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PC Piracy and DRM Analysis

An article on Eurogamer speaks with a few figures from the game industry seeking to answer the question "How Bad is PC Piracy Really?" The general consensus is that it is impossible to definitively determine what percentage of PC games are pirated, or how many legitimate sales are actually lost as a result, but that doesn't stop some of the people they spoke with from taking guesses: Reinhard Blaukovitsch from SecuROM vendor Sony DADC says "between 40 and 80 per cent of total copies of a game being played are pirated," and: "The commercial value of global software piracy is growing by 14 percent annually." Analyst Michael Pachter tells them: "Ubisoft told me that their PC game sales are down 90 per cent without a corresponding lift in console sales," and that he guesses "40 to 50 per cent of PC games played are not purchased." Capcom's and PCGA's Christian Svensson says he thinks it ranges from 50/50 at the low end and: "At the higher end you can see 90 per cent illegitimate usage to 10 per cent legitimate."

They also discuss solutions: "[There's] no public data to suggest that DRM works," says Pachter. "But the fact that more companies are imposing it strongly suggests that they believe it works." They also have a separate article about Pachter's comments. "Yes, piracy is ruining PC gameplay, and yes, it is forcing PC games online," the analyst says. "This happened in China 15 years ago, and in Korea in the last decade, and it's happening in the West now." One thing all their respondents seem to agree on is that it's a problem when DRM punishes legitimate users and encourages piracy. Here's a chunk with a few takes on that concept:

"Consumers are right to complain about DRM, since it impacts both legitimate and illegitimate users," reckons Pachter. "The problem is that the companies think it limits piracy, and an industrious and determined hacker can work around DRM, while a normal, legitimate user must deal with a hassle. I'm not sure where to come down on this, as I respect the companies' right to protect their intellectual property, while acknowledging the legitimate consumer's complaint about the problems created with DRM."

"The challenge nowadays is to reward loyal users,"'s managing director Guillaume Rambourg believes. "If you make the whole gaming experience more complicated and more frustrating for people who buy the game; if it's easier to play a game that is pirated because they removed all the technical restraints, then I think there is a big issue on the plate now. It should be easier to play a game that you bought legally than play a game that you pirated."

"Through the use of DRM, a publisher can meaningfully improve profitability on a project." Christian Svensson, PCGA and Capcom "There's good DRM and what we call bad DRM," explains Svensson. "There's a huge breadth of parameters and technologies available, and no one technology is bad - it's the implementation that can be bad, the communication around the implementation that can be bad. What we try and do - and we haven't always been successful in this - is never hurt the legitimate user. If the legitimate user is ever going to have a more negative experience than a pirate, you've done something wrong.

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8. Re: PC Piracy and DRM Analysis Sep 30, 2011, 21:16 MajorD
Cutter wrote on Sep 30, 2011, 20:56:
It's funny this comes up as I watched a brilliant show on CBC the other night, The Trouble With Experts - which you can watch online at that link. It is well worth the watch.

Bummer, it doesn't stream outside of Canada, and I was looking forward to check that out, as it sounds really interesting. I'll have to find another way to watch it.

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