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Game Pirates under attack. Developers shoot off a broadside to counter attacks.

Game Piracy, is it sending the industry broke ?

And should the developers be doing all they can to stop it ?

by XboxOZ360:

©2008 Grant Smythe:

Personally I think they should look at every avenue possible. Assassin’s Creed copped a flogging on the PC due to piracy when it was released middle of this year. Ubisoft have sued North Carolina-based company called Optical Experts Manufacturing (OEM), a disc replication company for allowing leaked copies to get on the net, when it was part of their NDA and Working Terms & Conditions. It was stated that NO personnel were allowed to take stock home prior to release and Ubisoft called it: “an extraordinary breach of trust and gross negligence” on the part of OEM.

Now 5 major publishing houses – which consist of Atari, Codemasters, Topware Interactive, Reality Pump, and Techland intend to serve notices on 2500 accused pirates. The Publishers have banded together and enrolled the talents of major Commercial Law firm Davenport Lyons to represent them in filing charges against the suspected 2500 people who have been found to have either downloaded or distributed illegal copies of video games published by their respective companies.

The accused will be given a chance to opt for an out-of-court settlement fee of $US563 or alternatively, be taken to the courts and face much higher chargers if found guilty, and they will be found guilty, there is no way around that. The firm does plan on following through with at least 500 of those 2500 cases.

Each year developers lose hundred of millions of $US’s on piracy. Money that could well be spent on R&D and future development on new IP’s. The stupid thing is, gamers shoot themselves in the foot with every game they ‘steal’  as they basically are stealing money from their own future.

There’s no getting around it, if you download a game without paying for it in anyway off the net that is not via Steam or it equivalent, then you’re stealing it.

Many think that all game publishers and developers (they are two different entities remember) make bucket loads of cash and make huge profits every year, they run around in Ferrari’s and Porsche’s etc and have massive homes. Many might well have those things, and best of luck for them, but many don’t, and even huge companies like EA, Atari, etc record huge loses each year, NOT profits.

They rely on the steady flow of income from regular games that sell high volume to feed their future investment in new IP and ongoing franchises. Gamers scream that they want new games, demand that they get photorealisim in every corner of the screen. They don’t just want 200 – 300 or even 400 cars perfectly modeled inside and out, they want 1000 plus, each with a picture perfect cockpit view and every gauge working with wipers and lights, not to mention the weather and full day-night cycles. You get the idea.

Then they flip straight over to a bit-torrent site and download the latest pirated copy of a blockbuster game that someone has smuggled out of said development house . . . Like the 700,000 copies of Assassins Creed which were downloaded in the first few days of it appearing on the net.

However, when the game went on sale in the shops in June, the sales for the entire month were only 40,000 copies. Does that stop gamers from demanding Ubisoft create bigger, better and more bad ass games with all the bells and whistles, wanting more IP’s and bigger worlds to explore . . . . No, it doesn’t.

Did the Publishers see one red cent of those 700,000 copies – nope, did they make the money back for the development of the game for the PC, nope. Do you think they might do it again (produce another PC title), probably not. Scratch another publisher developing on the PC.

Gamers of a “certain standing or caliber” just keep stealing and asking for more, however, things MIGHT just be about to change big time.

So don’t think you’re safe – because you’re not.

If you think they won’t just pick on you if you’re just a mum or small gamer, then think again. The law firm Davenport Lyons, who are now representing the five publisher mentioned above, won a $US30,000 judgment against an unemployed mother of two “this week” for illegally downloading Topware’s Dream Pinball 3D through a file-sharing site, Source: The Times Online.

However, Ex MS Xbox-DIv big boy Peter Moore and now EA Sports CEO has other thoughts on the matter, stating that this is not the way to get around the issue. He commented that “I’m not a huge fan of trying to punish your consumer,” further commenting . . . “Albeit these people have clearly stolen intellectual property, I think there are better ways of resolving this within our power as developers and publishers.”

Source: Gameindustry.Biz Network. or trip over to Eurogamer.net for his full interview on this matter, E3 and the console race.

Personally I’m against the extent of the fine for the unemployed mum, but at the same time, I can understand the companies position. Slap someone on the wrist telling they were naughty boys-n-girls, and they walk away saying, yeah yeah “what-evveeer”, I’ll just go home and do it again.

Make it painful enough to have them think seriously about doing it again, or ensuring their kids/family do not do it again, then the chances of it happening again are slim. Sure, you will never stamp it out, but heavy handed approaches like this never worked in the music industry, and I doubt it will work here either.

There are other ways around it, and it seems Peter Moore is an advocate of finding a better way other than fining everyone and anyone and putting your every day gamer off side. This comment from the above interview sort of sums it all up really.

“Yes, we’ve got to find solutions,” Moore continued. “We absolutely should crack down on piracy. People put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their content and deserve to get paid for it. It’s absolutely wrong, it is stealing.

“But at the same time I think there are better solutions than chasing people for money. I’m not sure what they are, other than to build game experiences that make it more difficult for there to be any value in pirating games.”

They do need to address the situation, and do so very quickly, it’s costing us (gamers)  a few potential blockbuster games every year. But they need to do it in a way that stings, but doesn’t cripple the average joe, yet hits the major pirate hard and strong. Take a different approach to those that may well have done it blindly or even had it done on their computer unknowingly.

©2008 Grant Smythe:

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Co-owner and EIC of oxcgn.com

16 Comments on Game Pirates under attack. Developers shoot off a broadside to counter attacks.

  1. Very interesting, i didn’t realize it was having this mch of an impact on game developers, you mean to say some companies are going bust from pirated software?

  2. Whats making it go broke is the buggy and short games they keep flooding the market with and expect it to be #1 seller.

    The market is flooded with games so people have to choose which games to buy, if the game developer doesn’t release a good demo what game do you think people will buy.

    I’d like to see them do something about China, we all know they pirate the most games/movies in the world, so unless companies are willing to go after them good luck stopping piracy.

    They still haven’t busted private torrent sites, some of my friends use them to download games and they have yet to be caught or sent any warning letters.

    Suing a single mother with two kids isn’t going to help you fight piracy one bit, it will just make people not buy your product.

  3. @ Shadowstar, It was interesting to note regarding the repeativness of the game . . .They did some quick studies and found those who had “a problem” with the style of game, exploration and free-roaming and repeativeness etc feel into the younger age brackets. Those that loved the game fell into and older age bracket.

    Those that liked the style seemed content too simply explore, delve into the storyline, dig deeper etc etc, whereas those that wanted instant action were expecting something along the lines of a POP style game, which it was never meant to be. They were already making a POP game anyhow.

    I never, or have never had an issue with the game on the 360, freezing or glitching, and found the game engaging, and will return to it one day . . . when I can afford it the time it deserves.

    I think it comes down to different strokes for different folks more than a design flaw. Some games are simply designed for a reason or a market and need to follow a storyline, not just supply hours of instant gratification via killing, explosions and the like.

    Many will be disappointed with BIA:HH on many levels, yet there will be an equal number who will find those reasons as compelling, like the fact you ca’t WIN in the game as such. Unlike 99.9% of all shooter where you beat the bad guys in the end. BIA:HH doesn’t allow that, it’s down to a moral victory, not an actual one.

    There are many games taking that approach now, which will either win over some gamers, and definitely turn some gamers off.

    In the end, piracy isn’t always about the smaller ppl getting games for free once or twice. It’s the huge number that take that attitude, combined together and they make up a huge % of piracy.

    The BIGGEST worry is from organized crime. Several of the major bickie gangs in Sydney and around Australia are now making MORE from their piracy dealings than they are from selling drugs. They funnel the huge profits into other areas of their businesses, illeagal and otherwise, and can make 10 times as much from their piracy chains than they do from stuff like heroine and coke etc.

  4. Fighting piracy with regular law enforcement but in the other hand keep selling the game software (also music and movie) in traditional way is not going to win the war.

    Developer and publisher must think new approach, not all people have same economy standard. Game with advertising, shareware and downloadable content can be use to educate people that game affordable.

    Meanwhile they also must encourage people to bought legit version not by threatening user but by showing additional service they will get by owning it. My country is the fifth largest population in the world yet no current big three console maker officially release their product.

    As a result being treat as ‘spill over market’ only a few of consumer (usually rich and educated) buying legal software. A lot of casual consumer, parents that bought game for their kids doesn’t even know they buying illegal game.

  5. “… if you read the article on the issue, it was due to the fact Ubisoft had included a bug in the code for security reasons that would have the game glitch and freeze mid game and at certain point have issues.”

    I read it. But the problem is, people weren’t upset about game glitches and freezing (well, I was, but that’s because it kept glitching and freezing on my PS3– so much for it being intentional.) What most people were upset about was the repetitive nature of the game.

    The repetition is a design flaw. That’s not something that could be removed with a little patch or whatever.

  6. @ Shadowstar

    With regards to the Assassin’s Creed PC game getting a bagging, if you read the article on the issue, it was due to the fact Ubisoft had included a bug in the code for security reasons that would have the game glitch and freeze mid game and at certain point have issues.

    This was in the code that was sent out to the companies that re-master the games for distribution. That bug would be made redundant when it was issued a command once inserted post release. Which is why many of the week early reviews of the game were so critical on the PC version . . .

    The reviews were being made off pirated copies with the security code enabled . . dahhh . .

    If you check out article on Ubisoft seuing firm OEM (do a search above) and you’ll get the full story.

  7. Lets be honest here.

    16,000 quid is a mssive joke.

    If this goes to appeal she would get the fine reduced.

    Plus then comes the outcry when she has to sit in jail because she can´t pay(which costs the taxpayer money) and the evidence is to be honest very very iffy.

    Logistep uses illegal methods and could in theory be charged for illegal spying and breaking in to personal computers!

    As for piracy itself-:

    When will devolpers stop ripping off customers eg Crysis (better tech demo) or other games.

    With the rising prices for food and energy this problem will get worse.

    Taking people to court for(as defined by Law) petty offences(which it is)-Would be time better invested in catching PROPER criminals.

    For me MODERN MAFIA!

    Would be a great idea for a game…

  8. Well when Ubisoft makes a buggy and crappy as hell game as Assassins Creed for the Computer, then there Might be a reason for them losing money. If a game is DRM free, GOOD, and has a DEMO that’s not 10 minuets long then Piracy may go down a lot.

  9. Stopping pirates in developing nations won’t make a difference in sales. People in countries such as Bangladesh will just stop purchasing games altogether. Consoles will stop being sold here. We see more 360s than PS3s around here. The ratio would be 30:1 for 360:PS3. Only the super rich can afford PS3s. I can’t afford to purchase games at $50 where weekly I make around 1000 taka as income… which is roughly $14.28 a week and $57.12 a month. I am one of the well-off people.

    I had purchased my 360 on credit and also took some cash from my parents. If the people at MS wanna decrease console sales even more then and only then should they wanna block piracy over here. Even though games are being pirated… consoles are being sold…because you can’t play without a console.

  10. Righteous Ralf // 26 August, 2008 at 4:41 am // Reply

    Piracy is a crime. These individuals should not only have civil litigation against them, but also criminal charges. Their lives should be tainted with felony charges which would:

    1) prevent them from owning a gun
    2) prevent them from getting government jobs
    3) prevent them from getting regular jobs
    4) allow them to review their life while sitting in jail

    This is why PC gaming is (and should) dying. Move to the consoles where this can be locked down and better controlled.

    Don’t pull this “information should be free” crap! Stealing is stealing. And it is a crime that is punishable.

    • Righteous Ralf I have to disagree. The solution does not lie in
      punishing the small users. Much like the marijuana business that would just clog up the legal system and punish those who aren’t really the source of the problem.

      They should be targeting a)the websites that promote piracy
      b) people who download frequently and often
      c)people who upload the games

      I will admit to engaging in piracy once or twice, in movies and in games. Everything I pirate is 10+ years old, though, and so doesn’t make the companies money. And where else am I going to find Heroes 3 Complete, or a DVD version of Psycho
      This problem is much the

  11. Bravo Davenport Lyons you sued an unemployed mother of 2 for $30,000 … sure hope you feel good about yourselves. Now what is she to do? Now she’ll have even less money for her 2 children so won’t be able to buy them the latest games they’re crying for. By hitting her so hard, financially, she’ll never be a legitimate customer of any games now because it’ll take her the rest of her natural life to pay that fine. The only option she has left is piracy. Then there are the countless people who read that article who’ll be disgusted by the outcome, how many do you think are going to offer 1c of there money to companies who took so much from someone who has so little. I fear the backlash from this move will far outweigh the $30,000 judgement they won (money they’ll only see in small payments over the next 20+ years.

    Peter Moore is right, antagonising and suing your customer base (or potential customer base) is not going to win out. None of those sued will ever buy a game again (because they can’t afford it) and those who do pirate will read articles like the above and will be more steadfast in their pirate ways.

  12. I know VG Chartz sucks, but their numbers aren’t completely wrong, especially for things that were in the Top 10, when they could crib their numbers from NPD. according to them, the first week sales of AC were 468,873 on PS3 and 821,416 on XBox 360– hardly “less than 40,000 copies.” And if you’re talking about the PC only, well, maybe they lost those sales because people played the game and didn’t like it. The game was getting trashed in reviews and message boards around the world for being too repetitive– not for a bug halfway through. (All that said, I do think they’re right to sue the company that had the leak.) What about the Gamasutra article that said for every 50,000 pirated copies of Ricochet Infinity that were stopped, they sold 50 legitimate copies? Taking those numbers, Ubisoft might have sold another 700 copies? We also don’t know if any of those 700,000 ended up buying a copy for PS3 or 360, given that the game was biased towards console controls.

    If you can’t make money on the PC, go to consoles. Leave the PC for work, casual flash-based games, MMOs, Blizzard, real Flight Sims, and the occasional graphics-card busting blockbuster.

    Suing people in the music industry hasn’t accomplished much beyond the loss of consumers’ good will. There are no easy answers for stopping piracy, but why bother doing something we already know doesn’t work?

  13. couold they not encode somesort of encryption directlyinto the game engine requirng a decrypt key from the company site each time and a different one based off of a known seed surly the engine can be made so such a thing was integral tie it to the ai graphics and physic so without the encryptoon part the game cannot function

  14. I’ve got to say im glad this is happening, as its about time people who pirate games get a kick in the gonads (to put it nicely)

    Im tired of of the arguements you always get from pirates, mainly that games are too expensive. I never buy a game on releae day i have to wait a few months till its price drops and its in my price range.

    Developers deserve to be paid for their work. You want a game for free then make your own.if not pay for it like the rest of us you cheap b******s and top giving decent gamers a bad name

  15. death to all entertainment industries // 26 August, 2008 at 12:44 am // Reply

    boycott everything

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