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Epic on Piracy and PCs

TheSixthAxis has some quotes from Epic president Mike Capps published in Edge Magazine E215, now on newsstands. Capps admits "the money's on console," in discussing their platform choices, saying "piracy's already had its impact" on PC sales. “If you walked into [Epic's Offices] six years ago, Epic was a PC company. We did one PS2 launch title, and everything else was PC. And now, people are saying 'Why do you hate the PC? You’re a console-only company'," he tells them. "We still do PC, we still love the PC, but we already saw the impact of piracy: it killed a lot of great independent developers and completely changed our business model." That love aside, Capps seems to be ceding the PC market to social games: "So, maybe Facebook will save PC gaming," adding, "but it’s not going to look like Gears of War." Thanks Joao.

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154 Replies. 8 pages. Viewing page 6.
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54. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:44 Jerykk
 
PC's piracy level is bad enough that it's driven many companies out of business or to console development.

Do you have any actual facts to back that up? Developers have flocked to consoles because that's where the largest market is. It's not that you can't make money on the PC, it's that you can make more money on consoles. Last I checked, Bioware, Epic, id, Bethesda, Infinity Ward, etc, weren't on the verge of bankruptcy when they transitioned to consoles.

It's not just the accessibility of console gaming that's driving it to greater popularity. These days it's the games. PC doesn't have high quality exclusives like it used to, consoles still do.

Consoles have more big-budget exclusives because they have a larger audience. They have a larger audience because consoles are more accessible. Big budget PC exclusives tend to have high system requirements and the majority of people have shitty PCs and don't know anything about hardware.

Again, it's all about accessibility and convenience, not piracy.

This comment was edited on May 17, 2010, 15:50.
 
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53. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:42 ForgedReality
 
ATTN EPIC:

YOU ARE NOT RELEVANT. NOBODY BUT IDIOTS ON CONSOLES PLAY YOUR SHITTY GAMES. GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN.

Thank you.
 
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52. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:41 ASeven
 
Verno wrote on May 17, 2010, 15:28:
If the PC platform isn't bringing any money, which it is, why do the big publishers keep releasing games on the PC? They keep saying piracy this, piracy that, PC gaming is doomed, etc, but they still release on the PC

This is really easy to explain - some money is better than none. You'll notice many publishers have adopted a delayed PC release schedule for their multiplatform titles. The reason they do is because they figure they might as well release it after the consoles have sold most of what they will.

I agree with you, my point was rather that if the PC platform didn't bring enough money to cover the costs, or in other words if the platform was irrelevant in terms of money they wouldn't port games and bring it to the PC. So yeah, agree with you.
 
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51. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:41 Verno
 

Indie developers have the smallest budgets and the most to lose to piracy, and yet ironically they are the most lenient when it comes to DRM nonsense.

They don't really have a choice though. The ones that do often release console versions of their games for XBLM and PSN. I like indies as much as the next guy because hey, who doesnt want to root for the little guy but most of them aren't sinking 80 million into a game. It's hard to directly compare indies with AAA publishing houses, they are totally different beasts in every way.
 
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50. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:38 Prez
 
Indie developers have the smallest budgets and the most to lose to piracy, and yet ironically they are the most lenient when it comes to DRM nonsense. Even more ironically, indie games have impressed me with their quality a lot more than those of most big studios.

I have had more fun with Flotilla, Iron Grip Warlord, Guns of Icarus, Gratuitous Space Battles, Madballs, Zeno Clash, Defense Grid, AI War, and other indies than I have had with any major release in at least 2 years. And virtually all of them have minimal if any DRM at all. If big developers want to bail on the PC, I say don't let the door hit them in the ass. Good riddance assholes.

I've gotten to the point where I am just sick and tired of hearing developers and publishers CONSTANTLY whining about piracy. You want to go make kiddie games for the Wii? By all means; it's your business - do what you want with it. Just please, PLEASE STFU about piracy. It's not killing anything - your lack of creativity, originality, independent spirit, and guts might be, but piracy isn't. If it were actually nearly as much of a bane to your precious business as your incessant crying and blathering about it would have us believe, none of these little guys would even exist, much less be thriving. No one likes piracy (except the pirates I guess), but some people have learned to deal with it and focus on their paying customers. They are the ones who earn my business. The rest of you whiney bitches can kiss my ass.
 
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49. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:30 Kxmode
 
theyarecomingforyou wrote on May 17, 2010, 15:14:
But more importantly, even though both companies exploit their existing IPs they're both taking new approaches... much more than Epic did. UT, UT2k3, UT2k4 and UT3 were virtually the same game. Same with Gears Of War 1, 2 & 3. Whereas TFC and TF2 were radically different, Portal unlike any other game, Left 4 Dead changed the scope of co-op gaming, etc.

This doesn't gel with your earlier statements. Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4 and Example 5. I could go on, but I'll simply stop and say you sound like a hypocrite.

This comment was edited on May 17, 2010, 15:37.
 
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48. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:28 Verno
 
World Of Warcraft created the genre

No it didn't, it may have defined the idea of success in the MMORPG genre but it did not create it.

If the PC platform isn't bringing any money, which it is, why do the big publishers keep releasing games on the PC? They keep saying piracy this, piracy that, PC gaming is doomed, etc, but they still release on the PC

This is really easy to explain - some money is better than none. You'll notice many publishers have adopted a delayed PC release schedule for their multiplatform titles. The reason they do is because they figure they might as well release it after the consoles have sold most of what they will.

Put a different way, when you spent 80 million making Red Dead Redemption, do you never release a PC version at all for fear of piracy or do you play it safe and simply release a PC version a year or two later when the consoles have sold their potential maximum amount of units?

Publishers think that PC piracy costs them money on multiplatform titles at those launch dates. Whether they are right or wrong, who knows, neither of us can legitimately make that claim. They feel that piracy can't hurt them at that point because the money has already been made and anything the PC sells is just gravy. The effect is what is important anyways, not so much the cause. Regardless, their approach is problematic for many reasons but you asked for a potential why and there you go.

As an aside, I'll put down money we'll see a RDR port within a year and a half, tops despite the fact that they have said no plans for a PC version at all. It's a popular approach at Rockstar and publishers in general with regards to multiplatform titles. I would say to those publishers however that many games have great success released at the same time on the PC - Mass Effect 2 and Bad Company 2 are just two recent examples.

This comment was edited on May 17, 2010, 15:35.
 
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47. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:16 ASeven
 
There's also another point. If the PC platform isn't bringing any money, which it is, why do the big publishers keep releasing games on the PC? They keep saying piracy this, piracy that, PC gaming is doomed, etc, but they still release on the PC. Economically speaking, if there wasn't any decent money to be made there wouldn't be releases since costs>revenues.

In the end, scorpius is right, projecting piracy on the PC is the most convenient excuse. However console piracy is exponentially rising and I actually know more PC gamers than console gamers yet I know that the console gamers pirate everything they can download and don't see them spending money on games while the PC gamers I know keep on buying, mostly online. Though this means nothing since it's only observed data from one person, me, the truth is that Xbox games get pred much sooner than PC games and hit the pirate channels in way sooner than PC games.

So, let them GTFO of PC gaming and then they'll see in the console market what real piracy is. At least PC multiplayer games don't allow you to play on legit servers if you have a pirated copy, not so on the xbox.
 
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46. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:14 theyarecomingforyou
 
Valve released Left for Dead 2 and is releasing Portal 2. How are they innovative?
They released Half-Life, which was innovative. The same with Half-Life 2, regarding physics and animations. Then Team Fortress 2 as a cartoon style, with Portal and Episode 2 (which had more of an emotional connection than any other game I'd played). And then Left 4 Dead. Sure they've released some sequels and they take a long time to release games but they're a shit-ton more innovative than Epic.

Blizzard is releasing StarCraft 2, Diablo 3, and World of Warcraft: Catalysm. How are they innovative?
Warcraft defined the genre, Diablo the same, World Of Warcraft created the genre and is the most successful title of all time.

But more importantly, even though both companies exploit their existing IPs they're both taking new approaches... much more than Epic did. UT, UT2k3, UT2k4 and UT3 were virtually the same game. Same with Gears Of War 1, 2 & 3. Whereas TFC and TF2 were radically different, Portal unlike any other game, Left 4 Dead changed the scope of co-op gaming, etc. I apologise that Blizzard was a bad example - that was more an example of taking an idea and improving upon it, rather than reliving past glories. My point is that Epic has success once and then keeps trying to recreate it, losing some of the magic with each iteration... to then equate their failure entirely to piracy is a cheap shot. They lost relevance, just like id Software. Fortunately for them console gamers are less discerning.
 
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45. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:12 Kxmode
 
ASeven wrote on May 17, 2010, 15:09:
kxmode wrote on May 17, 2010, 14:57:
@ASeven - the next time you feel like posting tabular data don't bother posting it here, just supply a link to a page that has it properly formatted.

Ok then, just thought to put the data here to save the trouble of reading each report.

No problem, and thank you. It's just harder to read unformatted data
 
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44. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:09 ASeven
 
kxmode wrote on May 17, 2010, 14:57:
@ASeven - the next time you feel like posting tabular data don't bother posting it here, just supply a link to a page that has it properly formatted.

Ok then, just thought to put the data here to save the trouble of reading each report.
 
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43. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:06 scorpius
 
2 things influence the amount of piracy on a platform for quite a bit:
1) The effort needed to crack the platform.
2) The amount and quality of the titles on that platform.

When the publishers of AAA titles are going to abandon or delay titles to the PC, piracy on the console will just become more interesting. Only the statistics for those platforms will be less accessible, because MS/Sony and Nintendo are directly tied to their products and have absolutely no interest in becoming known for having the most pirated console.

This is by no means significant in any way, but i still found it interesting that some of my colleagues don't play PC games, but instead are messing around with hacked Wii's and XBOX consoles.

The fault IMHO therefor lies in projecting piracy on (all) PC gamers, while in the end the platform doesn't really matter. Instead, there are just gamers and pirates.

And yes, the game industry is just like Hollywood. Mediocre easy accessible block-busters sell the most. Quality, depth and originality are for a minority.
 
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42. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 15:01 SirKnight
 
ASJD wrote on May 17, 2010, 12:57:
PC's piracy level is bad enough that it's driven many companies out of business


BS. You're pulling that out of your ass.
 
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41. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 14:57 Kxmode
 
@ASeven - the next time you feel like posting tabular data don't bother posting it here, just supply a link to a page that has it properly formatted.

This comment was edited on May 17, 2010, 15:10.
 
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40. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 14:44 OldScho0l
 
ASeven wrote on May 17, 2010, 12:40:
And come to think of it, the sooner these greedy corporate fucks GTFO of PC gaming, the sooner we'll have real PC games back on the PC. The corporate mentality of the quick buck truly ruined PC gaming and it won't be back to its previous levels until these big publishers leave PC gaming for good, leaving only the indies which at least still have the passion for gaming.

I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks!
 
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39. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 14:40 ASeven
 
Ok, here's some numbers from the Yearly and Quarterly results for those who say consoles sell that much more than PC as a platform.

EA:


Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 YOY %
FY09 FY10 FY10 FY10 FY10 Change

Platform Net Revenue
Xbox360 132 73 171 348 276 109%
Wii 126 161 142 196 71 (44%)
PLAYSTATION 3 197 121 142 236 272 38%
PlayStation 2 53 27 40 44 22 (58%)

Total Consoles 508 382 495 824 641 26%
Mobile 49 50 51 56 55 12%
Nintendo DS 38 28 22 63 22 (42%)
PSP 44 38 20 30 37 (16%)

Total Wireless 131 116 93 149 114 (13%)
PC 180 124 173 212 178 (1%)
Other 41 22 27 58 46 12%

Total GAAP Net Revenue 860 644 788 1,243 979 14%

Xbox 360 135 136 360 377 282 109%
PLAYSTATION 3 84 99 322 285 189 125%
Wii 94 184 140 197 40 (57%)
PlayStation 2 33 20 54 44 11 (67%)

Total Consoles 346 439 876 903 522 51%
Mobile 48 50 50 57 55 15%
PSP 21 22 39 33 17 (19%)
Nintendo DS 38 28 22 75 16 (58%)

Total Wireless 107 100 111 165 88 (18%)
PC 115 255 133 220 194 69%
Other 41 22 27 58 46 12%

Total Non-GAAP Net Revenue 609 816 1,147 1,346 850 40%

So, GAAP PC sold more than at least two consoles each in 3 of the 5 quarters and outsold each console in the second fiscal Quarter of 2010, and outsold at least two consoles 2 of the five quarters non-GAAP, with a 69% growth non-GAAP. Clear indications PC gaming is indeed tiny and dying. Moving on.

Ubisoft:

Breakdown of sales by platform

Q1 2009/10 Q1 2008/09

Nintendo DS™ 26% 37%
PC 20% 14%
PlayStation®2 1% 3%
PLAYSTATION®3 13% 21%

PSP™ 4% 4%
Wii™ 20% 11%
XBOX 360™ 16% 9%
TOTAL 100% 100%
Breakdown of sales by platform

6 months 6 months
Q2 2009/10 Q2 2008/09 2009/10 2008/09
Nintendo DS™ 24% 39% 23% 37%
PC 12% 6% 17% 14%
® 3% 1% 2% 3%
PlayStation 2
® 17% 20% 15% 21%
PLAYSTATION 3
PSP™ 6% 2% 5% 4%
Wii™ 25% 11% 22% 11%
XBOX 360™ 11% 20% 14% 9%
Autres 1% 0% 2% 0%

TOTAL 100% 100% 100% 100%

9 months 9 months
Q3 2009/10 Q3 2008/09 2009/10 2008/09
Nintendo DS™ 11% 26% 14% 31%
PC 2% 7% 6% 8%
® 0% 1% 1% 1%
PlayStation 2
® 30% 22% 26% 21%
PLAYSTATION 3
PSP™ 3% 2% 4% 2%
Wii™ 21% 18% 21% 15%
XBOX 360™ 30% 24% 26% 20%
Autres 2% 0% 2% 0%

So, Q1 and Q2 the PC sold more than the xbox360. It's dead Jim! 3Q there were no notable, or none at all, PC game releases, hence the small %, and it'll be fun to know what the 4Q figures will be since Assassin's Creed II, Silent Hunter 5 and Settlers 7 were released 4Q with the DRM. For once I do want the numbers to be as low as possible for the PC. So yeah, Ubisoft's numbers clearly prove that it's dead dead dead.

Activision:

Three Months total Three months total
Ended platform ended platform Increase/
March 31, 2009 net revs. March 31, 2008 net revs. (Decrease)

Platform net revenues:
MMORPG $ 314 35% $ 275 86% $ 39

PC and other 46 5 12 4 34

Console
Sony PlayStation 3 131 15 2 1 129
Sony PlayStation 2 40 4 13 4 27
Sony PlayStation — — 1 — (1)
Microsoft Xbox360 198 22 2 1 196
Nintendo Wii 134 15 4 1 130

Total console 503 56 22 7 481

% of % of
Three Months total Three months total
Ended platform ended platform Increase/
June 30, 2009 net revs. June 30, 2008 net revs. (Decrease)

Net revenues:
MMORPG $ 324 33% $ 283 81% $ 41
PC and other 41 4 13 4 28

Console
Sony PlayStation 3 152 16 15 5 137
Sony PlayStation 2 44 4 9 2 35
Microsoft Xbox360 231 24 15 4 216
Nintendo Wii 118 12 3 1 115

% of % of
Three months total Three months total
ended platform ended platform Increase/
September 30, 2009 net revs. September 30, 2008 net revs. (Decrease)

Net revenues:
MMORPG $ 301 46% $ 271 42% $ 30
PC and other 32 5 25 4 7

Console
Sony PlayStation 3 73 11 60 9 13
Sony PlayStation 2 37 6 57 9 (20)
Microsoft Xbox360 104 16 72 11 32
Nintendo Wii 72 11 83 13 (11)

Activision numbers does give some credence to the gloom and doom brigade since I'm not counting MMORPGs as Activision separates MMORPGs from the other PC Games. However if you count MMORPGs then things change completely, and since Blizzard hasn't given us anything for years and this year SC2 will be launched it will be interesting in seeing these numbers.

THQ also has good numbers for the PC though in the past 2 Quarters the Xbox and PS3 have 3 times the volume of net revenue. Capcom surprisingly has nice numbers for the PC too. And so on and on.

When analyzing numbers one must remember if said company published any game for a platform and if they were well received.

The thing is, PC gaming isn't dead, far from it and it isn't going anywhere. Consoles bring more money? Yes. But I'm willing to bet that if game companies decided to do good quality PC games, exclusive or not the quality had to be there, the numbers would tell another story.

In the end piracy is just the same old tired excuse, what they really mean is "We can't be bothered to do good PC games so we're lazy and take the easy route and make an awful game and oh my, we're surprised that the game isn't selling well on the PC!"
 
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38. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 14:39 ^Drag0n^
 
Beamer wrote on May 17, 2010, 14:08:
I find a few things funny.

1) That people think that PC is still the bread and butter of most of the developers that used to be very successful on the PC.
2) That people think once being the most profitable platform means they're still owed something.
3) That people think they know piracy's impact better than Capps.
4) That people link to Activision's financials as proof that the PC reigns when, in 2009, Activision only brought in 99 million PC yet 241 PS3, 281 PS3, 387 360 and 401 Wii. Where's the money? Well, it's in the 1187 MMORPG but that's not what we're discussing here.

Companies moved to consoles. In part due to the huge amount of users and in part due to the fewer costly hassles such as QA and piracy. They're making significantly more money and, in many cases, having significantly more fun doing it.

Oh no!
Sad, but very true, Beamer.

I'd bet a very high percentage of PC holdouts would move to the 360 and the PS3 if there was widepread support for Mice and Keyboards (especially in FPS). I'm guessing that it will come later rather than sooner on the 360 though, as MS really wants to sell you something else for browsing the web and typing (a.k.a. Windows).

That said, MMOs are having a hard time getting traction in consoles not because they are technically difficult for the platform, but rather the developers don't want to share the kind of pie-slice that they are forced to with PSN an (moreso) XBL for those "persistant servers." You better believe that MS and Sony would want a good portion of those MMO subscription fees. Fortunately, most MMOs don't require the horsepower to run Crysis on the client-side, so they have broadband (PC) appeal. Also, while there may be "shady dealings," between people that play the MMOs, piracy of an MMO has no real impact on the bottom line. In fact, MMOs ultimately benefit from it. They want the subscription fees. I'm still amazed that no one has really had the revelation that a free client might exploit a hole in the armour of WoW.

^D^
 
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37. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 14:36 The Half Elf
 
The money is on consoles. While yes there is piracy on consoles it's nothing compared to PC piracy.

So you take a larger target audience, more income from the cost per unit and less piracy and it is a no-brainer why developers choose the PC as a secondary market.

Do you really think companies like Ubi-Soft want to spend all this extra money on DRM?
 
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36. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 14:32 Domgrief
 
I think that this problem was at least partly brought about by game publishers in the first place. Out of all the people I used to LAN with regularly (Quake 2 era), the vast majority are now either console gamers (the only place to get many first-run AAA titles) or too jaded to buy AAA titles any more.

Or maybe the Blue's News community is a microcosm of gamers who buy the games they play and want to support game developers/publishers, while the rest of the world really doesn't mind stealing every game they can get their hands on (or perhaps they see it as fighting The Man).

kxmode wrote on May 17, 2010, 14:30:
Valve released Left for Dead 2 and is releasing Portal 2. How are they innovative?

On the other hand, they're not making Episode 3
 
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35. Re: Epic on Piracy and PCs May 17, 2010, 14:30 Kxmode
 
theyarecomingforyou wrote on May 17, 2010, 14:23:
Surely the fact that Epic kept rehashing the same thing with every title had a greater impact? I mean, after Unreal Tournament (which was itself derived from Unreal) you had... UT2003, UT2004, UT3, etc. Where was the variety? All they were trying to do was to relive past glories instead of innovate. And now they're doing the same thing with Gears Of War. You only have to look at Valve or Blizzard to see how a little innovation can make you a top seller on the PC.

Blizzard is releasing StarCraft 2, Diablo 3, and World of Warcraft: Catalysm. How are they innovative?

Valve released Left for Dead 2 and is releasing Portal 2. How are they innovative?

They're not. It's called sequelitis. They're milking their franchises the same as Epic.
 
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