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.