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Ubisoft Director: Piracy is Killing PC Gaming

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 78 comments

Gamers will never hear the end of developers and publishers crying that pirates are killing PC gaming sales.

It’s true: the subject has been beaten down to the point where it probably does turn away avid gamers from PC versions simply by the thought of it. With the endless war between creator, publisher and stealer ensuing in earnest, honest consumers either are left to deal with the side effects of anti-piracy embedding itself on their PCs, or suffer from a market that seems to get more scarce at the turn of each month.

Recently Ubisoft Shanghai creative director Michael de Plater fired off his mouth to VG247, all hot under the collar and pointing the death of PC gaming towards the pirates who leech from the industry. He said that the PC version of Tom Clancy’s EndWar would have shipped with the console versions had pirating not been an issue.

“To be honest, if PC wasn’t pirated to hell and back, there’d probably be a PC version coming out the same day as the other two,” he told the website. “But at the moment, if you release the PC version, essentially what you’re doing is letting people have a free version that they rip off instead of a purchased version. Piracy’s basically killing PC.”

Although the PC version will likely ship later on, he seemed rather reluctant to mention that a release date even existed. But his words ring true, echoing the overall attitude towards PC gaming by developers and publishers alike.

In a recent interview with Tom Ohle of CD Projekt (formerly with BioWare before taking on The Witcher), he stressed that perhaps developers and publishers should focus on making great games that people will actually buy rather than worry about pirates. "Everything gets pirated, so it’s not limited to PC gaming," he told Tom’s Games earlier this year. "But really, you just want to put out a game that’s solid for your platform. If you’re making a PC game, make a great PC game and people will buy it. I don’t know of any pirates that buy games. They all seem to be pirates for life, y’know? So why fight it? Just make a good game that people want to pay for."

The problem now is that PC games are becoming the minority of the industry. Recently Wal-Mart scaled back its PC software stock altogether, and retail outlets such as GameStop and EB Games have limited the offerings to just a few racks. Already it seems like the PC market is steadily going down hill, and with anti-piracy software sneaking its way on consumers’ PCs as seen with the recently released Spore, gamers who once delighted in picking up a PC game might look towards the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 consoles instead

Yes, it’s the same old speech: tired, worn out and ready to be put out to pasture. It will continue to be in the forefront of PC gaming until the issue is resolved, whether publishers give up on the genre altogether or something is devised that will make everyone happy. Until then, PC gamers will have to dig in and wait out the storm.

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  • 22 Hide
    Anonymous , October 9, 2008 10:33 AM
    What really kills PC Gaming is paranoid anti-piracy practices like SecuRom. These malware garbage make life complicated and difficult for legitimate users. I have personally bought only original games up to the day I encountered securom in one of them. I was then forced to download a crack to be able to play my original game !!!! Since them i buy pirated copies for all securom games and buy originals without securom. As you can see securom forces legitimate users to abandon original software because it doesnt work!!!

    Look at Stardock entertainment. They are succesful and extremely profitable and they dont lock their games because they know it is pointless. Galactic Civilizations and Sins of a solar Empire sell like hotcakes.

    Conclusions: Companies want to stop you from loaning your game to your friends or reselling it. That is why they use garbage like securom. If piracy was killing PC software Stardock would be broke.

Other Comments
  • 22 Hide
    Anonymous , October 9, 2008 10:33 AM
    What really kills PC Gaming is paranoid anti-piracy practices like SecuRom. These malware garbage make life complicated and difficult for legitimate users. I have personally bought only original games up to the day I encountered securom in one of them. I was then forced to download a crack to be able to play my original game !!!! Since them i buy pirated copies for all securom games and buy originals without securom. As you can see securom forces legitimate users to abandon original software because it doesnt work!!!

    Look at Stardock entertainment. They are succesful and extremely profitable and they dont lock their games because they know it is pointless. Galactic Civilizations and Sins of a solar Empire sell like hotcakes.

    Conclusions: Companies want to stop you from loaning your game to your friends or reselling it. That is why they use garbage like securom. If piracy was killing PC software Stardock would be broke.

  • 4 Hide
    ThePatriot , October 9, 2008 10:41 AM
    Last time I looked PC games sales were up... what gives?
  • 9 Hide
    The_Blood_Raven , October 9, 2008 10:45 AM
    So 20% of the people who play their games have pirated copies... Yeah that's whats killing PC gaming, not the prices of hardware, inexperience with hardware which result in expensive Geek Squad visits, and the hassle of installing games on a computer. No it is piracy. Developers just can't cope with losing a fifth of their potential customers!

    To be honest, how many of those pirates would buy the game if it were not for piracy, probably very few. Piracy is not the issue, it is hard to compete with consoles when PC gaming requires so much more knowledge and experience to use. You don't need to install patches, update drivers, tweak display and audio settings, or deal with DRMs with consoles. PC gaming is dying thanks to the lack of innovation, high price of gaming PCs, the work put into maintaining the PC and game, and the lack of community with the PC. Sorry Ubisoft, but you need shut the hell up, afterall Ubisoft makes some of the most glitchy and broken PC titles out there. That might be a problem.
  • 1 Hide
    noobe1981 , October 9, 2008 11:04 AM
    Hey ubi morons. You do realize consoles games get pirated just as fast right? And that most pirated games can't be pirated for multiplayer only single player. HINT HINT!
  • 2 Hide
    johnyeah , October 9, 2008 11:08 AM
    Being able to just put in the Blu-ray in the PS3 or the DVD in the WII and just play without having to install simply makes console games more appealing to the average Joe than PC games.

    I don't pirate games. However, at this point in my life I find that I'm not that fond of PC games as I was back in my high school and college years. I bought TF2 and COD4 because they're great games and props to Steam for being one of the best platforms for buying games. I won't be buying Crysis because of its ridiculous hardware demands and SecuRom. I refuse to be the one stuck in the middle of the fight between the stupid software publishers and pirates.
  • 2 Hide
    Yuka , October 9, 2008 11:29 AM
    A great game will still sell, that's a fact; I totally agree with Tom Ohle on that. Pirates, usually love free software and belive in that, so they crack games for other people. They are some kind of "Robin Hoods" under that scope IMO.

    Anyway, reasons aside, they do hurt the PC software business, but software makers are taking it easy blaming piracy and not thinking about their crappy releases and/or boggus releases. Also, they use such stupid DRM methods thet you start to think: "they deserve it for being such lazy people". CEO's of those companies should start analyzing and think about others ways to make a profit! Google has taken a step forward in that matter, i hope it works fine.

    Esop!
  • 1 Hide
    randomizer , October 9, 2008 11:32 AM
    A Cevat Yerli clone is now at Ubisoft.
  • -4 Hide
    hemelskonijn , October 9, 2008 11:56 AM
    I play pirated games and to be honest most of the games i play that way i play only for a few hours at most before i lose interest.
    The games i do down from the interweb are games i would never consider buying.
    And if they proof to be good enough i still buy it (far cry) but that almost never happends.
    I buy a lot of games to but for sure less than i used to, mostly because i have less time to play them but also because there are less games to my liking now days and i play MMO'S wich take an uber amount of time.

    Years back when i used to buy pc games (bi)weekly there was another factor working in the publishers advantage ... the cardboard box the games shipped in where cool and and above my pc on the wall there where racks filled with those boxes while now days the rack is near empty just a few dvd style cases or worse the jewel cases.
    Call me crazy but the big cartboard boxes had there appeal and if games where shipped in them again i for on think people in general would be a bit more easy to be convinced to buy the box take it home open it and hope the game would run on there medium spec machine and was half as good as the box let them seem to be.
  • 3 Hide
    jaragon13 , October 9, 2008 11:57 AM
    What a load,I quit buying Ubisoft games TWO YEARS AGO because of their shitty ass "Tom Clancy" games.
    MAYBE if they start making real titles that people give two shits about,then they might quit beaching about Piracy.
    Also,Piracy IS more rampant on consoles,maybe the dumb fucks don't realize it because there's no serial key or what nonsense.
    I also don't play Call Of Duty 4 anymore because of the retarded anti-piracy measures which has RESET my character(level 55 twice) three times.No support from them.
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , October 9, 2008 12:02 PM
    The problem is the gaming industry is stalled. All the good games only get released on consoles. It's the chicken and the egg all over again. They blame the pirates and move to the consoles, we get b games and refuse to pay the A price for B games.

    Really where are all these good games. And if you really want to, you can always make systems that will make players buy games. MMO's for example are mostly bought, most of blizzards games go skyrocket. Guess why no one wants to buy the newest C&C? It's not because it's so fun. Fifa 2009? What's the difference? A small new interface, even worst to control your toon? I love 96 and if I would buy one, I'd buy the simple one.

    Good games are no longer on the PC and that's part of the problem. Why pay premium prices for bad games?
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , October 9, 2008 12:11 PM
    All game studios whine about piracy. Beside Valve with its Steam system, I haven't seen a studio coming up with its own solution that tries to stop piracy. Relying on 3rd party things to solve your problems is clearly not working (it's only your game that ends in torrents/P2P networks, not the DRM protection used to stop (?) piracy). Show me that you at least tried something on your own to stop piracy (an in-house solution - invested your profits into something you thought about, not a product you bought because the seller told you "this will stop piracy, guaranteed"), and then go and say to the public "we are too stupid, we can't stop pirates" and stuff like that.
  • 6 Hide
    tomasf , October 9, 2008 12:14 PM
    and what about console games piracy???? don't be fool, the console games piracy is even bigger than pc games piracy
  • -7 Hide
    Milany , October 9, 2008 12:22 PM
    Sins when is it the fault of the pirates that the ships of the big companies start to sink at a storm they call piracy. It is time the companies start making hack-proof-software.

    Do not sell games but sell game play licences like STEAM does.

    NOTE:
    In the Netherlands is every copy legal due to the fact that we pay a copyright licence fee when buying Writable CD’s. The fee is only E0,50 cents.

  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , October 9, 2008 12:31 PM
    So, tell me, Mr. Ubisoft Director. When console piracy will reach current PC piracy levels, what will you say? Stop taking the easy way out ("we will release no PC titles due to piracy") and do (or pretend to do) something about the piracy. If the profit is not that great, then you obviously chose the wrong way to do the business.
  • 6 Hide
    aznguy0028 , October 9, 2008 12:32 PM
    yea, but they are turning a blind eye to console pirating and solely using PC gamers as a scapegoat. a few years back i moved from console gaming to PC gaming, and this is where i'll take my stand. PC games imo, are far more superior and fun compared to consoles, i am sad that they are solely blaming PC piracy instead of piracy across all platforms as an issue.

    future games that i'll be buying and supporting when i could easily pirate, would be Call of Duty 5, Street Fighter IV, Starcraft 2, Diablo 3.

    Ubi Soft(Sux), make games of those caliber, and i will gladly buy your product. Comparing tom clancy games to games such as COD4, is like night and day, obviously the choice is clear.
  • 2 Hide
    stemnin , October 9, 2008 12:34 PM
    Ubi makes console games, I never like Prince of Persia (played on console), the only game i've ever bought from them was Far Cry (only published by them), and will probably get Far Cry 2 (developer and publisher).
  • 1 Hide
    badboy4dee , October 9, 2008 12:34 PM
    Don't give us dat CR@P nubisoft! Wanna talk about losing revenue to piracy?? Buttholes! How bout stopping your own in house piracy called the....CEO, exec's,vp,svp etc... Duhhh. How much are they raping your company for?? MILLIONS You fargin iceholes. Nubisoft u suk, your games suk and you pay your higher ups wayyyyyyy to much $$ to be telling us your losing money to piracy. SO STFU

    TSM
  • 7 Hide
    barbos , October 9, 2008 12:50 PM
    Horrible buggy releases for the new rehashes of the same game is what is killing PC sales. They have saturated the market with the same crap over and over again and wonder why sales are drying up...

    Sadly, most games have patches out within 3 days of release date and continue to fix major bugs even a year later after release. If it wasn't for greedy publishers pushing out half-finished games before they are ready, maybe people would buy them. But when people spend $50 for a game that won't even work on their system, they often get upset with the company and stop buying their products.

    Blame the publishers, developers, and poor marketing.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , October 9, 2008 1:05 PM
    Pirated version of Fallout3 is already available to download, while PC version is not.
    Ubisoft really talks nonsense here - platform doesn't matter for pirates
  • 2 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , October 9, 2008 1:06 PM
    "If you’re making a PC game, make a great PC game and people will buy it." -- completely right this part!
    If we scroll back the time 10 years I would consider myself mad if I would buy more than one game a year, yet wouldn't hesitate to aquire one of the collections of cd's that 'private publishers' were distributing for a fee equal to a game in price. The reason being, that most games I tried weren't very much my liking, and I'd hate wasting my money on a game I didn't like.
    Fast forward to now. I may still not have a license for each and every piece of software on my pc, but I'm an active customer @ play.com and even went to brick and mortar stores to buy games I liked. Mind you I had the razor 1911 version of crysis weeks before the original, but I actually bought the original. Something I wouldn't have done if I couldn't have tried it out first. Just this month I bought civ4: colonization on eurogamer @ £19 or what it was set at. Not because I couldn't pirate it, but because I knew the old one from my teenage years, and knew I wouldn't regret buying it. (didn't know about the tutorial issues at the time)

    In short - while piracy accounts for a huge load of software on people's pc's it ain't all bad. Cause most of that software would've never been bought by the people who have it anyway. It's not that people can't afford to buy it, it's simply that they won't buy something where value and price don't match. And the only way to find out, is by using the retail version. Demos are often very different from the retail version, be it games or productivity software.
    (just think trial account in wow, or need for speed demo for carbon).

    On a side note - I'm not aware of any of my aquantances who has a playstation or xbox that isn't modded to run pirates games. So while piracy on pc's might be an issue, it isn't the only one.

    The main issue is the low quality of software released. Higher quality equals more happy users, and a higher share of legit users.
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