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How Piracy Affected the Launch of Demigod

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the might-need-more-than-three-bullets-this-time dept.

The Internet 613

Demigod is an RTS/RPG hybrid developed by Gas Powered Games and published by Stardock, a company notable for their progressive and lenient stance on DRM. The game was set to be released on April 14th, and shipped without any form of copy protection. Unfortunately, retailer Gamestop broke the street date and released it earlier in the week. A day after pointing this out, Gas Powered Games posted some numbers about the players hitting their servers. Roughly 18,000 connections were made from legitimately purchased copies; over 100,000 were made from pirated copies. Meanwhile, the servers, which were not yet ready for that level of traffic, buckled under the strain, resulting in poor experiences for people trying to participate in multiplayer. While some reviews were positive, others criticized the game for the connectivity issues. After another day, they were able to stabilize the servers to the point they'd planned on for the original launch.

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So much for pirate ethics (5, Insightful)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624779)

There goes the argument that games are only pirated because companies insist on draconian DRM.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (3, Insightful)

the_one(2) (1117139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624797)

Yes but maybe the argument that people who do it mainly do it because they want to try before they buy still hold.

PS. I'm not saying that I believe it. It will be interesting to see the stats in a month or so.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624877)

Yes but maybe the argument that people who do it mainly do it because they want to try before they buy still hold.

PS. I'm not saying that I believe it. It will be interesting to see the stats in a month or so.

Use occam's razor and go with the simplest explanation: People pirate because they want free shit and it's easier in some cases than going to the store.

If you've ever seen the breakdown of law & order (Iraq right after invasion, New Orleans after Hurrican Katrina, LA after the riots, false Craiglist ads [racetalkblog.com] ), you should know a lot of people are freeloading scavengers as soon as they don't think their actions have any consequences.

Do you think the internet, especially, which promotes the feeling of such an environment is immune from that? I don't think the explanation is complex at all.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (-1, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625141)

But that is completely irrelevant. Because it does not hurt the developer or publisher.

What is relevant, is that people would not pay for the game, if they could not copy it. (Pirating is stealing shit on the high seas, and murdering people!)

Re:So much for pirate ethics (4, Informative)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625193)

If you'd RTFS you'd see that the developer was hurt, by the huge number of bootleggers using their servers, deteriorating the experience for paying users.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (4, Insightful)

Computershack (1143409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625005)

Yes but maybe the argument that people who do it mainly do it because they want to try before they buy still hold.

Bullshit. If they've got a copy which seemingly works 100%, most of them won't bother buying it because whats the point? In a month or so, the stats will be even worse. Guaranteed. So already IN ONE SINGLE WEEK, Gas Powered Games and Stardock have lost 80% of the potential revenue of the game and had its reputation tarnished by the freeloaders because of the server load issue.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (5, Insightful)

VinylPusher (856712) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625073)

Yes but maybe the argument that people who do it mainly do it because they want to try before they buy still hold.

Bullshit. If they've got a copy which seemingly works 100%, most of them won't bother buying it because whats the point? In a month or so, the stats will be even worse. Guaranteed. So already IN ONE SINGLE WEEK, Gas Powered Games and Stardock have lost 80% of the potential revenue of the game and had its reputation tarnished by the freeloaders because of the server load issue.

You assume those 80% of people would have purchased the game, had it been impossible for them to obtain a pirate copy.

I find this a difficult concept to accept. There are a whole bunch of digital media on my laptop and desktop that I would never have purchased, had free copies not been available.

I buy things that are good. If I pay e.g. £24.99 for something, it's because I want to reward people with their hard work. I guess a lot of non-pirates pay for many things which they later feel were not worth the money? I'm not happy to accept this.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (2, Insightful)

bluesatin (1350681) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625079)

So already IN ONE SINGLE WEEK, Gas Powered Games and Stardock have lost 80% of the potential revenue of the game and had its reputation tarnished by the freeloaders because of the server load issue.

Who said the people that have downloaded the game would have bought it?

I know at least one person that said specifically to me "I'd wish they'd bring out a demo for that, I really like DotA on Warcraft 3", but he didn't want to download it.

I cannot fault you on your statement about their reputation being tarnished, and was very confused that they would let pirated people play online using their servers. Usually pirated copies of a game don't cost the company anything, while due to them letting them on the servers a pirated copy actually costs the company money.

Generally one of the reasons to buy a game nowadays is so you can play it online, with a pirated copy you can generally only go on pirated servers (which have a tonne of cheaters on usually).

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625163)

Doesn't matter if they wouldn't have bought it. It costs them money to have a player, in server costs and tech support costs. They'd much rather have no piracy and much less sales I'm sure - it'd just work out better financially.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (4, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625135)

You, and everybody else, seems to be missing the point. The game wasn't OUT at the time. GameStop leaked it, pre-orders got activated, and the rest of the game buying public still couldn't buy it.

When a game is only really available to pirates, of COURSE there will be more pirates than paying customers.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (0, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625167)

Bullshit! Those people would not have bought the game, if they could not get it otherwise. They would have simply copied something else, or bought something that they could afford or would be worth it for them.

The server issue is an issue of the delusional stupidity of living in a dream world. Would they have made the buyers have unique server accounts, this would not have happened.

Go back to your **AA people, FUDspreader!

Re:So much for pirate ethics (5, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625049)

The whole try before you buy thing is a load of shit. You won't buy a game you've completed for free and quite often it's teenagers using this excuse. Do they expect me to believe they can actually afford the ass load of music, movies and games they steal without a decent paying job if they even have a job?

I do know some people that have downloaded things and then bought them. It does happen but there is a huge amount of people that are just tight wads or think they deserve more entertainment than they can afford.

If we want to save the internet from DRM we have to find a way to get rid of this dead weight so they don't ruin it for the rest of us.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625177)

Well, man, $39.99 and no demo, even *I* would look for a way to try it before I buy it and I generally loathe 'pirated' games both from an ethical as well as a practical standpoint (too many viruses in cracks, and shitty download speeds compared to Steam et al).

Still, it does look cool, so if I ever see it for cheap ($20 or less) I guess I'll pick it up. 'Til then, however, I guess I'll be skipping it since I don't spend that much money blindly nor do I want to contribute to their 'piracy' statistics.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (4, Funny)

Urkki (668283) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624803)

Now now, let's not jump to conclusions. I'm sure all of those 100000 pirates just want to test the game before buying. All of them will either stop playing, or they'll buy a legal copy.

What, you think they won't? Ooh, but that would be... stealing? They'd never!

Re:So much for pirate ethics (4, Funny)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624829)

Eventually, they will stop playing. Just wait!

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624875)

No, it wouldn't be stealing, it would be breaking copyright and eventually also breaking into their systems since they don't have legitimate access.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27624961)

If you want to be that anal about term...tt least in the UK, breaking copyright is commonly referred to as 'copyright theft', and theft is the act of stealing.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27624987)

PMS is commonly referred to as mad cow disease, but those aren't the same either. Theft involves taking something *away*. That's not what happens: The owner of the copyright still has the copyright. If someone had taken the copyright away from its owner, then the owner would no longer be allowed to legally copy and sell the game; the person who took the right would be. (Since rights are intangible, that would still not be theft but fraud, but it comes a lot closer than mere copyright infringement.)

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625031)

This example muddies the waters, though, because the non-purchasers are using the company's server resources without having paid them any money.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625159)

You are taking something away. You're taking money away from the developers because you're playing something you should be paying for and don't give me that bullshit excuse that they wouldn't have paid for it anyway. The fact is they played it and to legally do so you have to play a purchased copy. Either one you bought yourself or one your friend bought. Though in the future you may not be able to play a friends game thanks to all the cunts stealing software now.

By taking money from the developer you're taking away opportunity for smaller developers and you're taking away variety and freedom from fellow gamers because no developer will want to make risky moves or release non-DRM software.

So no, actually people are taking away quite a bit by continuing to steal shit they don't own.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (2, Insightful)

Urkki (668283) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625029)

No, it wouldn't be stealing, it would be breaking copyright and eventually also breaking into their systems since they don't have legitimate access.

It wouldn't be theft as defined in law, but it most certainly is stealing in the colloquial meaning of the word. Stealing can mean an awful lot of things, just consider "stealing time" or "stealing a girlfriend". Thinking piracy isn't stealing is just self-delusion, trying to justify ones immoral actions.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (2, Insightful)

ijakings (982830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625113)

Thats great, except in both of those "stealing" arguments, you are depriving someone of something tangeable by taking it away from them.

With piracy you havent taken anything away from anyone.

The argument that you have taken money away from the developers by pirating the game doesnt even hold, as you cant say with certainty that everyone who pirated the game would have purchased it.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625157)

It wouldn't be theft as defined in law, but it most certainly is stealing in the colloquial meaning of the word. Stealing can mean an awful lot of things, just consider "stealing time" or "stealing a girlfriend". Thinking piracy isn't stealing is just self-delusion, trying to justify ones immoral actions.

You might have had a point there, if any of what you said followed in logical sequence.

Next time, stick to "copying". Anything else is your interpretation.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625125)

Wrong. They have legitimate access. The server did not ask for any unique account or identification. It just lets anyone in. Maybe ony those that send them some data, that is openly available for everyone. But that does not change a thing.

You can't give 50 people on the street a piece of paper with a flower on it, let anyone in your club that shows you such a piece of paper (but is keeping it), and expect the people to not give that piece to anyone else or copy it. That is just a delusional unrealistic pipe dream.

See my comment on a parent comment, for how it's done. (Hint: *unique* accounts for buyers!)

Re:So much for pirate ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27624951)

Not at all unlikely. In many games with a strong online component, competitive players in particular want to get in right from the start. Since only one retailer broke the street date, customers of other retailers were left with the choice of pirating the game or giving Gamestop customers an unfair 1 week head start.

The argument against DRM is that it diminishes the value of the product for customers who get it legitimately. You effectively punish your customers for giving you money. Pirated versions don't have DRM and exist regardless of the DRM on the retail copies.

(And no, copyright infringement is not stealing.)

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625121)

Not at all unlikely. In many games with a strong online component, competitive players in particular want to get in right from the start. Since only one retailer broke the street date, customers of other retailers were left with the choice of pirating the game or giving Gamestop customers an unfair 1 week head start.

Let's hope this is the case.

The argument against DRM is that it diminishes the value of the product for customers who get it legitimately. You effectively punish your customers for giving you money. Pirated versions don't have DRM and exist regardless of the DRM on the retail copies.

Indeed, DRM is evil. I don't buy (or play) games with stupid DRM. Needless to say, I haven't bought or played many commercial PC games lately...

(And no, copyright infringement is not stealing.)

Yes it is, though not as defined in the law of a country (but I bet there are exceptions). "Stealing" means taking something you're not supposed to take or get. Piracy certainly meets this defintion, as do many other things named differently in the law, or not mentioned in any law at all.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (2, Insightful)

Carrot007 (37198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624813)

That was never the argument.

it was more, piracy will happen. Don't increase the no of dodgy copies by pissing off your legitimate customers with a substandard version pushing them onto piracy.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27624819)

I'm about as pro-filesharing/anti-copyright as it gets, and I find this sickening. Stardock is a good company, we should support those who show the kind of courtesy to the paying customer that they do. Well, I guess that's human nature for you.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

Computershack (1143409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625025)

I don't know why you find it a surprise TBH. The ratio of honest paying customers to thieving scumbags is pretty much 1:5 for most software, music and videos.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (2, Interesting)

onion2k (203094) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624821)

I don't think anyone has really argued that. The main argument "in favour" is that piracy doesn't affect sales - most of those who download the game wouldn't have bought it in the first place. This example is interesting for me in two ways:

Firstly, and somewhat negatively, it demonstrates that people pirating your game can increase the cost of running the servers for it considerably. That is a strong argument in favour of anti-piracy techniques such as DRM (assuming the DRM costs less than the cost of additional servers).

Secondly, and rather more positively, in the case of a online multiplayer game, having 6 times the number of players from the off is a bonus. A community of 18,000 would amount to empty servers a lot of the time especially if the game is available globally. A community of 118,000 would still be quiet in comparison to games like Counterstrike, but it might well be large enough to attract more players, at which point perhaps the game 'snowballs' into a huge community.

As with everything regarding piracy there are two sides to the coin. Only a very detailed statistical analysis of the numbers could tell you if it was a good or a bad thing, and even then people would still argue with the result.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624841)

For server based games, you can simply deny access for pirated copies.
If your server is capable of handling the free copies, you could even let them have limited access with nag screens, messages etc. to buy the legal version.
Just stomp down any pirate server versions of your game.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (0, Flamebait)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624973)

You should work for Blizzard. [wikipedia.org]

Bad launch, not piracy (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625171)

For server based games, you can simply deny access for pirated copies.

Yes, this is clearly the right thing to do. Frankly, it's amazing that they didn't do it, and furthermore, that their servers collapsed under the load.

It sounds to me like shoddy preparation for the launch. Blaming the pirates is just a convenient way to ignore that.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625187)

It's not simple at all. Copy protection consists of two parts - detecting a pirated copy and then obfuscating/protecting the code that detects a pirated copy. That's pretty much it. Obviously, the cracked versions from the server side are going to look a lot like the regular versions. Blizzard put a ton of effort into this for WoW to find modified versions of the game from the server side, but they have enormous resources to throw at the problem.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27624959)

Except that those people can't actually play online. They don't have serial numbers on their Impulse accounts that are required to play online.

They're hammering the servers due to things like a version check on startup.

The point is that the pirate arguments have just been proven to be all wrong. The game and publisher are very user friendly. So the pirates stole it more quickly and hammered the servers, causing paying customers to not be able to play at all.

This entire situation is the single BEST argument for DRM on games that could possibly exist. If it took 3 days to crack the game, this wouldn't have happened, and they wouldn't now be getting so many negative reviews due entirely to pirate traffic making the servers overloaded. (Pretty well every unfavorable review has been entirely due to connection issues, they generally like the game quite a lot.)

Sorry folks. For every pirate who says its "try before you buy" or "I'll buy it", there's 1000 others who are just cheap and want free shit.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (3, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624963)

Did you even bother to read the summary? Their servers couldn't even handle all the people who connected. The ones who legitimately purchased the game ended up with a sub-standard, laggy experience. And Stardock's game suffered rating drops in the various gaming magazines and websites because of that. Obviously that affected their bottom line.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (0, Redundant)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624967)

people pirating your game can increase the cost of running the servers for it considerably. That is a strong argument in favour of anti-piracy techniques such as DRM (assuming the DRM costs less than the cost of additional servers).

Or yet another strong argument for encouraging third-party servers instead of legally PREVENTING others from doing so.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (5, Insightful)

brit74 (831798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625039)

I don't think anyone has really argued that.
Yes they have.

The main argument "in favour" is that piracy doesn't affect sales - most of those who download the game wouldn't have bought it in the first place.
That's not an argument "in favor" of piracy. Example: A company has zero piracy and 100,000 sales. Along comes piracy. Now, they have 1,000,000 pirates and 10,000 sales. In the second case, you can truthfully make the statement that "most of those who download the game wouldn't have bought it in the first place". In this imaginary example, 900,000 people wouldn't have bought it. But, another 90,000 people pirated it INSTEAD of buying it, causing sales to plumet 90%. Nobody's going to seriously accept the "most of those who download the game wouldn't have bought it" argument because even if it's true, it doesn't address what companies are REALLY concerned about: losing sales due to piracy. All "most of those who download the game wouldn't have bought it" really tells you is that each pirated copy wasn't a lost sale, rather, each pirated copy represents part of a sale - but that can still add-up to huge losses.

A community of 18,000 would amount to empty servers a lot of the time especially if the game is available globally.
Yeah, because 18,000 players means you'd never find anyone to play against. Anyway, the "enough players to play against" is the kind of argument a pirate might think is great (because it legitimizes their piracy), but no smart company is seriously going to accept that answer.

Only a very detailed statistical analysis of the numbers could tell you if it was a good or a bad thing, and even then people would still argue with the result.
In general, the people creating the media thinks it doesn't help. People who pirate like to pretend it does help.

I can make a pretty good guess at who's more biased between those two groups. The companies want to maximize their profit. This means if piracy helps them, they will want piracy. If piracy doesn't help them, they won't like piracy. So, companies benefit by following the facts wherever they lead. They have an interest in finding out the truth - whatever it is. And most companies agree: piracy harms them.

Pirates, on the other hand, benefit from piracy regardless of whether piracy hurts or harms companies. This puts them in a position where they should always claim (or convince themselves) that piracy helps companies - which makes them biased towards one single conclusion.

In the end, I don't buy that there are two sides to piracy claim.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27624909)

Only in the bizarre world of copyright/software politics is it a problem that there was huge interest from people trying out your game!

Re:So much for pirate ethics (4, Insightful)

brit74 (831798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625063)

Only in the bizarre world of copyright/software politics is it a problem that there was huge interest from people trying out your game!
That's what demos are for. Anyway, the problem is not that they are trying out your game. The problem is that people have the full product and no longer gain anything by paying for it.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

Andtalath (1074376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624915)

That has never been the only argument, just one of many.

And one of the few which is fully legitimate.

Another one which is quite as legitimate is artificial limitations of a market, meaning a lack of access to a finished product.
Granted, this wasn't what happened here, but a lot of people might see it as such "Why shouldn't I get to play the games which other people can?".

Re:So much for pirate ethics (-1, Troll)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624927)

Are you serious? This article is complete B.S., which doesn't invalidate anything.

If a game fails to sell, the most reasonable explanation is that the game really sucked and no one was interested. A second possible explanation is that the economy is affecting sales. Even games of average crappiness usually have lots of willing buyers, and games have always been subject to piracy (even back in 8-bit days), so it's a safe bet that piracy has virtually NOTHING to do with it.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27625091)

Remember: pirate ethics are not a set of rules but a set of guidelines.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625093)

(Btw: Piracy has nothing to do with it. Copying stuff has.)

I think if you do not hurt anyone, there's nothing bad in people copying stuff they would not buy anyway. Because that is the very point of all this.
The only problem was, that the company created an open server that they had to pay for, and did not ask the players for any money. I would have made them have unique accounts. Accounts that do not require anything other than the code in the game box, an e-mail-address and a password. People could not give it to others because they then would lose the ability to use it themselves at the same time. And it would guarantee that someone actually payed that part of the server with its game. Who uses it in the end, does not matter.

Re:So much for pirate ethics (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625195)

Is that even an argument that's popular? I believe the popular argument is that DRM doesn't stop le pirates while it definitely hurt the legitimate customers. Don't see how this report say anything about that. My only conclusion here is that Gamestop hurt GPG.

I'll also put forth the argument that people actually order games on-line AND download them if they can get them that way earlier (similar but not exactly like the try-before-buy argument). I do that all the time, and I assume I'm not unique in any way.

If the game use online serials then what this proves is...er.. what exactly? I guess it could down the line prove that there are some xK amount of users who illegaly downloaded the game and then, even though they couldn't play it online, didn't think it good enough to buy?

If you can shift 18K copies in one territory in a few days through one retailer who happened to release the game earlier than anyone expected, maybe you're not off to such a bad start after all.

Lack of bandwidth? (0)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624787)

No problem! Just use bittorrent!

Lack of distributed servers, yes (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625197)

No problem! Just use bittorrent!

You're not too far off the mark here. Most MMO game servers are very restricted, and deliberately so, in order to force players to pay over and over again for a subscription. Third parties have attempted to write their own servers. This would allow more freedom, creativity in world design/rules/etc., and would reduce or even eliminate the need for game companies to run their own servers. But the game companies don't like that, and CHOOSE to force people to use their (often relatively limited) servers instead, eventually phasing them out, and the game's existence along with it.

It's the same old problem: greedy companies trying to control something, and making a mess out of it.

18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (1)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624795)

Anybody still doubting, that piracy is a real threat to content-producers?

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (5, Insightful)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624825)

100K pirated because it was not legitimately available at the time to most people. You can't draw any other conclusions from this.

This is GameStop's fault for breaking the street date by such a large margin, and it's invalid as a measure of the effect of piracy.

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (3, Interesting)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624899)

Why, oh why is it that everyone is so gullible around here and just assumes that the data, as presented, has any relationship whatsoever to reality? Can any one of you verify this claim of hundreds of thousands of "pirates"?! Isn't the man telling you this a rather biased source, who has, based on his Stardock forums posts long since regretted not putting DRM in his stuff and has been increasingly draconian about the updates, activations, use of Impulse update software and what not? How is it that no one bothers to ask these questions before simply taking these dire proclamations at face value?

Do you guys start pulling your hair out and beating your chests in penitence every time some Sony or Warner announces that they "lost" 20 times the GDP of France to "piracy" last week?! Do you?

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (4, Insightful)

Delkster (820935) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625161)

Well, if these guys really used to have a more lenient stance on DRM and have only moved towards stricter attitudes over time, you'd think there might be a reason for that.

The main reason why people wouldn't trust Sony or Warner making such a claim is that they tend to believe the motivation these companies have for pushing DRM isn't the piracy figures alone; they're also used as an excuse for schemes that give the big corps more control over the market and ways to milk the same product for more cash. The motivation was always there regardless of the piracy figures, and thus there's also more incentive to make the figures support those other motives.

If Stardock indeed used to have a lenient stance at least in the past, clearly they didn't have these motivations. If their opinion has changed, they've either picked up these ulterior motives over time (which, I suppose, is also a possibility), or they've actually come to believe that it's necessary due to the piracy figures. If they believe in that themselves and also state it as the reason in public, they would seem to have less incentive to forge the figures than the big corps who also have completely different reasons for wanting to yell "omg pirates!111".

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625007)

As far as I know Stardock has open beta policy for all games. That means if you preordered you could have been playing the BETA for months.

Now on a side note, I hope they sue the shit out of GameStop for this

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (1, Redundant)

Computershack (1143409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625037)

So you're telling me that most of those 100,000 people will go out and buy it? I've got a bridge for sale if you're interested.....

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625095)

No, it indicates a piracy rate of around 80-90% which is in line with what other game developers report, regardless of ship dates.

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625149)

How many "pirates" were foreigners who have no way to buy the game legally even if they wanted to?

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624831)

Non sequitur.

It may be true, but please provide a more meaningful argument.

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624861)

While I'm not saying that piracy doesn't hurt content-producers, or that all the people that pirated wouldn't have bought it, a lot of people pirate games to play them risk-free, games they wouldn't have bought otherwise. Those numbers don't really tell us what the lost sales are, because many pirates were never going to purchase the game to begin with.

A worthless anecdote that says NOTHING, though: I randomly downloaded Neverwinter Nights when it came out because I was bored and wanted to play an RPG. I soon went out, bought the game, later, each expansion back when they came out, and bought NWN2 and its expansions as well.

I do think my case was not the norm. But piracy is an odd thing; freely distributing something can act almost like word-of-mouth and give it success it didn't have. So many music groups, smaller ones, benefit from online distribution by getting the word out. Surreal British comedy show The Mighty Boosh recently came to Adult Swim; if not for clips and episodes being uploaded to youtube (illegally), I doubt it'd have any American fanbase at all and certainly wouldn't be on TV here in the States. Instead, some nerdy Americans actually know who Old Gregg is!

But of course, like I said, that does not mean that is true in every case, or even most.

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624887)

How many do you think they would had sold without pirates? 30.000?

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27625015)

You're missing the point. Server upkeep costs a lot of money. At this rate they probably operate at a loss.

Re:18K legitimate copies, 100K pirated... (1)

loonycyborg (1262242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625011)

I do still doubt it. Piracy existed for like forever and 'content-producers' weren't bankrupted by it. 'Content-producers' fight piracy not because they're threatened by it, but because they want to increase their profits.

In a word (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625023)

Yes.

In more words: it's funny how more people on slashdot seem to be suddenly anti-piracy after the pirate bay verdict. I can't help wondering if these people would be against eating, if the media told them it was bad.

Authentication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27624799)

Authentication, it works!

1. Register user
2. Sell Game
??? == Authenticate
4. Profit!!!

Steam figured this out. you can too.

Idiot run server then. (4, Insightful)

Carrot007 (37198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624807)

And they could not have the server respond with a message built into the game.

This would not be DRM. Just sense.

1. Game asks server for connection.

2. Server responds. game not released, kindly piss off. (and this could not be interfered with since they server knows the time and then closes connection with failure message)

3. Customer goes back to doing something else for a week and returns when server is working and it mildly mad at retailer for selling game early.

Re:Idiot run server then. (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624985)

Even though gamestop were the evildoers here, some 18.000 customers DID buy a legal version of the game.
Most likely most of them didn't know it was sold before the official release date.
Would you, as the company selling this game, want to deny your customers access to the server because somebody else broke the rules?

Re:Idiot run server then. (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625055)

Even though gamestop were the evildoers here

And what, pray tell, is so evil about supplying a product you have when customers want it? This game release date thing is no better than DVD regional release dates, which everyone rightly hates.

Re:Idiot run server then. (3, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625129)

Irritating the few legitimate purchasers at that date is guaranteed to irritate those legitimate customers, who have personally done nothing wrong.

An announcement that "GameStop released early, my god a lot of people jumped on, we're bringing the rest of our servers online ASAP" would be reasonable.

Figures! (5, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624827)

This is so typical.

The same thing happened to the game Titan Quest. I've never seen a game so stable and masterfully crafted before. The devs listened to the community and actually added features and tweaks to the game just for them.

Yet all the reviews I saw were negative. "Yet another Diablo II rehash", "plagued with crash problems - can't even get past the cave in the starting area". Well, it's a rehash in the way WoW is a rehash of EQ or UO, I suppose.

Unfortunately for them, the guy cracking their DRM failed and didn't care, so every torrented copy crashed 5 mins in. Also, he released it 1 month before TQ went on sale, giving time for thousands of people to download it (millions if it hadn't crashed 5 mins in :P )

Ever since I bought three games that wouldn't run because of DRM, I've been a bigger supporter of Piracy - but seeing my favourite companies go down because of it makes me less happy. :/

Re:Figures! (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624901)

I think it only shows that the person designing TQ's DRM didn't think it through, all the people downloading TQ assumed it was the developers fault that it was so buggy and spread really bad PR leading to poor sales.

Re:Figures! (3, Interesting)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625181)

Possible. But if the cracker released the game a full month before the official launch, there could have been other reasons for the problems. For instance, he somehow got his paws on a beta that was not fully debugged.
And then there are games where the bugs are the fault of the developers, or even the fault of uncracked DRM. My copy of X2 (original without any cracks) went from stable to reproducably crashing when I installed the patch to version 1.4. In the same patch, the copy protection was upgraded to a new, more aggressive version of StarForce. Coincidence?

Re:Figures! (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625199)

How are they supposed to avoid that?

How would DRM have helped? (4, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624833)

If one person who could crack the game had gotten it a week early, would DRM have helped prevent this?

One store sells early, and then there are a bunch of downloads.

One person breaks the DRM, and then there are a bunch of downloads.

Difference between purchase and service? (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624837)

In this case does having a copy of the game entitle you to use the servers? Maybe they should charge for the service and use the revenue to expand their server farm.

Re:Difference between purchase and service? (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624969)

Maybe they should charge for the service and use the revenue to expand their server farm.

This is what I was thinking too. Treat the whole operation as a razors-blades model, charging and giving away the game in order to make money off of game hosting.

Re:Difference between purchase and service? (1)

Skrynkelberg (910137) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625069)

I don't understand. Most games prohibit you from playing online on official servers unless you have a valid cd-key. This check is easy to implement and not intrusive at all, and provides a benefit for paying customers. So why haven't they done so in this case?

Once again (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624843)

the trailer is awesome, while the game itself is so-so in the graphics department. Also the trailer makes the game look exciting and cool, while the tutorial shows it is a sucky(IMNSHO) hybrid with all the fail of both RPG and RTS. That is probably a bigger reason for piracy than free as beer type excuses. My money is tight, and I have been ripped off too many times by great reviews and stellar gameplay articles. Until I try the game, there is no buying it from my perspective.

just bad design ! (1)

MxMatrix (1303567) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624845)

To be frankfully bold, it is their own game design fault! Why you may ask if it was intended to be pirated in the first place. A case of how to legimate draconian drm. What they should have done is this: - release without any form of copy protection. - make registration of your copy with a key code mandatory, issue a login name with password - to play the game login with your name and password So this is the way RIAA tries to prove their right. Too bad greedy cheapasses took the bait.

The game DOES use a key. (5, Informative)

dr_wheel (671305) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624917)

You can't play multiplayer without a valid one. Just like most other online games these days. The problem with Demigod is that it runs some other http requests (checking for updates, querying system info, etc.). This is why the launch was borked. Not because there are tons of players with pirated copies trying to play on legit servers, but because their servers were effectively getting DDoS'ed by a level of traffic that they were not expecting or ready to serve.

+1 Star Trek! (5, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624847)

Forget ... the William Shatner jokes.

Star Trek nailed it right on the money here.

"Oh, we don't work directly for material things. The Replicators can make almost anything. So we live for other values".

So, we have a Replicator for Books/Music/Movies/Games/Software.

Give it 20 more years for the 3-D form printers.

IANAE (I am not an economist) but Trek portrayed a kind of Location Meritocracy. You worked to get good, and earned the right to be on the group that could make you better. (Enterprise). All the niceities became De Minimis Fringes.

Dr. Who aside, *physical premises* are not replicatable, so that became the new equation.

Re:+1 Star Trek! (-1, Troll)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624979)

Look, Star Trek was an idiotic series which stole and mutilated ideals from eastern cultures while combining it with values from western ones. None of what it espouses is possible or real. *None of it*. The very fact that you referenced Star Trek demonstrates how deluded you are about real life.

Perspectives on reality (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625139)

Look, Star Trek was an idiotic series... None of what it espouses is possible or real. *None of it*.

Thanks for that insight, "Merlin".

Re:+1 Star Trek! (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625045)

Yes, but then along came the Ferengi and crrupted everyone's morals...

Re:+1 Star Trek! (3, Insightful)

brit74 (831798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625133)

Star Trek nailed it right on the money here.

"Oh, we don't work directly for material things. The Replicators can make almost anything. So we live for other values".

So, we have a Replicator for Books/Music/Movies/Games/Software.

The problem with that is the fact that you still have to design things. Design can be a major investment. The basic business model for (say) software is invest X dollars and sell Z copies for Y dollars in profit (each). Essentially, you'd splitting up your development costs into Z parts and having each customer pay for a single chunk. You'd better have X smaller than Y*Z, otherwise you just lost money. Of course, if everyone treats software like it's freely replicatable, the whole things falls apart because no one contributes to the development cost, the software won't get written (because it's too easy for people to rip-you off), and society is worse-off for the it's selfishness on an individual level.

High piracy numbers (1)

Phydeaux314 (866996) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624853)

Were probably caused by the game type - basically DotA with a new graphics engine. Multiplayer/skirmish only, no story, no campaign, hell, the game didn't have a tutorial!

Having skirmish multiplayer as the only play type makes people less willing to throw down $50. Sure, if you like that game type it's awesome, but if you don't you're out you $50 and you have another game for the shelf.

Yes! And we should believe them because ... (-1, Troll)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624859)

Because this wholly disinterested, neutral, completely uninvolved party has announced that their unverifiable "data" is a wholesome and complete "justification" for the change in their DRM policy... and in no way would that be a PR stunt designed to "explain" a pre-arranged change instigated by some executive or an external "consultant" in a "we were forced to, against our tearful wishes" style. No, not possible! Never!

Make sure to ignore some unkind skeptics amongst us who just might recall the equally scientific Multi-gazillion-bazillion-delusion-fever-zillion "losses" routinely announced by the likes of RIAA and MPAA ...

Then the paranoid amongst us might point out that Stardock's Frogboy has been rather vocal about forcing his users to use the new "non-DRM-DRM" concoction of his, quite a bit before this fiasco... coincidences, pure coincidences!

Re:Yes! And we should believe them because ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27624995)

Ugh, another one of these idiotic comments.

It's not a made up lost sales number. It's a server connection count. It's an absolute, easy to measure metric. You're REALLY going to sit here and say that Stardock isn't capable of counting connections to their own servers, or that they made up a bunch of connection numbers randomly, while spending the entire Easter Weekend working overtime to try and get things working due to Gamestop breaking the street date?

Why don't you show me your numbers showing how his numbers are wrong? Oh wait, thats right. You're just making shit up to fit your little preconceived world view.

Re:Yes! And we should believe them because ... (0, Troll)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625067)

It's an absolute, easy to measure metric

Err, easy to measure by whom, exactly? Certainly not us, the audience of these proclamations. Why, by the same token, my toilet-bowl-based Cold Fusion reactor produces easy to measure 2MW of electricity ... except it seems to stop working as soon as someone else than me or my employee researchers get into close proximity ... but because it is easy to measure you will just have trust me on that one!

You're REALLY going to sit here and say that Stardock isn't capable of counting connections to their own servers, or that they made up a bunch of connection numbers randomly, while spending the entire Easter Weekend working overtime to try and get things working due to Gamestop breaking the street date?

Or perhaps they fucked up something and are now covering their butts by pointing fingers at their business partners and "pirates". There are other motivations possible here other then the one you are asked to sheepishly believe, you know...

Why don't you show me your numbers showing how his numbers are wrong? Oh wait, thats right. You're just making shit up to fit your little preconceived world view.

The stupidity of this statement can only be demonstrated by a demand for you to disclose your "numbers" showing that my "numbers" of UFO spaceships infecting my dog's anus are wrong ... oh wait, that's right, you cannot ...

Re:Yes! And we should believe them because ... (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625153)

Because this wholly disinterested, neutral, completely uninvolved party has announced that their unverifiable "data" is a wholesome and complete "justification" for the change in their DRM policy.
Companies have a financial incentive to follow the facts where they lead. If piracy helps them or harms them - they benefit by accurately perceiving the situation. Pirates, on the other hand, are always biased towards legitimizing piracy.

Early releases (4, Insightful)

Andtalath (1074376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624893)

Actually, it's not that weird that people want to try a game at the earliest possible moment.
The problem here was that the game was leaked.

A leaked copy will naturally spread, people are interested in new games they can't get their hands on.

The sad part is that some will se this as proof that DRM is necessary, nevermind the fact that this would've happened even if they had DRM.

Oh come on. (1)

Hinhule (811436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624897)

Not using DRM is a good ideological standpoint.
Going so fanatic about it to not require a valid serial number activated account to play on your server (like battle.net or steam) is good idiotic standpoint.

Brought this on themselves..... (0)

carterhawk001 (681941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624937)

This is GPG's own fault, I've read the post and the comments, and having the game connect to the servers on launch was a mistake. War3 doesn't check for updates until I get signed on to battlenet, and that's how it should have been here. The pirate/customer ratio does indeed suck, and they have my condolences, but this problem isn't entirely of the pirate's making.

Re:Brought this on themselves..... (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625179)

Considering that number of games in past experienced all sorts of save game corruptions - due to bugs - I find it OK that a game to checks for updates always.

I would really prefer if they simply add some nag screens when game played without key. That way I can try game before purchase - and most importantly I can try an up-to-date game. (N.B. I would strongly suggest to include actual street price of the game onto the nag screens. List of stores carrying it would be also great.)

Recent example: Sacred2 demo has the same patch level as one distributed on DVD. (And this is a standard for game demos.) In demo, within first ~20 minutes I found couple of glitches. In first month, Ascaron (game dev) released IIRC 2 patches. But I can't try demo with patches applied - I can't know whether the problems I have experienced are fixed or not. So how can I justify sending $50 to Ascaron for what appears to be another glitch-fest?

I think updates are important but GPG/StarDock simply didn't expected that level of interest (quickly inflated by piracy) in the new game which put pressure on their servers. I'm sure they'll learn the mistake.

Patriotism (3, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624941)

This situation reminds me of the 9/11 blood donation issue. For a few months after the attack, people were extremely willing to donate blood, more than the Red Cross even needed. But after the initial passionate feelings faded away, the Red Cross found itself having severe shortage issues once again. People claim that they only pirate because of DRM, and when a company like Stardock makes a big PR splash by releasing a DRM-free game they encounter a great deal of initial success. But once the feverish anti-DRM banter dies down people return to their ever inconsiderate, selfish, and pirating ways. IIRC, when Bethesda released Oblivion, over 1/3 of the people who called customer support for help had pirated the game and thus had no registration to account for. People are greedy. Not just the rich, but the poor, the middle-class, the sick, the paraplegic, they're *all* opportunistically greedy. Life in a nutshell folks.

Re:Patriotism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27624993)

IIRC, when Bethesda released Oblivion, over 1/3 of the people who called customer support for help had pirated the game and thus had no registration to account for.

Source for this? Also worth noting that I bought the PC version of Oblivion at launch(and have the collectible coin to prove it!), and I myself have no registration to account for.

Re:Patriotism (2, Informative)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625047)

Here: http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/10/13/bethesda-deals-with-pirates/ [mtv.com] Last week, âoeFallout 3âproduct manager Pete Hines told me that some development studios now calculate that up to half of their customer support calls involve dealing with people who have pirated copies of the game.

skomak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27624947)

This art is kindly piss off, it doesn't come with any valuable information.

Verifyable numbers? (-1, Redundant)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27624991)

Lacking an unbiased 3rd party observer, I don't really have to believe these numbers.

As a side note: selling a game with no DRM is one thing; restricting the use of their online service is another. They could have an online service for gamers where they require a monthly or whatever subscription.

On the other hand, if the game is hard-coded to only be able to use some designated servers/network, then it means it's not free of DRM, and this whole point is pathetically moot.

Some more Information (5, Informative)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625009)

From arstechnica: Correction: Stardock contacted us to say that the 18,000 number referred to concurrent users, not sales. We have corrected the sentence accordingly. Brad Wardell also released some new information that clarifies the issue. On Day 0 there were around 140,000 concurrent users, with 18,000 validated users. The pirates couldn't update their game or play online, but they could still "touch the servers." "So over the first 24 hours, we had to essentially scrap together a doppleganger of the infrastructure dedicated to Demigod's multiplayer network needs, release an update to legitimate users to point them to it..." he wrote. "Now today, day 3, it's pretty much taken care of. Users are connecting in multiplayer, the servers are pretty responsive and we're adding more in preparation for the weekend."

Arrr! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625057)

Pirate Mr. T says: Stop usin' the word "piracy" fo' somethin' that is not piracy [imageshack.us] , ya foolish landlubbers!

Pirates... for an online *server controlled* game? (0)

myxiplx (906307) | more than 5 years ago | (#27625143)

So how did that happen exactly? No DRM I can understand. No control over who connects to your servers is just dumb.

It's not exactly difficult to have a serial number inside each copy of the game, and register that to the user account. It's even possible to build that mechanism in a way that allows resales.

Voila! No DRM, and no pirates on your servers either.

6 week delay on EU release? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27625175)

It was widely recognised that this game was going to be pirated heavily since they decided to release it in the US an entire 6 weeks before the EU release. Madness.

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