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Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95%

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot gives GamesIndustry International his outlook on free-to-play games as a way of combating PC piracy, explaining the difficulties presented by serving an audience they perceive to be 93-95% thieves:

"We want to develop the PC market quite a lot and F2P is really the way to do it," said the French CEO. "The advantage of F2P is that we can get revenue from countries where we couldn't previously - places where our products were played but not bought. Now with F2P we gain revenue, which helps brands last longer.

"It's a way to get closer to your customers, to make sure you have a revenue. On PC it's only around five to seven per cent of the players who pay for F2P, but normally on PC it's only about five to seven per cent who pay anyway, the rest is pirated. It's around a 93-95 per cent piracy rate, so it ends up at about the same percentage. The revenue we get from the people who play is more long term, so we can continue to bring content."

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90. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 15:23 ASeven
 
The thing is, in those third-world countries where piracy could be 95%, that piracy rate is equal for PCs and consoles. In fact when you go out to the small vendors you can find in the streets they'll be selling DVDs with the latest console titles and you won't find a single PC title.  
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89. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 15:15 DG
 
Prez wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 12:17:
I'm not a mathematician but still I have a pretty good grasp of how percentages work. If you consider that the largest western markets make a huge swathe of the global PC game market, which data I've read in the past suggests averages anywhere from 60% to 75% piracy (numbers, BTW, which are also inflated because of inaccurate accounting), what would the rest of the world have to be averaging to bring the global piracy rate up to the 93% to 95%? I'm thinking countries like Russia, China, Brazil, and others would have to have nigh 100% piracy to jack the number up that high. Even if true (as I understand piracy to be ingrained in the culture of some of those places), wouldn't that make more of a case for cessation of releasing PC games in those markets instead of whining and crying about numbers that sound utterly ridiculous to those of us in less piracy-infested countries?
I can easily believe that the piracy rate is 99% in second and third-world countries. Visit these places, they don't even have shops selling legit games outside of the richest areas - they have shops and stalls everywhere selling pirate copies. Steam games may fare a bit better as at least there's a viable route, competitive on most aspects except price.

I read the article with a bit of caution as I feel appropriate to all media sources these days, even GI Biz which was at least once a good source, and I suspect either he's not been clear or he's been misquoted (most likely a bit of both). There are clear hints that he's talking about the developing world, specifically in paragraph 2 but I suspect (giving benefit of the doubt) that was his intended context throughout.

Also, there's no indication that he has confused a pirate with a "potential buyer". If I am right about the context, he knows these people are never potential buyers and so not lost sales.

Maybe stretching the benefit-of-the-doubt too much, but I picked up almost a glimmer of an idea that maybe piracy is a market force to be adapted to rather than desperately fought to preserve the old ways.
 
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88. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 15:06 morose
 
Translation for me: "Hey, we're still talking out of our ass and calling the majority of PC gamers criminals. Continue to ignore our products until we either figure out that's not the way to get customers, or go under!"  
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87. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 14:48 Shineyguy
 
Ruffiana wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 12:53:
Beamer wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 10:46:
RailWizard wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 10:42:
Who's ass were those stats pulled out of? (edit:dammit beat me by 1 post! lol)

..and how does one pirate a F2P game?

Geez these guys are some whining babies. Blame everyone and everything but yourselves, that's right. Rolleyes

No one said anything about pirating f2p games...


I'd like to see one of these companies show how they get to these numbers. I'm guessing it's comparing trackers to sales, but even then it's probably more like 50% at the high end...

Number of copies sold / Number of copies downloaded illegally + sold. Not that difficutl to come up with the number. Keep in mind they're not saying these are 'lost sales', they're simply saying that of the people playing their game, only a small percentage has actually paid for it.

More to the point, this is the number they've determined for themselves to steer their business model. They've tried sans-DRM, they've tried draconian DRM, now they're shifting to free-to-play model because it's proven, is pretty much immune to piracy, and the percentage of people playing and paying is roughly the same as it is now...except there's more of an opportunity for a constant revenue stream.

I've been saying this for years, this is the way the entire game industry is headed. Like it or not, a real problem or not, piracy is the 300lb elephant in the room that's forced this shift. I stopped caring about piracy/used-game trade a few years back because it had become moot. Game companies had tested the waters for a free-to-play/micro-transaction model and found it to be more secure and more lucrative. They don't give two fucks that it fundamentally changes how games or made or the scope of what's put out as a "game"...it makes money, and that's the way it's going to be.

So blame whoever you want, won't change anything. The number of holdouts making traditional, AAA 'boxed' games with complete experiences for $59.99 will continue to dwindle away like the coin-op games of old.

That equation still isn't taking into account users that have both pirated and bought a particular game though.

Take me for instance. I have pirated Borderlands, but I also have bought it (at full price, on Steam). I was the only person using this particular pirated copy and bought copy of this game in my household.

Yes, I suppose that means that my two numbers cancel each other out, but they both still show on the report. OR, depending on how they're getting their information, one of those copies of the game won't show on the report.
 
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86. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 14:47 m0deth
 
What will this asshat claim when their crappy F2P titles hit the sewer?

Seriously, it's not like Ubisoft has ever dominated in any game space. I swear it's the most prominent company regarding deflective bullshit I've ever seen besides EA.

Every time earnings reports come around, these schmucks pull something like this to deflect blame so their investors don't demand scalps.

It also reminds me of Crytek's bullshit assertions on the subject.

Both seem to forget that if you make a good product at a fair price, people will flock to it, anything other than that, you will need a bigger marketing budget than you do for your developers. And we all know how much cake the likes of EA, Activision, Ubisoft, etc. pump into their release titles.(and by good I mean complete, as bug free as possible, compelling, entertaining, challenging, and rewarding. Not just an excuse for making money.)

I put to you now....the bigger the release campaign...the worse the title actually is. And it seems to fit so far.
 
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85. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 14:46 Verno
 
SimplyMonk wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 14:24:
I'm betting that Project Titan is going to be a F2P game from Blizzard. Doubt it will be as massive as WoW has been, mainly because I think WoW had not only a solid team behind it, but fantastic timing seeing as most MMOs of the period were fairly brutal, bug-ridden or unpolished.

I don't know, I think Blizzard is probably the one company who can still get away with launching a boxed copy + sub MMO but of course that could change in the 10+ years until Titan arrives
 
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84. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 14:30 Beamer
 
Verno wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 14:10:
Did they really think they were going to sell $60 games in China to begin with?

Of course not, but they want some compensation, even if it's just $7-$10.

But they're also reluctant to do that in these days, anyway. With everything going digital, charging drastically different prices in markets ends up being problematic, as you get too many companies popping up that do grey market key sales (which are logistically simple to do.)

Bottom line - no one is being creative and instead rushing to f2p.
 
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83. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 14:24 SimplyMonk
 
Verno wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 14:10:
Did they really think they were going to sell $60 games in China to begin with? Piracy rates are massive in emerging gaming markets and all of the F2P games in the world won't change that. Let's not ignore how overcrowded F2P will be in a few years, it's the MMO story all over again when Blizzard or some other giant enters it.

I'm betting that Project Titan is going to be a F2P game from Blizzard. Doubt it will be as massive as WoW has been, mainly because I think WoW had not only a solid team behind it, but fantastic timing seeing as most MMOs of the period were fairly brutal, bug-ridden or unpolished.

What worries me about the F2P games is that once they hit Asian markets you begin to see a tremendous amount of abuse in terms of hacking, bug exploitation, credit card theft and in some cases just play styles that exploit imbalances in a game's design. I'm basing most of this, though, off of several iPhone F2P titles I've looked at over the years so maybe it is something systematic of Apple's walled garden.

Going F2P isn't as easy as some publishers think. What before was a fight against piracy and DRM circumvention now becomes a fight against network stability, exploitation and hackers. A far more dangerous fight as one bug can cost you millions and disrupt your entire economy.
 
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82. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 14:12 SimplyMonk
 
Ubisoft CEO: So what are our sales numbers for the latest Assassin's Creed title PC port?

Finance Department: Only $10,000, Sir.

CEO: WHAT?! Why so low? Well, at least we only spent $5K having the interns write the port, but how do you explain this?

Finance: Ummm... Piracy? Pirates love ports.

CEO: FILTHY PIRATES AND THEIR LOVE OF PORTS!

Finance: Yeah. It really is a shame. Well, I have to be going now. My second yacht needs to be christened.

CEO: What? Oh. All right. Those investments of your must really being paying off for you to afford a second yacht.

Finance: Oh. Yeah. Investments. Those things. Yeah. They are doing great...
 
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81. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 14:10 Verno
 
When it comes to PC ports Ubisoft is being outdone by Square-Enix lately which is pretty sad considering the latter consists of a Japanese company with few PC roots and some Eidos staff. Just Cause 2 was a really solid port with a lot of PC specific features. The port of Sleeping Dogs is fucking great and was released at the same time as the consoles. Ubisoft has a lot more experience in this arena so it kind of boggles the mind how they keep making the same mistakes time and time again. Did they really think they were going to sell $60 games in China to begin with? Piracy rates are massive in emerging gaming markets and all of the F2P games in the world won't change that. Let's not ignore how overcrowded F2P will be in a few years, it's the MMO story all over again when Blizzard or some other giant enters it.  
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80. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 13:57 Prez
 
nin wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 13:23:
The number of holdouts making traditional, AAA 'boxed' games with complete experiences for $59.99 will continue to dwindle away like the coin-op games of old.

If they're going to be assholes about it, I doubt they'll be missed. Fuck em...



Preach it brother. Woohoo
 
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79. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 13:52 LgFriess
 
I've never pirated a game nor actually know anybody that has and I've been a PC gamer for about 25 years. Boy do I feel like a dope knowing that I actually spend money on a game when everybody else ("95%") obviously just steals them.... or Ubi is full of shit. Hmmmmm...  
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78. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 13:49 Tumbler
 
On PC it's only around five to seven per cent of the players who pay for F2P, but normally on PC it's only about five to seven per cent who pay anyway, the rest is pirated. It's around a 93-95 per cent piracy rate, so it ends up at about the same percentage.

I'd like to know the stats from a variety of F2P games before I take him at his word. It's possible that only 5-7 people pay anything after 100 people play a F2P game. Trying to connect that to different products that people pirate is foolish. On one side you've got a game that is designed to limit the content you can see unless you pay the money, on the other side the content is fully available once you download it (piracy) so having an identical success rate is bizarre to say the least.

I'll take his statement with a grain of salt for now. I don't imagine that if we compared TF2, Lord of the Rings, World of Tanks, etc. that we would see 5-7% "attach" rates. Perhaps putting out shit gets you 5-7% but I would hope that a good F2P product can do a lot more.

Any other stats on spending in the F2P model? Diablo 3's stats might be very useful. It costs $60 to get into but once you're in I think the game is basically a F2P business model. You can play all you want for "free" but if you spend money things get a lot easier/more fun so what is the attach rate of people spending real money?
 
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77. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 13:41 ASeven
 
Sooo....

A few days ago:

Ubisoft launches Uplay, markets it.
Ubisoft: Come, PC gamers, come buy at our shop all your PC games!

Today.

Ubisoft: PC gamers are filthy pirates and thieves and F2P is the way to go for you filthy pirates! Oh and come buy at our shop too!

Fuck me, when I think Ubisoft can't become more pathetic they always surprise me.
 
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76. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 13:23 nin
 
The number of holdouts making traditional, AAA 'boxed' games with complete experiences for $59.99 will continue to dwindle away like the coin-op games of old.

If they're going to be assholes about it, I doubt they'll be missed. Fuck em...


 
http://store.nin.com/index.php?cPath=10
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75. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 13:15 Ozmodan
 
Everyone knows that Ubisoft just makes up numbers to suit it's agenda.

Simple solution, ignore all Ubisoft games period.

My guess is piracy is about a third of what they made up.
 
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74. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 12:58 Beamer
 
Ruffiana wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 12:53:
Beamer wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 10:46:
RailWizard wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 10:42:
Who's ass were those stats pulled out of? (edit:dammit beat me by 1 post! lol)

..and how does one pirate a F2P game?

Geez these guys are some whining babies. Blame everyone and everything but yourselves, that's right. Rolleyes

No one said anything about pirating f2p games...


I'd like to see one of these companies show how they get to these numbers. I'm guessing it's comparing trackers to sales, but even then it's probably more like 50% at the high end...

Number of copies sold / Number of copies downloaded illegally + sold. Not that difficutl to come up with the number.

More to the point, this is the number they've determined for themselves to steer their business model. They've tried sans-DRM, they've tried draconian DRM, now they're shifting to free-to-play model because it's proven, is pretty much immune to piracy, and the percentage of people playing and paying is roughly the same as it is now...except there's more of an opportunity for a constant revenue stream.

I've been saying this for years, this is the way the game industry is headed. Like it or not, piracy is the stick that's forced this shift. I stopped caring about piracy a few years back because it had become moot. People tested the waters for a free-to-play/micro-transaction model and found it to be more secure and more lucrative. They don't give two fucks that it fundamentally changes how games or made or the scope of what's put out as a "game"...it makes money, and that's the way it's going to be.

So blame whoever you want, won't change anything. The number of holdouts making traditional, AAA 'boxed' games will continue to dwindle away like the coin-op games of old.

But that number isn't accurate. You don't know how many copies are downloaded. You can look at trackers and hope those stats are correct, but as people point out many are private, many are duplicate, so you need to spend a lot of time making an estimate.

It isn't like used sales on the Xbox, which you can look at number of Gamertags playing relative to number sold (and even that isn't accurate as tons of families have multiple tags on one console.)


Regardless, my point is that their piracy solution is a bad one. F2P is fine and all, but as I keep mentioning it changes the fundamental design of a game. For one, it tends to really diminish single player. For another, it essentially puts a mandatory grind into all games. Genres that didn't have any grind get a grind in the shift into F2P.

So, by trying to monetize further, they change the product into a less desirable one, particularly by the hardcore crowd. As many companies have learned, turning your back entirely on your strongest core is typically a bad idea - you need to keep paying them some basic service or else they turn on you (and tend to bring many with them.)
 
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73. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 12:58 RailWizard
 
Whatever. I am done here. I don't even remember the last game I pirated. Just like I don't remember the last UBI game I played.  
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72. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 12:55 Verno
 
Number of copies sold / Number of copies downloaded illegally + sold. Not that difficutl to come up with the number.

Nah, download/torrent data is largely meaningless anyway, it is very difficult to extract meaningful data from it. Using something like leaderboard hits is a more accurate (but still partially flawed) method of determining a working ratio of pirated to legit copies.
 
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71. Re: Ubisoft: PC Piracy Rate 93-95% Aug 22, 2012, 12:53 RailWizard
 
Beamer wrote on Aug 22, 2012, 12:50:
Jesus, dude, use Google if you don't know. They're French. Specifically European France, which is basically not at all the US...

lol ok you win. It still changes nothing about my point however...
 
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