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Stardock Declares Victory Over Demigod Piracy 403

We recently got a look at some hard numbers related to the piracy of Demigod , a new game from Stardock and Gas Powered Games. Now, two weeks later, Stardock CEO Brad Wardell has essentially declared the game a success in spite of the piracy, and reaffirmed the company's stance that intrusive DRM is a bad thing. The game's sales figures seem to bear him out. Quoting: "Yep. Demigod is heavily pirated. And make no mistake, piracy pisses me off. If you're playing a pirated copy right now, if you're one of those people on Hamachi or GameRanger playing a pirated copy and have been for more than a few days, then you should either buy it or accept that you're a thief and quit rationalizing it any other way. The reality that most PC game publishers ignore is that there are people who buy games and people who don't buy games. The focus of a business is to increase its sales. My job, as CEO of Stardock, is not to fight worldwide piracy no matter how much it aggravates me personally. My job is to maximize the sales of my product and service and I do that by focusing on the people who pay my salary — our customers."
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Stardock Declares Victory Over Demigod Piracy

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  • Metcalfe's law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @03:09AM (#27784053)

    Won't something like Metcalfe's law also apply to games. The more people that play the game the higher the worth of the game. So while losing customers to pirated versions is bad (but I'd argue not too common and entirely unstoppable by DRM), gaining non-customers to pirated versions is actually good (not very good as you don't get any money) as it adds value to your game. In the case of multiplayer games this value is obvious (even if they can't play against legit version, they will help augment the community) and for single player games they may tell friends and eventually somebody they know who likes the game may pay for it.

    It would be interesting if somebody could put a monetary value on pirated version (other than stupidly assuming every pirated copy is a lost sale)

    • ...for single player games they may tell friends and eventually somebody they know who likes the game may pay for it.

      Ah, that's true, they may tell their friends, but they're likely to give their friends a copy too. I've never seen this phenomenon where one friend says, "Dude, this game is great. I got it from The Pirate Bay." and the other guy goes, "Hmm, maybe I should buy it." though maybe it's more prevalent elsewhere.

      • I've seen it. I have a couple friends where one would rather pirate because he doesn't keep playing for long, and another one who buys so he can have an actual case for it. Doesn't matter who found the game first either, though they don't always get the any game the other tells them about.
    • Definitelly, it is 2$.

      Here is my reasoning:

      a) Value of pirated item is basically what pirate would pay if pirating was not an option.

      That is anytime from zero (zero being, be puts no value into item and would not even bother pirating it.) to several times of pricetag.

      However, my observation is that 1-3$ DVDs on newstands here basically "ruined" piracy of whatever movies came out like that, sop rice would be around there.


      b) Expenditures that pirate has to make to pirate.

      That includes time (it take time to

    • The cost of server infrastructure is *very* expensive. Now you want to make that all available to a whole bunch of people who didn't pay and won't pay a cent. Thats not a good plan unless you do it with someone else's money. And even then its still a bad plan....
  • Not everyone who buys a game is interested in helping develop the game, but surely there are those who can't afford to buy the game that are willing to donate time to develop the game (providing detailed feedback, etc).

    What should we be focusing on? Maximizing profit or maximizing game development? or in other words - producing games to live, or living to produce games? I know which future i want ... and i want it now!

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @03:25AM (#27784135) Journal
    If you like what he's done, you ought to contact the company and let them know how you feel []. We complain enough here on slashdot, sometime it's nice to be positive for a bit as well. We ought to encourage those who do cool things.
    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

      hehe.. if you like copy protection then you probably should go talk to a professional..

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or better yet, buy a copy then tell them why.

  • Demigod = DRM (Score:4, Informative)

    by Electros ( 1166421 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @03:33AM (#27784171)
    I'm not sure how this company can say they sell plenty of copys despite DRM, and that they don't use DRM. I personally bought demigod and they use Impulse (Steam basically) which I was forced to install on my pc and authenticate by phoning home to play online not to mention I have to keep this 3rd party app open if I wish to ever play. Demigod is really only a multiplayer game. your options for single player are playing against bots. The pirates playing on hamachi are probably minimal for the same reason few people play dota on hamachi to get around a wc3 cd key. Also I should add that when I bought this game I couldnt even logon for 3 days, because the cdkey in my package was in use (This seemed to be an issue for MANY people) and I had to send about 7 emails to tech support and take pictures of my friggen case and cd to prove I wasn't a "Pirate"
    • You = RMS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @05:14AM (#27784605)

      Seriously, this stance on DRM is like the RMS stance on openness "Unless everything is 100% my way, no compromise it is WRONG!"

      No, Demigod isn't DRM'd. The DVD is a standards compliant DVD with no trickey shit. The game installs and runs with no checks of any kind.

      Online play requires authentication and use of an online server? Oh well stop the presses I mean that hasn't happened with except, well, maybe every online game ever. As to if something like that is DRM is rather a semantic argument. Sure it does require a legit copy, but then the anti-DRM stance was never supposed to be about being allowed to illegally copy things, now was it? Needing to log in to a central server to play is a feature many games have simply for player convenience. Heck I remember when Gamespy first got started it was because the whole decentralized server thing with games like Quake was a problem. How did you find people to play with? So there was a 3rd party "central server" created that all the distributed servers talked to. Newer games are just having their own central service.

      Finally no, you needn't run Impulse to run the game. Impulse has it's little "Impulse now" thing that it likes to run, but all that does is check for patches. Shut it down if you like (there's an option to tell it not to load on startup). You can run the game without Impulse, or without a net connection for that matter.

      The point here is that if you are going to cast things like having a CD key and using a central matching service in the same category as SecuROM and such, then you are effectively making you definition of DRM meaningless and running off in to zealot territory. The reason you should, as a gamer, be anti-DRM is because it makes games not work. Like you take these recent games with SecuROM that you can only install 3 times, ever. After that, you are done. THAT is DRM and that is a problem. Wanting you to have an account on their online play service to play online is not DRM.

      Gamers need to be a little reasonable here because remember, as with all things, there is a balance of rights. Yes, you should have the right to buy a game and play that game for as long as you want in the way you want. You shouldn't have some DRM program getting mad because you installed it too many times or because it doesn't like your CD drive. However the developers have rights too. They have a right to try and make sure people aren't illegally copying their game, and they certianly have a right 0ot make sure those people who do illegally copy it can't make use of the services the company provides for it. It shouldn't be an all or nothing situation on either side.

      I'd liken it to freedom of speech. Yes, you have the right to freedom of speech, however your right to freedom of speech can't interfere with my right to freedom of association. What that means if you are free to speak your mind, but not in my living room if I don't want you to. I am free to ignore what you say. Yes, that does limit your rights in a small way. You don't have the right to force me to listen to your views, however that is a necessary limit on your rights to preserve mine and one I think we can all agree is reasonable.

      So you need a balance in games rights too. Demanding no DRM is fine when DRM means "Shit that interferes with rights I should have." Demanding no DRM is not fine when DRM means "Anything you do that I don't approve of."

    • Re:Demigod = DRM (Score:4, Informative)

      by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @07:53AM (#27785241) Homepage

      Slashdot seriously needs a "-1, wrong" moderator action.

      You don't need Impulse running to play, even on multiplayer.

      The retail copy has no DRM. You can take it, copy it, run it, and it works quite happily.

      Multiplayer does check for an account. Show me a game where that isn't true these days.

  • > The reality that most PC game publishers ignore is that there are people who buy games
    > and people who don't buy games.

    Thats what always puzzled my about filesharing haters: Why _do_ some of them bother at all, if they make enough money, that somwhere on the other side of the world, maybe also on some other planet, two people he never knew and will never know shared their stuff?

    > accept that you're a thief and quit rationalizing it any other way.

    And promptly, he delivers the answer himself. Just

  • by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @03:48AM (#27784231)

    As I see it, pirating a game is only excusable if you're doing it to try it, after which you either buy it or stop playing.

    Just recently I did this with Galactic Civilizations II - I downloaded it, played it for a while, liked it, went out and purposefully bought the game: Stardock got another sale when, had I not had a chance to check the game, they would have gotten nothing (I don't trust the industry - been burned once too many by some of the over-hyped turds they put out)

    Way too many games out there come out not working well or not at all. The game reviews press is no help at all - they'll give glaring reviews to games which are pretty enormous turds, and conveniently forget about the bugs and lack of long term playability.

    In my view, it's not at all morally reprehensible to pirate a game for testing - as long as you buy it if you keep playing it.

    • Like Neverwinter Nights 2. That game was barely playable with average gamer hardware but received 9.0+ reviews.

      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @04:57AM (#27784537)

        The hardware thing is a real problem because there is no standard for what counts as "minimum" and "recommended". I mean sure every game lists though, but what they actually mean by it varies wildly. Some games are nice and realistic. Their "minimum" means "The minimum hardware you'll need to enjoy playing the game." You find that if you meet the minimum spec, no problem, you gameplay is good. You can't crank everything up, but you still have no play problems. Doom was a game I remember like that. My computer was right at the minimum spec, but it still ran well.

        Well other games are very unrealistic. "Minimum" means "Minimum to get the game to execute, but don't bother trying to play it'll suck." Sometimes even the "recommended" means "Recommended to be even somewhat playable but you are still going to have lots of problems." Ultima 9 was one I remember like this. When my roommate at the time got it he had just about the highest end system money could buy, which met or exceeded the recommended specs, and it still ran like shit.

        So I do sympathize with people because it's a real problem. We really do need some kind of standard in the game industry so that you can look at the required specs and get a feel for how your system will actually do with a game. If a game needs top notch hardware there's nothing wrong with that, however it needs to be clear. People need to be able to have some confidence that a game will work well on their system.

    • by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @04:09AM (#27784349)

      Way too many games out there come out not working well or not at all.

      Yep, and how many of those games don't work well because of DRM? Possibly a lot. I HATE DRM (I am agreeing with you, by the way, I think).

      Why? Do I pirate games? No. I have a whole shelf full of legally purchased games. Some of these games I can only install a set number of times (I am looking at Far Cry 2 as an example, I had to reinstall XP because I felt like but didn't remember I had to first "revoke" my FC2 activation... there goes one install straight away). Now, continuing with the example, I don't particularly like FC2 and I doubt I will want to reinstall it in 5 years. But, that is MY CHOICE to make. It shouldn't be the publishers choice.

      DRM takes my (legal) choices away from me, and the publishers are using piracy as an excuse. Do I want to sell my copy of CoD World at War? Not at the moment, but I SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO. Thanks.

  • thief? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jessta ( 666101 )

    He used the term thief:

    thief, noun,
    a criminal who takes property belonging to someone else with the intention of keeping it or selling it.

    which by it's definition doesn't apply in this situation.

    I'll accept the use of the word piracy as it has widespread use as relating to copyright infringement but I do think it's rather ridiculous to compare copying data to theft and murder on the high seas.

  • It is not good business of IP publishers to turn their customers into casualties of the battle against copyright infringement. Furthermore, it is not the fault or failure of the customers that copyright infringement occurs and they are the absolutely LAST people who should be inconvenienced or penalized in any way for the actions of others.

    By imposing unreasonable controls and limits on those who pay legitimately, they are only harming those who pay legitimately.

    To do anything less than honor and respect y

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake