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Clarification on RA's stance on Monetisation


Posted: 26 Feb, 2019 14:08
Hi all,

I've recently heard some murmurings of discussion of monetisation of I want to quickly make a few points very clear.

RA has grown massively to a point I couldn't have imagined. The developers, admin and all players are doing a brilliant job and I am really proud of everything the RA community has achieved. Back in 2012, RA was an idea, one that has grown into something really awesome. I want RA to keep growing, and I don't want to do anything that could prevent it's natural, strong growth.

Around 2016, RA was in trouble of not being able to exist when the community grew beyond what I could afford, and after a few tough months I agreed to open a Patreon. The response was fantastic and has allowed RA to grow. With this support, RA needs no other financial aid.

To this end, I want to reassure all community members - there will be no adverts, no paywall, no monetisation, no profiting, no buying or selling of anything of any kind. will never be monetised. Ever. Outside of the site and Discord, I cannot 'control' GitHub, but my promise is to keep the source for the emulators, API and original site always open source. This way I expect that passion and fire of achievements in retro games will continue to burn brightly, no matter what happens to me.

RA isn't for-profit. It has never been. It will never be. Through Patreon we are able to keep the site afloat. That is more than enough for me. I had expectations that adverts/premium accounts/paid things would be the only way to financially support the site, but Patreon has more than filled that gap.

I plan to dump out all the latest achievement data as a raw DB dump, to ensure we don't lose all the contributions the community has made over these past 7 years. I don't want us to lose anything. I would probably get this shared over a torrent as hosting might not be all that simple?

I will follow this email up with the raw DB data as soon as I can - this way the entirety of RA is easily accessible public knowledge.

Posted: 26 Feb, 2019 14:34
Maybe someone could convert the DB dump and make a RA-Offline Edition for those who don't have good internet connection or just want to earn everything locally (Private) depending on how large the dump is.

Its a part of gaming History and could be hosted on

Posted: 26 Feb, 2019 20:03
Last Edit: 26 Feb, 2019 20:18
That's really nice to put very clear that RA will never ever be a profiting project.

Making money of RetroAchievements would be very dangerous. Firstly, in a legal way, because it's based on thousands of copyrighted images and titles. Secondly because the biggest asset of this project is not exactly the site, but the huge amount of effort from several achievement creators.

Regarding releasing a dump of the DB, I think it's very dangerous too.

Trying to explain my point... Before being cursed invited to be an admin here, I was very active in the RetroPie scene, and from time to time some "entrepeneur" pop in with a nice idea to "help the project" and, of course, make money from it, from others effort. Same thing happens on the RetroArch scene too...

I don't see anything wrong with "making money", the problem lies on the "from others effort" thing.

All achievement sets we have is the result of tens of thousands of hours of voluntary work, made for the love of retro games. Making money from achievement creators work would kill their motivation.

Even if something like "sharing the money with achievement creators" was implemented it could start a war between them to see who works on what game (something that already happens from time to time with no money involved).

Summing up: before releasing a DB dump with every achievement, we should find legal ways to protect it from "for profit" projects.

By the way, I would like to know the opinion of that person who watched more Memory Inspector than watched TV in her whole life: (the Developer Stats can give an idea of how many hundreds of hours this person spent creating content for our project).

Posted: 26 Feb, 2019 20:40
There's nothing in the dump that can't be retrieved by loading the associated ROM and looking at the local RACache files (except the associated games, which can be viewed easily on the game's page). As such, providing the dump just makes the data easier to access. My only concern is exposing the schema in case someone finds a security hole to exploit.

I brought up similar concerns about others benefiting monetarily from our efforts when we were discussing which license to use for RAIntegration. The end result was that it didn't really matter. Anyone using our runtime code (either rcheevos or RAIntegration) is bound by the license to indicate they are doing so, but may do so for any reason they wish, including making a profit. The data is not licensed, but basically useless without the runtime, so at least we have some protection.

In my mind, there's basically two ways our work can be leveraged for profit:
1) Include achievements on the "mini-XXX" consoles that have become popular in the last few years.
2) Include achievements on a "1000-in-1 games" emulator package, which are probably illegal for using other unlicensed content (i.e. the games, or even the emulators), and therefore won't care.

There's not much we can do about the second case, but in the first case after the user exhausts the supply of provided games, they will hopefully find their way to us for rest of the catalog we provide. Additionally, reviewers of the standalone products might even mention us in their reviews, giving us more exposure.

Yes, it sucks when someone else profits from your work, but it's already clear that the contributors here are doing it for their own varied reasons, and are doing so without any remuneration.

Posted: 26 Feb, 2019 21:00
Last Edit: 26 Feb, 2019 21:03
In my humble opinion being open source is one thing, but sharing the database is another. Achievements are something that belongs to this community, and shouldn't be replicated by any other. We don't have any money or any other reward for working on this project, but this doesn't mean anyone can use it. I think insdtead of sharing it we should secure it. RA should split in public area and "backstage" (accessible by developers and above).

Posted: 26 Feb, 2019 22:19
Whats about sharing Developers own created Cheevos (local folder) with others who earn them offline? Does it count as a part of the DB? i would be interested to know about it.

I find editing Cheevos without the original Developers permission via gang-voting much worse.

Posted: 26 Feb, 2019 22:23
Last Edit: 26 Feb, 2019 22:49
Just chiming in to thank everyone for my newest and very addictive hobby. :)

You can tell that people really care about the project.

Posted: 26 Feb, 2019 23:11
Last Edit: 26 Feb, 2019 23:14

> Whats about sharing Developers own created Cheevos (local folder) with others who earn them offline? Does it count as a part of the DB?

Only what's in database count as part of the database.

But, regardless, you are completely free to share everything you want. Local folder or even database contents.

I'm just opposing to provide the DB dump, ready to be exploited by greedy people wanting to make money from others work.

What's the benefit in providing it that way? Preservation? We already have a nice backup: if a disaster happen to Scott, then luchaos is around. If luchaos is about to go, I'm around too (not with the same amount of skills, but with the same love for this project).

> I find editing Cheevos without the original Developers permission via gang-voting much worse.

At a first sight it seems unrelated with what is being discussed here, but looking deeper everything is related with the same question:

Who is the owner of the contents of this site?

My answer is: the RA community

As stated in the Developer's Code of Conduct:

Once you publish your work, you are giving it over to the community to be reviewed and reworked over time.

Although we have a big respect to all achievement creators and want to preserve their credits, once they upload content to RetroAchievements database they are donating it to the whole RA community.

Every developer who doesn't agree with this shouldn't upload their work.

Regarding the "gang-voting" thing, in the old days we had anarchy. Anyone with dev status could edit others work at will. Later we started to enforce a system where the changes should be approved by admins, and sometime later we realized that this decision should be made by the developers community, not 3 or 4 admins.

And then we started the revision process (aka "gang-voting"), this is the most democratic way we found and it's working pretty well IMO.

Maybe that Churchil's speech fits well here:

"No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

While we don't find the "perfect" solution, we'll keep using the revision process to aprove changes in others achievements.

Posted: 27 Feb, 2019 12:21

Thank you for taking your time listening and to understanding my concern on the Developers rights subject, i wouldn't mention it here if it wasn't related because Monetization/Violating Rights is important Topic and i don't want to go to off-topic here, i am glad you can see where i coming from.

By editing Cheevos, i am not talking about fixing what is broken but altering the idea/vision of the Developers. We are not doing this for money nor under a companies pressure, this gives us all the freedom we have, so instead of altering a Cheevo i suggest to creating a Mirror Copy (include those who earned it) of the Original idea (Cheevo) and putting it somewhere where its still accessibly (Unofficial but with saving progress) so those users who prefer the Original idea (not the altered by gang-voting) can still earn it while the altered version is the new one. I don't think anyone would have a problem with it if the Original version is still accessible for those who prefer it instead of the new version. Just because a Revision was decided by ~20 Developers doesn't mean everyone on the Site agrees with it (especially the users who earn them and had no chance of voting). Just like with any other things in the world, not ever change is for the better, this also applies to Cheevos.

I hope you understand what i am saying, basically don't throw original ideas out of the window but rather keep them somewhere to be accessible for those who prefer the Originals. It doesn't hurt anyone and doesn't require much space on the Server.

Posted: 27 Feb, 2019 12:48
Well hey, as long as you can keep the site running, I think all of you are doing a damn excellent job :D ~ Travis Ray Hernden

Posted: 27 Feb, 2019 16:19
Last Edit: 28 Feb, 2019 20:52
, calling revision voting, "gang voting" seems disingenuous, but maybe you are unaware of the effort in practice. Revisions are scrutinized and debated, significantly more than new sets. Sometimes the debates last quite some time, often with passionate participants on both sides of a discussion. Certainly they are taken seriously. They typically take many factors into consideration such as existing earners, overall set difficulty and balance, fun factor, adding challenges, fully covering the content of a game, removing superfluous or redundant achievements and reducing set bloat, removing bugs and adding proper protections, and anything else any where developers have concerns. Often enough they are not approved.

Approval comes from the collective judgement of those who are putting their time into creating content for the community. You're encouraged to participate and defend against any revision you believe doesn't reach closer to the best state of the set. Instead of resenting revisions where you don't like the outcome you can help steer the outcome of changes for the greater good. Also, no revision is irreversible.

I share your concern regarding the efforts of developers efforts getting lost or destroyed. The long term ideal would for us to have a full record of every edit to an achievement, tied to the developer who made the change, including annotations explaining the edits.

In the meantime, as a developer you're free to create backups of any achievements you feel should be preserved, in unofficial or locally.

Posted: 27 Feb, 2019 18:05
Glad to know that RA has future; the best site of retrogaming ever and i hope that all "admins" and "devs" keep up the excellent work!

RA Rules!


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