View Full Version : Reflexive piracy numbers

02-15-2008, 12:34 PM
Reflexive has posted some numbers of piracy on one of their internal games (Ricochet Infinity) over on Gamasutra (http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17350).

The short version is they found out that 92% of the games being played were pirated. Let me state that number again - 92%. I've said this before, but this is one of the big reasons why more and more companies are moving towards console or MMO games. It is hard to survive when 92% of the people playing your games aren't actually paying for them. This is only a single game, so hopefully this is really higher than the industry as a whole though.

And before anyone says that pirates aren't lost sales because they wouldn't buy the games anyways, when Reflexive put in a fix to obsolete existing exploits and keygens their sales went up 70%. That doesn't actually cover very many of the people that were pirating the game, but getting a 70% rise in sales is huge. This unfortunately is exactly why most companies feel that they are forced to use DRM these days. :(

02-15-2008, 02:24 PM
Yeah, that really sucks. I guess the problem is that a lot of people don't attach any value to games, and even more people are not willing to pay for something they can get for free, illegal or not. Well, unless there is a good chance of being caught and this just isn't the case here.

I absolutely detest DRM, but with figures like these I can understand why publishers are insistent on its use. I can imagine that the PC market would still be on par with the console market without piracy.

Does DoP (apart from the Reflexsive version) use any form of DRM or copy protection? If its does, its very unobtrusive, which is great.

02-15-2008, 02:34 PM
Some of the figures in that article are confusing. They state that for every 1000 pirated copies eliminated, they produce one more sale. So for sales to increase 70% after the DRM fixes, they must have had very poor initial sales, or the sheer number of pirated versions must be incredible! Either way, the "piracy steals game sales" argument is not looking all that convincing here.

Also, I don't really understand why fix 1 was so effective, unless there were a number of well documented and simple workarounds for Reflexsive's old DRM scheme. I guess "casual" pirates are always more willing to use a workaround or keygen than download a cracked executable, but I am surprised fix 3 had no effect.

02-16-2008, 03:53 PM
Sadly Reflexive uses a very bad system for anti-piracy. You can never protect your games fully when all you need is a code to unlock it.

02-16-2008, 05:46 PM
Some of the figures in that article are confusing. They state that for every 1000 pirated copies eliminated, they produce one more sale

So just out of curiosity, how does a conversion rate of 1 in 1000 compare to conversion rates from demo to paying customer?

02-16-2008, 07:55 PM
Usually 1 sale per 100 demo downloads is considered pretty good.

02-28-2008, 03:10 AM
Some of the figures in that article are confusing.

thats putting it lightly...

without actual numbers and the period of time they're over... its hard to attach any real significance to the percentages... 70% increase in sales ? over what ? the average sales of 10 per hour increasing to 17 in an hour ?

what really surprised me was that whenever sales increased, downloads DECREASED. the only rationale i could come up with was that not only does closing exploits and updating keygens serve to drum up 1 in 1000 sales... but it also momentarily directs new would-be pirates away from site downloads. (ie... since the keygens and exploits of the moment are ineffective, they download from other sources where the game is bundled with a cracked executable)

i also have to feel that in large part, one of the reasons people devalue the price of games is that there are free alternatives. whether they derive their income from ads, shareware/donations, or simply a hobbyist effort... that "free to play" sets the bottom line for any competition, and in order to compete, a product needs to show what its doing to earn that money, and while I generally favor indie developers... its harder for them to differentiate themselves from the free to play competition.

granted, i gave up attempting to play "new release" computer games long ago, partly because of the compatibility isssues, partly because i got sick of upgrading my computer every 6 months... but largely because i was sick of paying $50-60 for a game that I'd play maybe an hour or two then realize it sucked, only to return my efforts on a game I'd picked up in the 'greatest releases' bin for $10-20 and played over and over and over again.

yeah, i talk too much... but well... the internet has changed games.

i strongly feel that the best weapon against piracy is through the internet. for any game that remotely allows multiplayer aspects, use that to guarantee income. that appears to be how reflexive gathered their numbers... but well... singleplayer makes for great demos... and whets player's appetites for online play... and income from service is more reliable then income from a product that can be so easily tampered with.

02-28-2008, 10:55 AM
There is actually a follow up article now available from the author here (http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17408).

06-17-2008, 11:27 PM
To be entirely honest, I spent some time today pondering looking for a crack for Depths of Peril. Not because I haven't bought it, because I actually have. But, rather, because I bought it onto my MacBook Pro and would also like to be able to play it on my desktop PC. I had the same problem with Armageddon Empires.

I love indie games and love to support independant developers. And I know that piracy is a huge problem. But copy protection sucks. :(

(name here)
06-18-2008, 10:25 AM
Um, i don't think that you can even do that. There is a reason why some things are Mac things and others are linux things.

07-09-2008, 06:34 PM
/start conspiracy rant

I probably won't have the best point of view here...but i think companies often outright lie about what they think piracy does to them, in order to gain some kind of benefit. Look at DRM for example...it has not a single thing to do with piracy....it has more to do with labels finding more ways to charge you. Now wether they are finding more ways to charge you..because of piracy..or outright greed..is another matter.

They have this thing for DVDs now called "digital copy"...that you pay extra for. When it used to be totally legal to copy that DVD all you wanted, and used it on other devices. Now, you can do the same, but instead of being allowed to copy the DVD yourself..you get to buy another copy that you can use elseware. Did I mention that this does absolutely nothing to stop piracy?

A server garantees income? I think not, having been in countries, and knowing many people in countries...where the ONLY way to aquire a game is from a pirated vendor [serbia, for instance], They still manage to find ways to use that service. i know people right now..with 100% pirated counter Strike 2...playing on official steam servers.

And with MMORPGs....i dare you to find one that doesn't have a slew of private servers behind it. Even WoW has been dismantled.

There is no way around piracy, even for a console..you can pirate games left and right. All it takes is a single chip and a saudering iron, and you got a play station 2 that can play DVDs you burnt on your PC. My post is more about the redundancy of piracy-protection. And how piracy..while it is a problem..is in NO WAY..in my opinion..the reason PC games are failing...people chose to develop for a console because they can better control what content is available, and because they can jack up the prices. [there is an air of "its a console, therefor we can charge more for the game"]

In short, i think the issue of piracy is less of a problem of loosing money, and more of a problem with companies using it to get legislation and organizations to better help them control and sell you stuff, more often. Look at what the company "Trusted Computing" is try to do.....its down right criminal. And could even effect developers such as Soldak. Imagen if soldak had to pay TC for every computer they wanted DoP to run on. Since programs will only function on systems that are approved to run that program. Scary Stuff.

/end conspiracy rant

Oh, i just read the article....looks like pure DRM supported propaganda to me. For instance..using the right keywords in google results in the FIRST result linking to a site that provides the mentioned game in a cracked state. And beyond all that. Most cracks come from Torrents. Not Google. And torrents arn't even mentioned. Even though torrents are the method of spreading pirated stuff 99.99998% of the time.

You can't stop people from stealing something that isn't tangible.

/end extra rant