Hi I just wanted to know what peoples views were on this. Since Steam has come a long I haven't had the urge to download or pirate any PC games, the only game I can think of that I tried to download for free was Battlefield 1942, which I ended buying for 99p years later in a local game station. I tend not to buy a game brand new unless I know my friends are going to be playing it, as I find you'll spend £30 get bored then see the game in a steam sale for £5 lol.
PC Piracy - Is it a problem(24 posts)
Obviously it is still a problem. The question really is, how big of a problem is it? I've got no idea honestly. There are way more people gaming now than there was just 3-5 years ago. Maybe most of them are purchasing all of their games, maybe not. I don't know, i don't have any reliable data to really tell me anything about that x)
The short answer is no. All you have to do is look at publisher earnings.
Most of their earnings reports actually list revenue by platform, which clearly shows that earnings on the PC are very healthy.
In their 2010 earnings report, EA even listed the number of titles released on each platform, which showed the PC as earning more per release, than either of the consoles.
That obviously also explains why everybody is scrambling to launch their own clients, and release games with a PC-friendly profile, like BF3.
The exceptions to that rule are THQ and Ubisoft. Coincidentally, they were also using the most restrictive DRM in the business. Ubisoft have lost 60% of their business after introducing Ubisoft Online Services Platform/Uplay, and while THQ have all kinds of problems beyond the PC, they also started using GFWL a few years back.
I'm guessing the fact that they made such a big deal about ditching it, means it wasn't exactly good for business.
So in short, it's very easy to prove poor DRM as a bigger threat to PC earnings, than piracy ever was.
^I agree with you that DRM is a huge issue, and i basically think DRM is included just so they can tell the shareholder they did something to prevent piracy. But i still think it is wrong to say that piracy isn't of concern. Even if it was just one copy that was pirated it would still be an issue. IMO the only question is really, how big is the issue? Is it big enough to warrant ludicrous DRM? Or is it small enough to ignore? Personally i would prefer the latter, since DRM more often than not gets in the way of the legitimate user, no matter if we are talking Securom, GFWL, Steam, Origin, and so forth.
Right, but then you're looking at an industry that wants sales, not an industry that needs them. It's hard to call it an issue of concern, when the market is still profitable.
It may be an issue, but it's not an existential one.
And that is the song that the industry has been singing since the 80's. First floppy disc trading was going to destroy the industry, then compact disc trading was gonna destroy the industry, and now it's torrents.
You can only cry wolf so many times.
Most importantly though, it's typically the businesses who *aren't* doing well, who beat that drum. It's almost like a modern form of blood libel. If your crops fail, blame the jews. If your videogames fail, blame the pirates.
I don't think piracy should be ignored, it's disrespectful to creators, and it takes advantage of the "open" internet, but I can only speak for myself in that, the moment that the prices came down, and the service went up (Steam), I stopped pirating my games, and started buying them as a matter of principle.
You have to defend yourself against it, but that defense shouldn't mean a poorly coded program like GFWL or uPlay, it should mean giving people a positive experience when they buy their games. That's the best DRM there is.
^But who is to say that sales wouldn't be double of what they are now if piracy had been dealt with properly? Ultimately i don't think there is anyone who knows. There are loads of estimates everywhere on the web regarding the impact piracy have or don't have on pc gaming, so i think it for now is pure subjective thinking when one says it is either a concern or not. I partly agree with you on the DRM. A great service is better than any DRM there is(including Steam, even though you didn't mention that :P ), but if we can't have a stellar service i at least want the game to be completely DRM free, like gog does it. Again, this is subjective, i don't think there is any right or wrong on what makes good DRM, and if piracy actually is a real concern...
Well, the fact that guys like me see Steam as an actual service instead of as DRM, is proof that they're doing something right.
I think it is unlikely that there's a huge amount going to waste through piracy though. Steam has 30 million accounts. Both the PS3 and the 360 have sold close to 70 million units. The Wii is around 90 I think.
Doesn't prove anything on its own, but considering the notion that Steam dwarfs the competition the PC, I don't see endless amounts of hidden potential there.
At the very least, given the proportions, you're looking at piracy on consoles being at least as big a waste, and ultimately that just makes me think it's pretty unlikely. To me, the numbers just don't seem to add up.
At the end of the day, nobody knows though.
Steam was the first internet-authentication DRM for single-player product. It's DRM wrapped up as a benefit. Sure, it's disguised well enough but if you bought Halflife 2 and didn't have internet access, you couldn't authenticate your game and couldn't play it. Steam was, primarily, a DRM wrapper for videogames. It hides it very well today, but that's still what it's doing.
As for "All you have to do is look at publisher earnings" - that's completely backwards way at looking at piracy. It suggests that if revenue is being earned then it doesn't matter if piracy might be stifling it. Of course it matters - maybe not to the end user, but it matters to that business.
Nobody is ever going to know the true impact whilst their calling the companies who say they are affected "greedy" or "liars". The pirates aren't ever going to expose themselves or the impact of their operation either, it's not in their interests to.
I look at how much effort and money goes into producing and executing anti-piracy measures, DRM or control of digital goods - I ask myself "If there is no real impact, why go to all this effort to implement such controls?" Is it all some elaborate hoax? To what end? Just to upset paying consumers? Logically, that just doesn't seem very likely.
Nevertheless, that seems to be the only effect that standard DRM has Bojangles. We all know it doesn't prevent copying, we all know it doesn't improve the gaming experience, and I think it's increasingly obvious that it's bad for business.
Steam is gaining customers. GFWL seems to be losing another publisher every week, and Ubisoft have lost most of their business over the two years that Uplay has been in operation. To my mind, it's not hard to see why.
The way I see it, the publishers who tend to use those methods also seem to be poorly lead in general. Ubisoft look like looney tunes every time they have to release a PC game, they can't even get their stories straight when it comes to doing PR.
THQ is basically a masterclass in how to ruin a brand, and a business.
... And both have used punishing DRM in their games.
You can only guess as to why they do things the way they do, but I think it's part stubborn pride, part ignorance, and part convenience. It's arguably more convenient if those pesky PC users are the ones causing a slump in sales, instead of your line-up, and your leadership.
But I'm not even sure it's a lie that's working for them. The markets obviously haven't responded positively to either Ubisoft or THQs approach.
THQ already realized their mistake and cut GFWL. Ubisoft, it seems to me, knows they fucked up just as bad, but they're having a hard time actually admitting that they wasted a lot of money on a useless system.
Very good，I have something to learn from.
What about console piracy because they're just as bad. Yet PC gamers are scum to some publishers apparently.
I wish people would stop trying to blame GFWL for piracy. I find it no more of a hassle than steam, origin, or uplay (none of which I have a problem with coincidentally). And THQ has only released a handful of games on GFWL which I doubt has contributed significantly to their downfall.
The fact that they were commercial failures and that THQ made a big deal about the sequels not having it was just a coincidence then?
If Steam hadn't come along then the PC would probably be a dying platform. We'd still have WoW to demonstrate that it can maintain a strong gaming audience, but piracy would be rampant.
Steam might be a form of DRM, but it also has an offline mode, the ability to install on as many machines as I want, achievements, forums, and a great overall service.
GFWL actually stopped me playing Bioshock 2, because it refused to remember my credentials and was plagued with issues.
uPlay I'll be honest, I don't mind really. I like that you can use it to earn game credits and buy game unlocks. They just need to make sure they take away the always online shambles if they haven't already. The bigger issue I've had with Ubi lately is quality of testing - e.g. Settlers 7 is unplayable it's so glitchy - or it was like that the last time I tried.
Is piracy a "problem"? Well of course lost sales are a problem for anyone. But the bigger problem I have to agree is the way that people attempt to tackle piracy. Sometimes DRM is so harsh it causes more lost sales than piracy ever would. If you want me to buy your product I will not be told how many installations I can do, or on which machines it can run. I will not accept always online unless it is a multiplayer game.
Also DRM doesn't prevent piracy in the slightest, so it's rather pointless and irritating to all.
For me personally I can't remember the last time I pirated a PC game - tbh I was never much of a yo-ho-ho'er for PC games anyway. Consoles on the other hand I prate the poop out of. Why? Because new console game RRP's are extortionate, and online store console game prices are extortionate. I like my games stored digitally, and I like to pay a fair price for them. Consoles have a lot of catching up to do in this regard.
Problem with the PC gaming industry is NOT piracy - it's the gaming industry.
Why do so many people pirate games? Because they really don't want to (or can't afford) spending $60 for a new game. Fighting piracy is really simple by following some very easy steps:
(1) Make a demo for your game. Customers will not be afraid to buy your game if they test it out beforehand and find out they enjoy it.
(2) Lower the average price. At $60 per game, it's a wonder how anyone could really afford that. Lower the price to $30 for a new game, and you've vastly increased your pool of potential customers.
(3) For step 2 to work feasibly, gaming developers would need to ensure that customers HAVE to purchase a new copy. How? Registration codes. On all video games. If a person needs to register their copy before playing it, then that completely eliminates the after-market for used games. Developers can now afford to lower their game prices, since people have to buy it new (or purchase a registration key if they already have old discs).
(4) Make the game easy to obtain and use. Pirating is done really only for two factors: convenience and money. Make the game cheap and easy to get would ensure that they will choose to buy it.
After all ... if pirating a game was harder than buying it, why would they waste time trying to pirate?
What you need to take into consideration is just because someone pirated a game it doesnt mean they were going to buy that game in the 1st place. I have about 30 games at the moment on my pc and out of those only about 5 were paid for. The others are just games i was a little bit interested in but had no intention of buying without playing them 1st, then most of the time after i have downloaded the game i only played it a few times and didnt touch it again for months. If you want to beat piracy just drop the prices and sell every game through steam etc, id buy any game for a tenner if i had even a slight interest in it.
If you have to register, then you're still making people do paperwork in order to play their games. And if you lower prices by half, then suddenly you have to reach 4 million people instead of 2 million people. Probably more, because you're actually cutting into your margins.
Cutting price in half doesn't mean that people will want or buy your game proportionately more, that's faulty economics.
I think this is a pretty good article on piracy, by a developer:
The games industry is extremely poorly run though, there's no doubt that any halfway sensible publishing head should be looking to shift some paradigms in terms of business models and development budgets, but instead they seem to be happily jogging into oblivion.
But hey. It's not like the CEO loses a personal dime just because his company goes under.
@ DSB "Right, but then you're looking at an industry that wants sales, not an industry that needs them."
I'm sorry, but that's just simply untrue. The industry needs all the sales it can get, apart from a few break-out titles that do alright by themselves and have short-ish dev cycles (only CoD springs to mind).
That's one way to look at it Gheritt. But are they losing money because they aren't selling, or because their bloated budgets prohibit them from breaking even?
If indeed the CoDs and ACs of the world are the only true goldmines in the industry, why on earth are people still talking about AAA? Wouldn't a halfway skilled executive immediately look elsewhere to make a living, instead of chasing the AAA leprechaun?
And for that matter, who is actually trying to keep people interested? If you keep pounding out games that are intended to be more like those totally predictable blockbusters, you're also turning your medium into a one-trick pony.
I think it's fair to compare games to the movie industry, purely in terms of the dynamics. Beyond the blockbusters, you have artsy movies, you have B-movies, and you have independent movies. There is actually a large group of people who are trying to keep that medium interesting, instead of putting everything into the most predictable cash cows.
Which publisher has ever publicly given a shit about that? Everybody's talking about production values, not actual quality, or talent. Who's talking about inspiring their customers?
A market doesn't create or sustain itself. For some reason the games industry seems to be living in a bubble where that's supposed to be true.
DSB, you've an awfully low opinion who work in the vidoegames industry and are also conflating devs with pubs.
People who in videogames tend to be big, fuck-off gamers. That's all I'm saying.
All I'm privvy to is the results, not the process or the people behind it.
I do feel like the only guys actually representing me as a gamer mostly work in the indie or mobile scene.
There are a few exceptions, but they're really the only guys who go out there, and talk like human beings, and seem to be able to target me as a member of their audience, in what they do.
Of course there has to be a lot of passionate people in the core industry as well, but I have a really hard time identifying them. For the most part they aren't allowed to talk straight by their PR handlers, and the guys calling the shots seem to have no clue as to who gamers are, or what they actually want.
I don't feel represented by those guys at all, in my eyes they have as much to do with my favourite hobby, as anyones neo-luddite grandfather.
I always prefer to buy the original game. It has better graphics and I can be sure that everything will be ok with it. And now it's easy to find a game at special offer or buy a cd-key online, which is much more cheaper than a boxed game.
PC game piracy isn't a problem, it's a scapegoat, used to justify the dereliction of the platform.
I'm buying (and playing) fewer games. Why?
Take the BattleField franchise as an example. I bought BF1942 and the add-on packs. Then BF: Vietnam and played the mods, especially Desert Combat. Then BF2 (level 49) plus Special Forces and the other add-ons and played that a lot. But the patches dried up. Played BF2142 for a while, but the released game was inferior to the closed Alpha version I played.
Then the franchise went multi-platform – the day the bunnies died…
So after being ignored for four years while BF: Bad Company and BF1943 (promised but not delivered on the PC) was released on the consoles, we got Bad Company 2. Graphically better than BF2, it was an inferior game, lacking the depth and subtlety of BF2.
Then BF3, which despite a BETA with loads of constructive feedback and despite being promised as a PC lead development, was released as a broken game. Half FaceBook, incoherent design (VOIP external, but based on Origin Friends list?) with performance issues, it was clearly a poorly optimised console port and despite being a full price game, required you to buy DLC exceeding the full price a second time to get all the content.
So if the BattleField franchise flops on the PC, will they blame poor design, lack of care, greed, zero LAN or Mod support? Nope. They’ll say it was piracy that slayed the beast and shake their heads sadly.
Then there’s DRM. I bought Assassins Creed 2 (more fool me) and installed the game. It says on the box “needs internet connection”, well I had a 10Mb connection that hadn’t gone offline in years, so okay. I use Steam and that activates games which work offline, so it couldn’t be any worse than that? Right? Wrong!
The game relied on UbiSoft.com being online every second you played the game. Since the first day, second day, next week and last time I played it, UbiSoft.com was down, so the SINGLE PLAYER GAME I bought and paid for was unplayable! To add insult to injury, the only way I could contact them was by visiting Ubisoft.com for help, which being offline, was none! A subsequent patch has modified the game so it only needs UbiSoft to put money in their meter when the game loads. I could have pirated the game and been playing it, without these problems, but I didn’t. I haven’t bothered with the game since in disgust. Neither am I buying ANY more UbiSoft games. Ever.
Piracy? Not the problem.
• Poor attitude to the PC platform
• Poor ports of sub-standard dumbed down console titles (un-optimised code, bolt-on interface and GFX control options, over simplification of features to suit console controllers)
• Intrusive and unreliable (non-functional) DRM.
• No support for LAN play.
• No mod support.
• High prices, especially considering the lack of previously included features.
MineCraft has no DRM other than a login.
It has a free demo.
It doesn’t rely on pretty visuals.
It was developed on and for PC’s first.
It works on a LAN.
It has mod support.
It’s SOLD EIGHT MILLION COPIES.
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