20 to 1 Pirate to Sale Ratio?

Crytek CEO wrote:

The other critique outside Crytek was the fact that the PC industry is really, at the moment, I would say the most intensely pirated market ever.

Why the hell is Crytek running around and complaining as if piracy is a new phenomenon they did not factor in in their previous calculations? Seriously, I don't really think that the situation today is really notably worse compared to let's say three or four years ago. Today people are using torrents and the like, three or four years ago it was whatever P2P program was the rage way back. Yes, piracy does affect the market to a certain extent - but I don't get why this seems to be news to them.

And yet CoD4 on PC has an approx. sell-through number of 1m+.

Crytek CEO wrote:

We are upset at ourselves actually, because we miscommunicated some of the things. We labeled certain things wrong inside the game, like configuration for example. We could have labeled it more efficiently, saying that very high [detail] should have been ultra high, and high should have been very high, because our high compared to other games' high was a generational difference.

Oh, it must have been "miscommunication" when everyone was running around, saying awesome and demanding the engine is, and that you'd need DX10 for the maximum fun. Let's not forget the whole "full physics only for DX10 users in MP mode" bullsh*t. Funnily enough, you don't need DX10 for the max settings in Crysis Warhead. Surely, that "miscommunication" doesn't have anything to do with the money Microsoft and nVidia paid?

At what point will PC gamers realize that their opinion on this really doesn't matter. If a PC developers believe that they are losing sales, then the market will adjust. Jumping up and down and calling them fools and liars doesn't get your PC games back into development.

While it is awfully gracious of Chiggie to go back and buy PC games he stole once he got to college, I know that college aged gamers are probably the worst of all the pirates out there. Not only do they pirate the damn games, they are enablers to others that wouldn't.

Even this discussion devolved from arguing about the validity of the numbers, to the predictable, "Piracy is our only tool to avoid buying crappy games from evil makers of bad PC games. Then we buy the games that are good!"

It's BS, because even mediocre games deserve some income from what they produce. Blockbusters make money, but average, to just below average are completely wiped out by this reasoning. There is very little room for error. If your game is just ok, then the pirates have zapped any sales you could have used to invest in a better product the next time. Publishers no longer will invest in anything risky.

So PC game developers face a horde of pirates, and horde of enthusiast that all do not appreciate the hard work that went into making even an average title. Why not get out of the market?

It doesn't really matter who is right, if the games you want to play on PC keep coming to consoles first. Their most loyal customers also bitch and moan every time they try to implement DRM to protect their sales.

kuddles wrote:

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

There's a lot of speculation to be had there, as that can be anywhere from 10% to 99%. It is puzzling why they're so reluctant to release those numbers, though.

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.

The budget concern with Crysis may be a bit of an unfair route to go, as they developed an engine over this, which is not cheap. Sadly, it looks like they're already being outclassed by upcoming engines and may not gain much from licenses, should they decide to sell rights to the Crysis engine. But still, that should've been a factor when considering the development of Crysis. They should've had some engine contracts in-hand before release, and marketed the whole thing better. As it stands, they did nothing to help themselves in that arena, and reaped what they sowed. I think they were poisoned by their own delusions. "Well, we're already developing a blockbuster here. We don't need to worry about that." When they don't deliver a blockbuster, they blame gamers for not buying? That's not the way it works.

It would seem to me that too many developers do not consider their target market sufficiently. I'd say anyone who designs a PC FPS with high system specs needs to rethink their expected sales numbers, as that target demo consists largely of the pirate-y sort. It's a funny dichotomy. Many of these games seem to have a business model of forcing the pirates to buy "this particular" game. How do you convince someone to purchase what they view as free?

I do not blame any PC developer for wanting out of the PC market. If it doesn't fit into your business, forcing it isn't going to help.

I do disdain the "blame piracy after the fact" routine. It goes right in the same folder as "it's McDonald's fault I'm fat!" You knew that (or should have) going in, so put that pointing finger away.

I don't see what's so insulting about saying PC games are more pirated than console games. Most console pirating (AFAIK) involves hardware mod chips, which is definitely more challenging and a higher barrier for entry.

kuddles wrote:

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

Actually, the phrase "at least double digits" means that it's quite possibly triple digits. Which means a possible 100% increase or more. 30% is certainly not a liberal interpretation of the phrase.

It is a woefully vague and ambiguous statement.

Aren't Crytek the guys that were themselves raided for piracy around the time Farcry came out?

Crytek CEO wrote:

We are upset at ourselves actually, because we miscommunicated some of the things. We labeled certain things wrong inside the game, like configuration for example. We could have labeled it more efficiently, saying that very high [detail] should have been ultra high, and high should have been very high, because our high compared to other games' high was a generational difference.

This really would have made the difference for me. I used to steal my meals from McDonald's all the time. Then they relabeled their "small" to "medium", their "medium" to "large" and their "large" to "King Size." I realized how much more value they were giving me for my money. It convinced me to buy my meals legitimately.

JoeBedurndurn wrote:

Aren't Crytek the guys that were themselves raided for piracy around the time Farcry came out?

Apparently, though I haven't found a definitive source on whether anything was found. Wikipedia says nothing found, however the source cited does not back this up.

nsmike wrote:

The budget concern with Crysis may be a bit of an unfair route to go, as they developed an engine over this, which is not cheap. Sadly, it looks like they're already being outclassed by upcoming engines and may not gain much from licenses, should they decide to sell rights to the Crysis engine. But still, that should've been a factor when considering the development of Crysis.

I agree with that. With how much money they poured into the engine, it was rather naive of them to wait until Crysis came out before they realized making the engine run on consoles was going to be a necessity to license the thing.

Regardless, I think there's too much evidence showing that even if piracy isn't the problem it is certainly one more major than people seem willing to admit and it drives me crazy how any developer trying to talk about it automatically is taken to task as a whiner with no clue and their products are suddenly the problem. Particularly when they come from people from places like iD, Crytek, Relic, Infinity Ward, Epic, and Gas Powered Games, who not too long ago were championing the PC as their primary focus.

Yonder wrote:

This really would have made the difference for me. I used to steal my meals from McDonald's all the time. Then they relabeled their "small" to "medium", their "medium" to "large" and their "large" to "King Size." I realized how much more value they were giving me for my money. It convinced me to buy my meals legitimately.

I don't think you could have taken that quote more out of context.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

It is a woefully vague and ambiguous statement.

Let's be realistic here, though. When you're trying to push digital distribution, in particular the one you own, as the future of PC gaming in the face of so much doom and gloom from many formally PC-centric developers, and your current release has double the sales of the console version, you don't make vague and ambigous statements about it.

Well if he's concerned about Piracy, maybe he should just release it through Steam.

Also, what's the ratio for rented games?

kuddles wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

It is a woefully vague and ambiguous statement.

Let's be realistic here, though. When you're trying to push digital distribution, in particular the one you own, as the future of PC gaming in the face of so much doom and gloom from many formally PC-centric developers, and your current release has double the sales of the console version, you don't make vague and ambigous statements about it.

The people over at Valve have proved time and again to be smart people. So when they do something like not release the sales numbers for Steam that seems rather silly and like it could harm their ability to convince developers to release their games on Steam, I figure there has to be a reason. I could be wrong, they could just be making a mistake, but I'm willing to bet there are other factors involved, particularly not angering the big retailers. If The Orange Box sold 1.5 million copies for console and 1.5 million copies for PC (hard copies, I don't know the actual number but I can imagine that number can be found) and 6 million copies through Steam (probably a horrible estimate, but this is a hypothetical), the retailers lost out on 66% of the sales of the game. I'm not sure how they'd react to that, but I doubt it would be positive and could be potentially damaging to Valve, especially since they are starting to delve into console versions of their games and being restricted from that market (since buying a console game over steam makes little to no sense) would not be good for business.

Again, that's purely hypothetical, but I have to believe that Valve has some compelling reason for not announcing their sales numbers and I have a hard time believing it's because those numbers aren't good.

well I think I would be te worst Pirate out there. not to mention the most afraid, I travel alot and according to this new bill introduced in canada if your computer contains bittorent an ISO mounter or any other form of software regardless of its own legitmacy that can possibly be used for piracy you can get a $20,000 fine. I remember a simpler time...back when Napster was still free and Canadians could do what they like because its not directly hurting anyone in the country

Jayhawker wrote:

At what point will PC gamers realize that their opinion on this really doesn't matter. If a PC developers believe that they are losing sales, then the market will adjust. Jumping up and down and calling them fools and liars doesn't get your PC games back into development.

* * *

It doesn't really matter who is right, if the games you want to play on PC keep coming to consoles first. Their most loyal customers also bitch and moan every time they try to implement DRM to protect their sales.

Nice post. I think you got it mostly right.

Jayhawker wrote:

Great Justice

And that is where this conversation should end.

kuddles wrote:
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.

This does nothing to address the key fact that torrent numbers are not definitive measures of anything. All they do is tell you that at X particular time, Y amount of people were connected to the torrent tracker. Those numbers do not equal a full copy of the game downloaded and played, or a "lost sale."

I don't think anyone would argue that PC titles DON'T get downloaded more than console games... I mean, it's common sense-- many fewer people have hacked consoles which allow copied discs to run. But I also don't think that the PSP software sales "slump" is as directly related to piracy as people seem to think. Sure, we have our very own "CFW hacking kit" floating around, but the average joe who has purchased a slim PSP can't just simply hack their console... they need to find the software, the custom battery, etc. I can't believe that the total number of hacked PSPs out there is the sole cause of the software problem. Anecdotally, I see a good number of kids in my classes with PSPs, and NONE of them have their systems hacked. My point in all of this stuff is that I think too often we're confusing correlation with causation in looking at these sorts of numbers.

kuddles wrote:

Regardless, I think there's too much evidence showing that even if piracy isn't the problem it is certainly one more major than people seem willing to admit and it drives me crazy how any developer trying to talk about it automatically is taken to task as a whiner with no clue and their products are suddenly the problem.

I don't think anyone is saying that game piracy doesn't exist, but I have a hard time sympathizing with developers who pull this out as the main reason why their particular product failed. Seriously, in 2008, they don't KNOW that piracy exists? They haven't figured out a way to try and deal with it? I rarely see developers "trying to talk about" the issue. What I see is developers pointing fingers, which is why many people are tired of the same old accusations.

Stiffer DRM tactics and draconian laws to punish downloaders haven't worked in ANY medium... they need to look at what HAS worked and adapt. If there is money to be made in the PC market, then people will continue to develop for it. If If not, then they won't.

Edgar_Newt wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

At what point will PC gamers realize that their opinion on this really doesn't matter. If a PC developers believe that they are losing sales, then the market will adjust. Jumping up and down and calling them fools and liars doesn't get your PC games back into development.

* * *

It doesn't really matter who is right, if the games you want to play on PC keep coming to consoles first. Their most loyal customers also bitch and moan every time they try to implement DRM to protect their sales.

Nice post. I think you got it mostly right.

I'd disagree but in order to not start a lengthy discussion i'll just point out this one thing:

Their most loyal customers have a right to bitch when they implement DRM because sales to those customers do not need protection. It's kind of like religion. You can either try and scare people into following your ways or let them choose for themselves. If you try and scare people eventually they'll get turned off of your hyperbole and seek enlightenment elsewhere.

I remember one of the guys from Relic talking about piracy on GFW Radio. He talked about the number of patches downloaded compared to the number of units sold. I don't think any specific numbers came out, but I remember the implication that there was quite a disparity. Has anyone heard of any firm numbers for that sort of measurement? It seemed a novel, If not necessarily more accurate way of measuring piracy ratios.

SommerMatt wrote:

This does nothing to address the key fact that torrent numbers are not definitive measures of anything. All they do is tell you that at X particular time, Y amount of people were connected to the torrent tracker. Those numbers do not equal a full copy of the game downloaded and played, or a "lost sale."

I wrote this the last time this horse was flogged as well, but yes you can get the number of completed downloads from a torrent tracker. It's part of the bittorrent protocol.

Duoae wrote:

Their most loyal customers have a right to bitch when they implement DRM because sales to those customers do not need protection. It's kind of like religion. You can either try and scare people into following your ways or let them choose for themselves. If you try and scare people eventually they'll get turned off of your hyperbole and seek enlightenment elsewhere.

But that's the problem. The gamers they want to sell to are as much of a headache as the pirtes they want to avoid. Over and over, gamers tell companies if they can't deal with piracy without affecting the loyal customer, they should get out of the business. That's what is happening, and I don't see how gamers are better off.

Jayhawker wrote:
Duoae wrote:

Their most loyal customers have a right to bitch when they implement DRM because sales to those customers do not need protection. It's kind of like religion. You can either try and scare people into following your ways or let them choose for themselves. If you try and scare people eventually they'll get turned off of your hyperbole and seek enlightenment elsewhere.

But that's the problem. The gamers they want to sell to are as much of a headache as the pirtes they want to avoid. Over and over, gamers tell companies if they can't deal with piracy without affecting the loyal customer, they should get out of the business. That's what is happening, and I don't see how gamers are better off.

I fail to see how gamers are a headache when the companies selling this stuff to us are causing headaches to our procurement and lengthy enjoyment of their games. By adding DRM they are no longer selling the items that we want. They're shifting the market without there being customer demand to do so and if that isn't bad business then i don't know what is.
I don't think i've seen many people saying that companies should get out of business in the mentioned scenario but i have seen people saying 'stop treating us like criminals' and 'take pirates into account before your start your project'... which is fair comment in my opinion.

I'm getting serious deja vu here guys.

kuddles wrote:

I don't think you could have taken that quote more out of context.

What was he trying to say?

bnpederson wrote:

I'm getting serious deja vu here guys.

Deja vu with all of the other piracy threads ever to grace this wonderful forum (I'd say the internet as a whole, but our discourse is much too civil to qualify for most of the internet)

kaostheory wrote:
bnpederson wrote:

I'm getting serious deja vu here guys.

Deja vu with all of the other piracy threads ever to grace this wonderful forum (I'd say the internet as a whole, but our discourse is much too civil to qualify for most of the internet)

Heh, thing is we have the same actors in their respective roles, by and large. A few additions to the cast but they're just reviving older parts.

This reminds me of the BBS Drama Troupe. I'll have to see if I can find more of their work.

It's one or the other. Either a platform is so dramatically successful that there's a TON of stuff put out for it, mostly bad (see DS and PS2) or it's so marginal that it's hard to make success stories out of your products on that platform, but the ones that are successes are REAL successes, not just shovelware (see Saturn, Dreamcast). The PC is quickly falling into the latter category, with one distinct advantage over those that died off: unlimited hardware access. Perhaps this is the crucible where mere average and less than average developers are burned off to leave only those capable of true greatness. As PCs and consoles get closer and closer, and the lines blur, things like this will matter less and less. Games for Windows is an aborted effort in that market. Probably because they're not quite there yet. But Steam is actually a step in that direction. Which is why Gabe Newell has reason to be optimistic about PC games. He's got his foot in the door before it's even really been opened. After all, take a close look at Steam. It's an implementation of the XMB or the Dashboard on the PC level, in ways Microsoft never thought of with GFW. Expect Steam to get HUGE in the coming years. It's where gamers will go to get their games, and where developers will go to distribute.

If, in this crucible, we lose developers who want to make excuses for their sales numbers by blaming gamers and not their own shortsightedness and bad business decisions, all the better. I won't shed a tear to lose Crytek.

[color=red]*warning*[/color] Filthy skimmer alert [color=red]*warning* [/color]

Damn, his numbers seem high.

Didn't Crysis's system requirements limited the number of people who can play it? If so, I doubt most people were willing to risk the $50 USD to find out they needed a $1200 upgrade to play.

Still, is there any truth to his numbers? What did he base them on?

Was Crysis on Steam for a while?

CEJ wrote:

[color=red]*warning*[/color] Filthy skimmer alert [color=red]*warning* [/color]

Damn, his numbers seem high.

Didn't Crysis's system requirements limited the number of people who can play it? If so, I doubt most people were willing to risk the $50 USD to find out they needed a $1200 upgrade to play.

Still, is there any truth to his numbers? What did he base them on?

Was Crysis on Steam for a while?

His numbers are not substantiated (he provides no sources).

Yes and No. Crysis's requirements did limit it but not as much as it was made out to (piss poor marketing on their end).

To my knowledge, Crysis was never on Steam.

Don't feel bad about skimming this thread, you didn't miss much

nossid wrote:
SommerMatt wrote:

This does nothing to address the key fact that torrent numbers are not definitive measures of anything. All they do is tell you that at X particular time, Y amount of people were connected to the torrent tracker. Those numbers do not equal a full copy of the game downloaded and played, or a "lost sale."

I wrote this the last time this horse was flogged as well, but yes you can get the number of completed downloads from a torrent tracker. It's part of the bittorrent protocol.

Even having the number of completed downloads doesn't tell you if this software was successfully used or was able to be run by the person who downloaded it. I can't count the number of posts I've seen from people (mostly kids) who download an ISO and have no idea what to do with it.

Heh, ISO's are a pain. I have an MSDN subscription at work and MS themselves actually distributes some of their software as ISO's even though they don't give you a way to run them. I guess they figure your corporate IT department will have something.

Not really a format that just anyone is familiar with to be sure.

Here's the problem with piracy numbers of any sort.

I've torrented several games, not going to BS about that, but it's either:

A. Old out of print games, especially console games I can't get anymore. (Say, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, or XCOM: UFO Defense)

B. Games that I need to replace. For example, I got the DVD for Fable off of The Pirate Bay, (As I couldn't find disc 1 of my 4cd set). I still even used my CD key most of the time. I've since found the first CD, so I don't use the DVD anymore. (Also did that with the original Half-Life, as it got crushed while moving.)

C. Game testing. You can say about the demos all you want, the very blunt truth is that the demo's just don't give you a true sense of how it runs. There could be a lot of reasons for this, but whatever it is, testing if a demo will run on your system is just not a true indicator of if the game itself will run. I've found this out the hard way enough times that I try a pirated version first. A good example, the demo for HL2 ran well on my old laptop, but trying a pirated version, it was unplayable. (The retail Orange Box was also unplayable on my old laptop, but the pirated version, and the Orange Box works perfectly on my new laptop.)

D. Demo purposes. Let's face it, most demos suck. Horribly, no less. So it's often a truer test to play the first bit of a pirated game, see if you like it, then buy it.

I ran a survey at my local community college about piracy, about movies, music, and games.

The incredible majority (averaging 30 out of 34 admitted pirates) pirated PC games for the last three reasons. In fact, several gave me a weird look if I asked them if they intended to buy the games, saying they either already had, or would in very short order.

Also interesting, people who downloaded movies (myself included), do so with the intent of buying the movie later. Personally, it was the 300, and we bought it on Blu-Ray with our PS3. Much in the way that many people rent a movie, then choose to buy it. Just without the corporate evil of Blockbuster in the middle.

Music was even more interesting, out of the average cluster of 24 admitted music pirates, 23 bought the CDs later, with 18 of them buying CDs they never would have (and then recommending it to other friends) without piracy. (My best example is one of my favorite bands, The Birthday Massacre. They don't play it on the radio here, and had I not heard it recommended, and grabbed some off of Limewire, I'd have never bought their 3 cds.)

From my survey, (among the community college demographic, from people with several majors), game publishers, record companies, and movie execs are actually _GAINING_ money from the practice of piracy. It's the most dramatic in music, by far, but many people mentioned buying several games and movies they wouldn't have, either due to system requirement uncertienties or bad demos.

The numbers for my survey are thus:
603 people total surveyed
400 admitted pirates of some form
124 PC game pirates
140 music pirates
136 movie pirates
(There were several that overlapped, but that's what they primarily identified as)

Not a great sample size, but not bad for one guy doing it.