Just a few days ago I read a startling post by Patrick from Greenheart Games stating some startling statistics from their latest game release “Game Dev Tycoon”. In the article, Patrick explains an experiment that Greenheart conducted on the day of the PC ported release of the game involving baiting pirates to illegally download a purposely leaked version of the game containing a slight change in the story and a tracking code sending anonymous data to Greenheart servers. After the first day, the results were simply jaw-dropping, with 93.6% of all copies of the game being cracked and only 6.4% having actually purchased the game. This was especially surprising because of the extremely cheap price of the game on stores like Steam and the Windows Store of only $8 USD.
In late 2014 the CEO of Ubisoft games gave an interview to Gamespot regarding a similar study with Ubisoft games which gave remarkably similar results. A grand total of 95% of all Ubisoft games being played have been cracked versus purchased through legal stores and marketplaces. The list goes on, and on through nearly all major game and software companies like Adobe, EA Games, and many more.
So what does this mean for the software industry? Well, there are two very different stories here when we’re talking about companies trying to stay afloat. Smaller companies made up of no more than 5-10 members could very easily go bankrupt after their first or second release. Bigger companies with well-established products are a whole different story because they have access to major server banks and all the latest encryption. While smaller companies cannot afford to make massively multiplayer games, bigger companies have the resources available to make software online and thus not able to be pirated.
Here are some example of Online VS Locally run Softwares
|Can be Pirated (Locally Run)||Cannot be Pirated (Run Online)|
|General Software||Microsoft Office||Google Docs|
Because the user must have a valid copy of the game these online games seem to be the perfect solution to the piracy problem, Right? Well, like I said earlier servers are expensive and small startups can’t possibly afford to produce games of the scale and complexity required to have an online setup. Meaning that this makes it extremely difficult for small game developers to be successful.
In the end, while piracy may be convenient now, it will sooner or later come back to haunt us when even the Major corporations still struggle to break even with the costs of producing such technological marvels.