Cevat Yerly, co-founder and CEO of Crytek, the developer behind Crysis was recently interviewed and touched on the PC gaming piracy issue. To quote: “We are suffering currently from the huge piracy that is encompassing Crysis. We seem to lead the charts in piracy by a large margin, a chart leading that is not desirable. I believe that’s the core problem of PC Gaming, piracy, to the degree [that PC gamers who] pirate games inherently destroy the platform. Similar games on consoles sell factors of 4-5 more. It was a big lesson for us and I believe we won’t have PC exclusives as we did with Crysis in future. We are going to support PC, but not exclusive anymore.” Developers within the company were getting increasingly angry at the online theft of their game and had previously stated that “What wasn’t fantastic was the percentage of those [multiplayer] numbers who were playing on stolen copies of the game on stolen / cracked CD keys of pirated copies (and that was only people playing online). The amount of people who pirate PC games is astounding. It blows me away at the amount of people willing to steal games (or anything) simply because it’s not physical or it’s on the safety of the internet to do.”
Back in December 2007 we also touched on the issue that while Crysis only sold 86,633 units in its first month on sale, on certain Bittorrent file sharing sites alone Crysis was illegally downloaded over 300,000 times instead of trying the free Crysis demo! Luckily a few months later the game’s publisher EA said that Crysis sales had picked up steam and it has now sold over 1 million copies worldwide.
Mark Rein, VP of Epic Games, recently told GTdaily a similar story to that of Crytek’s Mr. Yerly. Epic’s Unreal Tournament 3 servers received over 40 million attempts at illegitimate access using pirate keys (keys are the serial codes need to install the game and play it online). These games cost $50 each, and like with Crysis… these millions of potential buyers (or at least interested gamers) for Unreal Tournament 3 also had the option to try a free Unreal Tournament 3 demo, you know, instead of stealing years someone else’s hard work. I suppose this shift from PC to console game releases is a natural one for developers like Crytek and Epic. Epic has been taking this approach for a while now by shipping Unreal Tournament 3 for the PC and the PS3, which increased sales of the game to 1.2 million worldwide.
PS: In case you’re thinking it’s just these two companies, it’s becoming an industry trend where even gaming’s biggest titles like the upcoming Madden NFL 09 aren’t getting a PC release anymore. EA Sports boss Peter Moore had this to say: “Piracy’s a big issue on the PC. I can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that it’s very difficult for us…and we lose money making a game. At some point, I have an obligation not to bring out products that lose money.”