Sterling Buggers up Piracy


Jim Sterling of Destructoid decided to take the recent leak of Crysis 2 as a springboard for some ramblings against piracy and PC development. While game piracy is something worth giving an eyeballing it’s only worth doing it if you’re going to put a bit more effort in than a ill thought out,narrow minded and cardboard thin rant on the matter.

While it’s certainly painted as an anti-piracy piece the headline and various comments in the article show a secondary aim as an anti-PC development rant as Sterling makes several comments like

I would, in fact, encourage developers to ignore the PC market altogether now.

And this is why developers don’t give a sh*t about PC gamers anymore, folks.

While also dismissing any mention of console piracy just because there’s more on PC. Hey if you’re going to have a rant on piracy you can’t start getting selective. Not that it doesn’t stop him sticking some kind of arbitrary okayness scale on piracy of movies, music and games. (Games come out the least okay, no gigs to recoup costs)

My main issue is this paragraph he puts in early on:

The game industry is also a cutthroat, harsh business. If a game doesn’t sell, it won’t get a sequel, and the studio itself might be torn apart. Just looking at EA, we all saw what happened to Pandemic. They didn’t perform in the sales department and were wiped out without question.

While it’s true some games don’t sell well and some studios close it’s a bit silly to lump this into an anti-piracy debate. He doesn’t directly tie the two together but he doesn’t separate this concept of piracy = low sales and studios closing. If he can show how there is a correlation I look forward to his article on this.

However the figures aren’t exactly on his side. The most pirated game of 2010 was COD: Black Ops, pirated just over 5million copies across PC and 360. The best selling game of 2010 was Black Ops, selling an estimated 18million copies, earning $1billion in sales, the largest entertainment launch in history. Basically hot cakes now sell like Black Ops. Another example is Starcraft 2 another heavily pirated title, sold 4.5million copies making it the 12th best selling PC game of all time and fastest selling strategy game ever. While I wouldn’t want to say it for certain it almost seems as if high piracy rates go hand in hand with high game sales. About the only exception seems to be 360-exclusive Alan Wake which was pirated 1.1million times and sold a relatively lacklustre 900K copies.

Looking at Crysis specifically it was one of the most pirated titles of ‘08(It release November ‘07). It went on to sell 3million copies with the Crysis Warhead expansion selling another 1.5million. These figures were apparently enough to earn it a sequel.

Pandemic is a very weird choice to bring up because that most of all shows that this segment of trying to correlate piracy with low sales to be a fallacy. A quick skim at Pandemics most recent offerings shows a different trend to piracy that got them closed:

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames – 72

Lord of the Rings: Conquest – 55

The Saboteur – 73

With Saboteur selling about 800K copies, much less than I expect EA were wanting.

If Treyarch was now a closed studio and Black Ops only sold 100K copies then there would be some truth to what Jim is saying, but the truth is it was irrelevant paragraph shoved in to the article to help back up his somewhat flimsy views. I would wager that the amount of studios that close due to piracy are, if any exist, very few and far between.

Another sticking point is his unwillingness to discuss piracy on handhelds and consoles. “of course” it happens, but he just wants to single out PC. It’s much easier for him I guess. I’d bet 50 internetbucks that he doesn’t make “And you wonder why developers hate 360 gamers” & co in the future.

Sorry, but why should anybody support the platform? Sure, there are paying customers, and it would suck for them, but what kind of businessman would open a store in a city where stores are robbed multiple times a day? An idiotic businessman.

This Idiotic Businessman is as far as I know the only game developer to be on Forbes “Names You Need To Know”. He makes his business running a game store in a city where everyone is robbed. These Idiotic Businessmen only set up shop on PC and they account for roughly 70% of Activisions income. Yeah that’s with COD included. I see now why Sterling isn’t working at Wedbush-Morgan. There’s also plenty of smaller Idiotic Businessmen who’ve gone with PC too and gotten good returns out of it.

Here’s some of those Idiotic Businessmen (aka the people directly affected by it) writings on the matter of piracy:

Piracy is an issue, but it is not solely an issue on PC nor is it a crutch to rest on when games don’t do as well as expected. Jim could of spent his 2000 words on something much more meaningful but flimsy research, well lack of it altogether, rather takes the sails out of his rant no matter how much hot air he provided.