PC Piracy part 2

Aha! Finally another Game Development blog.

I ran across this article today – About piracy on the PC

A more incorrect and strange bit of reasoning I have rarely come across.

The message is that the more systems your game can play on and the easier it is to play, the less piracy matters.

I’d love the author of this article to chat with the Sports Interactive guys who just cancelled their EastSide Hockey franchise because it got pirated up the wazoo.

I’d also make the point that the reason Steam exists as a delivery mechanism is because 2 million people in Korea were playing CounterStrike, yet Valve hadn’t had one sale there.

The bottom line is the more mainstream your game is, and the easier it is to play, the more it will get pirated.

The only good thing is that because the total percentage of players is greater that your profits will be because even if 50% of the people out there pirate it, the 50% that don’t cover the 50% that do. The actual numbers means that the 50% you do get paying is more than you would get if you did put in some copy protection. Which is rubbish of course – lots of people who would pay will now not (granted not all will – it’s a fallacy to believe that every pirated copy is a lost sale), but in real dollar terms it may well be enough to cover development and keep the lights on for the next game.

Of course 50% sales of a total usage base for an unprotected game is rubbish as well. More like 15-20%, if that. In fact the more popular your game is, the less that actual value will be.

Ignoring pirates is just an incredibly short term and, well, stupid idea to espouse. Look what it’s done for CD sales (Granted, I’m not advocating what the music lobby has done to try and stop piracy, but the fact that piracy does have an impact is a dumb thing to ignore).

It’s one thing to say that piracy is free publicity – there may be some validity to that – but to just ignore the problem means you just can’t think of a creative way around it.

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