With the recent release of the bug riddled Call of Duty: Black Ops for PC, I’ve been thinking how piracy affects the attitude of developers to releasing games on PC.
When googling for information on an upcoming patch for the frame rate and lagging problems the game’s suffering, there’s a large number of posts online asking for the patch without going through Steam. Since the only way to legitimately install the game is via Steam, then I can only assume all these people are installing the game after downloading it illegally via a torrent. And if you do a quick search on a popular torrent download site, you see around 10,000 seeders. Now you usually multiply the number of seeders by 5 to get the number of leachers who are either currently downloading or already finished downloading the file and you get a total of 60,000 people currently playing Black Ops on PC illegally. Looking at Steam stats, there’s been a total of 97,000 people playing black ops multiplayer today via Steam, these are legit copies bought legally. So out of a total of 157,000 players, 60,000 or 38% of those are playing illegally. At $60 per copy, that’s $3.6 million that could have been revenue to the games developer. That’s a lot of bug checking right there.
Putting it simply, if you pirate PC games, then you really have no right to complain that games are either not coming out on PC and only consoles, or that the games that do come out are of poor quality. If you thought that 38% or more of your sales would be lost to pirates, would you really spend a load of cash on testing when people don’t pay you the respect of actually buying your games?
After thought: Looks like I under-estimated the size of the problem, I found this quote rom this site:
It is also interesting to note that while COD:MW2 sold around 300,000 copies on PC and had 4.1 million pirated downloads, the console version sold in excess of 6 million copies during the same period according to this article, and yet had a fraction of the number of pirated downloads at around 970,000.
At $50 per copy, COD4 on PC lost a potential $164,000,000 on PC sales and only took $12 million in real sales. And people complain that the game was a sub standard PC port, well the figures speak for themselves, blame the pirates, not the developers!