20 to 1 Pirate to Sale Ratio?

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Shacknews Reports:

The CEO of Crytek is further alienating PC Gamers these days by calling us the worst pirates out there. His claims are that the ratio of pirated copies to sales is approximately 20 copies per 1 legitimate sale.

With these kind of ratios, it's hard to imagine why anyone would want to make more PC games. Then again, he never cites a source.

I'm probably beating a dead horse with this, but after this kind of talk, it makes it pretty clear to me that I'll be steering clear of Crytek titles from now on.

You won't buy any more Crytek games because this guy thinks piracy is more of a problem than you think it is?

I think it's pretty safe to say that if you don't pirate games, he's not talking about you. If I made a game, and then checked out some BitTorrent site and saw thousands of downloads a week, I would probably whine about it too. Whether it is as big of an issue as he feels it is or not, you can't blame him for feeling slighted.

I don't doubt it. That's why many PC only company's have jumped ship. Cvat is really the only one who is voicing his opinion.

Now all we hear are the pirates crying foul over what he says. It's really frustrating. Have you seen the seeding / leeching ratio for crysis when it came out?

I'm wondering where he came up with those figures, but they aren't really relevant anyway. The important figure is how many sales are lost to piracy. Of those "20," how many would have bought the game if they couldn't pirate it?

Besides, I'm pretty sure this guy is the "worst pirate" out there:

IMAGE(http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1026/1232416945_139f76fbc2.jpg)

TempestBlayze wrote:

I don't doubt it. That's why many PC only company's have jumped ship. Cvat is really the only one who is voicing his opinion.

Now all we hear are the pirates crying foul over what he says. It's really frustrating. Have you seen the seeding / leeching ratio for crysis when it came out?

I don't pirate games, so no, I didn't see those numbers.

Switchbreak wrote:

You won't buy any more Crytek games because this guy thinks piracy is more of a problem than you think it is?

That's not the reason. For one, he's making no friends by calling PC gamers the worst pirates. Two, in my opinion, Crysis was a mediocre game at best. I don't know how many people agreed with me, but seeing as there are still success stories in the PC market, it makes me think that either the system requirements shut out a lot of the PC market (which, if the piracy numbers are correct, isn't true), or I am not alone in that opinion. If his excuse for a mediocre game is piracy, it makes me wonder what he'll blame when his console titles don't do well. No, I don't appreciate companies that blame their failures on their customers.

As long as there are middle schoolers there will be game pirating.

I didn't pay a dime for any game up until the point I went to college. Then I went back and bought a copy of every game I could ever remember stealing (and could still find).

Mostly because that was the first point that I actually had disposable income.

Okay I am really sick of seeing these "numbers" that developers throws around. How are they counting the "pirated" versions?

By the number of times some pirated copy has tried to activate? Play online? If this is the case, then wouldn't it make sense for someone who pirated the game to attempt many more times to register (maybe with a different key)!?

Or are they referring to the number of people sharing the game as shown on Bittorrent tracking sites? Those numbers are not accurate! And those numbers are not UNIQUE to one tracker only!

Sigh... Seriously though, Crysis has a great engine. A lot of potential, just not so much to make the actual game that fun, and playable on a lot of people's PCs... I am all for pushing the technology envelope, but a game should never just be all about how pretty it looks, it should have compelling contents that gamers would be interested in...

LobsterMobster wrote:

Besides, I'm pretty sure this guy is the "worst pirate" out there

Man, that would take a lot of balls to try and pillage any other boat with his setup. Unless he hasn't gotten around to his first boarding yet then he must be doing something right, right?

LobsterMobster wrote:

Of those "20," how many would have bought the game if they couldn't pirate it?

That's one of the big things. I'd say that majority of the people who pirate games never would have bought it in the first place. But then again I've known plenty of people that pirate a game they never would have bought and then go out buy the game/other games from the developer because they liked it so much.

In other news, Ford Motor Company today announced that its lagging sales and lost market share is a direct result of Japan automakers lacing steering wheels with top-shelf Heroin.

Mordiceius wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

Of those "20," how many would have bought the game if they couldn't pirate it?

That's one of the big things. I'd say that majority of the people who pirate games never would have bought it in the first place. But then again I've known plenty of people that pirate a game they never would have bought and then go out buy the game/other games from the developer because they liked it so much.

Ditto. Esp. now that we are at a time when we can't really put too much faith on previews and reviews, and there is no good (by good I mean one that actually gives the player a sense of what the game has, not just the lame "play til you are level 5" type of demos that doesn't really show much about the game...) demos for games anymore.

Elysium wrote:

In other news, Ford Motor Company today announced that its lagging sales and lost market share is a direct result of Japan automakers lacing steering wheels with top-shelf Heroin.

I have been missing out!

Well its not that big of a problem for nintendo or sony. I mean some companies made hardware you can buy for like $3 to put you nintendo DS roms on cartridge and actually play them. and they sell in the hundreds of thousands. check out deal extreme. also with the amount of sony ISO's out there its hard to imagine why anyone would want to actually buy a game anymore (before blu-ray because downloading that size of a file seems insane). The only thing I've ever downloaded off bittorent was a 1987 DOS collection, and it was freeware only games. Mostly demo's or the first ep of Wolfenstein. But I dont understand how anyone can even Pirate a PC game anymore, with the amoutn of hell you'd go through just trying to install and get a working serial key and all that garbage, your better off buying a legit copy.

Dave172 wrote:

But I dont understand how anyone can even Pirate a PC game anymore, with the amoutn of hell you'd go through just trying to install and get a working serial key and all that garbage, your better off buying a legit copy.

Actually with the modern DRM systems it is often much easier to play a pirated game than an original, as long as you don't intend to play online.

Personally I'm sick and tired of Crytek and their incessant whining about piracy to excuse their poor sales. The reason Crysis sold badly is because they made a huge deal about the insane system requirements. Which, weren't that high! The game is playable on my AMD 3200+ with Geforce 6600, although it doesn't look super.

The requirements are only really an issue if you have a large LCD. I use a CRT so no problemo.

Then they go and pull development on the newer patch to work on what frankly sounds like a half-a##ed expansion. Dropping the existing customers that have already paid for the game, to develop a new 'optimised' game. They have probably realised that the claims hurt sales. Now they are hoping that some of the pirates magically become customers.

Dave172 wrote:

But I dont understand how anyone can even Pirate a PC game anymore, with the amoutn of hell you'd go through just trying to install and get a working serial key and all that garbage, your better off buying a legit copy.

Actually this works the other way around. In general all those checks and security measures only cause headaches for the handful of skilled people actually modifying the pirated copy. They release it and the new, pirated version is way more convenient than the original. All of the legitimate users mess with registration and securom and other weird little issues I have noticed cropping up with games recently (Overlord didn't recognize the disc in the tray if I tried to run it from the desktop, I had to pop the disc out, put it back in, and run it from autoplay) that I attribute to misfired security measures. Meanwhile the pirates install the game, run some sort of crack, and then its off to the races and they never have to worry about any inconvenience again.

EDIT: Damn beaten to the punch.

Something else I wonder about this 20 to 1 ratio is the exact breakdown behind this number. What if (as seems possible) 15 of those 20 people are Chinese/Korean. Not only are they much less likely to ever buy a game (My Korean suitemate gave me this blank stare when I asked him if he had bought a computer game and said "I don't get why a person would do such a thing."). While this does go into the "People that wouldn't buy the game anyways" category, it also may not be feasible for them to buy the game even if they wanted to. Are these games being sold in every country? Are these games being made in every language? How many of the pirates are from those countries or languages. I am not saying that games should sell in every country or language, I am just giving some reasons why a lot of these pirates are way further away from paying customers than a lot of these developers realize. They say things like (if these numbers are true) if 5% of pirates buy the game I will double my sales, I just think that 5%, or even 1%, is a number that isn't going to happen. I do know, however, that if you convince 20% of customers not to buy your game, then you lost 20% of your sales. And that sort of thing definitely seems to be happening.

nsmike wrote:

I'm probably beating a dead horse with this, but after this kind of talk, it makes it pretty clear to me that I'll be steering clear of Crytek titles from now on.

I always steered clear of Crytek games, they only make crap. Sure it's shiny crap that they sprayed perfume on, but it's still crap.

So basically what Yerli is saying is that if it were impossible to pirate Crysis, it would've sold 20 million copies? Puh-leeze. The game was a competent shooter marketed completely on its visuals and they always showed and talked about it in a way that made everyone believe they wouldn't be able to run it. It was boneheaded marketing defined and they have no one but themselves to blame for it not selling. To keep citing sources like BitTorrent tracker numbers for the state of piracy is as weak an argument as citing only NPD's PC sales numbers for the state of PC gaming as a whole.

I also think he really needs to stop beating this dead horse publicly, particularly when they recently announced they were dropping support for Crysis and canceling a promised patch while also trying to convince us to buy another Crysis product. I can't remember where I read it but he's pretty much stated that everything that was supposed to be in the new patch will be in Crysis Warhead. EA has taught them well. By continuing to go on about this issue, he's earning neither friends nor customers. I wouldn't be surprised to see Crysis Warhead sell even worse because what customers they did have they pushed away with this rhetoric. I certainly won't be buying it day one.

lethial wrote:

Sigh... Seriously though, Crysis has a great engine. A lot of potential, just not so much to make the actual game that fun, and playable on a lot of people's PCs... I am all for pushing the technology envelope, but a game should never just be all about how pretty it looks, it should have compelling contents that gamers would be interested in...

I wouldn't be surprised if half of the downloads were by people who wanted to see if Crysis would even run on their machines.

I read an article a while back from a game developer that put the percentage of pirates that would buy the game at much less than 1% (ie they had to stop several hundred pirates in order to get one extra sale).

I think that's a short-sighted way to look at it, though. I would guess that easy access to pirated up-to-date games reduces the sales of other, older, budget titles significantly. If the Crytek people had perfect DRM, a pirate might not drop $60 on Crysis, but they might spend $10 on BF2 or something.

nsmike wrote:

That's not the reason. For one, he's making no friends by calling PC gamers the worst pirates. Two, in my opinion, Crysis was a mediocre game at best. I don't know how many people agreed with me, but seeing as there are still success stories in the PC market, it makes me think that either the system requirements shut out a lot of the PC market (which, if the piracy numbers are correct, isn't true), or I am not alone in that opinion. If his excuse for a mediocre game is piracy, it makes me wonder what he'll blame when his console titles don't do well. No, I don't appreciate companies that blame their failures on their customers.

For one, PC gamers are the worst pirates...by a landslide. I don't know how you can take offense at something that's statistically true. It's not even up for debate. I don't know about the 20 to 1 ratio, but PC games are torrented at an astronomical level, whether you're comparing it to actual sales or in contrast to console piracy.

Second, they've stated again and again that Crysis was profitable. It's just a dissapointing number compared to how many pirated versions were up there.

Mystic Violet wrote:

I wouldn't be surprised if half of the downloads were by people who wanted to see if Crysis would even run on their machines.

There was a demo available a month before release.

Yonder wrote:

Something else I wonder about this 20 to 1 ratio is the exact breakdown behind this number. What if (as seems possible) 15 of those 20 people are Chinese/Korean. Not only are they much less likely to ever buy a game (My Korean suitemate gave me this blank stare when I asked him if he had bought a computer game and said "I don't get why a person would do such a thing."). While this does go into the "People that wouldn't buy the game anyways" category, it also may not be feasible for them to buy the game even if they wanted to. Are these games being sold in every country? Are these games being made in every language? How many of the pirates are from those countries or languages. I am not saying that games should sell in every country or language, I am just giving some reasons why a lot of these pirates are way further away from paying customers than a lot of these developers realize. They say things like (if these numbers are true) if 5% of pirates buy the game I will double my sales, I just think that 5%, or even 1%, is a number that isn't going to happen. I do know, however, that if you convince 20% of customers not to buy your game, then you lost 20% of your sales. And that sort of thing definitely seems to be happening.

I think this is a good point. Not only are a large number of pirates going to be in countries where there is no sale of the goods... but in many of those countries the cost of the item will be less (so that people can afford to buy them)... so you can break the pirates down into further subcategories whereby you might not even gain much from an actual sale anyway.
Then you run into things like certain games sold on steam not working outside of the country they were bought in. Which IMO is robbery.

Keep in mind, this comes on the heels of PC innovator and developer Gabe Newell's declaration that the PC is the true future of gaming.

nsmike wrote:

Keep in mind, this comes on the heels of PC innovator and developer Gabe Newell's declaration that the PC is the true future of gaming.

I think seeing as how his whole business is dependent upon the future in PC gaming, it's not surprising he thinks it's a very positive one.

Also, I find it unnerving that he constantly mentions that retail sales aren't the whole picture, and yet still refuses to release any real number on Steam sales.

It's also good to note that Steam completely eliminates 0-day piracy, which helped the Orange Box out a lot and hurt Crysis immensely. If Crytek is smart, Crysis Warhead will take the lessons learned from Mass Effect and BioShock and integrate online authentication into their game.

kuddles wrote:

For one, PC gamers are the worst pirates...by a landslide. I don't know how you can take offense at something that's statistically true. It's not even up for debate. I don't know about the 20 to 1 ratio, but PC games are torrented at an astronomical level, whether you're comparing it to actual sales or in contrast to console piracy.

I've seen this guy's piracy "statistics" pop up on several sites, and despite his attempt at looking scientific, these stats aren't "undebatable" when it comes to talking about how many full copies of a game are illegally obtained and RUN on any given system.

Since there's no way to break down where these people are physically (as has been stated, the worst piracy comes usually from areas that can't legally buy the product anyway), you can't tell if someone is deliberately choosing to "steal" the game that is legally available or not.

As I said above, you also can't get from those leecher stats just how many individual copies of the game have been fully downloaded to 100% completion... OR how many copies of the game have actually been played/run successfully. Connecting those figures to "lost sales" is an exercise in futility.

I'm not saying a developer should be "happy" with piracy, but the sad reality is that it is not going to change... you can cling to the old system and cry about "stealing" and "lost sales" and try to sue your customers(MPAA/RIAA), or you can try and adapt to the new reality (the guys at Stardock, Radiohead, NIN, etc.).

kuddles wrote:
nsmike wrote:

Keep in mind, this comes on the heels of PC innovator and developer Gabe Newell's declaration that the PC is the true future of gaming.

I think seeing as how his whole business is dependent upon the future in PC gaming, it's not surprising he thinks it's a very positive one.

Also, I find it unnerving that he constantly mentions that retail sales aren't the whole picture, and yet still refuses to release any real number on Steam sales.

It's also good to note that Steam completely eliminates 0-day piracy, which helped the Orange Box out a lot and hurt Crysis immensely. If Crytek is smart, Crysis Warhead will take the lessons learned from Mass Effect and BioShock and integrate online authentication into their game.

You enjoy playing the cynic, don't you?

There are a lot of developers listing their games on Steam now, and many others following similar lines of thinking with their own online distribution models. If this wasn't a business to be in, why would they pursue it, especially those making their own stores? Hosting and development costs for such things are not insubstantial. I think your being unnerved by this is a bit unwarranted.

It's also more than a small case of tunnel vision if you think 0-day piracy prevention is what helped out the Orange Box and make it the success it was. The fact of the matter is, the Orange Box included a lot of content people wanted before it was released, and brought in new people after the release with reports of just how good Episode 2 and Portal were. Team Fortress 2 is an enduring force, and you need look no further than the near-5000-post thread on these very boards to see just how much of one. The content offered in the Orange Box certainly helped sales a bunch. Do you honestly believe that 0-day piracy would've hurt the Orange Box as much as it hurt Crysis? What about Sins of a Solar Empire, which had no piracy protection measures at all, and remains a tremendous success for Stardock? There's obviously some other metric at work here besides 0-day piracy.

SommerMatt wrote:

I've seen this guy's piracy "statistics" pop up on several sites, and despite his attempt at looking scientific, these stats aren't "undebatable" when it comes to talking about how many full copies of a game are illegally obtained and RUN on any given system.

I put that link there as an example, since I can't start linking to torrent sites. Go to practically any one and seeds for PC games tend to be quite large, and have significantly bigger numbers than console titles by a huge margin. The only console to come even close to the amount of torrent downloads is the PSP, which unsurprisingly has had abysmal software sales and steady hardware sales.

nsmike wrote:

It's also more than a small case of tunnel vision if you think 0-day piracy prevention is what helped out the Orange Box and make it the success it was.

I didn't say it was the only thing that made it a success. But it is something that helped it (and the lack of it hurt Crysis sales). Valve even admits as such.

Also, I think you've got a bit of tunnel vision yourself going on. The Orange Box sells less than 2 million copies on the PC, and that's because all of the amazing content they provided, and Crysis only sells 1.5 million because it's a mediocre title with too high system requirements?

What about Sins of a Solar Empire, which had no piracy protection measures at all, and remains a tremendous success for Stardock?

I disagree with you on "no piracy protection measures at all", but I've been through that before. Regardless, even Brad Wardell acknowledges that the key to success is making games with a low enough budget that breaking even is inevitable (their sales are great for the type of games they are, but they're still a fraction of most others), and in making the type of game that is least appealling to the crowd that pirates.

LobsterMobster wrote:

I'm wondering where he came up with those figures, but they aren't really relevant anyway. The important figure is how many sales are lost to piracy. Of those "20," how many would have bought the game if they couldn't pirate it?

Besides, I'm pretty sure this guy is the "worst pirate" out there:

IMAGE(http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1026/1232416945_139f76fbc2.jpg)

Busted. The pirate did steal the sail.

kuddles wrote:

If Crytek is smart, Crysis Warhead will take the lessons learned from Mass Effect and BioShock and integrate online authentication into their game.

I don't know which aspect of the lesson you are hoping they come away with, but wasn't the DRM on BioShock a huge mess with people having issues using up all their online activations for one reason or another and then not being able to play the game they purchased?

kuddles wrote:

Also, I think you've got a bit of tunnel vision yourself going on. The Orange Box sells less than 2 million copies on the PC, and that's because all of the amazing content they provided, and Crysis only sells 1.5 million because it's a mediocre title with too high system requirements?

No no no no... No you don't. Don't trot out sales numbers when you yourself said Valve won't release any meaningful sales number via Steam.

Besides, the Crytek CEO has some pretty unrealistic expectations of budget vs. potential sales. I guarantee the Orange Box didn't cost anywhere near as much as Crysis did, and the orange box had three all-new offerings.

nsmike wrote:

No no no no... No you don't. Don't trot out sales numbers when you yourself said Valve won't release any meaningful sales number via Steam.

http://ve3d.ign.com/articles/news/36...

Even if we took a liberal estimate of "at least double digits" and went with a 30% increase, that's still around 2 million.

Besides, the Crytek CEO has some pretty unrealistic expectations of budget vs. potential sales. I guarantee the Orange Box didn't cost anywhere near as much as Crysis did, and the orange box had three all-new offerings.

Well, I agree with you on that. But that just adds to the concern over what the future of PC gaming will entail when to succeed you have to put up with lower sales because of piracy and continously decrease your budget.

Actually I have a question: What qualifies someone as being a PIRATE? (of games that is )

I ask this because on consoles you can rent, and sell back your used games, but on PC there is NO SUCH A THING!

So, for PC gamers, we don't have a good way of gauging whether or not the game would be worth it. Demos usually suck and reviews are rarely to be trusted...

Like other mentioned before, I am sure many people "pirated" the game (Crysis) just to see if their system can run it.

Furthermore, in the age of sh*tty console ports the PC version of the game may suck even more, and the only way to know that is to "pirate" the game and try it... (See Alone In The Dark game... I am sure next week, Atari is going to look at the sales of PC version of the game and make the conclusion that the number is bad because of piracy only)

So do you call people who want to protect their own interest "Pirates?"

If so, won't it be only fair for publisher and/or developers to start to be labelled as being "Crooks" or "Mobsters" for trying to cheat and extort money out of people?

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