
case of mass media, where I’m much more forgiving.
This system works for artists, actually.
In the last post, I hinted at the fact that the last system didn’t only provide
inferior service for consumers, but cheated artists as well:
A fringe benefit of this is that you no longer have to deal with
middlemen taking big cuts, and stealing. Hollywood accounting means that you
could still, technically,
lose money on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy
(Peter Jackson and the estate of JRR Tolkien had to sue to get any royalties from the
movies). It’s how TLC
could sell 10 million CD’s and still go bankrupt.
The bad old days were bad for artists too. So leverage the technology, and work for
See the Wikipedia page for Hollywood Accounting
In game streaming, these “highway roberry” practices by middlemen are much
harder to perform than in traditional entertainment spheres. So when Warner
Bros. or Sony Music tell me that I’m stealing from Rihanna, I know they’ve got
her and every other one of their artists on a short leash, and I’m actually
stealing from Hollywood fatcats who give them fractions of a penny of my $20 CD
or DVD purchase.
(note: the not-incorrect theory is, those “fatcats” actually need to be there
for the work to get made at all, and deserve their share of the money too. Sure,
okay. Certainly the creation of art isn’t enough on it’s own, and there’s a
whole industry around packaging, marketing, distribution, and the like. I’ll
expose my bias for content creators here: I can’t prove that a system where they
get more of the money for their work is “better” since creation is only part of
the process, so I’ll just state I have an emotional preference for rewarding
content creators, at least more than the current system does).
Given this, I feel a fair bit worse running AdBlock while watching
Grubby’s stream because it means mah boi Manuel is losing more money for
entertaining me (for FREE mind you… but that’s later) then I would be
depriving Kanye were I to downloaded his entire life’s work, proportionally
(SECOND note: this doesn’t mean Twitch.tv or Owned3D don’t take a cut
here. They’re the fatcats. But that cut is substantially less, since a) they
are in in direct competition with each other (and tomorrow’s startup) in a
low barrier-to-entry market, and therefore can’t collude as effectively (“it’s just how
it’s done” can’t be pulled off), and b) they’re calculating artist compensation
by automated processes based on precise measurements like ad impressions.
Hollywood accounting is possible when you can make a few “big scores”, for which
you need a legal team to create a confusing contract based on fungible
definitions, and an accounting team to enforce it… Basically, yes, they take
money, but they’re playing a game that only works when they create a system
where it is much harder to screw you).
[UPDATE (2012-01-17): So as soon as I say this,
Owned3D comes to light as being an asshole. So you can still screw artists
over. Hopefully the market corrects this, and they either change their behavior
or people move to Twitch/YouTube/UStream/LiveStream, or Owned cleans up their
act. But if not and this continues, well, this overall point of “better for the
artists” becomes less valid.]
So while I don’t do it, I don’t feel that “stealing” from the big labels in
traditional media is the same as stealing from the artist, but in game streams,
it’s much, much closer; close enough to give me pause. That said, if you’re
still so annoyed by the ads…
Put your money where your mouth is and subscribe.
If you click the link to Grubby’s stream above, you’ll notice a Subscribe button
for $4.99. This means you watch that stream ad-free for a month, and give the
streamer a bigger payout per-user than they get via ad impressions. So if you really
wanted to watch ad-free and weren’t afraid of participating in capitalism (where
both the producer and consumer benefit from a transaction) why is this option
never mentioned in the comments to threads on AdBlock?
A big reason I don’t own a TV or subscribe for cable is because I watch streams
regularly enough that I wouldn’t use it. If a basic cable subscription costs $60
(that’s conservative, from what I hear/remember) you can support 12 streamers
for that cost and watch 12 streams without ads, ever (cable subscriptions often
cost more, especially with HBO, sports packages, &etc.)
I have no data for the premise that few people subscribe, for all I
know it’s a very popular feature and tens/hundreds of thousands of users do it.
I’m skeptical though, because it virtually never gets mentioned in any threads
about AdBlock, and all the people who know AdBlock is costing TeamLiquid
50-60% of their ad revenue never mention or seem to care that all their
grievances for watching ads could be remedied with the cost of a fancy drink at
I know not everyone is a software developer like me who can afford the cost of
of a cable subscription, but if you still choose to just block the ads, also
It’s a growing industry.
Not to become the “STOP KILLING ESPORTS” kid, but… if you like eSports, why
are you engaging in a practice that actively hurts its business prospects? It’s
a brand new form of mass entertainment, still on pretty shaky ground, and this
bubble could still pop. Just ask Jason Lake or
Alex Garfield or Marcus Graham, because they lived and invested in
a world of $500,000 Counter-Strike tournaments, only to watch the whole thing
pop around them.
(Here’s a great interview with Jason Lake, where he mentions “the old
guard” of eSports. Included because, again, the scene has gotten this big
before, and collapsed hard. You could similarly ask Koreans how
MBC Game is doing…)
I think voting with your wallet is mad effective, and when someone creates a
good or service that I like, I see no issues with purchasing that good or
service if the price is reasonable. And while I was pretty happy before video
game streaming was a thing, but I’m much happier with it. So I think you should
turn off the AdBlocker if you think the price is reasonable. What was that price
again? Oh right, it’s
30 fucking seconds.
Like I said before, this post is less logical than the “works vs. doesn’t” post
from before, and more opinion as to “why it’s entitled.” I’ve tried to make a
persuasive case as to why this has different feels from the traditional media
piracy argument: namely, this hurts the artist more directly, we have an opt-out
that still supports artists, and the artists we’re punishing happen to be
pushing the frontiers and forgoing more stable livelihoods for something that
doesn’t have to exist, entirely for my entertainment. But here’s where it gets
the most opinion-ey, and where it motivates me to call most of those people from
the thread whiners and asscactuses:
It’s minutes of ads for hours of entertainment, for no money at all.
Nowhere else do you get this value proposition: you can pay out the ass to for
a movie to be entertained for two hours (with non-blockable ads at the start)
that barely support artists onscreen; you pay for a cable subscription to have
the privilege to watch a sitcom episode with 23 minutes of content and 7 minutes
Or you can watch a minute or two of ads for every 30-40 minutes of game? Is it
really that painful? You’re getting this for free, and it’s available all the
I agree it can be annoying as hell sometimes: I scream at my monitor when it
doesn’t work (sound on ads never works as it should, pre-roll means you can miss
something interesting, repetitive ads, glitches mean the ad never runs but the
screen blocker does… oh I could go on), but really, you’ll just stop
supporting an industry and its risk-taking content creators whose growth has
contributed to some of the best entertainment you’ve had in your 20-odd years
because you can’t stand a minute of pre-roll ads?
There’s a word for that: entitlement.
While not specific to Jake’s Twitlonger post (he never mentions TeamLiquid or
PPV) it’s especially baffling on a site like TeamLiquid, where it’s mostly
banner ads that are getting blocked, and triply baffling when you remember the
bloody murder that Starcraft fans cried when MLG went for a pay-per-view model,
and started charging for HQ streams in 2011. If ads are blocked, where do they
think the money will come from?
Ultimately, I won’t argue over the use cases (pre-roll meaning you can miss
something crucial, bad sound, etc.) because I wholly agree with them being
aggravating. I just don’t see how you can miss the greater context enough to
think it’s worth blocking ads.
Specific responses to weak sauce from the Twitlonger
Just picking at some straggling lines, things that made me “wat” a little:
“Sure, I don’t *have* to be able to do that. But since I can for
free, I’m going to.”
If we didn’t have an effective police force, I very well could assault, thieve,
and pillage from you because there’d be no governing law to stop me.
And I agree with you! It would be more effective for people to form a police
force than to simply tell me to stop.
It doesn’t make me less of a dick, or not entitled, since I’ve still taken
people’s shit and they had no say in it. While the stakes are lower, it remains
an unpersuasive argument – it’s like people saying if one doesn’t believe in God,
why would anybody be good if there’s no Hell and Judgement to fear?
Because we want to be good -_-
“And since I’m going to, it just makes sense for twitch to build
their ad model such that I can keep giving them money while I do
Agreed, as per above re: police force. But know if Twitch/Owned and the scene as
a whole continues, it’ll be despite your consumption of the product, not
because of it, and that just seems twisted to me, especially since we like the
work they do.
I’ll bet nobody wants the sound on their ads to work as much as they do, but
the fact that they haven’t fixed it yet suggests there might be more to the
problem than appears at first blush (software is like that, natch).
Finally, it’s questionable whether “I don’t like your price/model, but I like
your good, so I’ll take it by my terms because I can get away with it in this
case” is really ethical in the general case.
“This really isn’t a defense of my actions.”
I find it very odd that when I ask why you do this, you provide a not-defense of
your actions. But I think it signals something else, which I’ll get to next…
“feel free to think I’m a freeloader and hate me for
Oh, I definitely think you’re being a freeloader.
Here’s the thing: I think you know it, too, as per the “not defense” quote. But like
extremely wealthy people who refuse to pay taxes, you’ve created a mental model
of the world that makes your choices of convenience also Ethically Sound. But
when asked to defend that model, most of what comes out are simplifications, or
IMPORTANT NOTE: I absolutely don’t hate you for it. I have tons of
disagreements with my friends over issues with much higher stakes (like the eternal
fate of my soul, for instance), but don’t hate them as people as a result.
“I don’t even really disagree.”
Then why do you do what you do?
“I just think that time is better spent working out mutually
Why not both? The people at Twitch/Owned know (and care a lot more than you do,
believe me) that they can get much more viewership and revenue from their
existing viewership if they come up with a model that isn’t as annoying.
Sorry for the delay, Newtown and holidays hit me hard. Thanks for engaging me