Spore "The Most Pirated Game of the Year"

  • warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/buckman/public_html/neo/modules/advanced_forum/advanced_forum.module on line 492.
  • warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/buckman/public_html/neo/modules/advanced_forum/advanced_forum.module on line 492.
Matt Barton's picture

Since we've been talking so much about DRM controversy lately, I thought I'd post this news item: Spore the Most Pirated Game of 2008. The data is based on torrent stats. There's also a link to our friend site GameSetWatch that provides a lovely overview of the issue and "countermeasures." Interestingly, Svennson of the PC Gaming Alliance seems to share my views on the issue; the DRM needs to be as unobtrusive and not inconvenience the user any more than absolutely necessary (indeed, I'd like to see it handled at purchase time and that be the end of it). However, one interesting part of the article is that people who get pirated copies sometimes end up with a lot more bugs (an effect of the not-so-well-cracked DRM). This wouldn't be a big deal, but these types tend to complain loudly about the "bugs," assuming that these bugs are in the game rather than a result of being cracked. This reputation can, in turn, persuade innocent gamers not to buy the game--since no one wants to get stuck with something buggy. It's an intriguing insight that I hadn't seen before.

Anyway, a few questions arise from this. One, are people more likely to pirate a game if they hear it has "nasty" DRM (i.e., securom, etc.?) I think the answer is a definite YES. Two, does this mean that "nasty" DRM is, in effect, self-defeating, since it might very well be driving people who would otherwise buy the game to pirate it instead?

I personally don't care if a game wants to do an internet check, provided that it is reliable and doesn't break on me. However, this would be a huge inconvenience if I didn't have always-on broadband. These checks should be sporadic, though--once upon installation, and maybe once a week or so if I continue to play the game.

Comments

Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Cyber cafes take care of that

In Asia a lot of 'poor' folk play their games in Cybercafes. Which could be cool as it could be some sort of social event with friends too.
Renting videogames is going to be illegal in some countries - I believe in the EU people are trying to pass laws that make renting video games illegal.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
DRM Talk on Street Fighter IV - PC Version

Interesting DRM comment on the indeterminate release of the PC version of Street Fighter IV: http://www.maxconsole.net/?mode=news&newsid=34398

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
For those who didn't click

For those who didn't click through (http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/56285), here's the complete list of most pirated PC games by number of times downloaded:

1. Spore / 1,700,000 / Sept. 2008
2. The Sims 2 / 1,150,000 / Sept. 2004
3. Assassins Creed / 1,070,000 / Nov. 2007
4. Crysis / 940,000 / Nov. 2007
5. Command & Conquer 3 / 860,000 / Mar. 2007
6. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare / 830,000 / Nov. 2007
7. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas / 740,000 / Jun. 2005
8. Fallout 3 / 645,000 / Oct. 2008
9. Far Cry 2 / 585,000 / Oct. 2008
10. Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 / 470,000 / Oct. 2008

Scary, scary stuff if you're a publisher. Would you create a game for the PC faced with figures like that? I hate the idea of intrusive DRM, but what choice do they have? And what if only 10% of those people who downloaded and played the thing illegally actually bought them instead?

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a
Calibrator
Offline
Joined: 10/25/2006
I had read those number but thought that they were low
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Scary, scary stuff if you're a publisher. Would you create a game for the PC faced with figures like that?

I would never create a game for the PC -- the whole business sucks and not just because of pirates. The game studios often take the most risks and that's why they fold more often than publishers that suck them dry. The reason why they will never extinguish is that there are more than enough young talents who want to get exploited.

But back to the topic: *If* I wanted to be in the PC games market I would try it regardless because I would be convinced that "enough" people will buy my games -- well knowing the fact that lots of them will pay the game withough payment.

I would of course consider which protection to get as one has to be extremely daft to publish a game without one. I would take into account to what audience I'd like to target the game, though.

If I'd like to target women for some puzzle or find-the-object game I'd do a simple disc check and that's it.

If the game is targeted at adolescent boys I'd probably let them play a big-titted heroine with big guns - and torture them with high-spec system requirements and a system nastier than the one for GTA4 - because they would accept that to get their grubby little fingers on them.
Then I'd offer some kind of bonus (free action figures which need a snail mail address to be send to) if one registers their game with my website. Then a second, hidden check would determine if the game is a cracked one and print out a "winner code" to be send to the site.
The result would be a database of the little shits who run illegal copies of the game and are so incredible dumb to claim the bonus offer!
Then I'd send Jack the Ripper, John McClane, Hulk Hogan and the Grim Reaper to rip the family to shreds and burn their house down!

Quote:

I hate the idea of intrusive DRM, but what choice do they have?

Of what use exactly is the heavy DRM when the games still get downloaded that often?

Quote:

And what if only 10% of those people who downloaded and played the thing illegally actually bought them instead?

The question remains if companies would change their policy or if they actually want such high numbers as excuses for certain actions.

Lets take Crysis as an example:
It has reportedly been sold about a million copies which was "mildly" disappointing to the studio Crytek. They hoped for at least twice as much (considering the costs) and said that pirates were to blame for this low number.
In consequence they will support consoles directly (the console versions of their earlier game 'Far Cry' were done by Ubisoft Montreal, IIRC) and shut down patch support for Crysis. Then they established two studios in low-wage countries overnight.
The CEO of Crytek assumed a ratio of 1 legal copy vs. 15 or 20 illegal ones. If one compares the million above one wonders how many "water holes" for illegal copies exist or if a certain CEO likes to exaggerate a bit to blame others for bringing a too hardware-intensive, not very innovative (besides the graphics) game to market...

BTW, note that Crytek was allegedly using unlicensed development software themselves:
http://www.totalvideogames.com/Far-Cry/news/CryTek-Raided-4875.html

take care,
Calibrator

n/a
GeneralDebacle (not verified)
I agree it isn't an excuse...

But you will find when you lurk in Spore forums, and interesting thing.

Lots of people, again, returning the game due to the DRM, and again, lots of people carrying on about pirating the game after taking the game back.

Also, most importantly Bill, the simplest DRM's work just as efficiently as the newest crap that GTA4 and Spore have going for them. They don't work any better. That is the point I have been trying to get across here. In face, Fallout 3, which has a much less intrusive DRM, with no online checking, has been pirated less than Spore, which has all sorts of horrible things including online checks!

Both were pirated and available on day 1. These new, horrible DRM's are not needed, all they do is turn off legitimate customers. What good are they? seriously? If anyone can put an argument forth as to why to use them over a simpler, easier on the paying customer DRM, I am all eyes.

And a list of sales for all these games would be interesting too, if anyone can get hold of one.

Rowdy Rob
Rowdy Rob's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/04/2006
DRM: here's a real-world example of a possible fiasco

Microsoft has shut down its "MSN Music" site, where people could pay to download legal-but-DRM-protected songs. Now, what happens to the people who paid to legally bought music from the site? Apparently, they're pretty much stuck to playing their music on whatever platform(s) they are currently using, and cannot renew their licenses to the music.

Here's a link to an "Ars Technica" article dated April 22, 2008:

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080422-drm-sucks-redux-microsoft-...

qoj hpmoj o+ 6uo73q 3Jv 3svq jnoh 77V

Calibrator
Offline
Joined: 10/25/2006
A prime example
Rowdy Rob wrote:

Here's a link to an "Ars Technica" article dated April 22, 2008:

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080422-drm-sucks-redux-microsoft-...

This is just one example that cemented my opinion to not trust any company to keep their servers alive!
For God's sake: This is Microsoft who really has the financial means to do that in the next hundred years but instead they showed their customers the finger and saved a quick one!

This paragraphs sums it up nicely:

"Bennett insists that MSN Music keys are, in fact, not yet expiring. Technically speaking, that's true—if I authorize one of my PCs, never get rid of it for the rest of my life, and never upgrade its OS, I will be able to play my tracks forever. But as some of our readers note, this technicality is not rooted in reality—the authorizations will now expire when the computer does, for whatever reason."

Even if they wanted to shut them down (and there are valid argument to not prolong selling DRM-infected music) they could've offered their customers plain and simple mp3's as a second download.

Now just imagine what funky software publishers will do...
Will they really offer patches at one time to remove the DRM routines?
Will they really working hours = money for this (remember that they don't have shitloads of money like Microsoft)?
What will their marketing advisors say about the effect on their image in the public (will it be perceived as "good" to release another patch to "correct" something)?
etc.

take care,
Calibrator

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
In Microsoft's defense, a

In Microsoft's defense, a lot of this probably isn't their fault. They may, for the sake of argument, feel bad about it. But if that's the contract they worked out with the music companies, they are legally obligated to stick to it. The music publishers (RIAA) probably insisted on the most rigid, inflexible DRM they could find, and Microsoft agreed to use it to get the rights to distribute their products. Amazon was able to get a better deal.

Personally, I buy all my music from Amazon for this very reason. I just bought the latest Judas Priest album (Nostradamus) and have been quite happy with it! :)

n/a
Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
In Microsofts defense?
Matt Barton wrote:

In Microsoft's defense, a lot of this probably isn't their fault. They may, for the sake of argument, feel bad about it. But if that's the contract they worked out with the music companies, they are legally obligated to stick to it. The music publishers (RIAA) probably insisted on the most rigid, inflexible DRM they could find, and Microsoft agreed to use it to get the rights to distribute their products. Amazon was able to get a better deal.

Personally, I buy all my music from Amazon for this very reason. I just bought the latest Judas Priest album (Nostradamus) and have been quite happy with it! :)

So it is their fault as they worked out the contract with the music publishers. They agreed to this rigid rules layed down. For some reason the music industry gets away with this kinda bull where other industries will not. Oh the Zune wasn't / isn't even available over here ;-) but they weren't going to get my money.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

n/a
GeneralDebacle (not verified)
Well..

This just confirms my thoughts on actually owning whatever you have bought/downloaded. Still, it is up to the sheeple to get their finger out and refuse to buy stuff that contains these kinds of DRMs.

Just a side thought on the piracy issue; If anyone who has knowledge in business taxation, perhaps they could explain how the "Business losses" tax breaks work? Perhaps the Piracy issue is being overblown to get hold of greater taxation concessions. Just a thought.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.