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EA CEO: Piracy Can Help Us Sell More Games

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 46 comments

What's that? Piracy could actually help EA's bottom line? It must be magic!

Piracy is often cited as the largest problem for any video game developer and publisher, particularly if it’s a PC game. EA’s recent release of the Sims 3 actually surpassed last year’s Spore for being the most-pirated game.

According to IndustryGamers, the Sims 3 was illegally downloaded around 200,000 times prior to the game’s release – but surprisingly, EA CEO John Riccitiello doesn’t mind one bit.

In fact, when reading in between the lines, it seems like piracy could help boost EA’s business in the long term. Those who downloaded the Sims 3 only have access to one city out of the two. The second city is only delivered via the Internet after product registration, along with other content and access to the community. Essentially, those who pirate Sims 3 only get a portion of the full game – which sounds a bit like the shareware days gone by.

“You identified our secret marketing campaign!” Riccitiello said facetiously to IndustryGamers. “It was only concentrated on Poland and China, but I think of it as not being that different than a demo.”

Rather than selling a simple product-on-a-disc, EA believes that the real money (and protection from piracy) is in selling the services that come after the gamer pops the disc into the tray.

Riccitiello continued, “I'm a longtime believer that we're moving to selling services that are disc-enabled as opposed to packages that have bolt-ons. ... If you see what we're doing with Madden Online, FIFA Ultimate Team or Sims 3, and Dragon Age is probably a 100-hour game by itself, but what comes post-release [for these games] is bigger still.  So the point I'm making is, yes I think that's the answer [to piracy].” 

Amusingly, Riccitiello made a comment in support of piracy of EA’s games. “By the way, if there are any pirates you're writing for, please encourage them to pirate FIFA Online, NBA Street Online, Battleforge, Battlefield Heroes... if they would just pirate lots of it I'd love them. [laughs] Because what's in the middle of the game is an opportunity to buy stuff.”

The EA CEO does back off a bit, but reiterates once more than it’s not about selling the disc, but rather selling a service.

“While we don't want to see people pirate Warhammer Online, if they're going to give us a year's subscription it's not exactly a total loss,” Riccitiello added.

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  • 17 Hide
    trevorblain , June 24, 2009 9:25 PM
    Great story, I love reading about companies with CEO's that really have brains. his stance is very logical and not without merit. There was a lot to be said for shareware and to a lesser extent demos. Their major drawback was usually the method in which the labels opted to cripple the software to create the "incentive" to purchase the full version, ie. expirations, reduced funtionality, banners, etc. Those aren't examples of incentives, those are irritations that I believe in large part pushed people to pirate.

    So here's a thought... release the game, a fully functional, playable and enjoyable piece of software in its own right. You know, something that leaves the end user actually WANTING MORE, without penalizing said user for not having actually bought a stupid box and disc to clutter up the desk. That way, if they made a good product, people will want to fork over the cash for the game in it's entirety... and if they made a crap game, well, they'll know it was their own fault.
  • 13 Hide
    crisisavatar , June 24, 2009 9:24 PM
    You get out of here EA, there is no room for common sense in this business !
  • 13 Hide
    the_garynator , June 24, 2009 10:06 PM
    That's awesome...makes a ton of sense too...I pirated L4D and ended up buying it for multiplayer, same with Crysis. Refreshing to see a CEO in touch with consumers.
Other Comments
  • -1 Hide
    Honis , June 24, 2009 9:00 PM
    Isn't Battlefield Heros beginning released for free when if gets out of beta? Did it get out of beta? I stopped playing it after it found it to be just like 5 million other FPSs.
  • 2 Hide
    mitchmania , June 24, 2009 9:02 PM
    i love the typo in the very first line!!!
  • 0 Hide
    wasteoftime , June 24, 2009 9:18 PM
    mitchmaniai love the typo in the very first line!!!


    Your lack of surprise shocks and amazes me.
  • 13 Hide
    crisisavatar , June 24, 2009 9:24 PM
    You get out of here EA, there is no room for common sense in this business !
  • 17 Hide
    trevorblain , June 24, 2009 9:25 PM
    Great story, I love reading about companies with CEO's that really have brains. his stance is very logical and not without merit. There was a lot to be said for shareware and to a lesser extent demos. Their major drawback was usually the method in which the labels opted to cripple the software to create the "incentive" to purchase the full version, ie. expirations, reduced funtionality, banners, etc. Those aren't examples of incentives, those are irritations that I believe in large part pushed people to pirate.

    So here's a thought... release the game, a fully functional, playable and enjoyable piece of software in its own right. You know, something that leaves the end user actually WANTING MORE, without penalizing said user for not having actually bought a stupid box and disc to clutter up the desk. That way, if they made a good product, people will want to fork over the cash for the game in it's entirety... and if they made a crap game, well, they'll know it was their own fault.
  • -6 Hide
    accolite , June 24, 2009 10:03 PM
    trevorblain Agreed!

    I made the mistake of buying Crysis, man that game sucks. Yeah it has nice graphics but game play just sucks.
  • 13 Hide
    the_garynator , June 24, 2009 10:06 PM
    That's awesome...makes a ton of sense too...I pirated L4D and ended up buying it for multiplayer, same with Crysis. Refreshing to see a CEO in touch with consumers.
  • -2 Hide
    computabug , June 24, 2009 10:31 PM
    Yea maybe the developers release their own 'pirated' version of the game embedded with some kind of bug/malware to get consumers to purchase the real thing :p  I mean like some kinda malware that can won't do to much harm, probably just annoy the user to hell, something the the consumer would know the real game doesn't have, and it's just the torrented version that was infected.
  • -2 Hide
    ColMirage , June 24, 2009 10:39 PM
    Oh, yeah, sure. That's why they sent a complaint to my ISP which in turn warned me about my download of RA3 : Uprising. I was wondering if it was worth the purchase, so I went ahead and torrented it, as I had no friends who got their hands on it.

    But, yeah, it's a smart move, imo. I usually download games before purchasing them. That way I don't spend a single cent of my very limited income on crappy games.
  • 1 Hide
    Liuqyn , June 24, 2009 11:19 PM
    the problem with this strategy is that the day after sims3 was released you could pirate the whole game along with the other town and all the added content as well.
  • 1 Hide
    christop , June 24, 2009 11:45 PM
    I have jacked a few games but if its good I will go buy a copy to support the developers..
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 24, 2009 11:58 PM
    This makes me laugh... EA is full of crap.

    Last week I lost my disc for Battlefield 2142. "No problem" I thought. I saw an advertisement from EA stating that their Download Manager can now be used to register the games you bought into a library for downloading and no-cd play. Out of ALL the games they have, the games SUPPORTED in that library are about nine. NINE games and Battlefield 2142 is not one of them!!! D:

    If they really cared about providing paying customers with service they should address the problem of lost media and cracked/scratched discs or just patch the game so that discs are not required. A replacement disc will cost you $13 plus shipping. A new game will cost you $20...

    On the other hand, I still don't like the idea of stripping the game features on disc and replacing them with online features. Imagine playing the game once the servers providing the service are taken down. In every EULA for online games that have come out recently they state something to the effect of: "In no way does (X company) have an obligation to provide online features and at any time they may be removed with or without notice."
  • 0 Hide
    rags_20 , June 25, 2009 12:31 AM
    That's exactly what we've been seeing in recent times. Its nothing new. Game developers concentrate on the multiplayer more and make the single player such that it leaves you wanting for more. And you end up buying the game for multiplayer. But the second city in Sims 3 has also been pirated..so much for his logic.
  • 0 Hide
    MichaelC4 , June 25, 2009 12:59 AM
    EA can SUCK IT!!!!!!! I'm still upset over their cancelation of Motor City Online.
  • 4 Hide
    the associate , June 25, 2009 1:07 AM
    I wonder how long it will take to make them change their minds and say piracy is killing them once again...
    oh right, and +1 for dreamphantom_1977
  • 2 Hide
    twisted politiks , June 25, 2009 1:48 AM
    you know its funny, because i was getting ready to pre-order the sims 3, then i read about their "after third install you have to buy a new cd key" bullshit. so i asked ea tech service by email if this was true, and they said yes, even if im reinstalling because of a reformat on my computer, which i do alot because im lazy and would rather do that then work on making it as fast as it used to be before hand. but anyways, so i found this out, and why the f**k am i going to pay $50 probably once a year for the sims 3, and plus another however many $ for all the expansions. this is just bullshit, if they didnt put a limit on how many times you could install the game, then i would have bought it, but instead i pirated it and got the second town from another pirate, and can get my own custom content from mod the sims 3, so take that EA, hopefully more people take this route to screw EA for being such a money hungry corp that they realize this and start helping their once loyal customers instead of draining their pockets.
  • 0 Hide
    matt87_50 , June 25, 2009 1:53 AM
    FFS EA! just copy steam already! its not hard! you can copy your game files any ware, to any computer, any operating system, and you just click the steam exe and it just sorts everything out for you! the only thing you probably need is a net conection when you first fire up steam after moving all the files. and you can't pirate it. valve will just shut down your account if they think shenanigans are about.

    so EA, either do that, or don't use any DRM, cause i will not buy any more games where i have to put the disc in to play, or can only activate it a certain number of times! or have to go through some lengthy download process every time i install to get the rest of the game that you decided not to put on the f*@$ing disk!!, in fact, after using steam, i'm sick of games that you need to re-install after reinstalling your OS, i went from XP to win7 64bit with steam on the other drive, i just fired up steam and within a minute i was playing all my games!

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 25, 2009 2:10 AM
    Smart move, tell SecuROM to f'off and give us shareware. If you are on the scene long enough you know what's that implies.
  • 0 Hide
    warlordsagan , June 25, 2009 2:23 AM
    The latest EA announcement sounds like a line from like something Stardocks been saying for years.
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , June 25, 2009 3:23 AM
    Know what I like? Warcraft 3.
    I just enter my serial on battle.net, and download the game. All is done. Blizzard is slowly learning how to do it. Maybe EA should follow suit.
    =)

    Maybe EA should have given me a better deal on replacing my BF2 disc...

    This does appear to be a smart business move though. Kick all the luddites out of office there. Piracy is not going away anytime soon, so learn to profit from it.
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