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The Internet Entertainment Games

Spore the Most Pirated Game of 2008 404

TorrentFreak has posted some statistics on the most pirated games of the past year. Leading the list by a large margin is Spore, made infamous even before its release for the draconian DRM attached to the game. It was downloaded through BitTorrent roughly 1.7 million times, with The Sims 2 and Assassin's Creed following at just over a million each. (It's worth noting that Spore came out in September, so that figure is essentially for a mere three months.) GameSetWatch has posted a related piece discussing the countermeasures involved in dealing with piracy. It's the second article in a series about piracy; we discussed the first a couple days ago.
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Spore the Most Pirated Game of 2008

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  • Re:no demos (Score:5, Informative)

    by FugitiveMind ( 1423373 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @06:30AM (#26011997)

    The creature creator used SecuROM (invasive copy protection) and 'phoned home'. I imagine a demo would do the same.

    I, and a lot of other people, would avoid it as a matter of principle.

  • by Goldberg's Pants ( 139800 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @06:37AM (#26012017) Journal

    Yep. I'm included in that statistic, despite buying the game. Downloaded the game when it first appeared, but waited until release day to actually install from my retail version, then use the crack from the pirated version.

    Given what a letdown the game was, I should have installed the pirated version earlier and seen it wasn't worth the $50 and just deleted it.

    Ah well.

  • by HUKI365 ( 1113395 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:57AM (#26012261)
    Not really. PES is REAL popular in East Europe/Russia. In fact it takes a significant part of the market share in non-US markets. But unfortunately for them it is usually popular in places where pirating is also popular.
  • Re:WRONG! (Score:3, Informative)

    by FourthAge ( 1377519 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @08:16AM (#26012323) Journal

    And the "copyright infringement" definition of piracy has been in usage since 1603. Wikipedia has a nice little history of the use of the term []. And in any case, what does anyone hope to prove by saying "it's not piracy because it's not robbery at sea?" What do you gain by saying that? It's not like the RIAA are going to string you up on the nearest dockside according to ancient maritime convention.

  • Re:The Solution. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @08:18AM (#26012333)

    Copying games is about as old as the game industry. About 20 years ago, when I was young, it was often also the only way to actually get games before they were outdated. Not to mention that back then games were often not only cracked but also included a "trainer", i.e. a built in cheat, which actually made the copies more interesting than the originals.

    A bit like today with DRM, but back in the good ol' days game crackers actually added value instead of just removing the value subtraction... anyway.

    Copy protection is also about as old as the game industry. And no copy protection ever protected a game from being copied. If anything, it led to the rise of certain copier groups. Without copy protection, this kind of organisation would not have been necessary, and I doubt they would have risen to the levels they were until about a decade ago. And without them, the widespread copying would not have been possible.

    Stings like Buccaneer and Fastlink certainly put some strain on "cracker groups", but whether or not they continue is no longer of pressing importance for the copying of games. You don't need the sort of organisation anymore that was necessary one or two decades ago. You don't need suppliers, couriers, BBS operators and all the other people involved with acquisition and distribution of software. You only need the person cracking the game. And, more importantly, you need globally one single person to do it, distribution of the crack is easily accomplished through P2P.

    Now we see a focus on P2P in the fight against copying. There may be some sort of achivement similar to the stings mentioned above, maybe in 3, maybe in 5 years, but then we'll be on the next technology for getting, cracking and spreading software.

    See the pattern? Whatever is done against widespread copying, it is usually too late to actually counter what has already been established.

    You want people to heed copyrights. That is a fair demand. I'm actually sure people are very willing to heed them if their demand is met, too. But we're moving away from the demand with the supply. Companies supply software with more and more invasive DRM. People want software that allows them to use it without hassle and without jumping through hoops to be allowed to use what they pay for. Draconian DRM, lawsuits and stings will not help there in any way. It will, if anything, alienate your customer. People are usually quite willing to play fair if they feel they are treated fairly. You offer me a fair deal and I will play fair. You offer me a foul deal and I will play foul.

  • It's due to the DRM (Score:3, Informative)

    by jridley ( 9305 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @09:03AM (#26012467)

    People who know anything about that DRM wouldn't let SecureROM on their system, it has no business doing what it does to a system just to play a game.

    It's 100% certain they'd have had my money the day the game hit the streets if they didn't have DRM in it. As it is, no. Not ever. Not unless I can run it in a VM where it can't pillage my system, and AFAIK it doesn't run in a VM.

    And anyone who wants the game can easily get it in a clean pirated version.

    Counting just BitTorrent is undercounting too; usenet is a safer place to get stuff (not as trackable).

  • Re:Standard excuses (Score:5, Informative)

    by jd142 ( 129673 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @11:08AM (#26013007) Homepage

    Regarding point 1:

    If I go to a restaurant and the food is bad, I can get a refund. If I walk out of a movie, I can get a refund. If I buy a book, I can return it. And for that matter, when I go to a bookstore I can actually read the book on the shelf and decide if it is crap before I buy it.

    You may get all or a part of your money back depending on the situation or you may get store credit, but the point is that there is a mechanism in place for refunding all or part of the expense on those items if they are crap.

    Software is one of the very few things that is almost impossible to return if the box has been opened. Here a few returns policies: - "Opened computer software, movies, music and video games can be exchanged for the identical item but cannot be returned for a refund." - "Retail Boxed software may only be returned for refund within 30 days of the invoice date if the packaging is unopened and factory sealed. Opened retail boxed software can only be returned for replacement if it is defective or damaged."

    Amazon has probably the best software return policy: "Any CD, DVD, VHS tape, software, video game, cassette tape, or vinyl record that has been opened (taken out of its plastic wrap): 50% of item's price."

  • by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @11:13AM (#26013027)

    Given what a letdown the game was, I should have installed the pirated version earlier and seen it wasn't worth the $50 and just deleted it.

    This. And now they're charging $20-50 for monthly expansions. Sims style. You know it's intentionally awful when it comes out mid september, and by october they've announced an add-on pack and two expansion packs for sale. I think in $300-500 it'll actually almost have a game. It still won't have evolution or ecology or a sandbox mode or AI like promised, but might actually have a game, and maybe even some of the features they demod at E3, like the plant and pattern editors, and communicating with other species... (No actually, not the first two, then they couldn't charge $20 for a pattern pack like they do now, or however much they'll charge for the first plant pack!)

  • Re:Standard excuses (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr. Picklesworth ( 931427 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @11:31AM (#26013137) Homepage

    7) I do not want to try the demo because the only meaningful way to try out a game is to try out the ENTIRE game.

    There lies the problem, though. Most big, marketing-heavy games don't even HAVE useful demos any more. Spore's only demo is the creature creator trial, which is absolutely not an adequate demo because it gives no taste of what the game is like.

  • Re:Standard excuses (Score:3, Informative)

    by LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @02:12PM (#26014145)
    Jurisdiction would not be an issue, because once it crosses state lines it is an FBI issue. Seeign as it involves the mail, it could also be a Post Master issue. Two groups that you'd rather not deal with.

    However, returning a product for a refund and charging back once said refund is not received is not an issue. Specially as you satted, most of the items are low dollar amount.

    Having worked for a company that disputed chargebacks, you are right. It is usually not worth disputing small dollar amount chargebacks because there are fee's that you have to pay when someone files a chargeback. If you dispute it, and they refile the charge back, you've doubled your fee's. Many companies will not dispute small dollar amount charges to avoid the extra fee's. Plus, so few people know about filling chargebacks that it is not much of an issue for many businesses.
  • Re:Exactly !!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by JesseL ( 107722 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @02:21PM (#26014199) Homepage Journal

    What a shitty excuse for an analogy.

    Let me know when a candy bar can be infinitely duplicated and transported around the world at nearly zero cost.

  • Re:Standard excuses (Score:2, Informative)

    by Omestes ( 471991 ) <> on Saturday December 06, 2008 @03:16PM (#26014519) Homepage Journal

    Not for PC games. I recently got a laptop with a dubious graphics card, and wanted to see if I could play a couple games (Spore among them), and found that there is absolutely no way to actually see if I could play them. One of the game sites has a utility that supposedly checks for this, but it returns different hardware values every time I run it.

    Basically, the only legal way I can see if a game is playable is to give them $50 and pray.

    This excuse doesn't work for movies, since you can just rent them. Sometimes. Can't use Netflix at my apartment (small small mailboxes, and an untrustworthy office where the incoming packages are left in the open), and Blockbuster sucks for the type of movies I enjoy (old, not bestsellers, limited releases, foreign, or possibly not meeting their prude standards). But 90% of them time rental works to see if your buying something worthwhile.

    Music is harder to check. Yes, you can hear the radioworthy single (which often sounds nothing like the rest of the album). Yes, iTunes and Amazon, and often lets you listen to a random 10 second selection from random songs, of random bands, but it still is rather hard to tell if it is worth money or not.

  • by karstux ( 681641 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @03:50PM (#26014699) Homepage

    I have a Steam account, I got HL2 bundled with a graphics card a while back. You're talking about offline mode. You have to authenticate online at least once before being able to enter offline mode. Also, each game must be activated online, you can't install games to an offline Steam client.

    As with any online activation based DRM, even store-bought steam games get reduced to coasters once the authentication servers are gone.

    Have a look at the Steam subscriber agreement. [] It pretty much says that games are tied to accounts, and that Valve can terminate any account at any time for no particular reason, without any recompense.

    No, really, I wouldn't spend my money there.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @04:04PM (#26014791)

    Erh... no.

    To take a trip into economy, what you're dealing with is fixed vs. variable expenses. I.e. basic cost to create the ability to create an item, and the cost per item. When you take a piece of furniture, the fixed cost part would be what designing the table costs, while the wood, screws and workforce needed to assemble it would be the variable part.

    The tricky part is now that every table has to cover for part of your fixed costs. You split them amongst the units you create and plan to sell and add that to the manufacturing cost. If you only charge what manufacturing the table costs, you lose money due to the fixed part of your expenses.

    When dealing with software (or content in general) you have an extreme bias towards fixed costs. It costs a ton of money to create a piece of software altogether, while reproducing it costs nearly nothing. If you only sold a single copy of your game, you'd have to charge millions to break even. On the other hand, every copy sold adds to the contribution margin, no matter how small, you just can't sell a single copy at a loss when only looking at the expenses per item.

    When you now globally sell your games for 5 bucks, you'd have to sell about ten times the copies to break even. If you cannot break even, your company goes belly up soon.

    It's easy to get a profit contribution out of a single copy. Sell it for a buck and you're there already. You will never recover your development costs that way, though.

    So the goal is to sell as many copies as possible for the highest price possible. This is dictated by the market, though. You cannot sell a single copy in Thailand for 50 bucks. So you sell it for 5. The alternative would be to abstain from selling there altogether and instead increasing the prices in the UK.

  • by Goldberg's Pants ( 139800 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @04:09PM (#26014827) Journal

    How am I killing the industry by BUYING the fucking game? Really, did any of you even READ my post? I said I grabbed the pirate version but didn't install it, choosing to wait for the retail release, then installed from that, and used the crack to avoid the Securom crap.

    So please explain how that is me "killing the games industry".

  • by karstux ( 681641 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @05:03PM (#26015105) Homepage

    Uh.. plenty of Steam games can be bought in a brick-and-mortar-store, on a physical medium. Everything HL2 related, for instance.

    You don't think it sucks that you have to have a) ask for permission online to play a (legally bought) single-player game, and b) Valve can render the (physical-medium-attached) game nonfunctional by canceling your online account? Inacceptable in both regards, I think.

    As I wrote above, I like to own my stuff, and with Steam it just doesn't feel like it.

  • Re:Standard excuses (Score:2, Informative)

    by easyTree ( 1042254 ) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:17PM (#26015805)

    Spelling and Grammar errors have been added to this post for your enjoyment

    Thanks :) - my favourites are your Greengrocers' apostrophes []

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken