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It's funny that indie devs are always coming out and praising the PC community, talking about making fans and using piracy as a way to actually connect with gamers. On the opposite end of the spectrum big-budget studio devs think piracy is the end of the world, especially for the PC platform.
In an interview with IncGamers, 38 Studios' lead designer, Ian Frazier, on the highly anticipated open-world RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning replied to a question about if Reckoning could be a PC exclusive, saying that...
"No, probably not. A game this big is very expensive to be blunt about it. The PC, with piracy being as rampant as it is, is really hard to make money from. My first game was Titan Quest, a hack ‘n’ slash RPG, which was PC only but the amount that it was pirated was the difference between us staying in business and going out of business."... "it’s really, really hard to be profitable by concentrating only on PC. Unless you’re an MMO."
I wonder how Paradox Interactive is faring because they seem to cater mostly to the PC crowd. If I remember correctly I thought Jagged Alliance: Back in Action and Red Orchestra 2 were also PC exclusives that weren't MMOs? Hey didn't a new Anno just come out, too? Oh wait...isn't there some popular series called Total War that sells well or is it just my imagination? Wasn't Hard Reset a high-end PC exclusive? I'm also betting StarCraft 2 was a PC exclusive...I'm pretty sure that was a PC exclusive and I'm also pretty sure Blizzard didn't file bankruptcy due to the game being pirated. There's also this nagging feeling that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. managed several games in the franchise and another is on the horizon for PC and I'm also quite certain it's not an MMO.
I could go on and on and on about PC exclusives that made money despite piracy being a factor for the game being a PC exclusive. A perfect example is Toxic Games' Q.U.B.E., which made back its entire budget and then some in under four days as a PC exclusive.
I'm sorry Mr. Frazier, I'm going to call PR bullspit shenanigans on this one. I've lost a little respect for you given that this sounds like some sort of Big Wig spiel used to justify nefarious corporate pandering to investors and shareholders. In reality, Frazier should have said that Reckoning couldn't be PC exclusive because they just wouldn't make as much money as a multiplatform title, and ultimately, money speaks louder than exclusivity.
Also, if I recall correctly didn't Titan Quest have DRM? It's kind of common in the PC community for PC gamers to purposefully NOT buy games because of DRM. It's also become an unspoken law to purposefully pirate a game with DRM just to show up the decision to include DRM in a game. In accordance with this kind of mentality, Paradox Interactive's CEO stated that DRM only makes you lose money and he gives a good explanation of why.
Rovio's Mikael Hed also talked extensively about piracy in a recent interview where he explains more about the psychology of approaching piracy as a business opportunity rather than seeing it as a virus that eats into business profits. Basically he says that pirates can potentially become fans if you treat your customers right *cough*no DRM*cough* and that eventually they may be inclined to spread the word and sales if it's done correctly. I whole-heartedly agree.
In the case of games like the Witcher 2 being pirated millions of times over, there's nothing that can be done about that. The reality is, if the pirates never pirated Witcher 2 4 million times would CD Projekt still consider the game's current sales as success or failure? The reality is that those 4 million downloads does not translate into lost sales unless you can prove each and every single user planned to buy the game had there been no option to pirate the game.
Anyways, you can check out the entire interview with no-more-PC-exclusives Ian Frazier over at IncGamers. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is set for release next week on February 7th for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
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