January 15, 2008
Infinity Ward Stunned by Number of Pirated Copies Being Played
Their will always be those predicting the coming death of "hardcore" PC gaming. While we all know it's not coming anytime soon, one serious problem the platform does face is rampant piracy. Fourzerotwo, the Community Relations Manager for Infinity Ward, wrote this on his blog:
"We pulled some disturbing numbers this past week about the amount of PC players currently playing Multiplayer (which was fantastic). What wasn't fantastic was the percentage of those numbers who were playing on stolen copies of the game on stolen / cracked CD keys of pirated copies (and that was only people playing online). It blows me away at the amount of people willing to steal games (or anything) simply because it's not physical or it's on the safety of the internet to do."
Lucky for Call of Duty 4, the game sold well on both Xbox 360, PS3, and to a degree, the PC. A less fortunate developer, Crytek, suffered relatively low sales last year of their critically acclaimed game Crysis. A quick look at a few unscrupulous websites shows over a thousand seeders available for just one of many torrents of Crysis.
I'm estimating here, but I think it's possible that Crysis may have missed out on more than 10% of its sales due to piracy, and realistically much more. On the 1up Yours podcast, John Davidson mentioned talking to EA about their being over 14,000 illegal downloads of Crysis on day one alone. Considering Crysis' last reported sales were only 86,633 copies sold that is a terribly high number of illegal downloads.
Many gamers were outraged at BioShock publisher 2K Games using some extreme methods of anti-piracy last summer, but with this kind of rampant piracy, is it not reasonable?
Then again, Galactic Civilizations II managed to sell 50,000 in it's first week, despite having no piracy protection and being a relatively unknown series. Is this piracy problem going to continue to hurt PC gaming, or will new subscription based models or anti-piracy features stop it?
Posted by Clayton Ashley at 6:30 PM
| Comments (16)
| Posted to PC
In this article I see you claiming that it was reasonable for 2K games to have included anti piracy protection in Bioshock.
Although I bought the game for the 360, many gamers, or at least the vocal community, were so incensed by the intrusive nature of the installation limit that they boycotted purchasing the game completely.
Secondly, a crack was almost immediately developed to bypass the protection, making illegal torrents an attractive alternative to promoting anti-piracy by purchasing the game.
So in this case at least, the protection had quite the opposite effect. I suggest that if developers have the nerve to include such protection again, it had better be rock solid...
I wasn't really claiming it was reasonable, I just tried to give both sides their arguments. Call of Duty 4 and Crysis probably had a lot of anti piracy software too, and I'm in the camp that supports Stardocks idea of DRM where it only really hurts those customers who would buy it anyway.
Remeber that these developers are making their living off these games and to see so many people effectively steal them right under thier noses would infuriate anyone, perhaps to the point of doing anything and everything they can to stop people from stealing the game.
I personally support Valve's system which requires an internet connection. This may not be fair to those without one, but it's really getting to the point where the developer would lose less on not being able to sell to internet deprived customers than to sell the game and have thousands of copies pirated.
Basically, any copy protection scheme that forces people to be online and cuts out the portion of the market that doesn't have Internet, shrinking though it may be, is bad. If I buy a single player game, unless I buy through digital download, I should be able to play it without being online.
I also dislike any copy protection programs that impact performance of the PC overall or requires the uninstall of legally purchased software like Nero, or whose software won't work on certain drives.
These things punish people who're doing things legally rather than punish those that pirate games. The pirates have no problem waiting 13 days for a crack, but those who legally buy the game should be able to play immediately.
I am very worried about DRM. Not because i pirate stuff (lets face it. Not protection i have seen have worked. Cracks reach the net before the games hits the shelfs in many cases.) No i am worried because it hurts me as a customer and in the end the developer. games with DRM cost more and have more issues then games without. And the more powerful the protection is the more issues the users will have. This will in the end effect sales. Ether people will stop buying there products or start using cracks. And when you start to use cracks then piracy is often not far away.
I my self look for game that have no DRM protection and buy them. When i got Galactic Civilizations II there lack of protection was one of the factors that got me to buy it. And that goes for many other developers. Others companies i stay away form simple because of their DRM protection.
This is often said to be a PC problem. But form what i have seen is very common on the console market to. Many of my friends got the X-box simple because it was easy to crack. Some of them had hundreds of pirated titles but very few if any titles they had payed for. And is not just the X-box. Most consoles have this problem. Even hand held devices. I think that is not the PC that is the problem. Its something else.
Aside from being a quality product with a fairly unique and original spin on the interstellar war RTS genre, GALCIV II also avoids piracy problems through the use of its software patching methods.
The reason GALCIV fares well is because it approaches this problem in a way which I have yet to see in any other PC game or software application for that matter. With GALCIV you CAN in fact download the game on torrent sites no problem, but what you can not do is receive future updates unless you have purchased a CD-Key. This method of piracy protection is actually IMO foolproof as the developer wont release a patch to you unless you have a legitimate CD Key associated with your version of Galciv.
The only way around this protection is for pirateers to download the new version of galciv from scratch each time an update comes out.
Re "Joe Sayer (TheDeadHerring)":
I went to a post-mortem on Bio-Shock, where they explained that in order to get the publishers on board (for the PC port) they had to pretend that they could fight piracy.
The online activation was used solely for the purposes of ensuring there wasn't a "zero-day crack", and that worked - pirates had to wait 18 days before the first crack came out (which is some kind of record for a popular PC game).
They also poked fun at hardcore gamers for going on the internet to complain about having to go on the internet...
Steam-like systems are the way to go, the games can be pirated but it's way harder AND you don't get update often, as well as not being able to play online. That's enough security to make someone go buy the real thing :)
Ah, the old piracy debate rears its head once again.
Let me set my stall out right away, I copy games from the internet.
Shock horror! I'm a pirate!
Anyway, before Y'all start handing out the torches and pitchforks let me set aside my lifelong atheism and quote from the bible.
Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone.
Who reading this post can honestly tell me they have not once in their life enjoyed pirated media of any kind?
What's that I hear you say, not you?
You've never borrowed a book from a friend, copied one of their albums or taped a TV show to watch later?
because ultimately that's what Piracy is, enjoying some media which your are not legally allowed to enjoy without purchasing it yourself.
As for the figures in the article, they don't really tell us anything because there's no way of determining how many of those pirated copies would result in a genuine sale of the item had it been impossible to pirate a copy.
I feel it my duty to point out that as far as consoles go, there are no easier systems to obtain pirated games for than the Wii or the DS.
Anyone think those systems are suffering at the moment?
No, me neither, so surely we have to agree that there's more to this issue than first appears.
As much as I play pirated games, I still spend the same f*ckton of cash on games that I always did, probably more now that I'm older and my income is higher.
What I wont do, as a European, is wait an extra six months to pay twice as much for a game which I can get right now on the internets.
As for games companies and revenue, they need to start looking at the second hand sales market and think about instituting a buy back policy so that three months after a game's release people can buy a second hand copy straight from the publishers.
The second hand games market is huge and at least there we know for a fact there is cash which isn't going to the makers of the games.
I can see your view, and I do in fact point this out to everyone who seems to think File Sharing websites will bring down the music industry, that just becuase someone pirates a song doesn't necessarily mean they would have bought the song. But the point here is that developers will look at this and what you just pointed out about the Wii: Should I make a hardcore super pretty game that few have computers to run it on and 10% of them just pirate the game or should I just make a quick and cheap casual Wii game than only children/parents buy who don't check the torrents first?
You also vote with you dollars. When your buying a game your saying to the developer (and publisher) "I like what you did here, here's some money".
Pirating a game sends the message that you don't care enough to buy the game, even if you do truly like it. It would destroy the industry over night, but developers will take notice and either make internet connections mandatory like Valve, or go for a different market that doesn't priate in as large of ratios as the Hardcore market.
The Consol market is far form immune form piracy like i said before. But Consol market have a lot more gamers then PC (i am sad to say.) That is why so many developers are there. Those that say with PC are often those that like computers (And will most likely be able to crack anything if they put there mind to it) or people that can not find there genera on any other system. Traditionally this have been FPS, RTS and MMOs. Now is even FPS and RTS games are expanding on consoles which could turn up hurting the PC.
Online games are also popular on the PC but consols can catch up pretty quickly here to. With fewer and fewer developers to the PC there will be fewer and fewer PC gamers. Is a downward spiral simply. I am not sure how one can change this. But i do not think piracy is the major problem. Just that the hardcore pirates are the last ones to leave the platform (if
One more thing - I *do* use cracks quite frequently - specifically nocd "patches". I call them patches, because I feel that there is obviously a bug in the program that is forcing me to have a cd inserted in the drive that NOTHING is loaded from because I've used up 10% of my hard drive INSTALLING the game that I just bought for $50!
That description certainly sounds like an error to me, and all I'm doing is applying a fix. As soon as PC games are streamed off of the disc, I will be happy to insert them (just like in the "good" old commodore64 days).
I'm also not a big fan of "must be connected to the internet to play a single player game" - this became very clear to me once again following my move when I didn't have an internet connection for 3 weeks, and couldn't play some of the (single player!) games I wanted to play at the time.
Telltale Games' (god bless 'em) Sam & Max newest game, which I had purchased, downloaded, and installed, was one example...
While I do download certain films (that I'm not certain of wanting to see in the theater or buying the DVD of) and I download certain TV shows (that I can't see live because of my location), I've stopped downloading games some time ago. I simply allow myself to be informed by reviews on various websites and in the games magazine I'm subscribed to and make my decisions based on that and my own gut feelings..
While I agree that certain anti-piracy protections can be a bit outrageous (I haven't been able to play Half-Life 2 on my new PC because it doesn't have an internet connection), it doesn't take away the fact that game companies have every right to protect their products from abuse and illegal copying..
The films and tv shows that I download will usually end up legally bought, because I apply the same standard as I do with video games: I read reviews and then decide if I want to see it or not.. Battlestar Galactica and Lost are two of my favorite shows and while I download them whenever they're available, I also buy the DVD's the moment those come out..
Maby Crytek and others should focus on making games with REPLAY VALUE instead of making a linear story that you play through 1-2 times.
I for one do regret purchasing Crysis. I could have bought some classic game with more replay value instead like another Morrowind or Oblivion GOTY to have as a(nother) backup disk.
Console games piracy is much more then PC and easier to do once the console has been moded.
Why should I spend 45 euros on a game that will treat me like a criminal when I try to play it, when I can download it for free and play with without any hassle?
Just as Gothic III taught me not to buy a game within a month of its release due to the number of bugs, Bioshock taught me not to buy a game without playing it first. And downloading games lets me play them before deciding whether to buy them.
To be blunt, either I download a game and decide whether to buy it based on how much I like it (and uninstall and delete it if I dont), or I forget about the game and the people who made it will NEVER see my money.
Draconic copy-protection will only make the second more likely.
Yar! This isn't teh pirates' anonymous support group. Why do you all insist on sharing your past piracy experience with us? His comments are all subjective. Two pirated copies may seem like alot if you only sold three!
The one thing they(the creators of COD4) did differently, no doubt unintentional, apparently allowed cracked version to have their own ranked, online servers and allows cracked clients to play on said servers. This could be said to allow just about anyone with enough time/bandwidth the ability to play COD4(provided the PC power) online. But it also means they cannot associate with those who legally bought the game. With the gaming still predominately legally purchased games, these leaves pirates to only game with pirates.
The current legal situation basically allows people to distribute(which is illegal but even more so for personal profit) and download. But I personally highly doubt piracy is as prevalent as claimed, simply due to moral and economics factors. People most likely to play the game are more likely to purchase because of convenience, legality, morality, and better gaming experience with fewer issues. Pirating a game takes either broadband which only half of the internet using population has access too, unlimited(or simply enough as in several gigs of) bandwidth, and/or alot of time/bandwidth dedicated to downloading. I think those who can't afford the game are initially predispositioned to piracy if and only if they are already skilled in piracy or just have alot of free time and no money and have the time/bandwidth for it. You can't just enter a search for any game download you want, even torrents might not be reliable because it is free. Finding a working download can take hours or days depending on the size of the game and download speeds. Plus the download speeds are rarely very fast and seeds are not always available.
Now if they could quantify the number of copies pirated instead of overestimating piracy and it's effects and then casting the blame on piracy for generally poor sales, then they could figure out more direct ways of reducing or eliminating any loss of profits due to piracy. If the only piracy is from those who wouldn't otherwise play the game or buy the game, then there is no real loss of profits.
Simfarm had notes in the readme threatening to "tell your mama" if you pirated it.
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