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Piracy versus PC Gaming

Next Generation recaps a GDC talk titled "The Videogame Piracy Problem: Fifteen Men on a Dead Manís Chest" by id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead about the impact of piracy on the game industry. They outline how Mr. Hollenshead says the estimated $3 billion economic loss caused by piracy in 2004 does not include piracy that takes place on the Internet. There is also an article about this talk on Joystiq that focuses on the statement that piracy is a factor in id's embrace of consoles, quoting Todd as saying "Piracy has pushed id as being multiplatform." On a related note, Can PC Gaming Survive in a Console World (thanks Digg) recaps a panel discussion on the topic that brought up a similar point:

Part of the problem is piracy. Big titles get stolen by cyber thieves, and it hurts revenue. "The market," said Capps, "that would buy a $600 video card knows how Bittorrent works."

Does that mean casual games, which exponentially outsell what PC gaming traditionalists think of as A-list titles, will one day rule? Hilleman made a point: casual is a poor choice of words. The average player on EA's Pogo "casual" game network plays "for 24 hours a week. There's nothing casual about that."

There is some light in the PC gaming world. World of Warcraft, for instance, is a massive hit, and the upcoming Spore looks not only creative and different, but promising. The MMO and other social networking games could become the norm for PC gaming, with big-ticket titles growing rarer with each passing year. Johnson added that MMOs are "successful because you can't pirate WoW. You cannot pirate an MMO. Period." Therefore, he said, "game design on the PC is going to bend toward persistence."

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